Can Clothes Moth Eat Synthetic Clothes Too?

Finding holes in your favorite sweater or nightgown can be frustrating.

There is a lot of confusion about who is truly to blame. The purpose of this article is to dispel popular misconceptions and clarify the reasons why clothing in our wardrobes frequently ends up with holes.

Clothes Moths' Appetite: Can They Digest All Fabric Types, Including Synthetic Fibers?

The insects that found our clothes tasty

Some people point fingers at Silverfish, a tiny wingless bug known for its silver color. Although silverfish consumes various materials such as paper, glue, and food crumbs, it does not consume clothing.

Ants are accused by others. Ants will consume a wide range of food, such as sugars, proteins, and fat, that is easily accessible to them. Nonetheless, they do not eat fabric. 

So, who should be held accountable for the damage in our closets?

Clothes moths are to blame. These bugs living in closets find our clothes more interesting than we do. Let's take a closer look at this fascinating bug.

Who are Clothes Moths?

A clothes moth is a rarely seen insect in our homes that is beige or gray in color and prefers dark, secluded areas. Additionally, it is tiny, with a size of approximately 1/2 inch (1.27 centimeters), making it hard to spot.

It may come as a surprise to some that the adult clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) is not responsible for holes in the fabric because it has mouths not designed for eating at all.

Debunking Common Myths and Highlighting Facts About Clothes Moths, Including Their Consumption of Synthetic Fabrics
Clothes moths mainly feed on natural fibers such as wool, silk, and cotton

So, who is behind the damage?

The damage is caused by the larvae, not the adult moth. The primary objective of adult moths is straightforward: to reproduce. They do not ingest anything, relying only on stored energy from their larval stage to sustain themselves as adults.

Interesting world of baby cloth moths

Clothes moths choose to deposit their eggs in dark, quiet spaces such as closets, drawers, attics, and basements.

How Clothes Moth Larvae Damage Clothes in Your Closet
Clothes moth eggs are extremely tiny and difficult to see with the naked eye, measuring only about 0.5 mm in length

They like warm, damp conditions like these because moisture stops the fabric from getting too dry and brittle, making it easier for larvae to feed. Heat also encourages their growth and development.

How Cloth Moths Spent Their Adulthood

When the eggs of the cloth moth hatch, larvae come out, and this is when damage to clothing happens. After eating a section of fabric, the larva will create a silky cocoon to transform into a pupa. After some time, fully developed moths come out of the cocoon.

What makes clothes so tasty to clothes moths?

Instead of being attracted to the material itself, clothes moths are more interested in keratin, a protein found in animal hair and feathers.

Fabric Consumption: Can Clothes Moths Digest All Types of Fabric, Including Synthetic Materials?

Larvae only consume natural fibers rich in keratin, like wool found in sweaters, silk in luxury apparel, fur in coats and hats, and feathers in pillows.

These natural fibers provide the desired texture and structure while also fulfilling their nutritional requirements.

The Type of Damage caused by Clothes Moths

Tips for Protecting Your Clothes Against Damage Caused by Clothes Moths
Clothes moth larvae eat irregularly, resulting in a distinctive pattern of damage often referred to as "shot holes" on textiles

Clothes moths create irregular holes in the clothing material. Moreover, it is not uncommon for them to leave behind silken threads, webbing, and small tubular cases or cocoons attached to the fabric. The small droppings of the larvae, known as tiny pellets, can also be found near affected areas.

Preventive Measures

The Truth About Clothes Moths: Do They Feast on Every Fabric, Even Synthetic Materials? Learn How to Protect Your Clothes

It is advised to clean your clothing regularly to keep it safe. Furthermore, it is important to consistently check items for insects, and immediately take action if any signs of infestation are found.

You have the option to use natural deterrents such as mothballs, cedar blocks, or lavender sachets, or to keep clothes in sealed containers or vacuum-sealed bags. It is important to keep the storage cool and dry to prevent clothes moths, as they are attracted to warm, humid environments.

What about synthetic clothes?

Although natural fibers are the primary feeding source for Cloth Moths, it is frequently asked if acrylic-based synthetic clothing is also at risk.

Facts About Clothes Moths and Acrylic in Your Wardrobe
Cotton is widely used in textiles, making up about 27% of global fiber consumption. Acrylic, on the other hand, accounts for less than 5%

If you're curious about acrylic's composition, it is a man-made fiber created from a specific type of plastic known as polyacrylonitrile.

Due to the absence of keratin in acrylic, clothing moths are unable to feed on acrylic material. Furthermore, acrylic and other synthetic fibers cannot be digested by them either. 

However, clothes moths can cause damage to natural fibers in blends that contain acrylic, like acrylic-wool blends, by reducing the structural strength of the fabric.

It is important to remember that synthetic materials such as acrylic are generally unaffected by clothes moths.
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