I’ve been using a steamer for years and wouldn’t be without one. They are great for getting creases out of clothes, but they are also fantastic for dealing with clothes moths. If you read any of my other blogs on how to deal with clothes moths, you’ll know that I consistently refer to using lots of tools to deal with different parts of the clothes moth lifecycle; a steamer is another tool in your armoury against moths, so I am going to explain how to use a steamer for clothes moths and how to fit it into your clothes care routine.
What to do when you have clothes moth?
Let’s start by assuming you’ve just found moths in your wardrobe. Adult female clothes moths will choose a nice, cosy dark wardrobe to lay their eggs in because a wardrobe to clothes moths is like an all-inclusive hotel with a 24-hour buffet! Once the eggs hatch, clothes moth larvae feed on the protein keratin which is found in natural materials like wool, cashmere, silk and leather but it doesn’t stop there. Keratin is found in hair, skin cells and bodily secretions, so dust (which is made up mostly of skin cells) is a food source for clothes moths. Similarly, sweat or food splats on once worn clothes are attractive to clothes moth larvae and provide a keratin fix.
The first thing to do is empty your wardrobe and vacuum inside and if possible, underneath. Moth eggs can be mixed up among dust so be sure to get the vacuum in all the cracks and crevices.
Then set aside all of the garments made of natural materials and inspect them for moth damage. Discard anything that is beyond repair and only put meticulously clean items back in the wardrobe. This means hand washing delicate items or sending them to the dry cleaners. We stock a gorgeous gentle laundry liquid, perfect for the job but when time is short the steamer is the perfect solution.
Does steam kill clothes moths?
Steam will kill all of the clothes moth lifecycle because insects are sensitive to temperature. Anything above 50°C will cause their proteins to denature, so steam which is, of course, greater than boiling point will do the job.
How to use the clothes steamer
Once the steamer is filled with water and heated to the right temperature, glide the steamer up and down the garment paying attention to the places moths can hide and where garments get dirtiest such as pockets, cuffs, collars and underarms.
The steam cools quickly once it’s expelled from the steamer so you want the head to be close enough to the material without the steamer plate directly touching as this may cause damage to the material. Good steamer models include a garment guard which I use religiously.
Position the steamer head up against the fabric at a slight angle so the top of the steamer head is pointing down slightly. You need to allow the steam to escape rather than putting the steam directly on the clothes otherwise you will get water marks. I have to say there is a knack to steaming so practice first on basic items before you try your most delicate garments. You could even try a sheet or pillowcase. Though I haven’t focussed on it here, the steamer can also be used on soft furnishing, so if you fear your moth infestation goes beyond your wardrobe, don’t hesitate to use it on your curtains and sofas.
Allow the clothes to dry completely before you put them back in the wardrobe. If you’re storing them away for the season, place them in blogs. We provide breathable garment bags for hanging and folded items. Add extra anti-moth protection with a scented moth repellent. We supply a lovely range of scented sachets again for putting around a coat hanger or placing among folded items. The scents are beautiful, but the clothes moths hate them.
The benefits of using a clothes steamer regularly
Once you’ve got into the habit of using a steamer you won’t want to put it down. As well as the benefit of killing clothes moths it really is the most useful bit of kit. It irons out creases without the damage an iron can cause. Steam also kills bacteria and viruses so you can reduce the number of times you wash or dry clean your clothes. Some small fashion boutiques are even allowing customers to try on clothes in store at the moment because they steam them afterwards.
Dry cleaning damages fabrics and over time you may notice suits getting shiny. Using a steamer and dry cleaning less can help prolong the life of your clothes. Handheld steamers are also perfect for packing in a suitcase.
What is the best clothes steamer?
I’ve used many steamers over the years and have settled on two super products by Fridja. We supply the full height f-1000 model which is perfect for a serious wardrobe. I have one at home and we also use this model at my sister businesses, The Wardrobe Curator and Total Wardrobe Storage. It has a pole and hanger to hang the clothes on whilst you steam them. When full of water it gives 65 minutes of continuous steaming and is ready to use in 45 seconds after turning it on.
We also stock the f-10 handheld steamer, which is as powerful as the f1000. You can choose to steam at the touch of the button or have 14 minutes of continuous steam. It is perfect for everyday use and super for going on holiday. You can even substitute the water container for a small mineral water bottle, so you only have to pack the main unit.