Using Herbal Moth Sachets
While perhaps not as powerful as the poisonous moth balls, herbs have traditionally been used to help protect wool from damage by fiber moths. There may not be scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of the herbs, but I guess we just have to trust that our historical forbears knew what they were doing. I've used herbal moth sachets effectively in my own woolen stash for many years. The bonus is the wonderful fragrance the sachet imparts to the wool.
Clothes moths are drawn to keratin based fiber as a source of food. The adults don't have mouth parts, but the larvae do. Apparently, the adult female uses an olfactory sense to detect the best place to lay her eggs, giving the newly emerging larvae a ready source of food. These young larvae have very limited mobility, so if the female doesn't target a good food supply, the young larvae probably won't locate it. The scent of strongly aromatic herbs may help to confuse and repel the adult female moth as she seeks an appropriate place to lay her eggs. Any strongly fragrant herb may help mask the odor of the wool and has the potential as a repellent. Because they are not a poison, the herbs have absolutely no effect on the eggs or larvae that may already be present. As I pointed out in this article, herbs are really only effective in addition to good preventative practices. But I think they can be useful.
For the best effect, use only the most aromatic herbs, use a mixture of herbs and be generous! Simply tie the herbs in a square of cotton cloth or make a small fabric bag to contain the loose herbs. You can also purchase the larger muslin tea bags for this purpose. Just tie off the drawstring after you fill the bag with the herb mixture. The following herbs are traditionally described as being moth repellent:
Santonlina (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
Southerwood (Artemisia abrotanum)
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Camphor Basil (Ocimum kilimand-scharimum)
Pyrethrum (Tanacetum cinerariaefolium)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora)
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis)
Bay (Laurus nobilis)
Cinnamon ( Cinnamon verum)
Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Making an herbal sachet is simple. The hardest part of the process will be locating the dried herbs. You may even have to grow some of them yourself! Try one of the following recipes.
Moth-Repellent Mixture #1:
Mix equal parts of camphor basil, lavender and rosemary. Add three or four broken cinnamon sticks and a small handful of cloves.
Moth-Repellent Mixture #2:
Mix 2 parts lavender, 2 parts southernwood, 1 part rosemary, 1 part pennyroyal and 1 part wormwood. Add 2 Tablespoons of whole cloves to each 2 cups of herbs and mix well.
Moth-Repellent Mixture #3:
Mix 1/2 cup cedar shavings, !/2 cup lavender, 1/4 cup each of pennyroyal, santolina or southernwood, peppermint, lemon verbena, thyme, and rosemary. Mix 1/8 cup each of whole cloves, lemon peel and orris root chips. Place 6 drops each of cedar, lemon and lavender oils onto the clove mixture and then add to the leafy mixture. Combine gently.