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Everyone has those items that are special or essential to them — the family photograph, the favorite sweater, the chocolate truffles you’ve been saving for a bad day. So it’s understandable you’d want to keep these things protected and pest-free, but maybe don’t know where to start.

In this blog post, we’ll review some tips for how to prevent pests and wildlife from damaging your stuff, and how to safely store items in common household areas.

Clothing

When it comes to protecting your clothing, the two biggest pests you need to worry about here in the Pacific Northwest are Clothes Moths and Silverfish. They are attracted to dark, warm corners of your home and love chewing up your clothes, especially natural fibers like wool, silk, or cotton. Contrary to popular belief, adult moths actually don’t eat your clothes — but the larvae from the eggs they lay do.

Let’s look at a few tips for storing your clothes to protect them from pests. 

Tip #1: Don’t forget to deep clean your closet a few times each year

A key part of pest control in any home is prevention. When it comes to the dark corners of your closets, that means taking time every 2-3 months to perform a deep clean. Our short checklist includes: 

  • Vacuuming your closet’s corners, baseboards, and floors
  • Wiping down your closet walls
  • Picking up any clothes off the floor
  • Taking a quick look over your clothes (especially less worn ones) for signs of pest damage

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your closet will help deter pests from the area and can help you spot signs of potential entry points later on.

Tip #2: Only store clean clothes

Silverfish are attracted to human food, and therefore clothes with food on them. Clothes Moths have also been known to choose clothing — even synthetic fabrics — with organic food matter on them. That’s why it’s important to make sure your clothes are clean and clear of stains before you shove them back into your closet. 

Be extra careful with any clothing you purchase from a vintage or second-hand store too. Always make sure to wash and dry any secondhand or hand-me-down items before introducing them into your closet, especially if they are made of wool.

Tip #3: Use natural cedar to repel pests

You might be tempted to try mothballs to keep pests away from your clothes, but did you know that they release chemicals into the air that are toxic to both humans and pets over long periods of time? 

Instead, consider storing cedar blocks or cedar chips with your clothes, or investing in a cedar-lined closet or wardrobe. Cedar smells great to most humans, but Clothes Moths and Silverfish simply don’t like it and will avoid it. 

Two important things to note about using cedar as a pest repellant: 

  • Cedar loses its scent over time, so if you use it, set a reminder to lightly sand down the cedar every 2-3 months or so
  • Cedar releases an essential oil that repels pests but also effectively stains your clothing. Keep cedar from directly touching your clothing to prevent staining. 

Tip #4: Try hanging lavender with your clothes

Like cedar, lavender also releases a scent that Clothes Moths and Silverfish can’t stand. And it can make your clothes smell good, too! One easy way to protect your clothes from pests using lavender is to hang or store lavender sachets with your clothing. Alternatively, you can dab lavender essential oil onto cotton balls and hang them near your clothes.

 

Tip #5: Store precious or susceptible clothing in airtight bags

For clothing items you absolutely adore but don’t wear very often, consider storing them in an airtight bag, a garment bag, or a dry, airtight container. Look for something without holes or gaps in it — the idea is to block adult moths from getting into the container and laying eggs on your prized clothing. If there is a hole or a crack, simply tape it closed for extra security.

Food

Have you ever experienced the disappointment of going to eat some cereal and finding it covered in ants? Or discovered gnaw marks through the wrapper on that chocolate bar you were stashing for later? Mice, Ants, Fruit Flies, and Spiders are all common pests that infest kitchens around the Portland metro area. 

Here are some tips for how to keep them away from your food: 

  • Store your bulk food in airtight containers
  • Keep kitchen surfaces clean — wipe up any spills and crumbs right away 
  • Don’t leave food sitting out or dirty dishes piled up 
  • Use a trash can with a sealed lid in your kitchen, and make sure to empty it regularly 
  • Store pet food in a sealed container 
  • Clean out your pantry every few months, and wipe down the shelves to keep them clean 
  • Don’t leave fruit sitting out for too long

Attic and basement storage

Whether you’re wanting to protect your coveted Christmas decoration hand-me-downs from your great grandmother or simply trying to free up some extra space in your house, when you decide to store items in your attic or basement, it’s important to plan how you will keep them safe.

To do this, consider what exactly you’ll be storing in the basement/attic.

 

Do store Don’t store
Seasonal decorations Food
Unused pots and pans or other kitchen items (as long as they’re clean) Clothing
Suitcases and other infrequently used travel items Important documents or photographs

Especially here in the Pacific Northwest, know that your basement runs the risk of flooding or developing moisture that can damage stored items. The same is true for the attic if the roof leaks or the temperature changes. Not only that, but due to their dark, moist, and unfrequented nature, basements and attics are often ideal places for pests and rodents to hide. 

Keep your items safe by: 

  • Stowing items in plastic containers with lids rather than cardboard boxes. Cardboard can attract some pests, like Cockroaches, Silverfish, and Termites, especially if it gets wet. 
  • Store items in the basement off of the ground. If the basement does flood, this can help keep your items dry, and elevating your bins will eliminate easy access for rodents.
  • Check for signs of pests or rodents before you bring storage there, and for every few months afterward. If you notice signs of an infestation, work with your local pest control company to eliminate the problem and further prevent them in the future.

Outdoor items

To keep pests from infesting stored items in your garage, your garden shed, or generally around your home, it’s important to: 

  • Keep clutter, garbage, standing water, and compost away from your house or shed. The idea is to eliminate things that will attract pests and rodents and encourage them to come closer inside. Make sure your garbage, recycling, and yard waste bins are securely closed at all times, and that compost is situated at least 10 feet away from your house. 
  • Don’t store food in the garage — it should be stored inside in airtight containers inside your home 
  • Keep items off of the floor. Store items in plastic bins on shelves, and hang tools, bikes, and lawn equipment up on sturdy hooks to help keep things clean and harder to reach. 
  • Seal up any noticeable openings. Walk around the interior and exterior of these spaces to look for any place a pest or rodent might enter. Keep in mind mice can fit through holes the size of a dime!

Need help? Contact EcoCare today

There are many things you can do at home to prevent pest infestation and help keep your treasured items safe. But if you’re really worried about them, a licensed, experienced pest control company can be a lifesaver! 

Here at EcoCare, we’ve been helping Portland and Vancouver-area clients prevent and eliminate infestations for more than 15 years. We’d love to help you too! 

Contact us today to set up an appointment, or to learn more about our eco-friendly, non-toxic approach to pest control.

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