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Carpet Moths

WHAT’S EATING MY CARPET?!

Carpet moths are especially prolific at this time of year due to the warm weather. The average householder has no idea about this type of moth, often believing it is the adult moths of other bigger and more brightly coloured species that are munching on their carpets and fabrics. As the carpet moth is so small you may not even realise you have a problem until you notice the worn patches on your carpet. Here is some information which may be of interest.

If you have a carpet made from natural fibres, such as wool, and have noticed small balding patches in the corners and at the edges, you may have an infestation of carpet moths.

Moths

Carpet moths are very small (under a centimetre long), a dull brown colour, and will often scurry around rather than using their wings. They originally live out in the wild, usually in the nests of birds and other animals. They feed on the protein fibres which are naturally discarded by their hosts and choose to live in animal habitats for this reason. They also benefit from the warmth of the animal and, unlike other species of moth, prefer dark rather than light places.

To end up nesting in a carpet the moths would need to find a way in to the home, and it is not uncommon for them to enter attached to an article of clothing or other item.

Once inside a moth will look for a hiding place where it is safe to lay its eggs. As it prefers dark areas, the most common places for infestation are around skirting boards and under cupboards, book cases and other furniture.

The only interest in carpeting for a carpet moth is the protein value of natural fibres. A room containing twenty square metres of wool carpet would be heaven for them, providing a plentiful land to reproduce and spread for generations to come.

A common misconception is that it’s the adult moths that cause the damage to a carpet, when actually it’s the larvae. The adults lay eggs on products that the larvae will consume. As soon as the eggs hatch the larvae will start feeding on the carpet fibres. This stage usually lasts between 68 to 87 days. The larvae of Tinea Pellionella (the ‘Casemaking’ moth) spin protective cases around themselves, leaving the ends open so that they can use their jaws and legs. These cases (which resemble grains of rice) are dragged around with the larvae as they move and eventually become the cocoon in which they pupate and develop into adult moths.

Carpet moths like humid conditions, so at this time of year they are especially prolific. However, since the advent of central heating, moths now breed all year round.

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HOW TO DEAL WITH AN INFESTATION

This is a problem that needs attention, because it will only continue to get worse. Also, did you know that the very same larvae that are eating your carpets will also quite happily munch away on your favourite items of clothing if they are made from natural fibres? Yes, I know, it’s a scary thought!

When it comes to getting rid of these creatures, however, controversy ensues. Different websites will site everything from placing an infested rug in the sun for a few hours to rolling them up and placing them in a cavernous freezer. But my advice to you is…. simply…. don’t waste your time!

A carpet suffering from moth infestation will require professional attention if it is to be dealt with successfully. If you suspect you have an infestation, call me and I will be able to help and advise you.

 

 

DEALING WITH SPILLS AND STAINS

Everyone spills a drink from time to time, or drops toast and marmalade (sticky side down of course!) onto a carpet or a three-piece suite.

Cup 1x

The problem is that for you as a customer professional cleaners are not usually foremost in your thoughts during the initial stages of panic.

The drinks most commonly spilled seem to be tea, coffee, red wine and beer. Tea and coffee can create some challenges even for the professional cleaner, so bear this in mind when you try to remedy the problem yourself!

When I’m called out to such accidents, as I regularly am, the first thing I do when faced with these types of stains is to complete a survey.

The natural dyes (tannin) contained within tea and coffee can differ depending on whether the drink is decaffeinated or flavoured. The temperature of the drink at the time of the spillage, and whether it contained milk and/or sugar, are also important factors to consider. Hot tea and coffee will penetrate deeper into the substrate, swelling the fibres and exposing the dye sites to the staining material. The fibres then cool, trapping the stain and making it more difficult to remove. Dairy products (specifically the protein element) become more difficult to deal with the longer they are left in the substrate, and sugar can caramelise into a hard deposit.

Once I have assessed the stain, I then ask if anything (and if so ‘what?’) has already been done in an attempt to remove it. This may affect how I choose to clean the stain or even the final success.

WineGlass 960

Next, I establish what fibres and constructions are present in the item/s I have been asked to clean. Natural fibres are more absorbent than synthetic fibres. They can also be more easily damaged by spot and stain removal processes.

On completing the survey, I discuss with you what sort of result may be achieved, inform you what risks are involved and test all the products I intend to use in an inconspicuous area.

It’s always a good idea to clean the whole area first, as many spots will come out (or at least lighten) from this process and this will reduce the intensity of the stain removal product that is required on any residual stains.

It’s important to deal with any remaining stains carefully. I will only use products with particular note to the limitations imposed on me by the fibre type and construction. One major consideration here is to check backing materials for potential colour bleed/migration. Some stains can take as long to deal with as cleaning a whole carpet/suite.

(This was a recent job. Vodka and coke was the main ingredient!)

0407-Buss (1)       0407-Buss (3a)

(I love the ‘before’ and ‘after’ situations)

So next time you have one of those common little accidents please take this advice:-

  • Don’t panic – it’s happened so let’s look at the best way to deal with it!
  • Don’t use any random product you may have in your cupboard to remove the stain which may make it worse or damage your carpet or furniture.
  • Check my website here for a useful and safe process if you intend to do anything.
  • If you still have an issue give me a ring and I’ll either advise you over the phone or come and have a look at the problem myself.

Thanks for reading. If you got this far please consider sharing this post with your family and friends.

Andy