Pests can cause trouble for retail stores in many ways. They can alarm customers, disrupt workers and give stores bad reputations. Pests can mar the cleanliness of retail spaces, and certain types can carry pathogens that may cause disease. Some pests, such as rodents and termites, can even be destructive. And for retail clothing stores, there’s another worry --- pests that can damage garments.

Which Types of Pests Can Damage Clothes in Your Store?

One of the last things that a store manager or owner wants is to pull a piece of clothing off the rack to show a customer, only to discover a hole in it from pest damage. It’s also not productive or profitable when a customer has to return an item because he or she discovered pest damage after getting home with the product. Inferior quality merchandise can harm a store’s reputation as well as customer loyalty. Ultimately, damaged clothing can mean a negative impact for your business because items must be repaired or possibly discarded if the damage is severe.

Some Pests That Can Damage Your Clothing

Clothes Moth

There are two species of moths that are commonly called "clothes moths" - the actual clothes moth and the clothes webbing moth. Adult clothes moths don't damage clothing. It’s actually the clothes moth larvae that damage clothing by consuming keratin, a protein found in animal-based materials. Since adult female clothes moths typically lay 100 to 300 eggs at a time in areas where there is ample food for the larvae, it’s easy to see how infestations can build quickly. Materials that clothes moth larvae may attack include wool, fur, feathers, leather, lint, mohair and silk. They may also feed on some organic fabric blends or clothing heavily stained with food, perspiration or oils.

Carpet Beetle

Like the clothes moth, carpet beetle larvae are clothes damaging culprits. Adult female carpet beetles lay about 100 eggs that hatch into larvae that can hang around for as long as a year. Their larvae may feed on items in your store made of wool, fur, feathers, cotton, linen, and soiled synthetic fibers.

Related > Why You Should Consider IPM for Your Retail Store

What Can Retail Professionals Do?

As a store owner or manager, there are some steps you can take to help prevent problems with these pests:

  1. Inspect all incoming and returned goods
  2. Don’t give fabric-eating pests the chance to hide in your store. For carpet beetles, frequently vacuum areas where they like to hide, such as carpets, rugs, fabric wall hangings and upholstered furniture, to help remove larvae.
  3. Keep the clothes in your store clean, and quickly remove any stains that you find on garments, such as perspiration stains that may be left behind after clothes have been tried on, as well as food or oil stains that could attract destructive larvae.
  4. If you find an infestation, or signs of one, isolate or remove damaged clothing from your store to help prevent spreading the insects or larvae. If you dispose of damaged merchandise, be sure to seal the items in plastic bags first so that insects can’t emerge and cause additional damage.
  5. Contact a commercial pest control provider for help. Do-it-yourself methods are often ineffective and you want to avoid any further problems that ineffective methods can cause. Contact a commercial pest control company with experience in treating retail stores, such as Terminix® Commercial.

The trained technicians at Terminix Commercial know how to deliver customized, comprehensive retail-specific pest control that targets the biggest threats to your business. An effective professional pest control plan can help you prevent issues that can hinder your customer’s shopping experience, your store’s reputation and your productivity.


Request a free estimate