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bugs in damask table cloths

JillElise | Posted in General Discussion on


I am a cook’s talk person who also sews only very simple things, but who has a large collection of fabric (yikes!!). So much for my credentials.

WHen I took one of my damask table cloths out to use for Christmas, it had little dead bugs in it that looked as if they had nested, bred and left. The cloths are in a freestanding wooden cupboard.

I NEVER store cloth in pastic. I intend to launder everything in the cupboard in January.

What are these things? Would the things that keep moths away from wool keep them away, too.

Thanks on advance.


Jill Elise Vancouver BC


  1. HeartFire2 | | #1

    Were the table cloths starched? bugs love the starch, so make sure when they are laundered they are not starched if they are going to be stored for a while. I don't know if mothballs or cedar chips would work but I don't' see why not.

    1. user-51823 | | #3

      excellent suggestion about no starch before storage. jill. what did bugs look like? tiny beetles, or were there moth casings?
      supposedly. cedar doesn't work unless stored in an airtight place. i hhave taken to storing many cloth items in sealed plastic bins with a chunk of cedar plank. since i've been doing that, no problems

      1. JillElise | | #4

        No Starch. They are tiny beetle like things.

        1. Teaf5 | | #5

          In our area, we call them carpet beetles, although they spend part of their lives as moths.  They will go to any spot left on natural fiber fabrics and especially love linens that aren't moved around very often.  If your linens had any starch in them, the glutens probably attracted the pests.

          I've had good luck with a length of cedar closet lining placed inside each box or on the shelf of stored fabric or linens; I bought a box with a few square feet of cedar closet boards at the hardware store, cut them to the length of my storage boxes, and sanded them lightly before placing them beneath the fabrics.  

          I also cut lengths of cedar closet lining and drilled holes in one end to hang from ribbons in every closet.  Every spring and fall, I have to go through every closet and take everything out, tumble it on low/cool in the dryer, and replace it.  It's time consuming, but it discourages the carpet beetles and really keeps me from stockpiling items I no longer use! 

          1. JillElise | | #6

            Thank you very much.

            I cannot imagine that there was any starch in the cloth as it has been wahes many times and never starched, but all of my linens were lovingly collected from second hand stores so it's conceivable that there might be a trace remaining.

            Thanks again. I'll try the cedar. I am not averse to labour if it is in honour of a fine cloth!

  2. meg | | #2


    I wonder if lavender might keep the critters away.  It is true that lots of bugs like to eat starch.   Meg

  3. fabricholic | | #7

    Hi JillElise,

    Once I had carpet beetles that invaded my closet. I had to wash all my clothes and I just hung them outside on a clothes line to dry. I got a certain chemical that kills them and had to spray it in my closet. That happened one time and I never saw the bugs again. They eat tiny holes in the cloth.


    1. JillElise | | #8

      When I washed the damask cloth, I inspected more closely than I had on Christmas day when I was looking for a cloth to put on the table - I was a little rushed - and they were in fact little worms - larvae, I assume. Eek. I will wash everything in that cupboard. As for which method to use, I would prefer to use cedar to keep them away as someone else suggested. HAve you tried cedar and/or do you believe it would work?Thanks kindly.

      1. fabricholic | | #9

        Eek, is right, or I would also say Yuk! I don't know what cedar is good for because I am totally clueless about the worms. I've only had experience with those awful carpet beetles. Good luck.Marcy

      2. user-51823 | | #10

        cedar is cheap and easy, so try it and the worst that can happen is it doesn't work but leaves a nice smell. as i mentioned before, it apparently only works if in an airtight environment, so i pack all into a clear plastic bin with snap-tight lid. since starting this with countless bins of fabric, clothes, nature craft supplies, etc over a year ago, no problems of any kind.

      3. Teaf5 | | #11

        The worms are the carpet beetle larvae. Cedar has worked pretty well for me, even though it isn't in airtight containers. Airing and restacking are helpful, too.

        1. JillElise | | #12


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