Do Termites Eat Clothes ?

If you have ever seen a termite, you know that they can be very destructive!

While most people are familiar with the damage termites can do to wood, few realize that these pests can also eat through clothes. Finding termites in your clothes can be really infuriating.

Apart from eating wood and paper, termites can also eat clothes. Termites love feeding on natural fibers like cotton and linen.

If you have noticed small holes in your clothes, it is likely that termites are the culprits. The good thing is, that termites can be removed from clothes relatively easily in hot water.

close up of termite mandibles

If it doesn’t work, you may try a different approach like using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. This will remove the termites and their eggs from your clothes.

You should also take some steps to prevent termites from coming back. Be sure to store your clothes in airtight containers and keep them away from damp areas.

Why Do Termites Eat Clothes?

Termites are detritivores. Detritivores are creatures that consume dead organic matter. A termite’s diet mainly includes wood, leaves, dead insects, animal feces, and materials derived from plants like paper, cardboard, and cotton.

Surprisingly, termites can eat through your clothes. This may seem like an odd choice of food for an insect, but there are actually a few reasons why termites might choose to snack on your wardrobe.

For one thing, clothing is made from natural fibers like cotton and linen, which contain cellulose. Termites are capable of digesting cellulose, so your clothes make for a nutritious meal.

Additionally, clothes are usually stored in dark, moist places like closets and drawers, making them an ideal environment for termites to thrive.

The insects typically make a small hole in the fabric and then begin eating their way through the material.

If you have termites in your closet, you may notice that your clothes are starting to look tattered and worn. Termites can quickly reduce a garment to nothing but a pile of thread and cloth fragments.

How to Remove Termites from Your Clothes

Termite damage to your clothing may be quite aggravating. It’s fortunate that they’re simple to remove with just a few steps.

human washing a piece of clothing in water


If you want to use something that you can easily find in your home, vinegar is a great choice. Vinegar is a natural acid that will kill the termites while being gentle on your clothes.

You can either soak your clothes in vinegar or spray it directly on the termites. You may need to treat your clothes more than once but be sure to wash your clothes well after treating them to remove any residue. Washing with vinegar will also help prevent termites in the future.


Washing your clothes with borates is a popular method to remove termites. Borates are natural antibacterial agents that will help kill off any termite eggs that may still be present on your clothes, as well as eliminate any remaining adult termites that might have gotten stuck in the fibers of your wardrobe.

After washing, it is important to dry the clothes fully before storing them away, as moisture is a major attractant for termites.

Orange Oil

One of the most effective methods for getting rid of these pesky insects is with orange oil.

Orange oil contains compounds that can kill and repel termites without harming other fabrics or materials in your wardrobe. D-limonene is a natural insecticide in citrus oil and it’s poisonous to termites.

Wet Cardboard

Surprising as it may be, wet cardboard is an easy and effective way to remove termites from your clothes. Simply Wet a piece of cardboard and place it over the infested area.

The termites will be attracted to the moisture and will start to feed on the cardboard. Once they have been completely removed, you can dispose of the cardboard.

This method is safe and effective, and it will not damage your clothing.


Sunlight is one of the most effective ways to remove termites from your clothes. Place the clothing in direct sunlight for at least two hours. The heat from the sun will kill the termites.

Cold Temperature

Termites are small, destructive pests that thrive in warm, humid environments. If you suspect that your clothes have been infested with termites, the first step is to remove them from your closet or dresser.

To do this, put all of your infested clothes into plastic bags and seal them tightly. Then, place the bags in your freezer for several days.

The cold temperature will kill the termites and their larvae. Once you’re sure that the insects are dead, wash your clothes in hot water to remove any remaining eggs or residue.

Related Articles: Can Termite Eat Cement.

Preventing Termites from Getting into Your Clothes in the First Place

Termites are small insect pests that can wreak havoc on your clothes and other textiles in your home.

To prevent termites from getting into your clothes in the first place, it’s important to take proactive steps to keep them out of your home.

Simple measures like sealing cracks and crevices around the perimeter of your house, using outdoor lighting to discourage access at night, and keeping debris away from the sides of your house can all help to deter these unwanted pests.

human sealing up a crack

Additionally, it’s important to regularly inspect clothing for signs of infestation: dark spots or trails on cloth, damaged fabric, and even swollen or chewed wooden buttons should all elicit concern.

By maintaining good housekeeping habits and being diligent about pest control measures, you can easily prevent termites from breaking into your favorite clothes and eating their way through them.

Final Thoughts

At first glance, it might not seem like termites would eat clothes at all. But in fact, these little pests eat clothes and can be quite damaging to clothing, sometimes even causing significant damage and holes.

While termites are typically drawn to wood and other plant-based materials, they have been known to snack on natural fabrics as well. However, there are several measures that can be taken to remove termites from your clothes and prevent them from reappearing.

These include using natural homemade or commercial pesticides that are toxic to termites but safe for human skin, regularly ventilating your home, and checking your clothing and linens often for signs of an infestation.

By taking these steps, you can help protect both yourself and your clothing from pesky bugs like termites.