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How To Get Rid Of Clothes Moths: A Step-By-Step Guide

Moth damage to carpets or rugs

A beautiful, well furnished, and the richly decorated house is what everyone craves for.

A home enriched in the goodness of modern furniture, accent walls, antique pieces, and Vinyl or tiled flooring is a perfect package for anyone who possesses an excellent aesthetic sense.

Having walls in various contrasting colours, matching to your vintage or modular furniture puts a significant impact on one’s personality.

But did you forget about the flooring? You need to decide if you want to give the floors more of a traditional look or an electric feel.

Whether you go for a chic feel or you tend to stick to the basics, carpets and rugs are must-haves to enhance the aura of your favourite corner in the house. 

No matter how well decorated the house is, a worn-out carpet or rug destroys the overall look of the room.

It’s so hurtful and devastating seeing an expensive carpet or rug ruined by a moth attack.

They can be a pain in the ass if not treated on time.

If you haven’t ever experienced such an attack, your lady-luck is by your back and, not going to leave you anytime soon.

As for some people, it might be a nerve-wracking experience to adhere to. 

Have you ever wondered from where does this stress-causing insect come?

This species of insects, causing havoc in your house loves to live in the dark.

They’re such anti sunlight, as when exposed to it, they give their lives and vanish.

You’ll find them outside in the open, but they can slip into your home without even ringing the bell. Raw food and soft fabric is their favourite habitat.

They feed on Keratin; found in wool, and it’s their most liked protein to live on. Due to the tiny and sleek structure, it’s often difficult to sense them.

However, they often attack unattended furniture and clothing items, and yes never to forget the expensive hand-woven carpets and rugs.

These tiny creatures love to live in a warm and humid environment.

Dampen surfaces, and less looked after furnishing is where they live and grow.

Their eggs and larvae are more destructive as compared to the adult beast.

The adults are destructive in a way that they will keep mating and producing hundreds of eggs in a go.

Treating them can be heavy on the pockets, and you may feel ridiculed as they may re-grow.

It is challenging to get your house moth free.

Never expect that in a blink of an eye they’ll go away, and you’ll not need to do anything.

However, this can happen naturally only when the temperature isn’t natural for them or when they’ve got nothing to feed onto.

Moreover, keeping a constant check and an effective cleaning regime is the only way out to get rid of them. 

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Life-chain of moths:

Their lifespan depends upon where they live.

If these little monsters are living indoors, they are expected to live more.

Each mama moth can lay up to 150 eggs, which becomes mature in five days.

These eggs turn into larvae when hatched and have a sluggish structure.

It is estimated that the adult moths can live up to two and a half years, whereas, the baby worms can live from zero to thirty months.

The eggs of the moth are pint-sized that they get hidden in the thread knots on the rug/carpet.

It becomes hectic to remove them from whatever surface they’ve grown into.

In a little time, the larva can do a lot of damage as the female moth lays many eggs at a time.

The caterpillar outgrows the cocoon and slips outside.

It is usually hard to identify the larva as they can change their colour to whatever meal they’re enjoying.

After the female moth lays the eggs after mating, she dies.

This way, their life-chain continues, and they keep destroying your favourite pieces.

How to identify them?

Moths come in all shapes and sizes. The tapestry moth, also called carpet moths, can be found everywhere in the world.

However, they vary from a typical house moth. But you need to understand a few features so that it becomes easier to identify another earthling living around you.

Carpet moths are smaller than a regular moth.

Their wings, when fully stretched, make up to 14-18mm.

The winter season is not ideal for the moths to grow and reproduce.

Summertime is perfect for them as they like growing in warmer and denser environments.

They’re fed on fur, wool, natural fiber, and animal skin. 

They grow on a carpet piece that is undercover.

What I mean by the cover is a hindrance from direct sunlight and less attention to detail.

You may often find a lot of eggs laying around the carpet piece which maybe hasn’t been cleaned for a while or is kept in the store-room, or perhaps the section beneath the Chester drawer or the bed can get affected.

It is not a rare practice, seeing structures in shape on a rice bean; they’re the moth eggs from which the larvae have slugged out.

Interestingly, the worms get blanched and possess colour-shifting capabilities. 

How do you know the attack has happened?

The carpet moths do have wings; they don’t use them to fly very high, but they hop using them. However, if you find a lot of moths bouncing around the house, this is a trigger point for you. But, don’t panic, deep cleaning will do the game.

If you see some insects with distinctive spotty bodies, sticking to or nearby the window; exposed to the sunlight, or maybe your entrance door, these are the adult moths.

After you’ve seen the moth army living peacefully, and undisturbed in your home, it’s the right time to start the inspection.

Bring up all of your investigating skills because who will want to lose a precious piece of rug for the sake of these ugly carpet eaters.

Most probably, what you will find is a big bald patch of rug already gone into the teensy weensy stomachs of these worms.

You’ll also notice some threads dangling out of the eaten piece with the silverish creepers lurking behind the carpet.

Lastly, the shells or the cocoons will be lying around the carpet where the infection has occurred.

To get you safe from any hassle of finding and treating these bugs, while cleansing, make a rule to turn the rug over and look for any white-sandy particles sticking beneath the carpet.

These little powdery pieces are the moth eggs as they grow in dampened and shadow-ey places. 

Mesmerizingly, these bugs only eat a specific colour, and they don’t like switching the taste buds very often. So, the carpet gets eaten in patches in a colour-synchronized manner.

There are very few chances that the moths will attack a rug spread on the runway or the gallery of your house, because of the constant use.

But, the ones which you would have kept in the storeroom might get severely affected as the humid, dampen environment is a treat to them.

Make it a part of your cleaning routine, to at least for once a week, give all the carpets, and rugs a good sunbath.

Sunlight is a natural killing agent for the larvae. However, the males and adult moths enjoy it.

But, it doesn’t matter, because they cause no harm. 

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How to control it?

The infestation will start from an end corner, and it will go on the whole thing.

But with early prevention, you can save your life.

Regular vacuuming and in-depth cleaning routines will prevent the female moths from doing their business.

Once in a week, get your sleeves up, and invest a few hours in cleaning.

Do focus on the backside of the carpet as this is mainly the hub for laying eggs.

In-case, the rug is very roomy, and you’re afraid of how to clean the whole thing then fold the carpet over and clean in patches.

Start from the borders and later expand to the center. Also, look for any air passages in your house.

It is where the worms enter your home and, later on, they reach the point which is the dirtiest or untouched.

Keep using the stored items from time to time.

The more time a rug/carpet has invested in the cupboard or the storeroom; there are more chances for the female larvae to lay its eggs there. 

Go for natural ways:

Apart from doing regular cleaning do try some natural methods to prevent yourself from an irritable moth war.

You can always rely on Mother Nature for taking coercive actions against these bugs.

Some natural repellents like Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Cedar chips, and bay leaves are an excellent gift of nature which can be used against the larva.

Cloves contain Eugenol, which makes it a natural antiseptic. Even mint does the work. Take a handful of dried or fresh mint leaves and roughly spread them over the carpet in the store.

We, humans, get attracted to the sweet aromatic smell of mint, cloves and lavender, but these bugs hate it. 

Use these dried herbs and make little sachets of them, and put each sachet in the storage unit and forget worrying anymore. If you don’t have access to the dried herbs, you may rely on the essential oil or the natural extracts of these real lifesavers.

Keep changing the sachets regularly, and put in fresh herbs, as with time, they lose their natural tendencies to kill these moths.

Same is the case with cedar chips; it loses its scent.

Every three months, buy fresh cedar chips and line your storage unit with them.

However, I have come up with another list of natural repellents which are safest to use to cure the moths.

These natural antiseptics can be found easily in the nearby grocery store, or if you don’t trust the authenticity of your store, go to any herbalist.

They have them in the purest forms as this is what they specifically deal in. 

Lemon peels, Cinnamon sticks, Eucalyptus leaves, and Indian Lilac Oil are some other trustworthy natural repellents.

All of these are super beneficial when used correctly.

Cinnamon sticks must always be packed together in small bunches as they’re likely to wear off quickly.

Put a few sticks of cinnamon in the folds of the rug before storing it; its strong aroma will prevent any moths from attacking the carpet.

Look for any cracks, holes and such areas that are prone to a moth attack.

Drop a few drops of the Lilac oil in the sensitive locations where you think a possible infestation might take place.

Sundry a few eucalyptuses’ leaf and, make a powder of it. Sprinkle the eucalyptus powder on the expectedly affected areas.

Apart from these sage leaves also fight well against the moth epidemic. 

Some more remedies:

Red cedar is a species of coniferous trees which acts as a natural repellent.

It is toxic-free and has no chemical in it, and lowers the humidity in the environment and fights against all the bugs, insects, and moths.

It even helps remove the moldy smell caused by the moisture.

Cider wood can be used in a lot of ways to combat against these tiny insects.

It is a very effective cure for the wreck caused by moths.

Cinnamomum camphor is the tree from which the camphor root blocks are made.

They naturally have a powerful odor and act as a repellent against these bugs and insects.

They have the capabilities to protect your expensive woollen or cashmere rugs and carpets from decaying.

As, the moths reproduce in moisture, by keeping a camphor root block in the storage, there will be no chance for any moisture to leave behind.

These aromatic blocks will absorb all of it.

As it’s a natural ingredient, its smell might go away with time. For this, just polish the surface of these blocks, and the sweet aroma will come back.

Once all the natural and home remedies are tried, and still, there are some bits of moths roaming on your carpets, now is the time to switch to durable chemical products. For herbs, it is hard to reach down the carpet till the base mesh.

Use trigger sprays to eradicate the larvae and moth eggs hiding inside the most deep-seated knots of the rug.

Spray both the back and front side of the infested rug, and don’t forget to spray the particular infested area of the rug.

Moth balls:

It is commonly practiced to use moth-balls for controlling insects for rugs. But, the compounds which they contain are inefficient.

They don’t act as a temporary repellent, but in no way, they can fix your problem permanently.

Naphthalene has an unpleasant smell which can be difficult to withstand, and it doesn’t function impressively too.

Most importantly, paradichlorobenzene is very harmful to human health, explicitly damaging the kidneys and the liver.

Moreover, if they’re by chance eaten by kids or pets, immediate death can occur.

It is not recommendable for everyday use in the house; however, if used, then use only in small portions.

The toxic elements of which the moth-balls are made are detrimental to health in many ways.

It can cause a lot of side effects, like; Irritation to throat and lungs, and nose.

If inhaled via the nose, somebody may feel nausea and depression. The liver and kidney can also be affected severely.

The naphthalene balls can cause a break down in the red blood cells due to which is a cause of anemia.

Naphthalene is not only inhaled by the nose, but the skin also absorbs it.

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Other methods:

Moths can be hectic to cure, and once they settle somewhere, they’re hard to go away. Here are some more ways to kick them away from your home and be tension free. 

Home-made Moth trap:

The adult moths get attracted to bright colours and sunlight, unlike the larvae, which enjoy humid environments.

Make a moth trap at home using this simple trick.

For this, you’ll only need a bright coloured paper or cardboard strip.

Pour some oil over the paper and rub it gently over the surface to make it sticky so that the adult insects might get clung onto the paper.

When many moths get stuck, throw away the paper. 

Borax treats:

Borax is a white mineral; used as an antiseptic and a metallurgic flux.

It is an excellent repellent when mixed with cornmeal.

Take 1/4th cup of borax and 3/4th cup of the cornmeal.

Give it a gentle shake and put in a jar with its lid open.

Place the jar in the infected area and wait for the bugs to enjoy their new feast.

As the bugs will smell the cornmeal, they’ll get attracted to it, and eventually, they’ll end up eating the poisonous mixture.

Keep a check on the jar and look for any dead bugs in it.

Change the lure every month until all of the insects are gone. 

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Diatomaceous earth:

Diatomaceous earth or Diatomite is a smooth textured rock that turns into crumbles even on soft touch.

It is often off-white or white. This substance kills the eggs, larvae, and adults in seconds.

It is very toxic for small insects and flies.

Spread some bits of this powder on or nearby the infected areas, and at once, the erosion will start.

For humans, it is un-hurtful and food-grade but, for small carpet eaters, it is no less than a mammoth.

 Vinegar solution:

Vinegar is a fabulous yet cheap antiseptic that is readily available at any drug or departmental store. Vinegar, when used with baking soda, makes a lovely natural repellent for bugs and small insects

. Never use the vinegar alone, instead, dilute it in water and make a solution.

Dip a cotton pad in this solution and lightly dab over the infestation.

If you directly pour this solution over the surface, the carpet may fade away its colour, and it might leave some ugly stains. 

Dryer technique:

As we know, moths like to live in dark, less airy, and compounded places.

They refrain from any heat or light.

Keeping in mind their living conditions, why not use the dryer technique? Everybody in their homes has a hairdryer which is very sophistically packed, and its connecting wires are made tangle-free, and then put in the dresser drawer.

Why is it resting in there? Take it out and start the mass killing.

Set the Hairdryer on its highest temperature setting.

Gently move it over the surface, focusing on one patch first then move to the next.

It is a very feasible method for home-based cleaning.

The insects upon getting heated up will die instantly. You can also put the infested rug in the oven or the cooking range.

Set the temperature to 150degrees, and leave the carpet in for about half an hour. After it is out, it will be insect free and usable. 

Use the Hydrometer:

Hydrometers are used to reduce the level of humidity in a house.

If you install a hydrometer, set its setting at 50% or below.

Moths love to live in moisture and relatively warm temperatures.

Make sure that your house is less inviting for these wild creatures.

Dehumidifiers are used everywhere to stop the infestation. 

Another technique is using freezers or chillers.

Fold the infected rug or a not-so-big-carpet and put in the freezers for about a week. After you take the carpet out, the insects will immediately shred off.

Wash the infected piece and give it a good press. Moth eggs are hard to get off, and it takes a lot of time and energy to get rid of them, but a good wash after the cold treatment will help in getting them out.

Giving cold treatments to these tiny bugs is a very convenient technique. 

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How to store, and clean the rugs/carpets?

Usually, people throw away the rugs/carpets already in use into the storerooms when they make a new purchase.

They don’t care about the circumstances which can occur later. Whenever an area rug in use, there are high chances that it will have food spills, pet hair, etc. and, this is what the moth feeds on.

The larvae don’t feed on the wool but other things hidden behind the yarn.

Below are a few techniques to clean the rug before storing it. 

· First thing’s first, take the carpet out and give it a hard shake.

It will consume a lot of effort and movement in doing so but trust me, it is worth the effort.

Shaking the carpet will cause all of the small particles stuck in its knots and threads to fall.

You may hang the rug on your terrace railing and stand on its one end to exert some pressure.

Then, by the help of a broom beat the carpet hard.

In this way, all the dust, food particles, eggs, and the adults will fall out. 

· After taking it out, and giving a shake, wash it properly.

If the rug is not so big, you can easily clean it at home.

Use the right quality washing agent and scrape off all the dirt by the help of a carpet brush or a scraper.

Once washed, dry the rug either in a drying machine or put it under the sun.

Sunlight is an enemy to moths and carpet eaters.

You can also iron the carpet after washing it.

For this, spread cotton linen on top of the rug and iron on relatively high temperature.

It will kill any remaining eggs or larvae.

For carpets and rugs bigger in size, refer to the expert cleaners.

They’ve commercial washing machines and are aware of all the tips and tricks used at an industrial level.

· Once washed and dried do a pest control spray onto the rug or carpet.

It will help to control any future infestation.

The pest sprays come in various varieties and are toxic. Always cover your face with a facemask before spraying it over.

Keep these sprays away from the reach of children.

You can still get some professional help, but why relying on others when you can do it yourself. 

· Now, put the sprayed and well-folded rugs into plastic, air-tight containers.

If the carpet is small and doesn’t occupy much space, you can fold it in layers and put in a zip lock bag. Moreover, vacuum any air from the pack, so there are no chances for the moths to come back.

Vacuuming is significant in case of cleaning regimes against moth control.

Don’t leave anything dirty, and keep your area rugs filth free.

While cleaning, never miss to clear away the dirt under the sofas, beds, Chesters, curtains, and upholstery. Once, you’ve vacuumed the infected rug, change the filter daily.

The larvae are so minute that they get stuck on the base of the filter, make sure you remove it thoroughly so that none of them ever comes back.

If the moths are very irritating and not ready to go, use some commercial products like carpet moth fumers, smoke bombs, powders, and sprays. The fumers are professionally certified moth killing agents.

They perforate deeply into nooks and crannies, carpets, and the rugs.

They take aggressively violent action against these insects and, kill them in seconds because of their super-strong formulae.

These fumers burn for merely thirty seconds, and they’re enough to kill these insidious worms. 

Moths love the summer season for having a raise in their population.

In summers, these moths are most active.

Hatching process becomes fast in summers than winters. Within ten days in the summer’s months, the eggs hatch and the larvae come out leaving behind the cocoons.

Their peak time is when the sun goes down the west because they hate sunlight and its warmth.

When a female moth gets pregnant, it stops flying and only hops at short distances.

A sudden shift in the temperatures is also unsuitable for moths to survive.

If you are already storing your unused carpets/rugs or other woollen items in the cupboard, you’re doing the wrong thing.

Instead, store them in the basement where the temperature is low. 

Carpet moths are not hazardous for humans and pets, but the cost it puts to remove them is quite much.

They don’t affect the health in any way unless they reach the raw food.

They gradually spread in the whole house if not appropriately cleaned; this can be dangerous, not a moth itself in general. 

It doesn’t matter if the fabric of your carpet is silk or wool.

Moths like to feed on a lot of what nature has gifted us, and it does include silk.

No wool rug made out of pure pashmina or cashmere is safe from moths.

Similar is the case with any oriental carpet made of silk or another synthetic fiber.

Carpet moths only feed on the natural supply like food spills, hair, nails, pet wool, dust, and so on.

They don’t rely on artificial fibers to feed, but synthetic fibers can provide them with a home to live.

These moths lay their eggs in the strands of thread.

When they hatch, the larvae feed on the dust and soil collected inside the thread knots of the synthetic carpets, not the carpet itself.

The baby worms need nutrients to grow, and a dirty carpet is a hub of such nutrients. When the food supply gets finished from one area, these moths move to a nastier place to get more nourishment. 

In conclusion, moth attacks can be tiresome and hard to fight.

Nasty places which are not taken care of on regular intervals are the most attacked.

Make it a rule to clean your home deeply every weekend.

Get your carpets and rugs professionally cleaned after every year. Today, a small investment in the cleaning routines will save you from a significant loss tomorrow.

As, when a hole and a balding patch appears, it not only give your pockets a mini heart attack but your heart too.

I understand, even the thought of deep cleaning every corner of the house is daunting, and it may give you shrills, but it’s for sure worth the try.


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