Despite their size, moths – or more precisely, moth larvae – can make short work of a carpet or rug. Damage can be costly to repair, if it’s possible to mend at all. Left untreated the infestation can spread around your home. Fortunately, we have all you need to know about how to get rid of carpet moths.
How do carpet moths get into your house?
There are few things you need to know before you can start getting rid of carpet moths:
Carpet moths have a strong sense of smell. In particular they are attracted to the scent of fur, silk and wool.
The reason moths like natural fibres such as wool and fur (but also hair and dead skin!) is because their larvae eat a protein found in all those substances called keratin.
The larvae need somewhere to grow, so a moth will search out somewhere with a food source that has the likes of wool, hair, skin and food debris available. They like low-traffic parts of a room, especially if they are infrequently vacuumed.
If you have a continual moth problem, note that the winged pests aren’t interested in man-made fibres, so a carpet constructed of non-natural materials could be the way to go.
Signs of carpet moths
How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?
Be vigilant around carpets, rugs and soft furnishing in your home. Remember, moths are interested in any natural fibres, especially if in a dark, dusty corner. Things to watch out for include:
Holes or frayed edges to your rug or carpet
Adult moths congregating on your rug or carpet
The grubs themselves are rather small to spot directly, but look for a white, web-like material in the fibres of your rug or carpet.
How to get rid of carpet moths naturally: 6 top tips
If you think you have an infestation this how to get rid of carpet moths. Your first priority is to get to work on the problem ASAP – they can do some serious damage if you don’t get on top of the infestation right away.
Turn down the heating. Carpet moths and their larvae like warm, humid environments.
Vacuum regularly and carefully. You want to remove any eggs that may be in or on your carpet, as well as clean up any hair, skin or food debris, which the larvae need to survive. Remember to get behind and under furniture, as moths enjoy dark, quiet places.
In addition to vacuuming, make sure you keep on top of your carpet cleaning. We have some easy carpet cleaning tips here to get you started.
Make a homemade moth repellent. Place dried herbs, such as rosemary, thyme or lavender, into a small cloth bag. Hang this in areas you have been treating for carpet moths. Replace every couple of months to keep the scent fresh.
If you have a particularly bad infestation or want to make sure you got all the larvae, use a steam cleaner on the carpet – the heat will take care of any that are left (if you don’t want to buy a cleaner you can hire one). If you have a carpet cleaning care guide make sure to check that it’s okay to use a steam cleaner; you’ll also want to be careful using high temperatures on antique or oriental rugs.
If all else fails, it may be time to call in pest control. They will have specialised equipment to get rid of the infestation from your home quickly and easily.
Natural moth repellent remedies
It’s always worth having some extra solutions to hand – try any of these to help with your carpet moth problem.
Moths will steer clear of the scent of cedarwood, so a bag of cedar chips or a block of wood strategically placed will act as a deterrent.
Moth larvae don't take kindly to the acidic nature of vinegar. Make up a solution of equal-parts white vinegar and water and spray directly onto infected areas. To help repel moths, wipe down floors, counters and the insides of drawers and cupboards with the solution. You can spray directly on fabrics, but be careful as some fabrics such as silk and suede can be damaged by the vinegar (if you’re unsure, do a spot test on an inconspicuous part of the material).
Use sachets of dried mint leaves, or dampen cotton balls with peppermint oil and place around the house as required. Replace when the mint smell starts to fade.
How to fix carpet moth damage
Hopefully you’ve brought the infestation to an end, but it’s possible the moths have done some harm to your carpets or rugs. As moth infestations aren’t usually covered by household insurance having a few tricks up your sleeve to deal with the damage they leave behind is especially important.
If a moth hole is 5mm or less in diameter you can use a fusible bonding web to disguise the damage.
For larger holes, you may want to use a matching carpet scrap to replace the damaged area. Steps to fix larger damaged areas are similar to those we share in our tips on how to fix a burnt carpet.
Using a utility knife, remove the damaged section of carpet taking care to avoid cutting the padding beneath.
Cut the carpet scrap to size, using the removed piece as a guide. Don’t forget to line up any patterns to match the piece you are replacing.
Stick down some carpet tape to the padding in the area you are replacing.
Line up your carpet scrap and press firmly in place.
If you have been unsuccessful in repairing the carpet moth damage yourself, consider asking a professional for help. As a final option, it may be time to replace the rug or carpet.
If you have a problem with pantry moths in your house and are worried about how to get rid of them, fret not – just follow our guide here on how to get rid of pantry moths.
Your carpet moth questioned answered
What causes moths in carpets?
Adult female moths lay larvae in carpets, which, when hatched, will munch away at a material called keratin. Keratin is found in natural fibres such as wool or silk, making any carpet or clothing with any such content a target. It’s also present in organic matter such as dead skin and hair (that includes pet hair, so if you have a cat or dog in your house you might need to pay special attention).
The adult moths themselves don’t eat the carpet and only live a few months, but one female can lay up to 200 eggs at a time, so it’s not difficult for an infestation to get started.
How long do carpet moths live?
That depends. A larva can develop into a month in as little as two months if it has the right conditions of heat and humidity.
During colder parts of the year maturation is slower (though central heating can create a year-round problem). At the other extreme, a larvae can take a couple of years to develop.
How do I get rid of moths in my house?
The key is to act quickly once you see any signs of moth activity (see above to find out what to look for). Given the potentially fast lifecycle of a moth and the number of eggs that an adult female can lay, you can quickly be facing a household problem as the moths spread, attacking carpets, rugs and other fabrics made of wool, cashmere, silk, leather or fur.
If you have carpet moths, follow the advice above. For other types, you want to directly tackle the infestation. Remove any contaminated food (so-called pantry moths like to lay their eggs in dry goods); if they are in your clothes get them in the washing machine in the highest heat possible and then tumble dry (check the care label first – see here for what the washing symbols on clothes labels mean). Then get the vacuum out and go over everything in the vicinity, from the floorboards to the walls (don’t forget to immediately chuck the vacuum bag in case it has larvae in it). For more, check out our guide on how to get rid of moths in the house.
How do I prevent moths in my house?
The best way is to make the environment unappealing for moths. That means sealing unseasonal clothes in airtight bags (make sure you wash them beforehand), while foods go into airtight containers. Then vacuum on a regular basis, as moths can be drawn to crumbs and dust.
Make sure to get behind furniture and into any corners or crevices. To be thorough, periodically remove sofa cushions and take off any removable cover to give them a shake or wash.
It’s also a good idea to give any rugs, furniture fabrics, cushion covers and clothing an airing as moths like humid spots. If possible, hang outside in sunlight (especially if anything has been in storage awhile). Finally, place homemade moth repellents (like the ones described above) in high-risk areas; cedar wood will also keep the pests at bay.
Does vinegar kill carpet moths?
White vinegar is a great natural sanitizer that helps to repel moths. See above for details on how to make up an effective solution and use it.