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How to get rid of pantry moths

Learn how to get rid of pantry moths, and keep them away, with our guide to removing food moths.


By Cleanipedia Team

a close-up shot of a moth

Moths aren’t just interested in your clothes and carpets — they like dry foods, too. These pantry moths feast on dry goods in your cupboards or pantry, like flour and grains, and certainly aren’t welcome houseguests. Learn the difference between a pantry moth vs clothes moth, and discover how to get rid of pantry moths — and how to keep them away.

Pantry moth vs clothes moth: the difference

The main difference between these two types is that pantry moths — also known as Indian meal moths — feed on food (which is why they’re also known as food moths), whereas clothes moths feed on fabric. Clothes moths can also damage furniture and carpets made of natural fibres, like fur and wool.

They also look different from each other. At half an inch long, food moths are larger than clothes moths, which tend to be a quarter of an inch long (and are lighter in colour than pantry moths). These kitchen cupboard moths have smooth heads, while clothes moths have a tuft on the hair on their heads.

They live in different places, too. Clothes moths live in dark areas near fabrics, while pantry moths live where there’s food — no wonder they’re also called kitchen moths! You’re more likely to see pantry moths flying around lights, whereas clothes moths don’t fly well and aren’t attracted to light.

Whatever the type, you’ll want to get rid of moths in your home. Let’s move onto how to get rid of moths in the kitchen and say goodbye to your unwanted houseguests!

Once you’ve got rid of pantry moths, regularly check for signs of a re-infestation. Keep a look out for the actual moths/larvae, their cocoon webbing, and small holes in the packaging of your dry foods.

You will need:

  • Vacuum
  • Rubbish bags
  • Sticky traps
  • Hot water
  • Soap
  • Vinegar
  • Peppermint oil

How to get rid of pantry moths

Although finding an infestation of kitchen cupboard moths isn’t pleasant, once you know how to get rid of moths in the kitchen, you can take steps to remove the problem. This step-by-step process is an easy, thorough way to get rid of kitchen moths.

  1. Lay down sticky traps around the cupboard/pantry

    This will trap the moths, which will reduce the number of moths flying out into your room when you start cleaning.

  2. Remove everything

    You’ll need to have an entirely empty cupboard/pantry to be able to clean it thoroughly.

  3. Throw away infested/contaminated food

    You’ll need to get rid of all food that has pantry moths in it, and all other opened dry goods.

  4. Vacuum the cupboard/pantry

    If you have any shelf liners, throw them away. Use the angular nozzle on your vacuum cleaner to clear out the corners, baseboard, walls, and wire shelves.

  5. Remove the rubbish bags

    All of that contaminated food and vacuum bag contents need to go in a big bag and straight outside — preferably away from your house.

  6. Scrub with hot water and soap

    Thoroughly wash the doors, hinges, doorjambs, floors, racks, shelves, and cupboard/pantry walls with a sponge.

  7. Use vinegar, peppermint oil, and warm water to wipe down the cupboard/pantry

    Use a combination of one part vinegar, one part warm water, and a few drops of peppermint oil to keep the critters from returning.

  8. Clean containers/jars

    Any glass/plastic food containers that were in the cupboard need to be washed in a dishwasher or with hot water and washing up liquid.

  9. Dry everything thoroughly

    That includes the cupboard/pantry itself, as well as any containers. Use kitchen towels to ensure there’s no moisture left.

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

How to keep pantry moths away

Once you’ve learned how to get rid of Indian meal moths, you’ll want to know how to keep them from coming back. Here are three top tips:

  • Store dry food in airtight containers

Whether you use glass, metal or plastic, use containers to store your flour/rice/grains/cereal/other dry foods.

  • Put bay leaves in the corners of your cupboard/pantry

Or you can tape them to the walls/undersides of shelves.

  • Freeze new dry food for a week

If the new dry foods you buy have moth eggs inside already, you can kill the eggs by freezing the food for a week and then putting it through a sieve.

Originally published