How to Get Rid of Moths in Your Home - Public Goods Blog

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How to Get Rid of Moths in Your Home

Holes in your sweaters? Larvae in your pantry? A moth infestation is zero fun. Learn how to get rid of moths and prevent them from coming back.

Image of hanging sweaters

Nothing can make your skin crawl like knowing there’s an insect infestation in your home. While moths aren’t generally dangerous, they are pesky. Not only do they steal your peace just by fluttering around, they can ruin your clothes and your groceries. Most moth species have no interest in being your next houseguest, but there are a few who like to come inside. Once they do, you’re likely to find them in your closets, cupboards, pantry, or drawers. Whereas most insects are drawn to light, moths actually prefer to hide in these darker areas where they can be close to a food source.

You may be surprised to learn that it’s not actually adult moths ravaging your belongings. Adult moths don’t even have mouths. It’s actually their hungry larvae doing the damage. Larvae like to eat through fabrics like cotton and wool, as well as dry goods like bread and pasta. While it’s rare, some people do experience health issues in the presence of moth larvae. In select people, skin contact with larvae can cause an allergic reaction, resulting in itching, blisters, rashes, redness, hives, or swelling. Some larvae have sharp spines that can be especially irritating. Moths can also produce glycoproteins that may cause an allergic reaction if inhaled, though this is unlikely for most people.

How to Know If You Have a Moth Infestation

Seeing holes in your clothes, bedding, drapes, etc. is a telltale sign you have a moth infestation. Partially eaten dry food goods can also be an indicator, though many insects and rodents could be to blame when it comes to missing food. To know if it’s moths, in particular, causing your issue, look for larvae, which form from the eggs moths lay. Again, look in dark areas where their typical food sources are stored. Check your closets, cabinets, pantry, drawers, and even around your mattresses for webbing and cocoons.

How to Get Rid of Moths Naturally

Moths aren’t likely to leave your home on their own once they’ve found a food source and set up shop. While there are potent moth-killing products out there, most are filled with chemicals that have high toxicity levels. Since that’s not what you want to breathe in your home, opt for the natural route first and see if some home remedies can do the trick before resorting to anything more extreme. Here’s how to get rid of moths naturally.

  1. Try cedar. There’s a reason your grandparents had that cedar chest at the foot of their bed. Cedar is widely known to repel moths and other insects due to the pheromones it emits. You may want to keep small bundles of cedar in the areas where you see infestation to drive moths out, or you could fill a spray bottle with cedar oil diluted with a bit of water and spray that on infected areas.
  2. Use a sticky trap. An adhesive strip covered with moth pheromones (you can actually buy these) is an effective way to draw them in, get them stuck, and toss them in an outdoor garbage can.
  3. Thoroughly vacuum and dust. Do a perimeter sweep of any webbing that may have been attached to ceiling corners. Sweep out closet corners, cupboard corners, pantry corners, all of it. Then vacuum your entire home, making sure to get as close as possible to all baseboards where small larvae may be hiding out.
  4. Freeze any clothes, quilts, etc. you find larvae on. Keep them in the freezer for at least 24 hours to kill off all larvae. If your food has been hit, it’s best to toss it.
  5. Do a vinegar scrub. Scrub any surface you find larvae on with a vinegar-water solution.
  6. Make herbal bags. In addition to cedar, herbs like rosemary, lavender, cloves, bay leaves, and thyme are known to repel moths. Dry and crush a concoction of these herbs and put them in tea bags you can store in larvae-ridden areas. Spritzing the water-diluted oil versions of these oils can work, too.

How to Get Rid of Moths in Closets

Not only do certain fabrics appeal to the appetite of moth larvae, but the debris left on them are attractive as well. Moths are drawn to sweat, hair, and body oil, so your clothes are especially vulnerable to being eaten. Knowing how to get rid of moths in closets is especially helpful. Here are a few tips.

  • Always wash your clothes before storing them away
  • Keep your closet well-ventilated, since moths are attracted to humidity
  • Hang your clothes on cedar hangers
  • Wash clothes at a high water temperature, or if the fabric can’t handle high heat, use the freezer method
  • For clothes you won’t be using for a while, store them in an airtight bag or plastic container

How to Get Rid of Moths in a Pantry

A musty smell, webbing, or a sticky substance on your food items is a good sign you have a moth problem in your pantry. If you suspect this is the case, or if you see larvae, here’s what to do.

  • Check all food items, particularly grains and rice
  • Dispose of all contaminated foods
  • Thoroughly clean the area with a vinegar-water solution
  • Keep the area as ventilated as possible
  • Place previously mentioned herb bags or use herbal sprays to prevent moths from coming back

How to Prevent Moths in the First Place

The best way to reduce dealing with moths is to not have them lay eggs to begin with. Prevent moths from establishing roots in your home by being diligent about washing clothes, bed linens, quilts, couch coverings, rugs, etc. routinely. If you have pieces of clothing that are delicate and don’t hold up well to regular washing, brush them off frequently. Keep all fabrics as dry as possible, and avoid humid storage areas. Lastly, store dry goods in airtight containers, and regularly clean pantries and cabinets.

Should all else fail, call your local pest control company to see what remedies they can offer. The quicker you address the issue, the better chance you or a professional team have at catching moths before they spread and take over your home. And remember, you can likely address the issue with natural approaches that don’t require toxic chemicals. Herbs work wonders to deter a variety of insects. Our lemongrass-based insect repellent is highly effective at deterring pests, and mixed with oils like rosemary and lavender, can be a big help in repelling moths before infestation occurs.

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