Have you started to notice balding patches in your carpet, particularly along the edges or in shadowy spots? Or is your favourite rug disintegrating before your very eyes? If so, you might have carpet moths.
Any bug infestation in the home sounds scary, but don’t panic just yet! To help you out, we’ve put together this handy guide on how to get rid of carpet moths.
First things first, let’s go over how to identify a carpet moth.
What is a carpet moth?
Carpet moths are extremely common and found worldwide. They are, in fact, the same as clothing moths – the only difference is where they’re found.
Adult carpet moths usually have around a 2cm wingspan and are light brown or beige in colour. You won’t see them flying around much, as they tend to hop around at floor level. Once fully grown, they don’t need to eat, but a female moth can lay hundreds of eggs over her lifetime. It’s when those tiny, hard-to-find eggs hatch that the trouble really begins.
Carpet moth larvae have a voracious appetite for keratin, so natural fibres such as wool, as well as the general hair and skin debris that accumulates in our homes, provide ready food sources for them. In some cases, it can take over a year for the larvae to reach the cocoon phase of their life, and during that time they can work their way through a lot of carpets, rugs, and clothing. Carpet moth larvae may even take on the colour of the carpet itself, absorbing the dye from the fibres – this makes them even harder to spot.
Signs of carpet moths
Fraying & holes are common signs of carpet moths
The most obvious place to check is your carpets and rugs, particularly the edges. Unexplained holes and fraying are one of the first signs of carpet moths that people notice.
Carpet moths will generally choose dark, humid spaces to lay their eggs. These spots are not only preferable temperature-wise but are less likely to be disturbed while we humans go about our day. If you start to see adult carpet moths around the home, or spot evidence that points in the direction of hungry larvae, these are the spots you should be checking and cleaning right away – think skirting boards, under furniture and rugs, behind floor length curtains, or the corners of your closets.
You should also keep an eye out for discarded cocoons. These are larger and easier to spot than the tiny eggs.
Carpet moth traps can be used to capture adult male moths and provide evidence of infestation. These traps lure the adult males in with a female moth pheromone. They can also be used to help manage the infestation, by removing male moths from the breeding cycle, though the speed at which carpet moths reproduce means this isn’t a particularly reliable method of eradication.
Eliminating carpet moths
By the time you’ve found those frayed carpet edges or seen an adult moth or two, the problem might already be quite severe. Though they have a short lifespan, carpet moths reproduce very quickly and in large numbers.
While you might be able to live with and manage the problem yourself, the only way to ensure a complete eradication is by calling in a professional pest control expert.
Once the professionals have left, it’ll be up to you to make sure those pesky moths don’t make a comeback!
Most of us probably already vacuum regularly, especially if we have pets or heavy foot traffic at home. And if you have a carpet moth problem, it’s even more important, as it will keep any keratin rich food sources to a minimum, making your space less inviting to carpet moths.
Be sure to get into all the dark nooks and crannies that they might like to call home – that includes under the sofa cushions!
Make sure you take any waste from the vacuum straight to the wheely bin. This will help prevent decontamination.
You’ll also want to stay on top of your general carpet cleaning. Here’s five eco-friendly ways to clean your carpet to help you get started.
In addition, any floor length curtains, and removable covers should undergo regular deep cleans to remove dust build-up.
If you want to go all in on the cleaning, consider hiring a steam cleaner or bringing in a professional company to do it for you. Not every carpet or rug can be steam cleaned, but the process will leave those that are looking good as new and carpet moth free!
Change the temperature
Carpet moths prefer warm, humid environments. If you’re able to cool a space, they will naturally find it less appealing, making them less likely to nest in the home. This could be a tough one, especially given our Australian summers, but if it’s something you can do, it’s worth considering.
While there’s no shortage of products on the market to help manage a carpet moth infestation, you might be looking for a more natural way to repel them.
Moths don’t like the smell of cedarwood, so a few chips or a small wooden block could be used to deter them. Cedar can stain fabrics, however, so be careful how and where you use it. Mint and lavender are also commonly used and have scents that most people find quite pleasant. Use scented sachets or washing powders to help keep the moths at bay.
Vinegar, with its acidic properties, is another great repellent. Spraying a vinegar and water solution will deter any moths but be sure to test it on small areas first, as it will damage some delicate fabrics.
You can also team this solution with baking soda, which has fantastic natural antibacterial properties. Sprinkle baking soda into the carpet and work it in, before leaving overnight and vacuuming the following day. That same vinegar solution can then be sprayed on the carpet. Work it through the carpet thoroughly and then open the windows to let it air dry and for the smell to dissipate.
Air out the home
Keeping the home well ventilated is also important. Open curtains and windows and maintain a good air flow whenever possible.
Repairing the damage
If you’ve caught the carpet moths early on and are confident that they’re long gone, you can look at fixing any damage their larvae have caused.
You may choose to ignore some damage, particularly if it’s very small or in a space no one will see it, but larger holes can be fixed by patching them with spare carpet and some carpet tape.
In some cases you might need to call in a professional, especially if it’s a particularly delicate or valuable rug or the damage is severe. In extreme cases, you might need to entirely replace the floor covering.
When choosing a new carpet or rug, look for synthetic fibres if possible. These do not contain the keratin that carpet moths crave, and with regular cleaning and vacuuming, you can prevent a similarly tempting build-up of dust, hair, and skin. If you’re preparing for a fresh start, we’ve got a great guide on the best carpet for bedrooms here.
Prevention is better than cure
The old saying might be true but rest assured that many people have and will come across carpet moths in their lifetime. But by staying on top of your cleaning schedule, keeping an eye out for the signs, and bringing in professionals when needed, you too can get rid of carpet moths!
- Daniel Hickey, 2021, “Carpet Moths: How To Get Rid Of Carpet Moth And Restore Your Carpet”, Safeguard Pest Control
- 2015, “All about carpet moths”, Cure All Pest Control
- 2020, “How Do I Get Rid Of Carpet Moths & Carpet Moth Larvae? – 7 Steps To Carpet Moth Treatment”, MothPrevention
- 2022, “How to get rid of carpet moths”, Cleanipedia
- “How to Get Rid of Moths On Wool Carpet”, AllAces