Carpet moths can invade your home and personal possessions at an alarming rate. They can put your carpets, rugs, blankets, and other fabrics at risk of being damaged and requiring replacement or in extreme cases total loss.
Here are seven things that might be attracting moths to your carpet and other household fabrics:
- Natural fabrics
- Pet hair or pet fur
- Food crumbs
- Dust and dirt
- Worn/wool carpet
- Dark, undisturbed areas
The first thing you want to do is determine which of these potential causes is the reason why moths are attracted to your home’s carpet or other fabrics in the first place, and then we’ll be able to generate an action plan. The most common moths that are attracted to carpets are clothes moths. Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these potential causes and determine what your options are for remedying each one!
All pests usually have their preferred diet, and in this case, moths aren’t any different. According to the University Of Maine, moths prefer animal fibers, which may seem odd given their smaller size.
In fact, this means our carpets and other fabrics that are made of wool, silk, cashmere, and more are potentially at risk of being damaged.
There is a lot of scientific background on the diet preference of moths – it gets down to the fiber’s structure and proteins – but the key here is to remember that animal fibers are what moths prefer to feed off.
The good news is that synthetic fibers, and even mixed cotton blends, should be safe from carpet moth damage.
There is often a lot of natural fabric that we don’t think about, especially near the places we sleep and relax. Take a look at the 7 things that attract moths to your bedroom
How To Fix It
You don’t have to tell Grandma to stop knitting her yearly wool Christmas sweaters and you don’t necessarily have to tear out and replace your carpet and rugs (unless you want to).
Here are some recommendations on how to handle your larger carpet and rug areas that may be made from these natural fabrics.
- Vacuum. Yes, we know that this seems like a “duh” recommendation, but keeping your carpets and rugs clean is the first step in starting to eliminate a moth-infested area. Then, once you’ve successfully eliminated the initial infestation, be sure to keep up with a regular vacuuming schedule to keep any future moth eggs from developing.
- Use a moth spray. Selecting the right spray can be tedious, but if you choose a multi-use spray, you can treat your larger carpeted areas and favorite sweater with the same product.
- Use the right storage bags. Once you’ve cleaned, treated, and inspected your smaller fabric items like pillows or smaller rugs, consider storing them in a moth-proof storage bag when they’re not in use. We know that these items come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so check out these Clothes Storage Bag Organizers for your multi-use needs to lock your clothes in a tight seal.
Some people may also recommend to use mothballs. While they have been shown to be effective, some people question if they are good to use or if those mothballs expire!
Pet Hair Or Pet Fur Can Attract Moths
I’ve got a handful of four-legged creatures running around my house, so if you’re not comfortable with getting a little bit of dog hair on your clothes when you come over, you should probably just stay at your place.
Even if your pets aren’t allowed up on the furniture like mine are, I guess that they’re allowed on your carpet or floor area, and they may even have a favorite rug to lay on by the back door and bask in the sun.
And if your pet is a shedder like mine, then they are spreading all sorts of good protein for carpet moths and their larvae to feed off of.
Okay, now I know I’ve probably freaked you out a bit. Sorry!
On top of fleas and ticks, now you have to go around worrying about carpet moths feeding off your pet’s hair! Don’t fret though, we’ve got a “to do” list of ways that you can help reduce the amount of pet hair in your house, and as a result, lessen the likelihood of carpet moths too.
How To Fix It
No, sending your dog over to your sister’s place to stay isn’t on our list. But, in addition to a regular home cleaning schedule, a regular pet grooming schedule is what’s going to make the biggest difference with this potential cause.
- Vacuum. Yes, this one is on the list again. If you vacuum regularly, your machine is doing its job by picking up your pet’s hair which is a win-win in this situation. Just don’t forget to empty that canister once it’s full.
- Keep your pet on a grooming schedule. Whether you decide to take your pet in for an appointment or are more of a do-it-yourself, either option works great. The goal here is to keep, and maintain, a grooming schedule so that your pet’s shedding is more manageable.
If you decide to groom your pet yourself, we suggest that you try to do as many steps as possible outdoors.
When you’re ready for those weekly brushing, make sure that you do your pet brushing outdoors – this way, all of Fido’s hair is staying outside and not being spread around your home for an extra meal by these moths.
If you do find a moth, you may be wondering if you should put them outside or not. Feel free to read our article to help you decide!
Moths Love Food Crumbs
This is where we’d like to stress the difference between carpet moths and pantry moths. If you’re noticing that you have moth activity in your kitchen pantry or cabinets, you’re likely dealing with pantry moths and not carpet moths.
These are two different kinds of pests.
That said, however, if you tend to have snacks on your couch during family movie night, or are a frequent late-night meal eater at the coffee table in your living room, you may be leaving traces of food crumbs on your carpet and fabric chairs and sofas which can also help feed carpet moths.
How To Fix It
Look, my son would not be happy if I told him that he couldn’t have his after-school snack in our family room as I wrap up my work day, so eliminating the snacking and eating on carpeted areas isn’t always an option.
Here are a few other manageable methods for remedying additional food sources for these moths.
- Vacuum. Okay, are we a broken record yet? In addition to your regular vacuuming schedule helping to pick up any moth eggs and picking up pet hair, your vacuuming also picks up those popcorn kernels, chip bits, and other goodies that may have fallen to the ground without your knowing it.
- Clean between the cushions. And, let’s be honest, cleaning underneath the larger pieces of furniture is a big help too. Instead of just tending to the visible areas, you might be having some activity that you can’t see at the surface.
Make sure to remove your furniture cushions and pillows so that you can get a good cleaning underneath these items, and recruit a friend to help you move any larger pieces on cleaning day as well.
Between your kids, pets, and other visitors, you’re likely to be surprised at some of the things you might find – but be sure to keep any change you find as a reward for all your hard work.
Moisture can Attract Moths
From that drink spill that you didn’t quite clean up fast enough, to your sweat, and even that window you forgot to close during last night’s rainstorm, each of these instances are putting more moisture in your home and carpet which these pesky carpet moths are unfortunately attracted to.
How To Fix It
Okay, we can’t do too much about how much or how often we sweat, but we can do our darndest to tackle some of these other contributing factors.
- Clean up spills right away. Even if you have treated carpets that help repel liquids, you want to get any spills cleaned up as soon as you can, period. Whether you use paper towels or an actual towel, make sure to absorb as much of the liquid as possible.
Once the spill has been contained and the potential puddle cleared, dry the carpet to the best of your abilities.
If your spill is larger and you need to use a carpet cleaner, some machines have a dry option, but otherwise, go ahead and throw on the nearest ceiling fan to help circulate air and assist in drying the spot.
- Try to reduce your home’s humidity level. Using a dehumidifier helps remove excess moisture from the air. Depending on the style and model of dehumidifier you get, just be sure that when the device is filled that you’re careful to not spill the water so you don’t have to start from scratch all over again.
A whole house humidifier is another option. Most whole-house humidifiers automatically measure the humidity level in your home and adjust accordingly, but you can also control it for your comfort level to help keep levels low.
Moths Are Known For Loving Dust And Dirt
At this point, you probably know exactly where we’re going with this one. When dust and dirt accumulate on your carpets, this gives moths the perfect cover to live and breed.
And hey, we know that life happens, and we’re not here to judge. We know that dirt gets tracked in after a morning of pulling weeds, from that spur-of-the-moment hike, and we know that dust and other allergens can accumulate in the blink of an eye.
Moths also are known to create dust on their own. According to the University Of California Berkeley, this substance is known as scale. Moths tend to have quite a large amount of scales compared to other insects.
Our goal is simple: minimize dust and dirt where and when we can.
This dust and dirt on fabric is one of the most common things that attract moths to your home.
How To Fit It
Keep working on that regular cleaning schedule, and once you finish your weekly vacuuming, don’t forget to empty that vacuum bag or clean the canister to ensure that anything you may have picked up is properly disposed of.
While dusting, use your favorite cleaner and dusting cloth – so long as the dust is being removed, any moth eggs or larvae that may have been present won’t have the opportunity to grow and develop.
If you’re using dusting cloths for your dusting, don’t forget to wash these regularly as well so that you’re not spreading around anything that you’ve already cleaned up.
Worn Carpet Is Moth Heaven!
We all have that room in our home that serves as the gathering place for friends and family or is the go-to spot for a cozy evening at home.
We also have that hallway that gets a little bit more traffic than others because of its easy access to the garage kitchen, or other gathering spots that are used day in and day out.
The more frequently some of these areas are traveled, the more likely you’ll notice discoloration or possible worn spots on your carpet.
These more worn areas could potentially leave carpet fibers damaged or exposed, welcoming moths to the area.
How To Fix It
- Give your carpet a refresh. Take it to the cleaners, or give it a heavy vacuum / baking soda clean! Personally, I have a Bissel revolution cleaner but those can run you quite a bit and isn’t necessary unless you have a lot of carpet.
- Replace your carpet. This one may not be the most cost-effective option depending on the amount of carpet in your home, but depending on the level of moth infestation, this might be the most effective and immediate remedy.
In addition to homemade sprays, there are other smells that moths simply can’t stand. For more information, read out article on the 7 scents that repel moths!
Moths Love Dark And Undisturbed Areas
Like most pests, carpet moths like to be left alone.
They prefer areas that aren’t highly active, and if you have a corner in your room or spots near your baseboards that don’t get a whole lot of sunlight, you’ll want to bump these areas to the top of your moth inspection and treatment list.
How To Fix It
Make sure that you check the darker areas of your rooms for activity before deciding on your treatment. Depending on the level of activity, you might be able to treat it yourself, or you might need to reach out to a professional for additional assistance.
In addition to the steps we’ve mentioned above, here are some other ways you can treat these darker, less used areas.
- Use moth traps. Try MothPrevention Powerful Moth Traps in these areas to help determine the level of activity that you’re dealing with. These traps are a great option as they’re reusable and refillable!
- Reach out to a professional. If you determine that the level of infestation that you’re dealing with may be more than you can handle on your own, or nothing that you’ve tried has yielded the results you need, reach out to a local professional that is skilled in the area of pest removal for service.
- Use cedar and lavender sachets. Since we added a bunch of throw area rugs in our basement (made of natural fibers), I placed some Cedar Space Lavender and Cedar Sachets around the foundation and near the ceiling to help with pest control naturally. The scents block other attracting scents that moths and other rodents and insects find attracting!
Keep in mind, any scent repellent will need to be reapplied frequently.
That’s All We Got!
There isn’t just one single way of keeping your carpet free of moths, so be prepared that you might need to utilize a few of these methods to ensure that these pests are kept away for good.
Don’t forget, the main goal is to keep our carpets and other large fabric items in the best condition possible so that moths aren’t interested in making the fabric their new home. We know that replacing some of these items can get expensive, while other items are simply irreplaceable.
If you notice these pests in your home, start formulating your plan of action without delay.
Then, once you’re able to determine what could be attracting the moths to your carpet in the first place, review your options for cleaning and control, but also be prepared with a backup plan if needed so that you can get rid of those moths once and for all.
Cocke Jr., Jesse. (1914). Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles. Cooperative Extension Work in Agricultural and Home Economics, 1-2.
Like, A. L., & Housekeeping, G. (1957). Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles: How to Combat Them. United States Department of Agriculture: Home and Garden Bulletin No. 24, 1-12.
Moths, A. C. (1980). Protecting Woolens Against Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles. United States Department of Agriculture: Home and Garden Bulletin No. 113, 1-8.
Wilson, H. F. (1940). Lures and Traps to control Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles. Journal of Economic Entomology, 33(4).
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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