17 Proven Home Remedies to Get Rid of Moths

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Home Remedies for Moths
Be it in your pantry or wardrobe, the most common household pest problem is the clothes moth. They are usually found in food storage containers or in the wardrobes where woolen and fur clothes are stored (1).  Symptoms of a moth infestation include: tiny holes in apparels; spongy web-like layers at the corners of the racks, grills, wardrobe layers; a dusty look on the top of the rarely-used garments or screens; a discolouring of your garments, a foamy look at the sides of the food containers; stinky clothes racks. If you find these tell-tale signs of a moth infestation, you will be wondering how to get rid of moths. We’ve got you covered. Our home remedies for moths are natural, non-toxic and effective.

how to get rid of moths

Signs of Moth infestation

If you are wondering what causes a moth infestation, it may be some comfort to know that it has nothing to do with poor hygiene or an untidy house.

All a house moth infestation needs to start is one female to enter that house and lay her eggs. Given the small size of the clothes moth, this can happen to anyone.

What causes moths in the house is usually an accidental introduction. This can happen when an infested rug, borrowed clothes or indeed wall hung game is brought home along with these uninvited guests.

The first signs of a moth infestation are either noticing individual moths fluttering about or finding small holes in clothes. Unfortunately, it is very rare that the moth is a solitary individual or the first hole you find will be the last.

Clothes moths larvae prefer to feed on protein-based fibers. This includes woolen clothes, carpets, furs, and game. Cotton-based products can also be attacked. If your natural fiber clothes begin to show small holes, then moths may have taken hold.

Clothes moth larvae are no more than 1mm across and look like tiny white caterpillars or maggots. You can often see the larvae munching away in the hole.

Moth holes in clothes are very small and usually not big enough for a finger to pass through. If the holes are bigger than this, you may have a carpet beetle infestation, which needs a different treatment.

How to get rid of mothsHow to get rid of Moths

1. Trapping

moth trapIf you are thinking how to get rid of moths, then moth traps are the first thing to try. They serve two purposes: to kill moths and to assess whether you still have a moth infestation.

Moth traps come in various guises but all use the hormone pheromone. This hormone is emitted by female moths to attract a mate and male moths are drawn to it.

Commercial traps are available that are coated in pheromone and a sticky substance. Moths are drawn into the trap and get stuck in the trap. These traps can be hung in wardrobes or anywhere where moths are common.

A homemade clothes moth trap is easy to make and works on the same principle.

Pheromone can be purchased online already mixed into a sticky mixture. Simply coat some fluorescent colored cardboard with the mixture and hang the trap where needed.

These traps will catch hundreds of individuals and when no more moths are caught, you will know you are free of the infestation (2, 3).

If a pheromone is unavailable, you can make a homemade clothes moth trap using fish oil. Simply coat the cardboard in fish oil to attract the moths to a sticky end.

2. Vacuum

vacuumVacuuming on high power can help reduce much of the moth infestation. Clothes moths live in carpets as much as clothes and frequent vacuuming will suck up larvae and eggs.

You won’t get rid of moths with just vacuuming, but it will keep the population under control.

Steam vacuuming is best as the steam temperature will kill the eggs that have not been sucked up by the vacuum. (4, 5).

3. Hair Dryer

what temperature kills mothsMoth eggs and larvae are sensitive to temperature. If you are wondering what temperature kills clothes moths, anything above 50 degrees Celsius (120°F) should suffice.

Heat treatment will kill moths and their eggs and the use of a hairdryer is a targeted way of applying heat to infested clothing. (6, 7).

You can also put infested clothes in the oven at a temperature of more than 120°F for at least 30 minutes to kill the clothes moths (8). Be aware that many natural fibers are damaged at these temperatures so be careful with your clothes.

4. Naphthalene Balls

mothballMothballs are the best moth repellent. That’s why they are called mothballs. Mothballs contain a toxic insecticide called naphthalene and it kills moths efficiently.

Add two naphthalene balls in a small cloth pouch made of cotton fabric and place it in the corners of your wardrobe racks.

The pungent smell of these balls will keep moths away (9). Mothballs work effectively only in enclosed spaces like a wardrobe or storage container, those having very less air exposure (10).

Note: Products exposed to mothballs should be aired out before use.

5. Cedar Chips

cedar chipsCedar repels moths as they hate cedar wood. It is a natural moth repellent (11).

So to prevent a moth infestation, keep a bag of cedar chips in your wardrobe or closet to protect your stored clothing.

Cedar chips that are used should be freshly cut and the container in which they are kept should be sealed with plenty of air-holes  (12).

Alternatively, use cedar chests and closets for storing things (13, 14).

6. Herb Sachets

herbal sachetLavender is a natural moth repellent. Closely related plants such as thyme and rosemary also do the job. (17)

Rosemary, lavender, and thyme can be added to small cloth sachets and placed in the moth prone areas to keep them at bay (16).

7. Moth repellent spray

moth repellent sprayUsing essential oils to repel moths is a longstanding tradition. A simple lavender moth repellent recipe is to add a few drops to water.

Place the mixture in fine mist spray bottle and use it as a moth repellent spray by spraying a thin film of the lavender water in your wardrobe and on clothes. (18)

There are many other anti-moth essential oils you can tray.

Peppermint oil for moths is another natural moth repellent essential oil that you can use to get rid of moths.

To make a homemade moth repellent spray, all one needs to do is add a few drops to half a pint of water and spray a fine mist over clothing and fabric.

8. Cloves Pouch

cloveVery few living organisms like cloves. Humans can only stomach them in small doses. There scent and odor are too overbearing for many.

Moths are no different and cannot abide the ‘eugenol’, a natural insecticide found in cloves and their essential oil.

To deter clothes moths, make a small pouch by wrapping cloves in tissue paper or in cloth; keep them in the storage containers or wardrobes or closets (19).

Alternatively, you can also make a pouch mixing rosemary, cloves, thyme, mint, and Ginseng.

9. Bay Leaves

bay leavesBay leaves emit a strong scent that moths hate to inhale. They are an excellent home remedy to get rid of moths.

You can add bay leaves to a potpourri to eliminate moths. Sprinkle dry bay leaves at the bottom of your wardrobe to control a moth infestation (20).

10. Essential Oils

essential oilMix lavender oil, Indian Lilac oil, and clove oil to make an anti-moth repellent spray.

Add a few drops of oil to half a pint of water and spray a fine mist over clothes and fabrics.

Alternatively, dip a sponge in this mixture and squeeze.

Wipe this sponge over the moth prone corners of racks or wardrobes to get rid of moths, moth eggs and more (21).

11. Indian Lilac

neemIndian lilac is a great anti-pest natural herb (22). You can keep its fresh leaves in a corner of your kitchen rack to eliminate moths.

Alternatively, soak a cotton ball in its herbal oil and place them in the racks.

For your wardrobe, simply dust dry powder of Indian lilac.

12. Vinegar

apple cider vinegarWhite vinegar can be mixed in equal proportion with water and used as a pest control spray to prevent the moth infestations.

But, treating certain areas with vinegar may leave stains, so use them carefully on kitchen slabs or delicate clothing.

Alternatively, you can also use a mixture of 1 cup of molasses and 2 cups of vinegar. Moths, attracted to vinegar smell, will stick to the mixture.

15. Cinnamon Sticks

cinnamonPut some cinnamon sticks in the wardrobe, cabinets and garment bags to control a moth infestation.

Unfortunately, the scent of cinnamon may cling to clothes for longer, so keep them wrapped in tissue paper.

After getting rid of moths, try to clean your house regularly with mild soaps, vinegar or spray anti-moth essential oils to ensure they don’t come back.

16. Cold storage freezers

freezingIf you want to get rid of moths from your favorite clothing, one of the best and easiest home remedies is freezing.

Place your infested clothing in the freezer at 5 F temperature or in Cold storage freezers at -20 F to not only kill the moth larvae but also the eggs.

Leave the items in the freezer for four to seven days. Cover the infested items in plastic bags to safeguard them from frost damage (24).

Note: Always remove as much air as possible from the plastic bag before cold storage.

17. Dry Cleaning

dry cleanMoth eggs are really resilient and it is better to clean infested clothing using hot water than cold water. However, dry cleaning will kill all the bugs.

The solvents used in the dry-cleaning process are toxic to the larvae.

Indeed, clothes made from natural protein-based fibers should be the perfect food for moth larvae.

However, if you regularly dry clean these clothes,  moth infestations never take hold.

Do’s

  • Wash your clothes to do away with moth eggs stuck in clothing (25, 26).
  • It is good to sun and brush dresses made of wool and fur (27, 28).
  • Clean your window curtains, screens and sofa covers (29).
  • Wash the suitcases, storage containers and kitchen racks.
  • Dispose of infested food items in the garbage (30).
  • Clean cupboards using soapy water (31).
  • Vacuum corners and crevices daily to avoid pests (32).

Don’ts

  • Don’t spray alcohol in your wardrobe to eliminate moths. This may cause stains in your dresses (33).
  • After washing the suitcases, food storage containers and bags, do not leave them moist as they invite fungus.
  • Don’t leave the moth-attracting flypaper in your kitchen racks or wardrobes overnight as it attracts other smaller insects.

3 COMMENTS

  1. thanks for this excellent info simple points yet overlooked by myself eg not leaving the moth attracting fly paper over night in closet as this may attract other smaller insects was very helpful point yet simple and obvious

  2. not leaving the attracting pheromone paper over night in closet as this may attract other insects was a very good yet obvious point for me which wouldve been over looked by myself so thanks al;ot

  3. Using napthalene can be very damaging to one’s health, as the vapors are inhaled when used in the house. I developed a lifelong disability–multiple chemical sensitivities–by using this. Have since learned that napthalene use has also caused deaths. This is a very dangerous chemical. This is another example of lax federal regulation of chemicals.

    Otherwise, your article is excellent.

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