How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and Treatments

Learn how to prevent a moth infestation naturally as well as using chemicals, and how to prevent it from ever happening again
By
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
reviewed
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: December 30, 2022
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When your house becomes the new home of moths, it could be a while before you start seeing the first signs of a true infestation. Luckily, there are some steps you can take yourself before it’s time to consider calling in pest control, most of which will only cost you some elbow grease and time. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about moth infestations, from how to get rid of a moth infestation to how to remove moth eggs. Once you’ve handled the infestation, there are lots of ways to prevent another one from happening. But how can you spot an infestation in progress, and what exactly can you do when you find one?

Signs of Moth Infestation

There’s a big difference between spotting a moth infestation and a lost traveler who simply needs some assistance finding the door. All you have to do to get rid of a stray moth inside a room of your house is catch and release it outside. Depending on what kind of infestation you’re dealing with, there are different things to look out for and damage the moths can cause, especially because the lifespan of each moth can vary greatly. How long moths live depends on environmental factors.

The Carpet Moth

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsYou’ll notice that fabrics and carpets are becoming threadbare, or are damaged completely, usually around furniture and near walls. You will likely also find the aftermath of each cycle of instars, which is when the larvae sheds its skin after it has consumed all of the nutrition from the inside out. The carpet moth eats rugs, carpet, and furniture alike, and causes damage to all vulnerable belongings once an infestation has manifested.

The Clothes Moth

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsMost infestations of the clothes moth, also known as the cloth moth, go unnoticed at first. The eggs and larvae of the clothes moths are so small that they’re hard to spot. You’ll find pits and holes, and strangely irregular small tunnels in your clothing, especially clothing of natural fibers that has been stored for a long time. Clothes moths have no preference for storage.

The Pantry Moth

Food moths are notorious for being hard to find while still in the egg stage, but become more evident as the larvae mature. They’ll be most noticeable once they’ve developed into a cream or white color. Look out for little pinching holes in your paper and plastic food bags, and weblike, silvery material inside food boxes, cabinets, and your pantry.

How to Get Rid of Moth Infestation

When you’ve located the problem, it’s best to take action immediately. Most steps to get rid of the moth infestation can be done by yourself. And if all else fails, there are always professionals who know what they’re doing.

Deep Clean

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsAs soon as you realize you have an infestation in your home, it’s vital to clean out the guilty environment. The use of vinegar for the cleaning of any surface that you found larvae or eggs on will help to get rid of moth eggs and also give it a temporary protection from future larvae, as they can’t survive the acidic environment it creates. But beware that the same acidity that will help you with your moth problem could also potentially damage certain surfaces. It’s important to get all cracks when vacuuming the area.

Wash All Your Clothing

Wash all your clothing before putting them back into their spot. Moths are especially attracted to cloth that has perspiration on it, for example in the armpit area, so it’s important to not put any worn clothes back in order to get rid of the moth worms and reduce the chances of another infestation to start brooding. Washing of your clothing does not guarantee you get rid of all the moth eggs and larvae, as temperature is an important factor to consider.

Extreme Heat

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsMoths cannot withstand extreme heat. It can therefore be useful to also use some kind of safe heat source to clean the surface from any remaining eggs or larvae. A simple way to do this is with the use of a hair dryer. This comes in especially handy when dealing with crevasses, cracks, and tricky corners, for example when tackling getting rid of the pantry moth. Every surface should be thoroughly treated with heat to make sure you’ve killed all the moth larvae in your house. Check the labels of your garments and wash them as hot as possible. When you can’t wash your clothing on high temperatures, dry-cleaning is an option.

Extreme Cold

On the other side is the use of cold also effective when combating a moth infestation. Put any belongings and garments that fit in a zip-lock bag in your freezer for at least 24 hours. Neither eggs nor larvae can withstand cold temperatures.

Moth Traps

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsSet up some moth traps in the area, and you’ll be surprised how many you’ll catch. Moth traps are an important part of getting your infestation under control. Most traps use glue and pheromones to attract moths. These days, most traps are non-toxic, but keep in mind what kind of infestation you’re dealing with. For example, when dealing with the pantry moth, choose something like The Safer Brands pantry pests trap as opposed to GreenWay clothes moth trap which belongs in your closet.

Call in Pest Control

If you still can’t seem to get a handle on your moth infestation, it might be time to consider calling in the help of a professional. It will cost you a little more than some elbow grease, but you can be sure that the moth infestation is treated properly. After that, all there’s left to do is prevention.

How to Prevent Moth Infestation

It’s pertinent to get into a few new habits and add some preventative measures to ensure no new moth infestation settles into your home. So, what can you do yourself to keep moths at bay?

Keep Your House Clean

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsVacuum regularly to get rid of any eggs, paying extra attention to any cracks and crevasses. Keeping your home dust-free will discourage moths from settling in, so wipe down every surface. Giving your home a deep-clean every once in a while will further help prevent an infestation to take hold.

Use Herb Bags

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsThe smell of cloves, lavender, bay leaves, peppermint, rosemary and thyme all help in making your home less attractive for a moth. Putting one, or a mixture, of the dried herbs in a small bag that is put between belongings is a great preventative measure. Spraying the inside of any drawers and closets with a little diluted essential oil will also give temporary protection, but beware of staining!

Store Vulnerable Items in Air-tight Containers

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsA good way to make sure that clothing that won’t be worn for a while also won’t become the new home of moths is to store those items in air-tight containers. Vacuum-sealed bags are ideal, but zip-lock bags do the job as well, or any other packaging that prevents moths from entering.

Keep the Environment Moist-Free

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsMoths like humid, moist surroundings that offer dark places to hide. When storing items that could be vulnerable to moths, its best to avoid outdoor sheds, basements, garages, and any area that can be exposed to natural elements. If there is no other option, putting in place other preventative measures can help.

Use Cedarwood and Cedarwood Oil

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsMoth balls are smalls balls that contain pesticides, and the old moth repellent of choice. As these are harmful to our health, there is a way to get rid of moths without moth balls. The use of cedarwood is recommended. Having cedarwood furniture makes your home less attractive for any visiting moth, which is why the use of cedarwood hangers is also effective on its own. After a while, the oils inside the cedarwood do evaporate, which is why you need to give cedarwood a fresh coat of cedarwood oil every once in a while.

Use Fly-Screens

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsIf you can prevent any moths from entering your home in the first place, a moth infestation is near impossible. The use of screens on windows and doors will immensely reduce the chances of moths entering your home.  

Continue Using Moth Traps

How to Get Rid of Moths: Natural Remedies and TreatmentsEven after you’ve dealt with the infestation, there is always a chance adult moths escaped the cleaning, or find a way inside anyway. That’s why it can be helpful to keep moth traps on tactical places regardless of an infestation. Looking for the right trap can be overwhelming, but a look at a collection of the best moth traps out there can offer some guidance.

FAQ

How can moths impact our health?

Coming into contact with larvae can cause a skin condition called Lepidopterism, also known as caterpillar dermatitis. Usually, this means you’ll get an itchy or painful rash. Always contact a doctor for advice when you suspect an allergic reaction. Some people can develop health issues like blistering of the skin, swelling, and hives. And in very rare cases, coming into contact with a moth or larvae can cause anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction, the symptoms of which include vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and in the worst-case scenario, cardiac arrest. That’s why it’s important to know how to spot the signs of a starting infestation as soon as possible.

How to get rid of moth eggs outside?

The egg masses of the gypsy moth are tan in color and fuzzy, measuring about 1,5 inch in size. They can be laid individually or clusters, on any surface around your home. Flat areas that offer shelter are preferred, like under tree branches and under garden furniture. Remove egg masses using something flat to scrape the mass into a container filled with soapy water, keeping an eye on any cracks and crevasses. This method is also effective in getting rid of any moth eggs on the siding of your home. Consider hiring a professional to check and take care of tree tops. When it comes to getting rid of gypsy moth caterpillars, you can wrap your tree with an adhesive agent or use burlap to catch the caterpillars.

How to get rid of brown tail moths?

When dealing with brown tail moths, it’s ideal to use a wet/dry vacuum with a HEPA filter, if possible. Put an inch or so of soapy water in the vacuum and leave the moths in the substances for three to five days before disposing of the remains. Be careful to always take protective measures whenever dealing with any kind of infestation.

Final Thoughts

Discovering a moth infestation in your home is no fun, but before the need to call in a professional becomes inevitable, there are several things you can try yourself to get rid of your moth infestation. Keeping an eye out for discretions in your carpet and worn-down places around furniture and walls, storing food in air tight containers, watching out for holes and tunnels in your garments, and having a regular cleaning schedule will all help spot problems on time, or prevent them altogether. Contact a doctor whenever an allergic reaction has occurred. Treatment can be offered, though this isn’t always necessary. When an infestation is too big for you to handle, or the infestation is situated in a dangerous-to-reach place, contacting pest control might be the best solution.

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