How to Get Rid of Closet Moths Naturally

How to Get Rid of Moths Naturally

The Spruce / Bailey Mariner

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 day - 1 wk
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to 50

A closet moth infestation can ruin your clothes and cause much frustration. Luckily, there are many natural options to help keep moths away from your clothing. If you're persistent, your closet moth problem should ease up over time.

It's possible to get rid of moths in your closet naturally without the use of smelly, chemical-filled mothballs and other store-bought products. Not only are natural control methods cheaper, but they are often more effective when it comes to getting rid of closet moths.

Many natural pest control methods require a little more upfront work than simply spraying or applying homemade concoctions, but they yield lasting results with little risk. Read this guide to gain the tools and knowledge you need to get rid of closet moths effectively using chemical-free methods.

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Click Play to Learn How to Get Rid of Moths Naturally

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 vacuum
  • 1 coarse-haired brush
  • 1 tennis racket
  • Several fly paper sheets

Instructions

How to Get Rid of Moths Using Natural Remedies

  1. Regularly Inspect Your Natural Fiber Items

    Can't seem to get rid of closet moths, no matter how hard you try? Think outside the box. Sometimes, natural fiber items go unnoticed and continue to create infestations.

    Many rugs are made of animal fur or hair (like wool), and back in the day, vintage sofas were commonly made with horse hair, so leave no rug (or couch) un-inspected.

  2. Vacuum

    If you have indoor pets or if hair accumulates in certain areas of your home, this can create an ideal environment for closet moths. Many people vacuum, but overlook moving furniture like beds and couches where hair can pile up unnoticed. Closet floors are another area where hair can accumulate.

    Adult closet moths seek out keratin-rich places to lay their eggs so that when their larvae hatch, they have a reliable food source. Remove this source by consistently vacuuming, even in the hard-to-reach areas. Also, if you have rugs or furniture made from animal hair, ensure you're vacuuming regularly to disrupt eggs and larvae.

  3. Brush or Beat Natural Fiber Items Outside

    It may seem like something your great-grandmother would do, but if you're not familiar with the practice of brushing or beating rugs and you find yourself with closet moths, there's some wisdom to this out-of-the-ordinary cleaning method.

    Closet moth larvae embed themselves within the natural fibers of furs and other keratin-rich materials. They wrap themselves in webbing and go dormant (pupate) as they become mature adults. They are not easily removed, which is where brushing or beating these items can be an effective tool.

    Focus primarily on natural fiber items that attract closet moths, such as wool rugs, furs, stored silks, and other animal-derived materials. Take them outside into the fresh air, hang them over a clothesline, and brush or whack away. A coarse-haired brush that isn't too harsh or a carpet beater will work perfectly. If you choose the carpet beating method, even a tennis racket will do. The main thing is to make sure that you do the job thoroughly. You want to disrupt any eggs or larvae that might be present in the fibers of your items.

  4. Chill or Heat Your Items

    Freezing can be a great way to control various pests, including closet moths. For this method, a chest freezer is ideal. This method might be a little trickier if your items are more oversized.

    To freeze-treat your items, follow these steps:

    1. Close your items in a bag. If your item is small, a Ziploc bag will work great.
    2. Remove as much air as possible from the bag to prevent ice crystals from forming on your treasures.
    3. Place your items in a chest freezer. The freezer must reach -20°F, and make sure not to pack your items too tightly. You want the cold air to be able to circulate around them.
    4. Leave your items in the freezer for at least 72 hours. If possible, warm your things gradually when you remove them by placing them in their bags in the fridge first, then bringing them to room temperature. This will minimize the possibility of damage.

    When it comes to heating your items, this is much trickier. Sunlight is not enough heat to adequately kill off closet moth larvae and eggs, and exposing delicate belongings to prolonged heat can cause damage. If you're interested in heating your items, they need to be placed in the oven for three hours at a temperature of 130°F-150°F. Furniture and wooden belongings are especially prone to heat damage, including:

    • Warping
    • Cracking
    • Softening of glue
    • Causing finish to become gummy

    Warning

    Cooling or heating your natural-fiber items to the right temperature could be an option for getting rid of closet moths in your home, but it could also cause damage to certain items. Be sure to do your research and proceed with caution.

  5. Use Traps

    Closet moths will not go away until the source of your moth problem is addressed. Traps are not a cure-all for a closet moth problem, but they can help you reduce closet moths when other control methods are also being used.

    When it comes to closet moths, you have some options for traps: homemade or store-bought. Homemade traps will be cheaper, but making them can get messy. Store-bought closet moth traps are specially designed, but will cost you something. You'll have to experiment to find what works best for your situation.

    To make a homemade trap, use fly paper (store-bought or homemade) and sprinkle it with an animal substance like fish meal or pet hair. Leave some areas of the paper sticky. Adult closet moths will lay their eggs on the sticky paper. Eggs, adults, and larvae will (hopefully) end up stuck to the surface. Replace your paper trap from time to time to keep it fresh.

    Store-bought pheromone traps are designed to attract and trap adult moths. They are no mess and easy to use, making them an ideal option for an easy trap solution if you're short on time or energy.

  6. Address Clothing Storage Issues

    The above control methods can go a long way when controlling a closet moth issue, but how and where you store your clothing is just as important. Here are some tips to make sure you're keeping your clothes properly.

    • Wash all clothes, and dry them before packing them away at the end of the season. Have delicate items dry cleaned. This will help to kill any larvae that might be present in the clothing.
    • Store clothing in sealed containers— For maximum moth protection, zip wool coats and suits as well as other natural fiber items inside garment bags. Also, move wool socks out of your sock drawer during the warmer months. Your clothing storage should be airtight. Plastic storage totes, bins, or boxes are not secure enough to keep closet moths and their larvae out.
    • Store your clothes in a dry area of your home. When given the choice, moths prefer moist environments. Storing clothes in the attic or under your bed is definitely preferable to storing clothes in the basement or garage.
    • Vacuum your carpets and baseboards regularly, especially if you have pets. Closet moths are attracted to keratin, which is present in pet and human hair. If you're dealing with a current infestation, change your vacuum bag or filter regularly to ensure you're getting the larvae and their food sources out of your home. If you find moths on clothing, place the affected garment in the freezer for 72+ hours to kill any active larvae.
    comforter in a sealed container

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Tip

    Closet moths are most interested in animal-derived materials. They will not infest items made of cotton unless they are heavily soiled with sweat or food. Make sure to keep stored laundry clean to avoid closet moths.

  7. Try Lavender Sachets

    While there is limited information on this method of control for closet moths, it doesn't hurt to try. The key is not to rely on lavender alone to solve your closet moth issue. You should only use this method if you're already implementing other controls, too.

    Fill sachets with dried lavender, then place them in your closets, drawers, and boxes of off-season clothes. Lavender smells great to us, but some evidence suggests that it could be repellent to pests like closet moths.

    Tip

    If you're attempting to use lavender as a mild repellent, make sure to refresh the scent from time to time. This can be done by pinching the bag between your fingers and gently crushing the dried lavender to release more scent, or re-scenting your bag with lavender essential oil. Just be careful: essential oils can damage clothing and cause skin irritation and other problems when not used or stored properly.

    dried lavender and lavender essential oil

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Additional Tips for Naturally Controlling Moths in Your Home

It's possible that the tiny moths in your home aren't closet moths at all. Maybe they're pantry moths. If you have not found any natural fiber items but you're still seeing tiny moths, start inspecting your pantry and stored goods. If the moths you're seeing inside are not small, they're likely coming in from outside and pose no threat of becoming established inside, though they can be annoying (and creepy).

Control for these moths is simple:

  1. Make sure your windows and doors stay closed, especially at night.
  2. If windows and doors are open, ensure screens are in good working order.
  3. Keep interior and exterior lights off when not in use, especially when it's dark outside. This will prevent drawing outside moths into your home.
FAQ
  • How often should moth traps be replaced?

    Plan to replace traps at least every three months to keep them fresh and appealing to any closet moths nearby.

  • Where do closet moths reside in your home?

    Obviously, closet moths like closets, but they can also be found in attics, basements, storage areas, and buzzing around inside, especially around lights at night. Still can't find where they're coming from? Consider that you might be dealing with pantry moths instead.

  • How can you keep closet moths out of your home?

    It is best to use a variety of methods to keep closet moths out of your home. Regularly inspect your natural fiber items, vacuum frequently, brush or beat rugs outside, cold treat infested items in the freezer and use traps in susceptible areas.

Originally written by
Erin Huffstetler
Erin Huffstetler is a frugal living expert who has been writing for over 10 years about easy ways to save money at home. She's covered money-saving advice and tricks for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Forbes, among others. She is the owner of "My Frugal Home," a money-saving, frugal living how-to guide.
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  1. Clothes Moths, Entomology at the University of Kentucky

  2. The Chemistry of Lavender, Compound Chemistry

  3. Essential Oils - Health Warning, Department of Health, Western Australia