Remove Insect Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Flyswatter (fly-flap), dead flies
Rudolf Vlcek / Getty Images

We all know that some insects can cause quite a bit of damage if they use your clothes, carpet, or upholstery as a food source. Moths, carpet beetles and silverfish are just a few of the clothes damaging insects that may come your way.

Whether you choose to get rid of them using chemical insecticides or more eco-friendly methods, they must be removed to protect your clothing and household furnishings. If you caught the problem in time, you might have dodged the permanent damage of holes. But what about those hard to remove brown spots?

This isn't pretty, but the spots are insect excrement or digestive waste. This can happen in pest-infected closets, storage containers, or even on clothes dried on outdoor clotheslines. For some reason, flies love the moisture and brightness of clean white bed sheets. Insects like grasshoppers and locusts can stain outdoor furniture and umbrellas.

How to Remove Insect Stains from Washable Clothes

To remove insect excrement stains from washable clothes and fabrics, first mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. This is safe to use on both white and colored fabrics with the exception of silk, wool, and leather-trimmed items.

Sort the clothes by color and fabric. Completely submerge the stained garments and allow them to soak for at least eight hours. Check the stains. If they are gone, wash as recommended on the fabric care labels. If they remain, mix a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove the stains, but they should come out.

How to Remove Insect Stains from Dry Clean Only Clothes

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only and you aren't sure if you should wash it at home, head to the dry cleaner. Point out and identify the stains to your professional cleaner. If the insects have caused damage like holes, the cleaner may be able to offer repair surfaces or direct you to a tailor who can do reweaving.

If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

How to Remove Insect Stains from Carpet

If you have squashed a bug on the carpet or have had problems with an infestation, it is important to treat the stains on the carpet as soon as possible.

If there is solid insect matter on the carpet, use an old spoon or spatula to lift the solids from the carpet. Do not wipe with a rag because that can drive the stains deeper in the carpet. You can also use a vacuum to lift the matter out of the fibers. Just be sure to empty the bag or vacuum cup outside to avoid additional problems.

Mix a solution of two teaspoons of dishwashing detergent in two cups of warm water. Dip a clean white cloth, sponge or soft bristle brush in the solution. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to keep it from spreading, work the cleaning solution into the stain. Blot with a dry cloth to absorb the solution, Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred. 

Finish by dipping a clean cloth in plain water to "rinse" the spot. This is especially important because any soapy residue left in the carpet will actually attract more soil. Allow the stain to air dry away from direct heat. Vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

If the stain is older, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach in cool water following package directions. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center, work the solution into the carpet. Do not over wet. Allow the solution to remain on the stain for at least 30 minutes before blotting away.

Use a dry clean white cloth to blot away moisture. Allow to dry completely and vacuum to restore pile of the carpet.

How to Remove Insect Stains from Upholstery

The same cleaning solutions and techniques recommended for carpet can be used for upholstery. Take care not to oversaturate the upholstery fabric because excess moisture in the cushions can cause mildew problems. If the fabric is silk or vintage, consult a professional upholstery cleaner.