How to Remove Insect Stains

How to Remove Insect Stains

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 6 hrs - 8 hrs, 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to 15

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 bedsheets. Insects like grasshoppers and locusts can stain outdoor furniture and umbrellas.

Fortunately, insect stains can be removed from clothing, carpets, and upholstery with household products and some patience on your part. Simply follow these easy steps below.

Stain type   Protein-based
Detergent type   Oxygen-based bleach
Water temperature   Cool
Cycle type   Varies depending on the type of fabric

Before You Begin

Check the care label on the tag in the clothing so you know how it should be cleaned.

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.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Removing Insect Stains From Washable Clothes

  • Bucket or sink

Removing Insect Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

  • Spoon or spatula
  • Small bowl
  • White cloth (2)
  • Sponge or soft bristled brush (optional)
  • Vacuum


Removing Insect Stains From Washable Clothes

  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Cool water

Removing Insect Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Warm water
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)


How to Remove Insect Stains From Washable Clothes

  1. Sort Clothing

    Sort the insect execrement stained clothes by color and fabric.

  2. Mix a Soaking Solution

    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 mixing solution is safe to use on both white and colored fabrics but not on silk, wool, and leather-trimmed items.

  3. Soak the Clothes

    Completely submerge the stained garments and allow them to soak for at least eight hours.

  4. Check the Stained Areas

    Check the stains. If they are gone, wash as recommended on the fabric care labels. If they remain, mix up a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove the stains, but they should come out.

How to Remove Insect Stains on Carpet and Upholstery

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.

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 especially if you need more stain removal tips.

Before cleaning any furniture, always follow the manufacturer's care label on cleaning upholstery. This tag can be found under the sofa cushions or fabric skirt with letter codes that indicate how to clean the furniture.

  1. Remove Solids

    Lift any solid insect matter with an old spoon or spatula. 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.


    Do not wipe with a rag because that can drive the stains deeper into the carpet.

  2. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    Mix a solution of 2 teaspoons of dishwashing detergent with 2 cups of warm water in a small bowl.

  3. Apply the Cleaning Solution to the Stain

    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. 

  4. Rinse the Stained Area

    Finish by dipping a clean cloth in plain water to "rinse" the spot.


    Rinse well, as any soapy residue left in the carpet will actually attract more soil.

  5. Air Dry and Vacuum

    Allow the stain to air dry away from direct heat. Vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

Additional Tips for Handling Insect Stains

If the insect stain is older on the carpet or upholstery, you may find it is still there. At this point, you need the extra muscle of oxygen-based bleach.

  • 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.
  • Dip a clean white cloth in plain water and blot the area to rinse.
  • Use a dry clean white cloth to blot away moisture.
  • Allow to dry completely and vacuum to restore the pile of the carpet.
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleaning for a Healthy Home, University of Minnesota