How to get rid of moths

At your wits’ end wondering how to get rid of moths? They’re a notoriously resilient pest, but you can defeat them if you’re consistent at protecting your clothes and textiles. These are the best techniques for getting rid of them

How to get rid of moths: folded laundry
(Image credit: Getty/Poh Kim Yeoh / EyeEm)

Want to know how to get rid of moths once and for all? Moths can do some serious damage to your favourite jumpers, silk garments, and carpets. We’ve even seen clothes moth damage in cotton t-shirts. 

Sadly, by the time you’ve discovered you have a moth infestation, it’s often too late for the item of clothing. Don’t give up, though: you can get rid of moths, and ensure they stay out of your wardrobe. Read on to find out how.

For more tips and homemade cleaning hacks, visit our cleaning hub page.

How to get rid of moths tip #1: Use pheromone traps

This is by far the most effective method we’ve found of dealing with fairly large numbers of clothes moths. It’s much more effective than the vinegar traps or fish oil that are sometimes recommended – and do you really want your cupboards to smell like fish oil? 

Pheromone traps have sticky strips covered in female moth pheromone, which attracts male moths. If your infestation level is relatively low, you may be able to get rid of the moths by killing off the males, but it’s very important to simultaneously kill the moth larvae that have likely remained in your clothes. So, always combine this method with method #2. 

How to get rid of moths tip #2: Wash your clothes, all the time

There’s no underestimating the importance of this step, no matter what other method for getting rid of moths you’re trying. Moths love the smell of human sweat and body oils, so always wash all your clothes before folding and storing them. 

Cedar-infused wool detergents will also help repel new moths. It’s also a good idea to give all your clothes a refreshing launder even if they are clean, but you haven’t worn them for a while. Moths like being undisturbed in dark corners, so you want to disturb their peace as often as possible. 

More tips on how to do laundry in our guide. 

How to get rid of moths tip #3: Use diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is basically a very fine rock powder that acts as a desiccant, drying out the insect’s body at every stage of life. It’s highly effective, but can be messy, and you must wear protective gloves and a mask while applying it because it can irritate the respiratory system if inhaled. 

You can also get diatomaceous earth in a spray bottle, which is especially handy for spraying inside wall crevices and between wardrobe shelves. It’s also a great option for carpets, as you can cover a large area with the dust. Be sure to only use food grade, though. 

Diatomaceous earth works only while it’s dry, so if you’re sprinkling it directly on clothing, be aware that you’ll have to re-apply after you’ve washed and dried your garment.

How to prevent future moth infestations

You’ve done the hard work of eradicating moths from your wardrobes and/or carpet. Now you need to keep them from re-infesting your home. We recommend the following measures:

  • Use essential oils: a combination always works better than any one oil, so we recommend soaking cotton balls in a mixture of lavender, clove, thyme, and cedar essential oils. Cedar hangers or lavender sachets on their own are unlikely to be effective. 
  • Clean cupboards regularly and vacuum your carpets; take a look at the best vacuum cleaners in our buyer’s guide;
  • Store woollens in vacuum sealed bags. 

How to get rid of moths: a word on pesticides

It is true that pesticides are effective against moths, and you can buy a variety of moth-repellent sprays, as well as more traditional moth ball type products that release insecticide over time. 

There are, however, health risks associated with their use indoors, and they are always harmful to pets. If you can find a way to evacuate your whole family from the house during and after professional pest control, then it could be an option. But you may choose to try DIY methods before resorting to the pesticide option. 

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