Carpet beetles and clothes moths are well-known destroyers of fabric. You can find them in your closets, carpets, rugs, and even in your mattresses where they inflict a great deal of harm on your textiles. You might have seen tiny holes in your woolen sweaters and cashmere blouses and they are, in all likelihood, caused by carpet beetles. In this guide, we will study some simple ways to get rid of carpet beetles quickly, easily, and effectively.
1. Identifying carpet beetles
Two species of clothes moths and four species of carpet beetles are typically found in the United States. Here is a brief description of black carpet beetles:
- Fully grown larvae of carpet beetles turn into young adults characterized by a mottled-appearance with black, white, yellow, or brown colors.
- Larvae are typically black, golden-brown, or yellowish in color. They are about ½ inch in length.
- Adult beetles have solid, black bodies. They are elongated and oval-shaped and measure about ¼ inches long. They have brownish-black bristles that give them a fuzzy appearance.
2. Know their food and habits
Apart from knowing how carpet beetles look like, it is a good idea to know what they eat and where they come from. This way, you can set your carpet beetle traps in the right places.
- You may find them on cotton goods
- They live behind baseboards and moldings
- In cracks in the floors, in corners
- Behind crevices in the radiators and air ducts of heating systems.
- They are commonly seen in dresser drawers and closet shelves.
Carpet beetles feed on organic matter like hair from pets, lint, and dead insects usually found in places infrequently cleaned. Eliminate these food sources to get rid of carpet beetle eggs, larvae, and adults.
3. Know the common sources of carpet beetles
Carpet beetles can easily fly from house to house. They are carried into homes from woolen articles and other clothing items typically bought from secondhand clothing stores, yard sales, or thrift stores. You might also bring them in from discarded upholstered furniture. Bird and rodent nests under your patios and decks could also bring carpet beetles into homes. Carpet beetles easily crawl from one infested room to another. If you have a mattress or rug infested with carpet beetles, then chances are that they will soon find their way into the remaining rooms of your house. Quilt-making clubs often exchange scraps of wool or fabrics. These scraps, when kept unprotected for long periods of time, can also become infected with moth eggs and larvae.
4. Practice good housekeeping
The easiest way to get rid of carpet worms, moths, and beetles is by practicing cleanliness.
- Do a thorough job of cleaning organic matter upon which the larvae and adult beetles feed.
- Vacuum the rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture thoroughly. You can use a brush or special vacuum attachments for the job.
- Rotate carpets and rugs frequently because beetles feed under heavy furniture and hidden areas and not in heavy-traffic areas.
- Clean behind radiators, under heavy furniture, window sills, and in cracks and crevices of electrical outlets, behind paintings, etc.
- Do not overlook corners, cracks, baseboards, and other hard-to-reach areas.
After vacuuming, discard the bags promptly. Repeat vacuuming every three days to eliminate eggs, larvae, and newly hatched worms.
5. Store woolen scraps and fabrics properly
One of the most common sources of carpet beetle infestation is woolen scraps or pieces of fabric stored for long periods of time in shelves or corners or boxes, or drawers. So either get rid of them or store them properly in airtight boxes. You can also spray carpet beetle insecticides or neem oil insecticides to protect these scraps.
6. Use insecticides
Carpet beetle insecticides containing DDT, chlordane, or lindane can prevent beetles and moths from eating fabrics. A commercially-available solution containing fluoride can also prevent clothes larvae from feeding on your fabrics. You can easily buy these products online or from home improvement stores; they are available as liquid oil solutions that can be applied to fabrics or as pressurized sprays. Please read all instructions on the product labels and follow contraindications, if any. Here are some tips to help you use carpet beetle insecticides on woolen fabrics when dealing with a massive infestation:
- Before spraying woolen items, always make sure that they are clean and devoid of any stains.
- Hang the woolen items or fabrics on a clothesline.
- Spray lightly and uniformly all over each piece until it is moist with the insecticide. Do not soak the clothing in the insecticide or allow the product to drip from clothes.
- If you happen to accidentally use a lot, use a tissue paper to remove the excess. You can also brush off excess product. In case of very heavy spraying, you can send the clothing items for dry cleaning. The insecticide will get removed due to dry-cleaning and your clothes will not be protected anymore.
- Allow all treated items to dry thoroughly before storing them in the closets.
- Do not use fluoride solutions to spray on wooden shelves and cabinets. They are for spraying on fabrics only and they only offer protection to the fabrics from larvae and do not kill the insects.
- Treated fabrics can remain protected for up to a year. Pack them in foil and place the clothing in air-tight boxes or cedarwood chests. Cold storage at temperatures no greater than 40 F can also help prevent larvae.
7. Wash infested clothing
Special detergents and wash-solutions like EQ-53 are very effective in getting rid of carpet worms and beetles. You can protect your washable woolens with these products. Simply soak the woolen items in water mixed with EQ-53 and wring out the excess. Let the woolen item dry naturally. You can also add EQ53 to your laundry machine and wash it as usual. Neem oil is a natural insecticide and can be added to the wash cycle to wash infested linen and woolens. Add about 1 tsp per gallon of water while washing.
8. Use Naphthalene balls inside trunks and closets
Paradichlorobenzene crystals and naphthalene balls vaporize to give off strong chemical odors that are noxious and repulsive to clothes bugs. However, these products do not kill carpet worms, they merely repel them. It is important that the closet or trunks where you store your woolens are air-tight enough to hold the vapors of these balls and crystals. If needed, seal all cracks and crevices in these areas. Remember, all protection will be lost if you open the closet/trunks/boxes frequently. You also need to use several naphthalene balls for the treatment to be effective. Scatter at least 1 pound of crystals or balls between layers of clothes for a trunk-sized container. To kill carpet worms, use a vacuum cleaner attachment to dispense vaporizing paradichlorobenzene crystals through the infested areas.
9. Use red cedarwood chests
Cedarwood is a natural insect repellent. Not only are chests and trunks made from cedar wood or heartwood very air-tight; their volatile oils also repel small larvae of carpet beetles and moths. You can also spray cedarwood essential oil inside your cabinets to repel bugs. Alternatively, place small bags filled with cedarwood chips inside the cabinets and drawers.
10. Freeze the bugs
You can easily kill clothes moths and carpet beetles by freezing infested items. Just make sure that the fabric won’t be damaged by extremely cold temperatures. Wrap the items in Ziploc bags or aluminum foil and freeze them at 18 F for 2 weeks or at 0F for 4 days.
11. Use vinegar
A question many people ask is ‘does vinegar kill carpet beetle larvae and moth eggs’? The answer is yes. Add half a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle and rinse out the clothing as usual. You can also spray vinegar inside closets to repel moths and carpet beetles. When clothing cannot be washed, use neem oil insecticide to kill larvae of moths, beetles, fur beetles, and carpet beetles.
12. Use rosemary oil
Rosemary essential oil, like cedarwood oil, is a powerful bug repellent. Spray pure rosemary oil inside the boxes and trunks where you store your woolens. Also, add a few drops of pure rosemary oil to wash cycle and rinse your infested clothing.
13. Clean drawers/cabinets from time to time
Once every few months, empty out your wardrobe, shake out the clothes and inspect them. Moths and carpet beetles love woolens, cashmere, and other natural-fiber clothing. If you see tiny holes in these items, then there is a chance you are dealing with carpet bugs or moths. Wash the infested clothes with neem oil or rosemary oil. Clean out the cabinets and place mothballs, lavender or cloves, and/or bags of cedarwood in them. Fold all the washed clothing and spray carpet beetle insecticide to prevent bugs. For clothes that cannot be washed, simply treat with carpet beetle insecticide or neem oil.
14. Treat rugs and carpets
For heavily infested rugs and carpets, start with thorough vacuuming followed by treatment with fluoride sprays for protection.
- Pay special attention to parts of the rugs underneath the piano, couches, sofas, beds, and other furniture pieces.
- Spray neem oil or carpet beetle insecticide under areas with animal fibers, human hair, and other organic debris which is food for beetles.
- You can also use Borax, diatomaceous earth powder, and baking soda to treat rugs and carpets before vacuuming. These will help eliminate larvae and eggs of carpet worms.
- In case of very heavy infestation on Oriental rugs or Persian carpets that are too delicate to be sprayed, enlist the help of professional pest control agents.
15. Set carpet beetle traps
Pheromone-based carpet beetle traps are useful to assess whether your precautionary measures are working. Set these sticky traps throughout the home and check them once or twice a week. Carpet beetle traps are available online and in stores and can help augment all other control methods.