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How to get rid of Clothes and Carpet Moths

Know your enemy

Before we look at how to get rid of clothes and carpet moths, let’s look at they are. Let me introduce you to two species of clothes and carpet moths you may not have become acquainted with. If you have been unlucky enough to have them invade your home you are aware of the damage they can cause. They are the case-bearing carpet moth, Tineapellionella and the better known common clothes moth, Tineola bisselliella.

They live outdoors in birds’ nests and on discarded fur or animal skin, but they have become most acclimatized to our modern, centrally heated homes, where they will happily munch their way inconspicuously through carpets and clothes at a remarkable rate.

Both adults are small, dull, and grey-fawn coloured although the common clothes moth has a golden sheen, the other more silvery-grey. They scuttle around rather than fly, but they do fly, in through open windows and doors.

clothes moth

Once inside in the warm they can reproduce rapidly. Eggs are laid in dark areas on fur, feathers, skin, wool or silk. The larvae, which cause the damage, hatch and spin webbing as they grow. The common clothes moth larvae spin silk as sheets of webbing across the material they are eating.

The case-bearing clothes moth is distinguishable as the larvae weave silken cases to protect themselves. The grub can turn itself around inside and eat at both ends. The cases look like grains of rice and are typically hidden behind furniture and in crevices.

Before you go on the attack

As with most insect pests, preventing entry is practically impossible. However, as these moths frequently inhabit birds’ nests, it is a good idea to remove any from loft spaces or in disused chimneys. This is generally good housekeeping advice as other pests such as beetles and fleas also often originate in birds’ nests.

Regular vacuuming is a great preventative measure. These moths prefer not to be disturbed, so moving furniture and cleaning thoroughly will definitely act as a deterrent.

Make sure you only store CLEAN clothes. Natural textiles soiled with food, perspiration or urine are top of the clothes moth’s wish list.

Weapons available

There are a variety of products available to help get rid of clothes and carpet moths, from sticky papers and pheromone traps to insecticidal sprays and powder. All of these should get rid of the problem, although repeated treatments might be needed.


Insecticidal sprays such as Insectaclear Strong Insect Killer or Protector C can be applied to crevices in wardrobes and drawers and insecticidal powder such as Residex P applied to carpets and under skirtings.

A smoke bomb is a good starting point to kill all adult moths in a room and then hanging traps in the wardrobe space should offer an effective three-pronged attack.

The Insecto Clothes Moth Trap works by pheromones and attracts the male moth and Rentokil Moth Killer Papers kill all moths, eggs and larvae without any harmful effects on clothes.


  1. Norma Dorsett

    I’ve recently discovered a fairly substantial corner area of a 100% wool rug that has been nibbled by moths!! It currently sits underneath the television table. Is it easier to discard it (although the majority still has plenty of life left in it) or treat it? I know hoovering alone will not eradicate them (I have certainly done lots of that!) I am considered purchasing a polypropolene one as I do not want this situation to arise again!
    Also, I found empty moths’ cocoons nestled in Alpaca wool and knitted pieces which I’d placed in an uncovered basket in our understairs cloakroom. I’ve cleared it out, washed coats, thrown away others and placed cedarwood and lavender bags inside. Occasionally there are still one or two moths visible in there. Could you please advise the best approach to take?
    I can’t believe we’ve had this two-pronged attack from moths as we’ve never experienced anything like it before!
    I would very much appreciate your advice.
    Thank you very much.
    Norma Dorsett

    1. Hello Norma.
      It is quite possible to treat your rug and save it . A synthetic spray such as Protector C Carpet and Clothes Moth Killer will get rid of any eggs and larvae still in the carpet and should be non-staining, although I would always do a little test first. You don’t say if you have carpet underneath the rug. If you do I would treat that too. You just have to let the product dry and you can walk on the carpet. And keep hoovering as you have been doing. Regarding the cloakroom, I would suggest hanging some clothes moth killer papers. The insecticide on these papers will kill any eggs, larvae etc that may be in there. The other option is to place a clothes moth trap in the area of infestation, which will attract the male moths and interrupt the breeding cycle

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