How to get rid of moths in the home

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There are several different types of moth which live in the domestic environment and, as many moths are attracted to light, it is quite easy for them to gain access through open doors and windows particularly in the summer months.

Once inside the house, moths can divert their attention to different food sources depending on their type.  Some moths are attracted by actual human foodstuffs, dry goods like bread and pasta, whereas others are interested in clothing and fabric as a food source and in particular, natural fibers such as wool and silk.

A common nuisance moth, the Miller moth (image source)

The first thing you need to determine if you suspect moth invasion is what type of moth you have in the house.  The three most common types are:-

  • The brown house moth
  • The pantry moth
  • The cloths/carpet moth

Using visual images from online resources, make sure that the insect/s you have discovered are actually moths and then try and work out which type they are.

What does a Pantry moth and larvae look like (image source)

Most people worry about the moths that eat fabric as they can cause huge damage to clothing and household textiles including upholstered furniture.  Carpet/clothes moths are small, smaller than an inch and unfortunately, their appearance may go undetected until you start to spot the telltale signs of damage associated with their activity.

Clothes moth (image source)

There are plenty of toxic chemicals to rid your home of moths but there are more natural alternatives that are much safer for the occupants of your home and the planet and still not that friendly to moths.

Brown House moth (image source)

How to get rid of moths in your home

  • Fill your home with cedar – use cedar oil diluted in water as a topical spray – never use the essential oil undiluted as it is too strong for pets and people who may come into contact with it.  Use cedar oil in room diffusers.  Cedar oil contains pheromones that repel moths as well as other unwanted insects. If you can’t find any cedar oil, try leaving cedar blocks in your pantry and wardrobes.
  • Make a herb bag – combine lavender, bay leaves, cloves, rosemary, and thyme and crush the dried herbs together and place in a bag and hang anywhere where you know moths have been present such as in dark corners or wardrobes
  • Make an essential oil spray – use oil of lavender, rosemary, thyme, and oil of cloves, dilute in water and spray on your clothes and at-risk fabrics
  • Use a sticky trapMoth traps, like the old-fashioned flypapers, cover with moth pheromones to attract the moths that are trapped when they land
  • Vacuum regularly – moths lay eggs in carpets as well as clothes.  Keeping your home free of dust and dirt will help deter moths, you don’t have to use toxic or harmful chemical-based cleaning products, just regular eco-friendly cleaners, and some elbow grease.  Empty the vacuum bags regularly so that you don’t inadvertently grow eggs or larvae and wash the dusting cloths regularly for the same reason
  • Freezing techniques – make space in the freezer and freezer any clothes or small fabric items that show signs of moth attack; if you freeze them for at least 24 hours this will kill off any larvae
  • Wash clothes – using a hot wash cycle followed by a high-heat dryer setting will kill off eggs and larvae.  Any clothes or items that cannot go through a hot wash can be frozen for a day or two
  • Vinegar – anywhere you find larvae or moth eggs, scrub thoroughly with a vinegar and water solution
  • Storing clothes – moths are attracted to the natural body oil, sweat, and hair that is left in minute quantities on clothing, especially those made from natural fibers like wool, silk, and fur. Wash or dry clean these clothes if you intend to store them and not wear them for a while. Store clothes in air-tight storage bags or plastic containers, avoid cardboard as moths will treat this as the first course and chew through it

Moth infestations that are out of control can require professional intervention to eliminate the problem but otherwise, most regular household moth visitations can be managed using a bit of know-how and home remedies.  Using a mixture of hot and cold temperatures, regular and thorough cleaning and a blend of essential oils via sprays and room diffusers should remove most signs of typical household moths.  As with all these things, prevention is better than cure and deploying cedar fragrances regularly throughout the house will help deter moth invasion and will keep your home smelling clean and fragrant too.

Moths are not dangerous, they do not bite and they don’t spread disease but they are unwelcome house guests.  For people who already have allergies, moths can exacerbate their symptoms and a real serious moth infestation can take a serious toll on clothing and household fabrics.  Using natural methods to control moths is effective and safer for you and your family’s health and, of course, better for the environment.

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