Like mosquito season or lovebug season, there is a designated time when moths come out and about more than usual. It’s called moth season, and if you care about your rugs and carpets, you’ll want to learn more about it.
It may seem like a no-brainer. After a moth sighting, you either scoop it up and toss it outside where it belongs or you wave goodbye to the moth with your shoe. That’s not always the case, though. In fact, more often than not, moths are pesky and committed to their carpeted homes, at the expense of YOUR home.
When moth season rolls around, you should be prepared. Protecting your rugs and carpets from these critters is no small feat, but it’s 100% doable. We’ll cover everything you need to know about moth season so that you’ll be ready to combat the moths when they begin to settle into your carpet.
First things first, though: The basics. Let’s start with some of the most frequently asked questions before we get into the nitty-gritty.
Some people mistake moths for being ugly butterflies, and they’re not too far off. Moths are related to butterflies. Moths come from the same order as butterflies, although they’re not as vibrantly colored as butterflies, the resemblance is undeniable.
In fact, the moth is defined as “a chiefly nocturnal insect related to the butterflies. It lacks the clubbed antennae of butterflies and typically has a stout body, drab coloration, and wings that fold flat when resting.” They vary in shape and size, depending on a variety of factors.
But the type of moth we’re talking about on this article is the carpet moth or upholstery moth. It is characteristic for its colors, black and white. We could call them “insects of the night” as you can only see them in dark and humid places. And it is the larva the one that causes mayor damage, as it feeds on skins, clothing, upholstery, carpets, rugs and animal skin, punching clothes and fabrics in the form of scratches or holes.
If you want to look out for moths at home and prevent them, they usually appear in:
-Carpets and Rugs
Later on, we’ll see different ways to prevent and eliminate moths.
They may not look pretty, but moths aren’t harmful to humans. They don’t bite or sting or spread poison. The only way a moth could harm you is if you eat it. That’s why pantries should always be safe from them!
However, there are some species whose scales on their wings can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people, although it is not an imminent risk or an extremely serious problem. Also, there is a particular type of moth, known as a flannel moth caterpillar or cat moth, whose poisonous hairs can cause pain and skin rashes, and in more severe cases, can cause swelling, nausea and breathing problems.
With that said, just because they’re not harmful doesn’t mean they should reside in your home. Moths belong outside, and keeping your rugs and carpets clean and moth-free is important.
Moth Season is when an influx of moths begin to find homes in indoor places—namely, your home. Moth Season in the U.S. typically spans from May to October, as moths are escaping the heat and finding refuge inside. It’s great for them but not so great for homeowners who aren’t looking for new creepy-crawly pests.
No. Moths may not be drawn to your home. Every home (and every indoor space) is susceptible to moths, just like any bug. Even if your home doesn’t usually get moths, it’s best to be on top of it in case you do experience a busy moth season.
Now that you know a little more about moths, let’s get to the good stuff…
A clean rug is a moth-free rug! Keep your rugs clean and free of dirt by vacuuming them often. Moths like to be in quiet, undisturbed areas. If you run a loud vacuum in their territory, they’ll scatter! Especially around moth season, it’s a good idea to put a weekly vacuum session on your calendar.
There’s no need to steam clean or professionally clean your rugs and carpets every week, but it helps to have them all professionally cleaned at least once a year. In an effort to combat moths, you might as well schedule that professional cleaning session around moth season.
Learn more about how to keep your rugs and carpets clean with this Ultimate Guide to Rug Cleaning). This actionable step by step guide will help you stay safe during moth season!
Spills lead to bacteria, dirt, and moisture. Don’t fret about spills, but don’t forget to clean up after them. These can attract moths to your rugs.
There are plenty of ways to clean your rugs and carpets from spills (take a look at this article if you want to learn the best way to remove your stain), but one tried-and-true way is to use antibacterial soap and water. Use this solution along with a scrubby brush to get deep into the rug’s fibers.
If you’ve tried vacuuming, keeping your rug or carpet clean, and cleaning up spills, the next best bet is to use moth repellent. There are all kinds of moth repellents, so pick the one that works best for you. Some people prefer to use a natural repellent, and others like to use a chemical repellent. That’s totally up to you! We’ll share some of the pros and cons for each.
A) Natural Repellent
Nature is always the best way to go. Moths come from the outdoors, and they’re used to avoiding outdoor things that they don’t like. These things are typically scents or tastes that turn them away. Use this to your advantage by placing these scents in your home, specifically in your carpet. Here are a few scents that repel moths naturally:
-Orange or Lemon Peel
B) Chemical Repellent
Sometimes, a natural approach isn’t strong enough. Most of the natural remedies take time to work, and they’re not as potent as chemical repellents. Although it’s advised that you don’t overuse chemical repellents on your carpet, it’s perfectly acceptable to use them every once and a while—especially when moths are really infesting your rugs.
You may want to make a trip to the store for a rug or carpet moth repellent kit. These treatment kits offer a DIY approach to getting rid of moths. They’re easier on your rugs and carpets and your house than moth balls (we’ll get to that in a second), and they’re more powerful than most natural repellents.
This one is more like an anti-step than a step, but it’s important, nonetheless. Moths are often associated with moth balls, as many people believe it’s the tried-and-true way of getting rid of moths. But that’s not the case at all!
Moth balls are designed to turn into a gas that makes moths want to evacuate the scene. That gas, although sometimes effective, is highly toxic and gives off a pungent odor. This is completely avoidable if you choose to use a more healthy moth repellent, like the natural repellents or chemical repellents discussed above.
Use small clove bags!
Instead of using moth balls, make small clove bags and put them inside your closets and furniture. And if you want to store a rug in your basement, roll it up with clove scattered all inside.
Moths like being in dirty places. They don’t like a lot of scents (especially floral, clean scents), and they don’t like clean fabrics or materials. While your rugs are the predominant focus, you’ll also want to focus on everything around them. If moths don’t like the smell of your furniture or blankets, for example, they likely won’t pick their home to be in your rugs.
Keep your blankets, clothes, pillows, and furniture clean and dry. You can wash your blankets in hot water to kill any potential larvae nests. When you clean your furniture, use products that have a strong clean odor, like lavender or cedar. Moths don’t like this, so they’ll shrink up their noses and vacate in no time.
But be aware, this tips aren’t always enough to keep moths away. Even if you’ve done all of them, you might find that moths have made their way through and started eating your rugs and carpets… then it’s time to eliminate them!
When it comes to a few moths we can eliminate them ourselves with commercial products, but when it comes to a larger infestation it is recommended to call the experts in pest control. But before calling one, do the following:
Classification is the first step. You may spot a critter on your carpet and assume it’s a moth because you’re in moth season. The treatment for moths is different from other insects, so make sure you know how to classify a moth. On top of that, you’ll need to treat rug and carpet moths differently than you would treat regular moths. Chances are if you spot a regular moth, there won’t be more coming your way. With a carpet moth, those odds go up. Here’s how to tell that you’re dealing with a rug and carpet moth:
Rug and Carpet moths look like regular moths, except they are generally smaller. Usually, a carpet moth’s body is approximately 5mm long.
Its coloring is drab and it usually has three dots on its wings.
Its hind wings are usually smaller and lighter in color than its forewings.
If you’ve spotted one or two carpet moths, they are likely part of a tribe. You’ll want to check to see if there is an infestation, in which case you’d take action. Even if you don’t spot any signs of an infestation, it’s important to check to see what’s going on.
One foolproof way to spot a rug moth infestation is by finding patches on your rugs. If you see bare spots that look like they’ve been eroded or somehow whittled down, it might be a sign that you have carpet moths eating at your carpet’s fibers.
Once you’ve done this 2 steps, the following is to exterminate any rug infestation you may have. And as said earlier, you may need to pay a professional to do it for you.
If there aren’t clear signs of infestation and you feel like DIY, you can use some types of wood such as cedar or juniper, but lavender essential oil is also effective, as well as any other essential oil with the scent of the natural repellents we mentioned earlier. On the other hand, you can use the adhesive traps, these are easy to use and also do not cause damage to the inhabitants of the house. And you can also use traps with pheromones.
A good homemade solution to eliminate moths is taking a container, and fill it with vinegar and some orange peel. Let it rest for 2 days. Then with the help of an atomizer spread it throughout your house. You will kill the moths and any other insects that have entered your home. If you don’t have orange peel or vinergar, another mix could be essential oil of mint, water and natural lemon juice. Spray this mixture in every corner of the house, in the basements, under the rugs and carpets, behind the curtains and inside the closets. This way you should be able to get rid off all the moth you might have.
But I wouldn’t play with fire… if you clearly see a moth infestation in your rugs and carpets, call inmediately professional to do it for you.
Lucky for you, a moth problem is an easier problem to have than most house problems. It’s never fun, but it’s preventable and easily treatable as long as you know what you’re dealing with and how to properly deal with them. The next time you suspect a mothy gathering taking place in your beloved rug or carpet, remember these tricks.
Unlike other household issues (plumbing, for example), carpet moths can be handled on your own. DIY approaches like these come in handy when you’re trying to save money—and your rugs and carpets, of course. Get out there and start moth-hunting. You have some rugs to save!
My name is Mary and I'm a mother of 3! I worked for a big company for 10 years until I decided to stay at home to take care of my family. Every since cleaning has become sort of my hobby and profession at the same time. I write about vacuum cleaners, steam cleaners, etc. I just find it a lot of fun!
P.S. Don’t forget, if you have any question or doubt you can ask an expert here, and will try to answer it in the shortest time possible.