How to get rid of carpet moths — and how to identify them

carpet moths on damaged carpet
(Image credit: Getty)

Scratching your head wondering how to get rid of carpet moths? If your floor is being  ruined by this pesky creature, we are here to help with plenty of tips from the experts and advice on how to identify them.  

Carpet moths are part of a species known as 'textile pests' and cause call kinds of damage to certain types of carpet and rugs — as well as other fabrics such as clothes made from cashmere or viscose. 

"Carpet Moths, Case Bearing Moths, or Carpet Beetles are the creatures most commonly associated with damage to carpets, rugs and textile floorings," explain the experts at MothKiller.co.uk. "Holes in carpets, or threadbare patches where flooring has been eaten away is usually a sign of a carpet moth infestation."

There are various ways of dealing with carpet moths and in this handy guide we take a look at some of the most effective methods for eliminating them from your home. 

How to get rid of carpet moths: How can I prevent the problem?

Of course you are probably keen to avoid ever having to deal with carpet moths in the first place — and, as ever, prevention is better than cure. 

"Carpet moth maggots or eggs normally come into contact with your carpets with the help of humans," explain Merlin Environmental's experts. "Out in nature, the little creatures are happily munching on animal hair or bird feathers, and you or your pets unwittingly step on them. They then get transported indoors, either as eggs or larvae, where they discover your delicious carpets and clothes. They can enter your building on second-hand furniture too — so always clean items thoroughly before bringing into your premises."

What do carpet moths look like?

If you suspect you have carpet moths it is essential to know what to look out for. Carpet moths are actually quite rare in the UK and it is actually more likely that it will be a type of common clothes moth that is causing the damage to your flooring. 

"Both types of moths feed on the same stuff – keratin, and they don’t discriminate between clothes and carpets," say the experts at Merlin Environmental. "All keratin fabric is equally delicious and nutritious to them."

The carpet moth actually goes through four stages during its life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

  • Egg: It is really hard to identify them at this stage as carpet moth eggs are only 0.5mm long
  • Larvae: Between 4-10 days after being laid, eggs hatch into larvae — and it is at this stage that the damage begins. "They are usually a creamy white worm with a darker head, but their colour can change depending on the colour of the carpet they are eating," say Merlin Environmental. "Larvae are typically only few millimetres long when they hatch, but they grow to 1-1.5cm in length before they move to the pupa stage of the life cycle."
  • Pupa: Around six months after the larvae stage, the pupa phase begins, whereby the the larvae spins a cocoon around itself. From within the cocoon, it becomes an adult carpet moth — something that takes around 8-10 days.
  • Adult carpet moths: While adult carpet moths don't actually cause any damage, they are still hugely problematic. "The wingspan is about 1.4cm – 1.8cm. It lays up to 200 eggs at any time," say Merlin Environmental's experts. "That would equate to 200 grubs chowing down on your carpets for the next 6+ months if it’s not stopped."

The stage at which it is usually easiest to identify carpet moths is at the pupa stage.

"The pupa stage leaves behind very visible evidence of their existence," say Merlin Environmental. "You might find the white cocoon casings left behind from the pupa stage. If you see these, it’s a red flag indicating you have a carpet moth problem that needs to be addressed."

"Having passed through the lifecycle stages of egg, pupa and larva and finally reaching adulthood, the fully developed carpet moth rarely flies, but instead runs quite rapidly across floors, tending to avoid direct light," explain MothKiller.co.uk. "Carpet Moths or Case Bearing Clothes Moths are usually dark buff in colour. The cases they shed during their life cycle can sometimes be found and are described as looking like grains of rice."

carpet moth larvae

At the larvae stage, carpet moths look like tiny light coloured worms with a darker head.  (Image credit: Getty)

Where should I look for carpet moths?

Carpet moths tend to favour certain conditions and knowing what these are can help in you discovering them early.

"Carpet Moths favour dark areas, with damage often being more evident underneath or behind heavy furniture," say those in the know at MothKiller.co.uk.

"The carpet moth enjoys damp carpets or carpets that have a source of moisture such as spillages or leaks, as the grubs rely on moisture within the carpet to hydrate themselves," explains Merlin Environmental. "If you are searching for carpet moth larvae, look in the low-traffic, carpeted parts of the floor, like under furniture or near walls."

carpet moth

The adult carpet moth has a wingspan of approximately 1.4cm – 1.8cm. (Image credit: Merlin Environmental)

What else could be causing carpet damage?

It isn't only carpet moths that wreak havoc on carpet and rugs — in fact, here in the UK, it is usually another, similar pest — the clothes moth.

That said, identifying and dealing with them is a similar process.

clothes moth on carpet

This images shows a clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) — these can also damage carpet and rugs and are more common in the UK than carpet moths.  (Image credit: Getty)

How do you get rid of carpet moths?

If you have discovered carpet moths or clothes moths in your home, you will undoubtedly be looking at the best ways of getting rid of them.

There are several methods you can use, from those that rely on non-chemical solutions to those that involve calling in the experts.

  • Get busy with the vacuum: Regularly vacuuming your carpets has to be the simplest and cheapest way of getting rid of carpet moths. This should remove all eggs and larvae — just be sure to be thorough and don't neglect to vacuum under furniture and around the perimeter of the room either. 
  • Have a good tidy up: It really does pay to keep mess to a minimum — keeping your floor free of too much clutter means you will be able to spot signs of carpet moths sooner.
  • Set moth traps: Glue strips and moth traps are a popular way of catching and killing carpet moths and are cheap and simple to use. Try a product such as MANCHESTER MOTHMEN Moth Killer, moth traps featuring adhesive pads that attract the moths thanks to the pheromones they are impregnated with. 
  • Use an insecticide spray: Specialist carpet moth sprays, available from companies such as MothKiller.co.uk are fast-acting, easy to use and not too pricey. 
  • Explore the range of moth killing products: As well as sprays, there are a whole other range of specialist products for eliminating moths, including carpet powders and natural sprays, containing no chemicals. Although these natural products are still effective, they tend to take longer to get to work.
  • Smoke bombs: Often containing the insecticide permethrin, these little powerhouses are placed in the infected room, with all the windows and doors shut. You light them, let them work for a couple of hours, then return to the room and ventilate it thoroughly. If you are worried about the idea of a naked flame, 'foggers' do a similar thing but rely on an aerosol that releases an insecticidal gas over a couple of minutes. 

Does vinegar get rid of carpet moths?

This good old household staple can be used for so many things around the home — including deterring carpet and clothes moths. 

Some people report great success by placing a bowl of cider vinegar and washing up liquid in the room. The scent of the vinegar attracts the moths and the washing up liquid pulls them under the surface.

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.