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How to Get Rid of Moths: Eliminate & Prevent Moth Problems

Moths can cause problems in a household. They like to feast on your cereals, grains and the clothes in your closet. They especially like wool and silk but will eat other fabrics as well. If you are experiencing a moth problem you will want to read these tips on how to get rid of moths.

Moths in Your Closets

The first thing to do when ridding your closet of moths is to know what signs to look for that they are present.

  1. You will see tiny holes in your sweaters or other clothing articles. If one sweater has the holes it is most likely there are others that have suffered the same consequence. Check all the clothing in the closet for damages.
  2. You may notice that your clothing looks discolored or dusty, or that is has a musty smell.
  3. You may notice webbing on your clothes or in the corners of the closet.
  4. If you see any of these signs, set out traps to take care of the immediate problem. You can trap them with pheromone moth traps that have a sticky substance on them that will attract and kill the moth as they can’t escape from it once they land. You can make these traps from articles you most likely have around your home:
  5. Flypaper with fish oil dabbed on it can be hung in your closet to catch and trap them.
  6. Mouse traps are also effective in catching moths.

After you have inspected your clothing and found signs of moths, wash all of it. They could have laid eggs on your clothing that must be removed in order to prevent further infestation.

  • You can wash the clothing according to label instructions, but if possible dry them on a high heat. If they cannot withstand high heat it is suggested you freeze them for a few days to kill the eggs.
  • Check all your linens and towels in your home for damage.
  • Check suitcases, bags and any other cloth containers and wash them also.

While your clothing is out of the closet being washed; scour it from top to bottom to make sure all eggs are gone. This can be done with vinegar and water solution or soapy water making sure you reach into all crevices and cracks. Follow the scrubbing with a good vacuum to clean the carpet inside the closet.

Prevent the Moths from Returning to Your Closet

Once you have gone through the time and trouble to remove moths from your closet you want to make sure the problem doesn’t return.

  • Brush all clothing you bring home made from wool, feathers or fur. If you wear clothing made of these materials outside; brush them each time. The moth eggs are most often brought into a home from clothing that has been worn outside.


  • Keep all clothing in your closet clean. A professor of textiles, Cheryl Ann Farr reported¬†dirty clothes are often the biggest attraction for moths. Once you have worn something, even if you feel it wasn’t long enough to soil it, wash it. The moth will be attracted to food stains on your clothing that you may not even be aware is on them. Dry clean your wool items after wearing as this is the moth’s favorite fabric.


  • Store any clothing that you don’t often wear, especially wool items. Protect them in plastic bags, storage bins or airtight metal containers.


  • Make sure your closet is well ventilated as the moth is attracted to humid spaces. Keeping the air circulating will ensure they decide to use the closet for nesting.


  • Once you remove stored clothes from storage, especially your wool items, hang them out to get some sun and air them out.


  • Cedar chips work great when placed inside your closet as the moth does not like the scent given off from cedar.


  • Moth balls are another alternative to place in your closet and keep them from setting up home. This will; however, leave a scent on your clothes and they are toxic to humans. There are alternatives such as; cloves, thyme, rosemary leaves or bay leaves that the moth will not like either.

Moths in Your Kitchen

Just as you checked your closet for signs of the moth; check your kitchen for their presence. They will leave webbing and other signs alerting you have a problem. You will notice:

  • Items in your cupboard have a sticky feeling or are slightly stuck together. This occurs from their secretions.
  • Your food may not smell right or have a musty odor.
  • You may find webbing around boxes or bags in your cupboard.
  • If there are any caterpillars or full-grown moths around your pantry area then you know for sure you have a problem.

Begin by throwing away any food that appears the moth has been in. Do not try to save it because you don’t see the actual moth as it is not healthy to eat anything the moth has been in.

  • Your bulk items may the ones that are biggest risk of being infected. The moth will eat and lay eggs in; nuts, grains and rice.
  • The moth can eat through cardboard so if you see tiny holes in any boxes you will know the moth has been in it.
  • Put all the infected food into a plastic garbage bag, seal it and throw away immediately.

You can trap the moths in your kitchen after their food source is gone by setting out pheromone traps. These have a sticky substance on them that will attract and trap the moth. Once they land on it they cannot escape. Throw the used traps away in a sealed container.

You will need to scour all cupboards and the kitchen in general from top to bottom to make sure there are no eggs left. Use a vinegar and water solution or soapy water, making sure to clean all crevices and cracks. If you still notice signs of moths after following these tips; you may need to contact a professional to come in and exterminate. There may an issue of eggs having been laid where you cannot reach.

Prevent Future Moth Infestation in Your Kitchen

Once you have gone through the time and trouble to remove moths from your kitchen; make sure they do not return.

  1. Examine your food sources, especially bulk items.
  2. Place items in a freezer for a day to kill any eggs that may be present.
  3. Store items in air-tight containers to prevent them from getting into them.
  4. Maintain a well-ventilated pantry.
  5. Seal any cracks or crevices in your kitchen to prevent moths from entering.

Moths can infest a home long before you notice them and as a result cause considerable damage to clothing and your food source. Checking for signs occasionally to make sure you do not have these winged creatures moving about would be beneficial. At the first sign, follow these tips to stop and control their spread of damages.


Indian Meal Moths

What is an Indian meal moth? They are small in size reaching about 3/8 inches long and with their wingspan 5/8 inches. They are grayish brown and are commonly found in the state of Colorado and Pennsylvania, but they can be found all across the United States. They are most often found in pantries where there is old dried food including grains and cereal that have been sitting in the cabinet for a long length of time. They are among one of the most common reported pests within stored grain throughout the country.

Other types of foods that the moths will feed on are nuts, herbs, dried fruits and dried flower seeds. You may also find them in dry dog food and bird seed if it has been sitting for several months. The female will lay from 100 to 300 eggs within their short adult life on or around the food so that once the egg is hatched the larvae will not have to travel far or at all in order to eat and grow.

The Indian meal moth does best in warm temperatures but doesn’t survive with extreme heat or cold. As the moths become adults within a month’s time they can grow and develop rather quickly and soon you will have an infestation. They cocoon in cracks and crevices where they will not be disturbed and once they become a full adult they will live for one or two more weeks. They complete their life cycle from 25 to 135 days. Eggs will hatch anywhere from 2 to 18 days, depending on the living conditions and if they are within its most optimal temperatures at 70 degrees.

These moths can be avoided by using insect resistant containers and storing dried food in them. You can also keep things in the refrigerator that normally you would leave in the cabinet. If you have an infestation developing you must first find the source of the problem. Once you determine where the moths are coming from then discard the food. If you prefer to make sure that they are all dead from the cabinet and the rest of your home then place the source of the problem in the freezer for at least a week to get rid of all of the eggs, pupae and adults. This will ensure that none of the moths survived for a new infestation.

If you are not sure where the Indian meal moths are located then search for some webbing within the various types of food that they prefer. If you have old spices that are not being used or haven’t been used in several months then look inside for some webbing materials. Search through cereal boxes and other types of grains. If the food is not sealed or wrapped tightly then chances are there are moths growing inside or other types of insects. Anything you have in your cabinetry or pantry you should consider keeping sealed from anything growing or developing inside the food. Avoid any type of temporary solution to a continuous problem if you happen to not eat the food quickly or within a short period of time.

After finding the source of the problem, take everything out of your pantry and look through it. Don’t take any chances and start getting rid of products that are not sealed shut and not closed tightly. Vacuum inside the pantry and include all of its cracks and crevices where there could be others waiting to hatch or waiting to become adults. Larvae will appear about 1/2 inches long and is a dirty white color. The larvae will crawl away from the infested area to cocoon in an undisturbed area. If you happen to have a very large infestation then you will may find cocoons a very far distance from the food source because there is no quiet dark areas left for the cocoon to develop.

Another way to determine you have an Indian meal moth infestation is when you see moths that are flying around in a zig zag pattern. They often are not very good flyers and will fly close to the ground or around the food source. Other sites to look for is clumping food that isn’t usually clumpy. If you have a particular cereal that has separate pieces and suddenly they are attached together then look a little closer for some webbing material. You may notice some pale colored larvae.

Indian meal moths are rather harmless and will not be difficult to manage as long as you take the steps to prevent them in the first place. Upon noticing a problem then consider changing the way you keep your grains and cereals especially when you don’t eat them too quickly. By following the steps in maintaining fresh and healthy food then you will not have a problem with moths in your pantry.