How to get a moth out of your room

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If you see moths in your room you need to find out what the moth larvae are feeding on and how to get rid of them.

Getting rid of moths in a room is not as simple as chasing and crushing them. The moths you actually see flying around are the final stage of their life cycle. They are looking for something suitable on which to lay more eggs.

Usually, people introduce clothes moths by bringing in contaminated items. Otherwise, it is also possible that the clothes moths simply fly in from the surrounding area.

When clothes moth activity goes unnoticed for a long time, the clothes moth infestation can spread to other items or rooms, and the damage caused by the clothes moth larvae becomes both more extensive and more obvious.

spraying inside a wardrobe

Getting clothes moths in a wardrobe can be devastating. Incidentally, the clothes moths only damage significantly garments that are not used and washed frequently. Fabrics made out of animal fibers such as wool and silk are particularly susceptible. And garments worn previously and stored without washing are extremely attractive to clothes moth larvae because of the residual sweat they contain.

Consequently, if clothes moths keep on appearing in your house, you must take action.

Looking for a moth in a room

The common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) in general is quite elusive, and they do not even need to take flight in order to reproduce. So what you see is the tip of the iceberg.

To find a moth in a room, look carefully at the upper part of the wall and scan your entire room. The adult moths are often very pale in colour and hard to spot. Also search for signs underneath low-rise furniture, in darker areas, and where the carpet is undisturbed and most fluffy.

If you find no signs of insect silks or thinning carpet then you must begin looking at your stuff and clothes.

pest control treatment in sofa

How to get rid of moths

In order to get rid of moths, you need to kill the adult moths and larvae and break the life cycle of the insect by depleting the stock of eggs.

You can use vacuum cleaning, chemical treatment, and temperature against moths. These methods work best when combined together. You can kill moths with extreme cold or with heat using space heaters or a powerful steamer. At inoculand we use both 18KW space heaters and the professional pest control cimex eradicator steamer seen below.

proffessional pest control cimex eradicator steamerget rid of moth in house with steam

As a professional moth pest control company, we normally spray residual insecticides on the floors, walls, and surfaces followed by a round of ULV fumigation. We carry out 2 visits at two weeks intervals, so the pesticidal effect covers in excess of the life cycle.

How to get rid of moths using commercial products

Alternatively, a DIY approach would have to rely on commercial products that are much weaker and not so long-lasting. In other words, the DIY person would have to do weekly visits in excess of 4-5 weeks, and without the proper tools and protective gear, the task would be quite tremendous.

Moths are quite weak insects, so there is no need for potent chemicals as such. The key is in being thorough and ensuring there are no safe areas for them to survive over a period of 4-5 weeks. We need to treat them throughout and thoroughly using simultaneously surface and space treatments.

You can use ant killer (water-based) to spray the surfaces and fly-killer to knock down the adult moths that are already there to stop them from laying need eggs.

You need to prepare your home for fumigation:

  • A thorough round of hoovering will crush some of the moth larvae and dislodge a few eggs.
  • Inspect all the drawers, wardrobes, and shelves for signs of moths.
  • Any garment showing signs of moths should be either deep-frozen at –18°C, heat-treated in a heat pod, hot washed to 60°C, dry cleaned, or disposed of.

After applying a residual crawling insect killer onto all the surfaces and carpet, let it dry before you put all your stuff back where it belongs. It may sound counterintuitive to use a crawling insect killer to kill a flying insect, but the main targets are the larvae. Furthermore, the adult moth will also rest on the surfaces and will therefore come in contact with the chemicals.

Getting rid of moths using moth bombs only

Moths bombs are very powerful but only work while they last and leave no residual effect afterward. They have a similar effect that of  ULV fumigations, or the use of fly killer. They basically knock down whatever they get in contact with such as adult moths or moths larvae.

However, the shell of their eggs and pupae is impervious to liquid and gaseous pesticides. So moth bombs alone are not appropriate to get rid of all stages of moths in the house.

getting rid of moths with fumigation

How to get rid of moths in house

Before setting on doing anything, you need to focus on two factors. On one hand, you have your home as a whole—the flooring, its fixtures, its furniture. And then you have your belongings, composed mainly of hardware, and soft fabrics of synthetic or natural origin. You cannot hope to eradicate a moth infestation without dealing with both ends of the moth problem simultaneously and in a consistent orderly fashion.

How to get rid of carpet moths

The best way to get rid of moths in the carpet without chemicals is to physically destroy them.

Step 1: The simplest way is friction will crush the larvae and dislodge the eggs.

Step 2: Steaming without the long extension. The temperature of the steam being 180°C will denature the protein structure of all stages of moths. Apply the steam only enough to penetrate deeply into and below the carpet.

Step 3: Using diatomaceous earth (D.E.) would act as a scouring pad and erode the insect cuticle causing dehydration.

How to get rid of clothes moths

The common clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella) can attack the clothes kept on shelves, and in wardrobes and drawers.

On clothes, you cannot use D.E. dust as it would mess your clothes, and you cannot spray your clothes directly either.

clothes on racks before heat treatment

So then what is the best way to get rid of moths in clothes?

Normally, the garments prone to clothes moth activity cannot be hot washed at 60°C without shrinking. So, that leaves dry cleaning, steaming, deep freezing, or placing the delicate garments inside a dry heat pod. 

Dry cleaning would be expensive if you have a lot of items. Deep freezing at –18°C for two days is only convenient for few small items. Steaming would need to be applied to one garment at a time. And the most convenient way is using a heat pod able to accommodate 5o-100 garments on hangers per cycle from the comfort of your home.

clothes inside a heat pod

How long do moth live

The full life cycle of the common clothes moths can take up to four to six months in the wild. But in our homes, conditions and temperatures are very favourable. So, clothes moths may live one month, eggs may take less than ten days to hatch, larvae will reach maturity in about a month and the pupate stage will last about two to three weeks.

So to get rid of a moth infestation, you would need to hammer all stages for at least four to five weeks to break the life cycle.

If an infestation is already well established, you may need more visits or consider a full moth heat treatment that is more powerful.

full heat treatment equipment

What do clothes moths look like

Tineola bisselliella is the cause of most clothes moth infestations. Their colour is of a rather light yellow-brown. However, there are other types of moths that can affect clothes and carpets. The case-bearing moth is rather brown-grey and has a silk case attached to its abdomen.

Carpet or clothes damage can also be caused by variegated carpet beetles. So, if you see the damage but no flying moths, you may have to look deeper and try to spot the larvae. Clothes moths larvae are mostly white.  Whereas the carpet beetle larvae are quite a dark brown with hairs (Woolly Bear).

How do I get rid of moths without losing track?

Getting rid of moths in your home will take a systematic approach over a period of four to six weeks. Plan ahead and schedule it into your calendar accordingly. In principle, I would rather do too much than not enough.

After the initial eradication phase, you can also introduce a prophylactic routine to prevent a resurgence of the clothes moth infestation.

What do moths eat?

Moth larvae feed principally on animal fibers such as wool, cashmere, fur, and silks. Moth eggs need to be on fabrics that are edible to them. So that once the eggs hatch out, the moth larvae can feed on the stuff until it reaches maturity. Then the moth larvae will make a cocoon and undergo metamorphosis to become adult clothes moths.

But the common clothes moth can also actually feed on all kinds of foodstuff such as flour and seeds. As you battle the clothes moths, you should not dismiss the kitchen and the dry food cupboard. The Indian Meal moths or the brown moths are no threat to your clothes and carpet.

Do moths eat clothes?

The moth larvae do not drink so they must get their moisture from what they eat. Hence, clothes containing sweat are more likely to be affected. You can narrow it down further by looking at stuff that you wear and do not wash systematically and put back in your wardrobe for many weeks or months. Typically, this would include suits you do not wear regularly but still keep in your wardrobe, a felt hat, a scarf, and some jumpers or cardigans.

And remember that there is not really any need to waste time on the clothes you wear and wash regularly, as the continuous washing cycles would prevent anything from catching on. But if you own a lot of jeans, cotton sweatshirts, and polyester clothing, concentrate on accessories, and winter gloves, hats, and scarves.

Keep getting moths in my room?

If you still keep getting moths in your room, this is for one of two reasons:

  • you may have overlooked something inside your room
  • you get reinfested from the surrounding area. This could be a tree that is opposite your window, ceiling spotlights, or through the floorboards.

We often do treatments in flats that contain no carpet at all. And sometimes, we see the infestation originates from the neighbour and the moths are travelling in through the ceiling lights (see below picture). Also, in a few instances, we can find organic insulation wool under the floorboard that is infested.

moths coming from the ceiling

Are moths harmful?

The main impact of moths is economic; it is down to dealing with the consequences of the damage caused by clothes moth larvae. Otherwise, they normally are not a concern for your health unless you suffer from a particular allergy.

Do moths bite?

Moths do not bite. What you think may be the result of a bite is but an allergic reaction. The wings of clothes moths contain protein-based allergens. Like any allergies, it is but a matter of probability that you may be sensitive. In general, clothes moths and their larvae do not possess urticant hairs. But other species can shed such irritant hairs in your environment and bedsheets and you could get sting marks as a result.

I hope this article has been helpful and that you’ve learned a bit more about clothes moth infestations and what to do about them. If you have any questions, professionals have a duty of care. This means that whether you live in London, UK or any other part of the world, the advice would be the same. Do contact us at Inoculand, and we’ll help you out.