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How to Get Rid of Moths (Can be so Annoying)

A close-up of a clothes moth on a gray fabric surface.

Pantry and clothing moths can be devastating to the home. They have the ability to consume your dry grains and cereals seemingly overnight, and destroy your wool clothes. Here's a look at how moths devastate your belongings and food and how to get rid of them.

The weather outside is nice and you decide to open up a window or two for some fresh air. A moth comes in from outside, but you either don’t notice or it doesn’t bother you because it’s just a moth. Except that moth may be one of two varieties: Pantry or clothes moths. You don’t want either of these characters inside your home because they’re as bad as rodents despite their diminutive size.

A beige clothes moth on a patterned black and white cloth.

The most common types of moths that get into the home are known as Indian meal moths, Mediterranean meal moth and the common clothes moth, also known as the webbing clothes moth. You don’t want to tolerate the presence of these moths in your home even though they are harmless to humans.

Moths harm your foodstuffs and clothes if left unnoticed and unchecked, causing you emotional distress when you discover what they’ve done. Here’s a look at how the professionals handle getting rid of these unwanted pests.

Related: All types of insects commonly found in and around the home

Keeping Moths Out of The Pantry and Closet

A close-up image of a flour moth or pantry moth.

Moths love dark spaces that don’t get a lot of atmospheric disturbance. In short, the pantry and closet is a moth’s ideal home due to the lack of activity and light. Meal moths enjoy nothing more than to bury themselves in bags of rice and cereal that aren’t opened frequently while clothing moths attack garments that are only worn for part of the year and don’t see a lot of use.

That’s why you might not notice that moths have been eating your wool sweaters for months. In order to keep your food and clothing safe, you have to take proactive measures that create a moth-proof barrier and prevents moths from getting a foothold in your possessions.

Keeping moths out of the pantry requires taking all grains stored in bags and transferring the contents to plastic containers. If a foodstuff is made from grain, put it in an airtight plastic container. Don’t assume that a moth won’t attack something because you think it’s not appealing to moths. If it has grain in it of any kind, a moth is going to eat it.

Protecting your food in this manner is the most effective way to stop moths from getting a colony started in your pantry. Also make sure to clean the pantry shelves and flooring of dust and dirt. Moths will eat out of the dustbunnies and debris that collects in a pantry. Removing these sources of food will starve out the moths.

A sticky trap for clothes moth.

Natural fibers, especially wool, are very appealing to clothing moths. They burrow into the fabrics and create nests for their offspring who then feed on the fibers as they mature. If you’re in the habit of putting away items made from natural fibers for months at a time, you need to seal them in plastic bags to prevent moths from attacking.

Clean your garments at the highest temperature they can tolerate, then transfer them into storage bags. Make sure that all seals are closed securely and nothing can get in. Vacuum storage bags work well for this purpose because you can tell if the seals are holding. Check the storage bags now and again for signs of punctures or broken seals and make sure that the moths don’t have a means of entry.

How to Get rid of Pantry and Clothes Moths

A close-up view of a cloths moth as big as a button.

Getting rid of moths requires a different kind of approach than you would take with other types of insects. They take up residence in places you don’t normally expect and their main method of locomotion is flying instead of crawling. You can spray moths with residential insect killer the same as any other insect, and they will die.

The problem with spraying moths is that it only kills the individual moth and doesn’t address the source of their food and breeding locations. Go ahead and use the insect spray to kill the moths, but prepare to get more in-depth with your efforts to get rid of them entirely.

A man putting moth repellent into his drawer.

You might be thinking about using mothballs to get rid of moths. Mothballs do work, but they have to be used as directed due to the fact they work by gassing off chemicals that are toxic to moths. They’re typically intended to be used in sealed containers of clothes only. They should not be used in the pantry because the fumes can contaminate food and cause harm to pets and humans.

Keep up with a cleaning regiment that includes vacuuming, dusting, wiping away crumbs and getting into unused corners of the room. That way, moths can’t shift from one food source to another and maintain their grip on your home.

You may find, however, that you need to work with a commercial pest control company to fully get rid of your infestation. A professional pest controller knows how moths make their way into the home, how they set up their living arrangements, and knows to look in places that you might not consider.

Commercial Products to Eliminate Moths

A bunch of colorful moth balls on a wooden surface.

The commercial pest control industry has many products that are effective at combating a moth infestation. Some products are designed to kill on contact, then leave behind a residue that keeps killing new insects for weeks after application.

Many of the products use synthetic pyrethroids and derivatives that work by disrupting the nervous system of the moth. When a moth is sprayed with a product containing a pyrethroid, the moth becomes paralyzed and dies soon afterwards. Here’s a look at popular commercial products that are proven to kill moths and stop their reproductive cycle:

CB-080 Contact Aerosol

CB-80 Contact Aerosol 17 oz, 1 Can
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This insecticide contains Australian pyrethrum as its active ingredient. CB-808 has a fast knockdown and kill effect which means it can be sprayed directly on moths as they’re flying. It’s also intended for use as a premise spray for the purpose of killing off adult insects that aren’t visible. The spray is safe for use in food preparation areas and safe for use around children and pets when used as directed on the label.

Reefer-Galler SLA Cedar Scented Spray

Reefer-Galler SLA Cedar Scented Spray Kills Clothes Moths, Carpet Beetles, and Eggs and Larvae
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SLA Cedar Scented Spray contains permethrins and pyrethrins to kill clothing moths, eggs and larvae. It leaves behind a cedar scent and won’t leave your clothes smelling like chemicals. The spray is supposed to be used on the walls and anywhere moths might be living, but it will not stain fabric in the event it gets sprayed onto clothing.

Prozap Insect Guard No Pest Solid Strip

ProZap Insect Guard
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The Prozap Insect Guard solid strip works on the same principle as a mothball in that it creates a gas that kills insects. It’s also intended for use in closed spaces that don’t have a lot of activity such as attics or basement rooms that are used for storage or areas where people spend less than four hours a day. The strip works for up to four months and covers anywhere from 900-1200 cubic feet of space.

Onslaught Microencapsulated Insecticide

Onslaught Micro-encapsulated Insecticide Concentrate MGK1002
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Onslaught is a tough and fast-acting insecticide that’s designed to work on contact and over time. The spray uses a controlled-release technology for long-term effectiveness. It can be sprayed directly on a moth for instant kill and applied to the suspected areas of infestation where it will kill moths for weeks after application.

Delta Dust Insecticide

Bayer Delta Dust Insecticide Dust-1 lb
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Delta Dust contains a pyrethrin derivative called deltamethrin. The dust is waterproof and works well in places that are damp and wet. The dust stays effective even when it gets wet. Moths tend to like dry locations, but the waterproof property can be beneficial for use with other bugs. Delta Dust works best in closets and should be applied along the baseboards, cracks, and wall voids.

Suspend Polyzone

Suspend Polyzone 16oz
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Suspend Polyzone is a spray that features a proprietary polymer layer that protects the active ingredients from eroding away over time. One application lasts up to 90 days. It kills moths on contact, then continues killing moths and larvae until the layer breaks down. The benefit of using Suspend Polyzone is that it kills the current adult generation of moths immediately and continues killing successive generations that were in the egg stage during application of the product.

All-Natural Products That are Proven to Work on Moths

Wondercide Natural Indoor Pest Control Spray

Wondercide Natural Indoor Pest Control Spray for Home and Kitchen — Fly, Ant, Spider, Roach, and Bug Killer and Repellent — 32 oz Lemongrass
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This all-natural pest spray comes in different scents and won’t make your home smell like it’s been bombed by an insecticide. The all-natural product uses cedarwood oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, lemongrass oil, and sesame oil to kill moths. It works on all surfaces and can be used as a perimeter spray. Wondercide works on contact and stays effective for a period of time after application.

MDXconcepts Organic Home Pest Control Spray

mdxconcepts Organic Home Pest Control Spray - Kills & Repels, Ants, Roaches, Spiders, and Other Pests Guaranteed - All Natural - Pet Safe - Indoor/Outdoor Spray - 16oz
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MDXconcepts organic home pest spray contains peppermint, spearmint and rosemary oils to kill on contact and repel moths over time. It won’t stain, works quickly, is 100% organic, and is safe for pets and children. The spray was created by professional pest control experts to be effective while avoiding the use of chemicals. It can be used for direct kill and applied as a barrier to prevent bugs from returning or setting up residence.

EcoSMART Home Pest Control Spray

EcoSMART Home Pest Control, 24 oz. Ready-to-Spray Bottle
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EcoSMART’s pest control spray uses natural plant oils that include peppermint and clove oils. All ingredients used in the making of this spray are natural and/or organic and highly effective when it comes to killing pantry moths. The ingredients work by blocking neural pathways in the insect that directly lead to its demise. The product is safe to use anywhere in the home.

Eco-Friendly Products That Don’t Harm the Environment While Getting Rid of Moths

Cedar moth blocks and ball adorned with fresh lavender.

The all-natural killers and repellents previously mentioned are the most effective method of killing and repelling moths. Eco-friendly and natural products aren’t strong enough to kill moths unless used in high concentrations, but they do work to prevent moths from getting a foothold in your pantry or closet. Some of the products include:

Lavender

24 Small Purple Sachets Craft Bag with Dried French Lavender Flower Buds - Lavender Sachets for Wedding Toss, Home Fragrance Sachets for Drawers and Dressers
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Bundles of dried lavender left on the stalk or poured into a sachet is a highly effective moth repellent. Lavender contains camphor and a terpene called 1,8-cineole in high enough concentrations to repel moths. Much like mothballs, lavender gasses off these compounds into the air and creates a scent barrier that moths won’t cross. You can also combine all or most of these ingredients into a sachet and place them in areas where you don’t want moths to congregate.

Cedarwood

Household Essentials 35704-1 CedarFresh Clothes Protector and Storage Accessories Value Pack (71 Items)
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Cedar has an oil in it that is highly unpleasant for moths. The oil is made up from chemicals known as sesquiterpene hydrocarbons that give cedarwood its distinctive odor. Blocks of cedar placed in closets or storage boxes are effective at repelling moths. However, the oils need refreshing on a regular basis to remain effective.

Peppermint Oil

16oz - Bulk Size Peppermint Essential Oil (16 Ounce Bottle) - Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil - 16 Fl Oz - Amazon Vine
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Oil of peppermint irritates a moth’s body and keeps it from landing long enough to do damage or lay eggs. It’s fast and effective when applied with a cloth or in a spray containing other moth-repelling oils. Wipe down surfaces where moths are likely to land with peppermint oil and refresh the oil on a regular basis.

Traps That Attract Moths and Prevent Them From Escaping

A bunch of pantry moths caught in a trap.

Moth traps are a passive and effective method for killing moths. They’re a “set it and forget it” type of moth control and are best used as part of a multifaceted approach to eliminating moths from the home. A moth trap is set in areas where moths are seen most frequently and use moth pheromones to attract males inside. The moths land on the glue, get stuck, and eventually die. Because it attracts males, the breeding population declines quickly and females die before laying a clutch of fertilized eggs.

Dr. Killigan’s Premium Pantry Moth Traps

Dr. Killigan's Premium Pantry Moth Traps with Pheromones Prime | Safe, Non-Toxic with No Insecticides | Sticky Glue Trap for Food and Cupboard Moths in Your Kitchen | Organic (6, Black)
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This brand of pantry moth trap uses a strong attractant and a strong sticky glue. Moths fly inside, but can’t get out once they land on the glue. The moths then perish on the glue boards. Traps are disposed of in the garbage once the board fills up.

Trappify Universal Moth Traps

Trappify Universal Moth Traps with Pheromones: Adhesive Pantry Moth Trap for Clothes, Closet, Indian Meal, Wheat, and Other Common Moths - Home, Kitchen, and Clothing Pheromone Moth Killer (4)
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ECOTASTIC’s moth traps also use pheromones and glue to attract male moths. The trap is designed for use in the closet and pantry, and can be placed on a shelf, hanger or on the floor. All materials used in the making of each trap are recycled and can be disposed of in the waste stream without concern.

Terro T2950 Closet & Pantry Moth Trap Plus Alert

Terro T2950 Closet & Pantry Moth Trap Plus Alert
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This moth trap from Terro is designed to look like part of the home decor. It can stand on its own, stick to the wall, or hang from the ceiling. The glue board trap slides into the unit and it’s ready to go. An indicator on the front of the unit alerts when it’s time to change the trap. Alternatively the trap can be removed if it fills up before the time expires.

MothPrevention Moth Trap by West Bay Retail

Powerful Moth Traps for Clothes Moths | 3-Pack | Refillable, Odor-Free & Natural from MothPrevention | Best Catch-Rate for Clothes Moth and Carpet Moth Traps on The Market! - Results Guaranteed
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The moth trap from MothPrevention targets clothing moths by using a pheromone that attracts males from the most common clothes moth species. The trap hangs from the closet rod and works for up to 3 months. Refill traps are available.

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