How to Kill Moths Fast. 3-Step Strategy to Getting Rid of Moth Using Traps, Sprays, and Repellents

Author: Michael Potter Reviewed by Updated: May 19, 2022

What is the best moth killer? The most effective solutions contain pyrethrins that provide quick knockdown. These active ingredients are more suitable for applying to clothes because they do not leave a residue. We advise you to use Reefer-Galler SLA insecticide.

Moths are insects, which is first and foremost associated with destroyed wool and fur. This species is the most common one and inhabits all continents but Antarctica. Clothes or clothing moth and carpet moth are the types, which irritate us indoors. Do you want to know how to get rid of moth in your house? Here you’ll learn how to get rid of moth’s larvae naturally and kill adult moths using moth traps, sprays and repellents.

Clothes moths are a rather large insect. It usually infests wardrobes and shelves and damages your clothes, particularly made of fur, wool, natural fabric or leather. According to the New Mexico State University, they are also known to eat fabrics blended with wool and items soiled with food stains or body oils. Moths can also bite through a wool carpet, sofas, chairs or armchair upholstery etc. They can even attack semi synthetic fabric, paper and books.

Pantry moths feed on stored foods (such as grains and cereals).

If you are not sure, what type of insects you’ve encountered, don’t worry, as it is not always clear what kind they belong to. But it is obvious from their names, they inhabit different places: clothes and pantry correspondingly. We have compiled the most effective and proven methods and products for fighting all moths.

Do Moths Eat Clothes? Moth Myth Busting

Before we move on to some detailed information concerning the habitat, food habits and extermination of moths, let’s bust some of the popular myths. Shall we?

Myth №1: Flying moths are dangerous

A moth flying around the room is not dangerous, as it is only males who fly. They have poorly developed mouthparts and no nutritional needs. Their goal is to fertilize females.  Males live up to two weeks; most often their lifespan is only 8-10 days, after which they die.

Myth №2: Females don’t have wings

In fact, female moths do have wings, but they practically don’t use them. Males easily find them and fertilize their eggs. Females are harmful not because they eat natural fabric (they can’t do it), they lay eggs and produce new moth generations

Myth №3: Moth larvae are harmless until they grow up

This is a very popular and a fundamentally wrong opinion. It is the larvae who immediately damage your property. They eat your fur coats and sweaters, as they have:

  • Strong and powerful mandibles which are two outgrowths on their body with which moth larvae cut through fabric and wool fibers;
  • Strong and large jaws occupying the entire head make it easy to cope with eating textile products;
  • A giant stomach is a cavity which functions similarly to a human stomach, and occupies over 85% of the body!

Myth №4: Moths can eat your entire fur coat

When moths infest your favorite sweater or fur coat, they feed on a small part of it. The rest is cut away in the process of movement. The larvae cannot move between the fibers, so they gnaw their way through.  If you take a careful look at a damaged item, you will see the gnawed tracks.  Moth larvae may gnaw a large hole through a sweater within a day!

Myth №5: Clothes moths are attracted to light

It is not true. According to the National Park Service U.S., clothes moths “avoid light and are rarely seen flying”. It really likes the dark and stuffy spots, so you cannot try and check their presence by turning on a lamp in a dark room as they won’t fly towards the light.  They would rather sneak away to a darker corner of your wardrobe.

Therefore, any bugs flying towards the lamp or laptop light in the dark are very unlikely to be clothes moths.

It is known that clothes moths survive in a limited temperature range: It is also known that a temperature of 131º Fahrenheit or 55º Celsius can kill these pests. Moths also prefer certain smells and hates others. We will use these and some other facts in the elimination of these closet pests, and on this ground we will define 3 consecutive universal steps in the process of getting rid of moths: exterminating the eggs, larvae and adult moths.

Step 1: Getting Rid of Moths Larvae Naturally

Apart from manually killing the larvae, you can also drive them away either with the help of homemade natural moth repellents or by buying a non-toxic repellents. Clothes moths larvae are most deterred by the smell of citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons) and their “distant cousins” citronella, cedar and thyme, cloves, lavender, mint, bay leaf. Using all of them in closets and in places of storage of food is equally safe.

Moths also do not like the smell of mothballs, but it is not a natural method of exterminating them, and can be dangerous to human health.  Moth balls based on naphthalene are especially harmful for young children, this fact is proven by the study of Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Natural Moth Repellents

1. Citrus repellents. Place the fruit peels in the closet and on the shelves (or make sachets in linen bag), and use such citrus oils, as orange, which has a strong smell.  Mix it with water and spray the interior of the closet or soak some pieces of fabric in the oil and place them on the shelves.

2. Cedar repellents. Use its essential oil (though, remember that cedar oil can kill young larvae, but may not affect older ones), as well as cedar hangers for clothing or items from cedar to protect the closet: bars, sachets, etc.

You can buy a small bottle of Cedarwood Essential Oil, wood accessories (for hanging in the wardrobe) and a spray.

Household Essentials CedarFresh Clothes Protector and Moth Repellent is a best seller in the Closet Moth Protection category. The biggest set of 71 cedar wood storage accessories contains hang ups, rings, cubes, and sachets.

Last update on 2023-03-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

These wood accessories are not only effective, but also very aesthetic and nice looking, unlike paper traps. They also smell good! That’s why they are very popular with the home owners, as cedar is a natural air freshener.

Among the disadvantages some users note that certain wooden accessories are too small and that the set is helpless against adult moths.

On the other hand, they are conveniently reusable. Just sand it to expose fresh fibers. The buyers claim that the smell ventilates fully within a year, so you can buy a larger set (which is slightly more expensive) that contains Cedar Power Spray.

3. Repelling herbs. You can also use essential oil, balls or plants both dry and regular, and some sachets, such as the affordable Moth Away Sachets – Nontoxic – 72 Pack which will suffice for all the shelves and clothes storage places.

Step 2: Free Your Closet from Moth Eggs

First you need to wash all of your clothes stored in the wardrobe at the highest acceptable temperature in order to eliminate moth eggs. Take care not only of the things with signs of contamination, but also of other items, which were located there:

  • Wash the natural fabric clothing, linen and cotton towels on the hottest setting and also dry them on your dryers hottest setting.
  • If an item is made of delicate fabrics and cannot be washed in hot water, freeze it.  Put these clothes in the freezer for 1-2 days.  After such thermal treatment simply shake all the insects off.
  • Also, clean and wipe the insides of all bags and suitcases with a wet cloth
  • If there are hangers with soft filling in your closet, clean them as well as the fabric covers for clothing, as they can also contain moth eggs.

Then proceed to washing the closet with soap, vinegar or alcohol solution. Pay special attention to the cracks and corners; scrub the walls, as you may find the eggs there as well. After that vacuum clean everything.

If you haven’t used some things for quite a while and think that they may have become the moths’ nest, don’t hesitate to throw them away.

Now that you have a sterile wardrobe and clothes, everything seems to be in order. It’s too early to celebrate victory, though as there could be a microscopic crack with the eggs left or an egg in the clothes could’ve survived and will become a larva later on. So once you put the clothes back on the shelves, the trouble will begin again.

As you’ve understood, you can’t relax, so it’s high time to get rid of larvae. They don’t get trapped (as the wool and fur smell is too attractive for them), but their Achilles heel is moth repellents.

Last update on 2023-03-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Step 3: Killing Moths. The Best Moth Traps, Sprays and Repellents

Now it’s time for the last step: to get rid of adult moths which lay eggs. They are harmless on their own, but they destroy your things through breeding. Use moth killers (traps, insecticides, natural spray killer) and chemical moth repellents for killing them. We’ll present the best ones according to the results and efficacy of the products.

Best Sprays for Killing Moths

If you don’t want to deal with adhesive traps, you can use insecticides that kill on contact. How to pick a moth spray killer? Check out the insecticide contents, as, according to the Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California scientists,  “Insecticides for clothes moths usually contain pyrethrins, which provide quick knockdown of clothes moths. Pyrethrin insecticides don’t leave persistent toxic residues, which makes them more suitable for clothes moth control in many cases than a lot of other products”.

Reefer-Galler SLA Cedar Scented Spray

This killer chemical packed in a cedar scented bottle contains pyrethrins.  It kills s moths and other insects on contact. But be careful as it is a very strong chemical and should be used very carefully.

Typically, users do the following routine when they come across a moth infestation in the closet: they pull out all the stuff out of the closet, abundantly spray everything inside, shut the door and all cracks and openings in the closet with towels to block the insects escape route and cut off their oxygen supply.  If you need to treat a room with SLA Spray, then do it, but do not go in for a few hours, and don’t forget to tightly shut windows, doors and cracks under the doors beforehand.

Many buyers also have moths gnawing through their carpets. This spray works for carpets too.

Last update on 2023-03-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you do not want to mess with artificial chemicals, you can use organic sprays for closets and storage cabinets.

Wondercide Natural Products – Indoor Pest Control Spray

Wondercide spray based on an extract of cedarwood oil. It is non-toxic for people but deadly for insects. This spray kills insects on contact and is promised to repel new-coming ones. The good thing about it is that it can even be sprayed on clothes (as its contents are organic) and used in the kitchen or den (a single pack allows coverage of up to 2000 sq. ft.). This spray does not leave any afterward traces.

According to the feedback, Wondercide is effective if used in a room as well as outside the closet or inside it. Here’s how one of the consumers describes its use: “I cleaned and vacuumed my closet and sprayed my sweaters and my closet and have not seen moth damage since”. No one of those who have taken a risk and used this anti-moth substance, have regretted the decision.

Pantry Moth and Clothes Moth Traps

Please note that although these moth types look very much alike, catching them requires different lures and, therefore, you’ll have to buy different traps. According to the University of California publications, “Because the pheromone specifically attracts clothes moths, it won’t attract other moth species. Conversely, pheromone traps for other species such as grain-infesting moths won’t attract clothes moths”.

Clothes moth traps

As for the clothes moth traps, it’s hard to pick a leader, as there are two most popular rival clothes moth traps at a moderate price. They are Safer Brand 07270 Clothes Moth Alert Trap and Pro-Pest Clothes Moth Traps. Both of them have rather controversial customer feedback and poor rating. Many users buy both of them on purpose in order to compare their productivity.

Price: Safer Brand Clothes Moth Trap: (2 traps) Check the current price

Last update on 2023-03-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Price: Pro-Pest Clothes Moth Trap: (3 traps) Check the current price

Pantry Moth Traps – 6 Ready to Use Pre-baited Traps (3 Packs of 2 Traps)

This trap is simple both in the design and use: this is just a well-known sticky moth trap. It is its simplicity and low price which have made this product very popular among users. If you don’t feel ready to spend a fortune on a zapper or don’t believe you need such a serious remedy, this type of proven items is just for you.

Upon ordering it you get 3 packs with 2 Pantry Moth Traps in each pack. They are fully prepared to operate: all you have to do is remove the trap from the package, set it in the working position (which looks like a house) and leave it to work.  Done!  The trap retains its performance for up to 2 months.  It is not toxic, so you can use it at home with children and pets without slightest fear.

Price:  Check the current price

The Best Moth Repellent

If moths at your place don’t get repelled by the herbs or cedar sachets in the closet, let’s take a look at more effective products.

Despite the manufacturer’s warning restricting the usage of a spray that we’re going to talk about below only about attics, garages, storage spaces and other non-living spaces, some of the brave anti-moth warriors dare using it inside the closets. We’ll leave it at your conscience. However, in case you store winter wool apparel in a garage or in other non-living clothes-storage areas, rather than in a wardrobe, feel free to use Hot Shot.

Hot Shot 5580 No Pest Strip Unscented Hanging Vapor Insect Repellent

This repellent is well-known to our loyal readers. It has been mentioned multiple times when we eliminated wasps, flies and even cockroaches. It is also highly rated by those who are trying to get rid of adult moths in a closet or in a room.

This product contains a single strip, but the manufacturer claims that it will work for up to 4 months! In reality this thing is most effective at repelling moths for 2 months, and a replacement is then required.

If you will still risk and use it in a closet, hang it there for a couple of hours and leave the room. You should then put Hot Shot Strip Repellent in a zip-lock bag and air the room. Make sure that neither you nor your kids inhale the repellent vapors too often, as after all they are made of artificial chemical substances.

Last update on 2023-03-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Moth Control Products Comparison Chart

Product Type
Reefer-Galler SLA Cedar Scented Spray
Chemical insecticide spray.
Wondercide Indoor Pest Control Spray
Natural insecticide spray.
Household Essentials Moth Repellent
Natural aromatic repellent.
Pro-Pest Pantry Moth Traps
Pantry moth trap.
Safer Brand Clothes Moth Trap

Clothes moth trap.
Pro-Pest Clothes Moth Trap
Clothes moth trap.

Hot Shot No-Pest Strip2

Repellent Strip.

Last but not least, we’ll give you some very valuable advice. Keep the woolen clothes in plastic clothing bags, sacs etc. and use non-organic storage materials, such as plastic or synthetic cloth. Moths won’t be able to gnaw from the plastic bag and destroy only one sweater inside a case. At the same time, should an item be contaminated and that goes unnoticed, moths will be able to come out and attack other pieces of clothing.

Ida Willson.
PhD from the University of the Free State.
The holder of 14 academic awards, Dr Ida Willson works in agriculture and has been conducting studies both in South Africa and the UK

View Comments

  • I bought a steam cleaner, and after I cleaned out my closet I steamed the (wool!) carpet in there, making sure to run the steamer along the baseboards, shelves and corners of the walls. I love the idea of freezing woolens that can't be washed (or can only be hand washed which takes SO much time), so I'm going to put my sweaters in the freezer and then get some new closet storage bags. I'm so tired of having my sweaters nibbled to death.

    You can also steam wool rugs. Best to steam both sides.

  • Hot Shot Repellent is very effective. Repels a mole with a strong smell. Place it gently in small spaces. The best solution is from moths.

  • No! I want to get rid of moths, but i don't want to kill them. I think moths are amazing creatures, so killing them isn't the right way for me. Any ideas?

    • Yes, make sure you buy all clothes and carpets in future produced from man made materials, polyester etc

  • Thank you for the article about the different ways of getting rid of cloth moth. For a time I've had them flying about and we put a large toy dog in a plastic bag and sucked the air out with a cleaner. As it happened the poor thing was not to blame, as today I found the culprits in two of my wool embroidered hangings, scream emanating from me,they took a lot of work to complete, for now they are both going in my freezer for a week!!! Then I'll get a spray to make sure that the beasties are dead. Best wishes.

    • It is sad that you have to put up with such vermin! Only special sticky traps for pantry moths can help kill adult insects. So you will stop breeding for some period. However, in such conditions, you can’t kill or repel already existing eggs and larvae. You should get rid of the infected grain, as it contains a lot of eggs and can’t be used for making food.

    • No, sticky moth traps like Safer Brand 07270 are used to kill only adult flying moths. Sticky glue strip inside a trap contains pheromones that attract only clothes moths. Attracted by the pleasant smell, they fly to it and sit on the glue. Bingo! Eggs can be killed with deep freezing/heating, and larvae should be repelled with the smell of cedar or citrus, for example...

  • Help! How to get rid of moths eggs fast? I don’t like a sight of them and I'm afraid to open a wardrobe after I have seen moths eggs on an old fur coat!

    • Contrast measures work the best, “freezing +heat”. Carefully put a fur coat into a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for several days. After that, take it and warm it in the sun. You will likely not save you fur coat, but using this method, you can get rid of eggs – and they will not become larvae, eating your other clothes in the wardrobe. Shock therapy in action!

Author: Michael Potter Reviewed by Updated: May 19, 2022
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Michael Potter, Ph. D. In biology, is a consultant and author for He is a scientist obsessed with the idea to save the world from pests.

He does not belive hollow words and empty promises from the producers ads. It is only facts that matter to him. Mr. Potter questions any statement and analzes in detail all related information.


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