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

Moth is an insect, 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 know how to get rid of moths larvae naturally and kill adult moths using moth traps, sprays and repellents.

Clothes moth is rather large. 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, sofa, chair 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 moths.

Table of Contents:

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.

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 them. Females are harmful not because they eat natural fabric (they can’t do it), they lay eggs and produce new moth generations

do moths eat clothes?

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 moths 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 through hole in 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 in 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: from 0 to 45-50 degrees Celsius. Everything outside this range kills moths. It also prefers certain smells and hates others. We will use these and some other facts in the first place, an on this ground we will define 3 consecutive universal steps in the process of getting rid of the moths: exterminating the eggs, larvae and adult moths.

Step 1: Free Your Closet from Moth Eggs

moths 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 they natural fabric clothing at 50 degrees, linen and cotton towels - at 60 degrees
  •     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 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; rub 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.

Step 2: 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 repellent in a stock. 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.

how to kill moths larvae

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 the cedar to protect the closet: bars, sachets, CDs, etc. A best-selling set in the Closet Moth Protection category CedarFresh 71-Piece Cedar Value Pack for the price ~ $ 11.95, has got it all, for example!
  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
  4. We have found a great additional way to use cedar as a natural repellent in the Insect Diagnostic Laboratory of Cornell University (NY) research paper: “Cedar chests are good pest-proof containers primarily because of their tight construction, and not the fact that they may release cedar oil”.

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

Now it’s time for the most responsible 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 Amazon.com sales statistics.

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”.

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

Pantry Moth and Clothes moth traps

This ~$15.40 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 Amazon.com 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.

The customers commend the work of the trap and note that it is a leader in comparison with competitors, and one of the reasons for that is that it comes folded (in this way the adhesive part is not exposed to air and as a result it glues the insect better) and that the adhesive area is greater than that of similar moth traps.  Judging by the comment of one buyer, he has set a few traps only for an hour (!), and they were full at the end!  Of course, not everyone will be so lucky, but since it's a matter of time, you should learn to wait.

Price: ~$15.40 Check the current price

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 of $8-12. 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: 3 out of 5 stars on average (Pro-Pest trap’s rating is a bit higher). Many users buy both of them on purpose in order to compare their productivity.

clothes moth traps

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’s 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

best sprays for killing mothsThis killer chemical packed in a cedar scented bottle contains pyrethrins.  It kills s moths and other insects on contact and costs ~ $ 9.49. 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. One of them even shared shares his elimination experience: "I would like to recommend this product for killing moths on wool rugs. I wish I have found it earlier, it would have saved my rugs. Moths look innocent enough, but they can destroy rugs in no time”. Refer to other helpful reviews to learn more about this spray.
If you do not want to mess with artificial chemicals, you can use organic sprays for closets and storage cabinets.

Natural Bug Killer & Indoor Home Pest Control Spray | Works Fast! Kill & Repel Ant, Fly, Flea, Moth, Roach, Mite, Spider, Fruit Fly (& More) Adults & Eggs | 32oz Cedar + Lemongrass Scent 

how to kill moth with a spray

Harmless spray based on an extract of cedar and lemongrass (citronella) are there among artificial chemical spray killers. They are non-toxic for people and deadly for insects. This very ~$39.99 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, Natural Bug Killer Spray 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. Most customers rated it at 5 out of 5 stars.

Price: ~$39.99 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 to the 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

the best moth 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 ~$5.96 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 spirits too often, as after all they are made of artificial chemical substances.

We were able to come across very few reviews of unsatisfied customers, as the majority was rather happy with it. The following type of feedback is especially valuable: “This is only product to deter moths out of my house all summer long. :)” You can read all of the reviews on Amazon.com

Price: ~$5.96

Last but not least, we’ll give you some very valuable advice. Keep the woolen clothes in plastic 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.