How to Get Rid of Closet Moths Naturally

Closet moths can be a nuisance in homes, feeding on natural fibers and fabrics. Getting rid of them doesn’t require toxic chemicals, however. There are several natural methods to eliminate closet moths and prevent future infestations. We will explore various DIY approaches that are environmentally-friendly and effective.

Preventing Closet Moths

Prevention is the first line of defense against closet moths. Here are some tips to help keep them out of your home:

Inspect New Items

Closet moths can enter the home by catching a ride in used furniture, fabrics and clothing. Thoroughly inspect all new and used items before bringing them inside. Wash and dry clean any fabrics on the hottest settings.

Seal Food Sources

Store wool, silk, fur, feathers and other natural fabrics in airtight containers. Plastic bins and garment bags work well. Adding cedar blocks, lavender sachets or moth balls inside will further deter moths.

Clean and Vacuum Regularly

Vacuum carpets, furniture crevices and closets frequently to remove any eggs, larvae or pupae that may be present. Be sure to empty the vacuum contents immediately afterwards so they don’t re-enter your home.

Take Out the Trash

Empty wastebaskets often, especially any containing food waste or natural fibers. Moths are attracted to debris as a breeding ground.

Check Screens

Inspect window and door screens for any holes or gaps. Make repairs as needed to prevent moths from flying inside. Add screen doors to limit entryways.

Detecting Closet Moths

Finding closet moths early is key to controlling an infestation. Here’s what to look for:

  • Adult Moths – Small, winged tan or gray moths flying erratically or resting inside closets and drawers. About 1/2 inch long.
  • Larvae – Worm-like caterpillars up to 1/2 inch long. Often pale or white in color with a black head.
  • Cocoons – Silken webs mixed with fabric fibers where larvae pupate into moths.
  • Holes in Fabric – Chewed holes, tunnels or tattered edges in wool, silk, cashmere, fur, etc. Fresh damage indicates active infestation.
  • Carpeting Damage – Look for sections eaten away, especially at baseboards, edges and under furniture. Larvae feed on fibers before moving to clothes.
  • Droppings – Small black or brown granules found near larval feeding sites. May look like pepper specks.

Inspect closets, carpets and fabric items carefully for any of these signs. Catching an infestation early makes eradication much simpler.

Eliminating Closet Moths Naturally

If closet moths have already infiltrated your home, don’t panic. There are several effective natural methods to get rid of them without using pesticides.

Extreme Temperatures

Moth eggs and larvae cannot survive extreme hot or cold temperatures. Use this to your advantage:

  • Freezing – Place small fabric items in sealed plastic bags and freeze for a minimum of 4 days to kill all life stages.
  • Washing – Machine wash infested clothing and fabrics in hot, soapy water above 130°F to kill eggs and larvae. Dry on high heat.
  • Steaming – Use a garment steamer on upholstery, carpets, curtains, edges and crevices where moths hide. The direct heat kills all stages.
  • Clothes Dryer – Tumble dry woolens and silks for 30 minutes on high heat to destroy larvae and eggs.

Use these DIY methods first to quickly eliminate existing closet moth populations. Follow up with preventive measures to keep new ones out.


Vacuuming removes eggs, larvae, pupae and adults along with their food sources. Concentrate on:

  • Edges and corners of carpeting
  • Under furniture and beds
  • Inside closets and dressers
  • Crevices and baseboards
  • Fabrics like curtains and furniture

Use the hose attachment to reach into small spaces. Immediately empty the vacuum contents in a sealed bag and dispose of it outside your home. Regular vacuuming prevents re-infestation of closet moths.

Natural Repellents

Certain natural scents repel moths or disrupt their breeding cycles:

  • Cedar – The strong aroma of cedarwood naturally deters moths. Place cedar blocks or chests inside closets and drawers.
  • Lavender – The clean scent of dried lavender buds, leaves or essential oil repels moths. Make sachets or use in closets.
  • Eucalyptus – This fresh, woody aroma blocks the pheromones that attract male moths to females, thus preventing breeding.
  • Rosemary, Mint, Thyme – These strong herb scents repel moths. Use fresh plants or essential oils.

Use these natural repellents inside closets, drawers and furniture to prevent future infestations. Replace them regularly as the scents fade.

Pheromone Traps

Pheromone traps attract and capture male moths looking to mate, disrupting the breeding cycle:

  • Placement – Follow package directions on where to place traps, usually in closets or near infested items.
  • Monitoring – Check traps regularly to monitor infestation levels based on how many moths they catch.
  • Replace – Traps last 2-3 months before pheromones fade. Replace according to package dates.

Traps won’t eliminate existing moths, but help monitor populations and prevent future infestations. Use them in combination with other methods.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural mineral dust that damages the waxy coating on insect exoskeletons and causes dehydration. Apply a fine layer:

  • Along baseboards and window sills
  • Underneath furniture and appliances
  • Inside drawers, closets and storage containers
  • On carpets – let sit for a few hours before vacuuming up

DE is non-toxic and safe for pets when used properly. Wear a mask to avoid inhaling the fine dust. Reapply DE after cleaning or vacuuming to maintain effectiveness.

Biological Insecticides

Derived from natural bacteria, biological insecticides are available to control closet moths:

  • Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) – This targets moth larvae when they ingest it, causing paralysis. It must be applied where larvae feed.
  • Spinosad – Kills larvae via contact and ingestion. Use as a spray or concentrated spot treatment where moths are seen.

Always follow label directions carefully when using insecticides. Though natural, they can still be toxic for people and pets if used improperly. Proper handling is required.

Discard Infested Items

Sometimes fabric items are too badly damaged to salvage. Discarding them removes a food source and breeding ground for closet moths:

  • Carpets and Rugs – Throw out wall-to-wall carpeting if heavily infested. For area rugs, seek professional cleaning first before discarding.
  • Furniture – Upholstered furniture too damaged to recover should be thrown out and replaced.
  • Clothing – Lightly worn clothing may be salvageable via cleaning methods. Heavily damaged garments should be discarded.
  • Keep or Pitch? – Decide if value or sentimental items like heirloom quilts are worth professional restoration or if too damaged.

Removing infested items also eliminates eggs and larvae so they don’t spread. Follow up with thorough vacuuming and cleaning in those areas. Monitor for moth activity.

Preventing Future Infestations

Once you have eliminated existing closet moths, be vigilant about keeping new ones out. Here are some tips:

  • Store susceptible fabrics in airtight containers and check regularly for any new moth activity. Consider cedar closets or chests.
  • Use cedar blocks, lavender sachets or natural pest deterrents inside storage containers and closets. Replace them periodically.
  • Vacuum and clean closets, drawers and baseboards frequently to remove any eggs, larvae or food sources.
  • Don’t allow clutter like piles of old clothing or fabrics to accumulate, especially in dark corners.
  • Inspect all new or used clothing and fabrics thoroughly before bringing inside. Clean all items on hottest settings possible.
  • Fill any holes or gaps in screens, walls, baseboards or around pipe entrances. Caulk or putty cracks and crevices.
  • Monitor pheromone traps placed in closets and drawers to alert you of any new moth activity so you can take quick action.

Staying vigilant and using preventative measures will help keep new infestations of closet moths to a minimum. Quickly address any new sightings.

FAQ About Eliminating Closet Moths

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about getting rid of closet moths naturally:

How do you get rid of closet moths without chemicals?

Vacuuming, extreme temperatures via steaming, clothes drying, and freezing, pheromone traps, natural repellents, and diatomaceous earth are all effective non-chemical options to eliminate closet moths. Discarding heavily infested items also helps.

Does vinegar get rid of moths?

White vinegar is a natural repellent against moths. Mix 1 part vinegar with 3 parts water in a spray bottle. Spray onto baseboards, window sills, carpets, closets and furniture. It must contact moths directly to kill, but helps repel future ones. Reapply regularly.

What scent keeps moths away?

Cedar, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, thyme and mint are natural scents that deter moths. Use fresh plant materials, essential oils or sachets containing these fragrances in closets and drawers to repel moths. Their strong aromas mask pheromones that attract moths.

Will mothballs keep moths away?

Mothballs containing pesticides like paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene do repel moths. However, these chemicals are toxic for people and pets. Safer options are cedar-based mothballs or natural repellents. Always use mothballs according to package directions and keep out of reach of children and pets. Ventilate areas well.

Do ultrasonic pest repellers work on moths?

There is limited evidence that ultrasonic devices work against moths. They may help initially repel some moths, but are unlikely to drive away established infestations. Stick with other methods like pheromone traps, cleaning, and prevention. Save your money on unproven ultrasonic devices.


While dealing with closet moths can be frustrating, rest assured there are many effective natural ways to eliminate them and prevent future outbreaks. By implementing diligent prevention methods, quickly addressing any new sightings, and using natural control strategies, you can keep these fabric pests out of your home successfully without using toxic pesticides. Stay vigilant, take action at the first signs of moths, and be thorough in your control efforts. With some patience and perseverance, you can rid your home of closet moths for good.