How To Get Rid Of Moths In My Apartment?


Moths can cause a dreadful amount of destruction to your favorite clothes and some of your foods. Once you notice that you have an infestation, you should immediately try to contain it. There are numerous ways to combat these pests, and I learned some of the most appropriate ones by experience.

How do you get rid of moths? The most commonly known solution to a moth infestation is the use of mothballs. However, there are some natural alternatives that get the job done just as effectively without the irritating odor. Really high and really low temperatures are also known to destroy moth eggs and larvae.

With multiple options to choose from, it might be difficult to choose one that works best for you and your apartment. Keep reading to find out about the different solutions to your moth problem.

How do you get rid of moths in your apartment?

If you just discovered a hole in your favorite cashmere sweater, you may be on your way to a severe infestation but there are a few things you can use to stop it in its tracks.

1. Mothballs

Mothballs are one of the most common ways of getting rid of moths. They are made of chemicals like naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. When placed into a sealed container with your clothes, the chemicals that make the mothballs evaporate into gas which kills moths, their eggs, and their larvae.

How to use mothballs to protect clothes

Mothballs, like all pesticides, are safer and more effective when used correctly. Here’s how you can keep your clothes safe until the next time you need to wear them.

  • Pack your clean clothes into an airtight container before you put them in your closet or drawers. As an alternative to resealable containers, you can use large Ziploc bags. The container has to be airtight so that the fumes released aren’t released into the air.
  • Put the mothballs in the container. To find out the number of mothballs you need, go through the instructions that come with the box. Place it on or around the clothes and seal the container.

A downside to this method is that your clothes will have a strong mothball smell once you take them out. You can get rid of the odor by soaking the clothes in water mixed with vinegar in equal parts. 

You can also make the smell go away by airing out the clothes outside for a day or two then laundering them normally with detergent and fabric softener.

Safety precautions when using mothballs

Mothballs need to be handled with care to make sure they don’t cause more harm than good.

  • Always use mothballs in airtight containers. If you can smell it, then you’re not using it correctly.
  • Don’t use mothballs on pests other than moths. Not only will they fail to work, but they might also harm other plants and animals.
  • Always keep them away from pets and children since they can be easily mistaken for toys and candy.

2. Cedar

Cedar contains oils that are a natural moth repellent. The oils give off a woody scent and they contain pheromones that keep moths and other insects away.

You can use cedar in various ways to achieve a moth-free home.

  • Hanging your clothes on cedar hangers both kills larvae and repels moths.
  • You can store your clothes in a chest or closet built out of cedar.
  • You can also spray a mixture of cedar oil and water in your closet or use a diffuser to help the scent to waft off.
  • Another way you can use cedar against moths is by using cedar blocks and chips. Simply place them near the clothes you plan on storing. Cedar blocks are easily available in retail stores and on online shopping sites like Amazon.

Just like other natural oils, cedar oil is volatile- meaning its scent gets weaker with time. If your cedar hanger starts to lose its scent, you can lightly sand it or apply some cedar oil on it.

3. Moth traps

Moth traps usually contain pheromones that attract male moths. Although adult moths aren’t the main cause of destruction, trapping them ensures that their reproductive cycle is cut off.

Pheromone traps meant for catching clothes moths are not the same as the ones made for catching pantry moths since they are 2 different subspecies of moths. You can also make your own moth traps using fish oil and flypaper. The moths are attracted to fish oil so they’ll get stuck to the flypaper.

Traps meant for mice and other insects can also catch moths. Some of these traps are built with infrared sensors so they will zap and kill any insect that comes close to its bait. 

Moth traps can’t be counted on to deal with the problem by themselves. This is because they work slowly and they don’t address the real villains- the larvae.

4. Use an insecticide

Spraying a pyrethrin insecticide on the affected area helps to get rid of both adult moths and their larvae. If you have a pantry moth problem, then this option might not help you since pesticides should not go near foods.

You will have to apply the insecticide a number of times before your problem is fully gone. An automatic pesticide dispenser can make this whole activity easier.

5. Pest control

If you dealt with moths yourself but they keep re-appearing, maybe its time to consult a professional. Chances are that the moths are laying eggs in a place that your sponge and vacuum cleaner can’t reach like inside the walls.

An exterminator will make your problem go away in no time thanks to the stronger products they use to deal with insects

Clean up

You will have to thoroughly clean your house to get rid of any moths and eggs that might survive other extermination options. The cleaning process will depend on the type of moth that has raided your house- clothes moths or pantry moths.

Clean-up for clothes moths

  • Go through the clothes that the moth larvae have damaged. Pick out the severely damaged garments from the ones that can be repaired. Although getting rid of your favorite wool sweater will hurt, you’ll feel better in a moth free home.
  • Once you have chosen the clothes you want to keep, the dry cleaner’s should be your next step. Dry cleaning is a very effective method of getting rid of moths since it uses higher heat. You can also wash the infested clothes in water above 120° F. Keep in mind that wool does not do well when washed under high temperatures.   Therefore, you should be sure to look at the washing instructions before you go on.
  • Closets and wardrobes are dark, making them the perfect hiding spot for moths and their larvae. To clean your closet, you can use soapy water or a mixture of water and vinegar. Wash the walls and don’t forget to pay extra attention to the corners and cracks.

You should also vacuum the carpet in the closet, preferably at high power. You should go ahead and vacuum the whole bedroom just in case there could be any eggs. As soon as you are done, put the vacuum bag in an airtight bag and take it outside since it might be riddled with eggs and larvae. Consider seeking out the services of a carpet cleaner.

Clean-up for pantry moths

  • The first step would be to find the root of the problem. Check through any open packages to find out which one started the infestation. Put it in an airtight bag, seal it, and throw it away.
  • Get rid of dry food items like nuts and grains since there might be moth eggs inside them.
  • Inspect other foods and their packaging. Moths can chew through cardboard so if you see any tiny holes on the boxes, they also go to the trash.
  • Any pre-opened package might also have the eggs, so it might be a good idea to throw them too. If you feel like the moth eggs and larvae are everywhere, it’s okay to throw it all out. Make sure that all the food you throw out is in a sealed garbage bag.
  • At this point, anything in your pantry might be infected, so you should get rid of the shelf liners as well.
  • Clean your unopened jars and containers using hot and soapy water. Once you are through, use a toothpick to check whether there are some eggs between the container and the lid.
  • Wash the storage cabinet with warm soapy water and a mild bleach solution and rinse it with a mixture of water and vinegar (in equal parts) to repel the moths.
  • In the event that you used a vacuum cleaner, you should change the bags immediately and clean it out.

How to prevent a moth infestation

Nobody wants to deal with a moth infestation more than once in their life. To ensure these destructive bugs never make it to your home for the first or second time, here are a few things you can do:

1. Store clean clothes

Although moth larvae are more drawn to natural fibers, they can attack your synthetic fiber clothes for a couple of reasons. They are also attracted by the smell of perfume, perspiration, and food stains left on the cloth.

Laundering your clothes also ensures that if there are any moth eggs in your clothes, they don’t make it to the closet. Also, always wait for your clothes to dry completely before storing them.

2. The freezer is your friend

If you have clothes that show signs of infestation, you can keep them in a freezer for at least a day. This ensures that are any eggs or larvae in the garment are killed before they get a chance to cause any destruction.

Pantry moths can also be stopped in their tracks in this way. Once you buy rice, flour, or other dry foods, consider keeping them in the freezer for a couple of days to kill any moth eggs that may have made their way into your home. If your storage space allows, you can keep some of your stored foods in the freezer or fridge until its time to use them.

3. Brush your clothes

Moths eggs might get in your house by attaching themselves to what you are wearing. To prevent yourself from catching a moth infestation, brush through your clothes (especially the ones made from wool, feathers, and fur) once you get home to prevent moth larvae and eggs from growing in them.

Ensure that you brush the clothes outside the house., paying extra attention to under the collar and along the seams.

4. Proper storage

The moths can’t damage your clothes and foodstuffs if they can’t reach them. Before hanging up wool clothes and sweaters, place them in plastic bags. Also, store your clothes in airtight containers to keep them safe. If you plan on storing clothes for a while, don’t use starch with them since it will attract the moths.

Storing your dry foods properly also has a hand in ensuring you don’t go at a loss thanks to pantry moths. Instead of using plastic bags, opt for airtight containers. This way, if there ever is an infestation, it is easier to deal with.

if you have pets, their food should also be kept well. Keep your animal food in airtight containers away from the kitchen.

5. Clean up after your pets

Animal cages and homes serve as perfect breeding spots for moths. This is because the pet bedding contains traces of the animal’s fur (moths love animal fiber) which makes them a good-looking spot for laying eggs since the larvae won’t starve.

Frequently clean your animal’s cage with soap and water and change out the bedding every week.

6. Maintain the temperatures

Moths thrive in hot and humid conditions. If your closet or kitchen pantry checks these boxes, you might be at risk of an infestation. Always make sure the windows to your pantry are shut when the air conditioner is on and ensure the air is circulating well.

Clothes moths also love the same conditions, so you should ensure that your closet is properly ventilated so that the moths aren’t drawn to nesting there.

7. Use plant repellents

In addition to cedar, there are a few herbs whose natural scent is loved by humans but is hated by moths. Some of these plants are:

  • Lavender – Moths tend to stay away from lavender-scented areas. You can fill a sachet with lavender leaves and hang it in your closet. You can also dab some lavender oil on a cotton ball and hang it. Make sure the oil doesn’t touch the clothes since it stains.
  • Cloves, rosemary, and thyme – The sweet and spicy scent of cloves naturally gets rids of moths. Simply wrap a few cloves in tissue paper and place them in your closet.

You can also combine these herbs in one sachet to get protection for months. Replace the herbs once you start to feel their smell getting weaker.

  • Peppermint – The minty scent this herb gives off also wades away moths easily. You can hang a sachet of mint leaves in your closet or place the leaves in the pockets of your clothes. A cotton ball with peppermint oil can also get the job done.

In addition to keeping moths away, mint leaves can also help to keep mice away.

  • Bay leaves – These leaves are also helpful in keeping moths at bay. Keeping a few leaves around your pantry might help prevent an infestation.

Final Thoughts

Mothballs are usually the last resort when all else fails. However, despite their efficiency, they can pose a threat to you and your family. They use naphthalene, which becomes a gas when exposed to air. When breathed in, this gas causes headaches, dizziness, nausea, and irritation to the eyes.

To get rid of the mothball smell, soak all the items in an equal part mixture of water and vinegar. You should also rinse the container the clothes were in with the mixture.

There is an organic solution that can combat moths; the use of Trichogramma wasps. These are tiny parasitic wasps that feed on moth and butterfly eggs while remaining completely harmless to human beings. When the wasps develop into larvae, they consume the moth’s embryos. These wasps take around three to six weeks to completely eradicate the moths from your house depending on the severity of your situation. As soon as the wasps have finished all the moths, they die since they no longer have a source of food.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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