Finding unexpected damage on your clothing, curtains, carpet or furniture? You could have carpet beetles. Often confused with bed bugs, carpet beetles don’t bite, sting, or spread disease, but they can cause a lot of damage—and fast. Infamous for their voracious appetite, these fast-breeding pests will eat just about anything made of natural fibers, including you and your pets’ bedding, rugs, furniture, leather items, furs, feathers, and flooring. Here are several non-toxic tips to kill and repel carpet beetles naturally, and to protect your home from carpet beetle damage.
Sometimes black but usually patterned with white, yellow, brown or orange coloring, carpet beetles are oval in shape and very small (1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long). Apart from the beetles themselves, there are several symptoms of a carpet beetle infestation. Here’s what to look for:
- Holes and lines of damage on rugs, clothing, bedding, furniture, taxidermy, etc, is the most obvious and common sign of carpet beetles.
- Light brown pieces of shed skin (these look like small bug shells). Check for these skins underneath rugs, within blankets, inside the folds of clothing and furniture, and on flooring where dust and hair tend to collect
- Carpet beetle larvae, which are typically longer than adults and covered in hair.
- Fecal pellets, which are about the size of a grain of salt.
- Again, also look for adult carpet beetles, which are normally found on walls near sources of light and window sills.
Whether you already have carpet beetles or worried you might soon, prevention should be your top priority. Here are the best practices for preventing carpet beetles.
- Cleanliness and organization are absolutely vital—this cannot be stressed enough. Carpet beetles eat everything from textiles and poorly stored food to dust bunnies, cobwebs, birds and wasps nests.
- Vacuum your home at least once a week. For ongoing carpet beetle infestations, go with daily.
- Launder dirty clothing and bedding at least once every two weeks. Used laundry items attract carpet beetles.
- Before bringing any plants into your home, check them for carpet beetles.
- Thoroughly wash and then seal all out-of-season clothing, blankets, and fabrics in airtight containers. For infested fabrics, wash and launder them on high heat.
- Ensure all doors, windows, and other possible entry points are properly sealed. Install new screens, door seals, and use caulk as needed.
- When possible, choose synthetic fabrics over natural ones, especially for rugs, furniture, and carpeting—carpet beetles are only attracted to organic materials.
- Carpet beetles can enter our homes by hitching a ride on our pets. Apply a pet-safe bug repellent, like Cedarcide Original, to your cat or dog every few days just in case.
Now that you know how to spot and prevent carpet beetles, here’s what you need to do to get rid of them:
Glue traps are useful against carpet beetles in two ways. Firstly, they can help you identify and gauge the seriousness of a carpet beetle infestation. Secondly, they serve as a non-toxic approach to decreasing carpet beetle populations in your home.
Made with hormones designed to attract carpet beetles, these glue traps should be placed in the areas of your home where you’re seeing the most carpet beetle activity (damage and actual beetles). Check the traps every other day or so and replenish as needed. Carpet beetle glue traps can be purchased at pest control supply stores and online.
As mentioned in the prevention section above, cleanliness is arguably the most important factor in carpet beetle control. Carpet beetles can survive on a wide array of natural items—including hair, lint, dust, rugs, carpets, clothing, food residue, plant debris, dead animals and their nests, and more. Daily cleaning is necessary to remove these potential sources of food from your home.
For best results, pay special attention to areas where dust and other debris tend to accumulate in your home, such as baseboards, under tables and cabinets, and other nooks & crannies.
Apart from contributing to cleanliness, daily vacuuming can help remove carpet beetle eggs, larvae, and adults from your home. In addition to flooring, make sure to vacuum all rugs and upholstered furniture as needed. For heavily infested spaces, vacuuming twice a day might be even better. Just be sure to discard the bag in an outside trash can or thoroughly clean it after each use.
There are several ways to deal with infested items like clothing, furniture, rugs, and flooring:
- You can simply wash and dry them on warm temperatures (or dry clean).
- If rugs or clothing are heavily infested and damaged, you might want to consider throwing them away.
- You can freeze infested items in a freezer for 72 hours to kill eggs, larvae, and adult carpet beetles.
The bottom line: If you have items suspected of infestation, you need to take at least one of the above actions.
Many companies offer products or services that use harsh chemicals to help consumers get rid of their carpet beetles. While these toxic insecticides often work, they also expose your family and pets to highly dangerous poisons. The truth is, you can get the same results with safer, naturally-sourced pest control products.
After choosing a family-safe, pet-safe pest control product, you’ll want to apply it strategically. Pay special attention to areas that collect dust and lint, under furniture, around doors and windows, as well closets, and around the edges of carpeting. For larger infestations where eggs and larvae are hidden all throughout the home, fogging may be necessary. Repeat applications as needed.
A naturally occurring non-toxic pesticide, diatomaceous earth works by dehydrating insects that come into contact with it. Dust food-grade DE throughout trouble areas like window sills, rugs, carpeting, closets, along baseboards, etc. Once you get your carpet beetle issue under control, DE can be easily removed with your vacuum cleaner. Although it’s chemical-free, we suggest wearing a mask when applying because it is a powder.
Steam is deadly for carpet beetles, their eggs, and larvae. Steaming flooring, rugs, curtains, upholstered furniture, and other vulnerable spaces and items is a quick and efficient way to control carpet beetles. You can do this on your own with a personal steamer or go with a professional. Repeat weekly as needed.
Limiting their food source can greatly improve a carpet beetle infestation. To start, store and seal all out-of-season clothing, bedding, and other natural textiles (again, carpet beetles are not attracted to synthetic materials). Make sure to deep clean all items before storing them away, and also to clean all other fabrics in affected areas as outlined above.
Cleanliness is a big part of removing the carpet beetles’ food source, too. Again, carpet beetles are known to eat lint, dust, pet hair, and other dead bugs—basically all the most common ingredients of household dirt and grime. Keeping your home free of these food sources will have a big impact on your carpet beetle struggles.