How to Get Rid of Moths Without Moth Balls

Updated July 20, 2017

When a moth infestation strikes, don't reach for the hazardous mothballs. Because mothballs contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, they cause serious health issues and have been linked to cancer. Mothballs are particularly dangerous to children, pets and people with pre-existing conditions, but no one should suffer through toxic fumes to get rid of pests. Instead, use some of these safer methods to clean your house, stop the infestation and rid yourself of the stress headache.

Vacuum low-traffic areas. Moth eggs can grow on upholstery, in corners and under furniture and on other undisturbed carpets. Focus on crevices, ducts and vents. Do not let dust or hair accumulate.

Dust and scrub all solid surfaces near the infestation to remove any eggs.

Wash all clothing, linens and other fabrics. If they cannot be washed, take them outside and shake or beat them clean. Clothing moths favour dirty fabrics that have not been disturbed in a while. If the fabrics are too infested, discard them.

Put items that cannot be laundered in cold storage. Place roughly cleaned stuffed animals, fur coats and similar items in an airtight plastic bag. Squeeze out the air and freeze at -17.8 degrees Celsius for at least three days. Examine the items after storage to know if the moths are dead or just slowly feeding.

Seal stored clothing, linens and other fabrics in airtight containers to keep moths from gaining access to your fabrics.

Move animal foods, including birdseed, to the garage or outside. Indianmeal moths mostly eat grains and seeds, but they also eat dry dog food.

Seal grains in airtight containers to keep moths trapped or prevent access to food sources.

Use a natural moth deterrent. The commonly used cedar can be stored with fabrics or hung in closets. Raid your cupboards for cloves, rosemary, mint or peppercorns. Eucalyptus, lavender, pennyroyal and tansy oils also repel moths.

Use traps in pantries, cabinets, closets and attics to ensnare moths. Purchase glue traps from a pest control company or make your own trap. Mix one part molasses and two parts vinegar in a yellow container to attract and drown moths.

Prevent the moths from returning. Seal all openings around doors and windows. Be alert when opening windows and doors at night. Wash all clothing as soon as you acquire it and before you put it in long-term storage.


Read all directions on the essential oils and only use as directed.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Hot water
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Detergent
  • Air-tight containers
  • Herbs or oils (optional)
  • Molasses (optional)
  • Vinegar (optional)
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Born and raised in West Virginia, Megan Hippler has been writing environmental articles since 2008. Her work has appeared on the websites of various state government departments. Hippler has a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from Hollins University.