How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles Once and for All
Find out how to get rid of these unwanted carpet-dwelling pests once and for all
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No one wants bugs in their home—especially not bugs that chomp on and destroy your fabric. According to Tim Jankowski, president of Aladdin’s Cleaning & Restoration, these pests dine on (and can be found in) “carpet fabrics, but also clothing, upholstery and bedding.” They may be hiding where you least expect them, so it’s important to know how to get rid of carpet beetles right away.
If you’ve been a homeowner for a while, this may not be your first insect-problem rodeo. You may already know how to get rid of spiders, how to get rid of fruit flies and that you should never kill a centipede. But carpet beetles burrow into carpets, and it’s important to know how to clean up after them. Knowing how to clean carpet will also help you triumph over the bugs. Here’s the expert advice you need to get rid of carpet beetles in your home.
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What are carpet beetles, exactly?
Carpet beetles are fairly common houseplant pests, particularly if you’ve brought the plants indoors after they spent some time outside. They come in a range in colors, including black, brown, yellow and orange. “There are many different varieties of these bugs, but they are usually small and oval-shaped,” says Jankowski. “The most common are the fur beetle and the varied carpet beetle.” The carpet beetle variety you encounter may depend on the region of the country you live in. It can’t hurt to acquaint yourself with what your region’s carpet beetle looks like to better identify the pest.
Carpet beetles prefer dark areas of the home and spots where natural fibers are stored. Think basements, attics and unused spare rooms. Like their name suggests, the bugs love to dwell in rooms where they can infest rugs and carpets. They also like to live wherever there are large accumulations of pet hair and lint, as they eat these natural fibers too. The bugs can also be found under or inside upholstered furniture, so it’s good to know how to clean couches properly.
Are carpet beetles dangerous?
They aren’t dangerous to humans or pets. But carpet beetles can damage your belongings—and they’re gross. Plus, they can be incredibly hard to get rid of.
“The sheer volume of the reproductive cycle of carpet bugs leads to them being very difficult to eradicate,” says Jankowski. “The females of most species can lay anywhere from 25 to 100 eggs at a time, and the eggs are incredibly hard to see.” So you might be walking or laying on them without knowing it. Again, gross!
The real problem with carpet bugs is the larvae. These “usually cause more damage, as they use the fibers they chew to grow into adulthood,” says Jankowski. Adult carpet beetles, meanwhile, prefer flower pollen and don’t dine on household fabric.
What causes you to get carpet beetles?
Carpet beetles may enter the home from the exterior of the house during the spring and summer. During those seasons, thresholds might be some of those things you should clean every day. “Carpet beetles are much like moths being attracted to light,” says Jankowski. “So, porch lights or interior lights can bring them in from an open window or patio door.”
How can you tell if you have a carpet beetle infestation?
Start by watching for the signs of one. “Adults will typically congregate around windows and lights and are easier to identify,” says Jankowski. Because the bugs breed so quickly, even just a few adults can be a worrying sign.
Also look for the larvae as best as you can, and it will likely be the signs of damage that you see first. Developing larvae drop tiny, molted skins. But as they eat, the larvae also leave behind threadbare spots in carpets. “Usually the larvae are not seen, and the damage to items in your home will not be visible until there is a true infestation,” he says. You could also try checking the edges and undersides of rugs and carpets for the larvae. Consider adding this important step to your cleaning schedule.
Will carpet beetles eventually just go away?
Unfortunately, carpet beetles don’t go away on their own. “Carpet bugs will continue to repopulate,” says Jankowski. As soon as you notice the infestation, you need to begin treating carpets, clothing and other fabrics within the home. Otherwise, the bugs will appear in the same places in your home every year. “From egg stage to death, the beetles can live up to two years. The majority of which is spent in the destructive larvae stage,” he says.
What kills carpet beetles naturally?
Instead of using a chemical spray or a professional exterminator, there are natural cleaning solutions to keep your home pest-free. These methods are better for a smaller scale infestation, and there are a few ways to go about it.
White vinegar and water
“The acidic properties of the vinegar will kill larvae and adult carpet bugs,” says Jankowski. Start by adding two teaspoons of white vinegar to an empty spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Quickly mist furniture and carpets with a few spritzes without lingering, as “the solution can stain or damage your fabrics from time to time.”
Regular carpet cleaning is also how to get rid of carpet beetles, especially if you have pets. Use a vacuum with special carpet attachments to vacuum the carpet edges and underneath the rugs. This will not only suck up the pests but will also get all the pet hair, which attracts the beetles to begin with.
Launder clothes and rugs
The heat from your laundry machine can also kill the beetles. According to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, “Dry cleaning or hot laundering kills any eggs or larvae that may be present. Heat generated by a clothes dryer is effective as well.”
What else kills carpet beetles?
In addition to carpet cleaners, there are some chemical solutions to know about for how to get rid of carpet beetles. “But they may contain harsh chemicals, so keep them away from children and pets,” says Jankowski.
Moth balls can be used, but follow instructions carefully. Only place moth balls in sealed drawers where children or pets cannot find them. Used improperly, products containing naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene can be hazardous. And never disperse the moth balls in open areas where children or pets can reach them. Moth balls are only really effective if used in the right concentration, achieved by sealing them with susceptible items in large containers.
Apply boric acid to crevices and cracks where carpet beetles might enter the home. Be sure to keep the material from entering the house, as it can be poisonous to children and pets if ingested.
How can you prevent carpet beetle issues?
- Add screens to windows and use screen doors.
- Keep windows and doors closed.
- When storing rugs and clothes, be sure to place them in sealed bags.
- Avoid bringing threadbare rugs into the home. They may already have carpet beetles.
- Tim Jankowski, president of Aladdin’s Cleaning & Restoration
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: “Carpet Beetles”
- Orkin: “Boric Acid and Carpet Beetles”