How To: Get Rid of Carpet Beetles (2022)

Stop the insect invasion that’s intent on destroying the textiles in your home.

Photo: istockphoto.com

They enter your home in a myriad of ways: hitching rides on cut flowers, clothing, or pets, or simply flying in through open windows. Once inside, carpet beetles (Dermestids) can settle in and lay eggs, and their larvae can really wreak havoc on rugs, curtains, upholstery—even your clothing. Don’t give them a chance to do any real damage. As soon as you spot one of the little buggers, follow this multi-pronged strategy for how to get rid of carpet beetles fast.

What To Know About Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are among the most destructive insect invaders. In the adult stage, these creepy culprits are less than ¼ inch long and either black or a combination of tan, white, and black. They tend to congregate around windows and doorways—so check these areas if you suspect an infestation. While irksome, adult carpet beetles are harmless; only in the larval stage—when they look like small, hairy worms—are they a threat to natural fibers.

Where They Live

Don’t assume from the common name alone that these pests dwell only in carpet. As a general rule, they favor dark areas, so can be found behind baseboards and in pantries, closets, and dressers (especially where furs or wool clothing is stored). They can also lodge in the crevices of sofas, armchairs, and other upholstered furniture. Dust bunnies under furniture and in corners, especially if pet fur and dander are present, are likely spots for carpet beetles, too.

What They Eat

While synthetic fibers are safe, pricier natural textiles such as cotton, linen, silk and wool clothing, blankets, and of course rugs and carpets, are the carpet beetles’ primary food sources. The family pantry, unfortunately, may also serve these pests, as some species of carpet beetles feed on pasta, flour, corn meal, and dry pet food. There are types of carpet beetles that eat dried flowers and potpourri, and even animal hides, as well.

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How They Reproduce

The life cycle of a carpet beetle may be a mere two months to several years in length. Adults may deposit more than 100 eggs, which hatch within seven to 35 days. While carpet beetle larvae can survive for several weeks without food, it’s at that stage when the insects are most destructive.

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Identifying an Infestation

Carpet beetle eggs are tiny and very hard to see, so most folks don’t notice an infestation until they spot damage to fabrics or other items. This can appear as bare spots in rugs or small holes in clothing or furniture fabrics. With carpet, evidence can appear as a shorter nap or irregular open spaces in the weave. Larger holes indicate where carpet beetles have munched en masse and the eaten areas have joined together.

DIY Extermination: How to Kill Carpet Beetles and Carpet Beetle Larvae

The good news is that once you’ve identified their presence, carpet beetles can usually be banished without the expense of an exterminator. Here are six ways to attack destructive larvae, plus a treatment to get rid of adult carpet beetles for good.

Insecticide

Stop an active larvae infestation by treating carpet or upholstery with an insecticide that contains at least one of the following ingredients: deltamethrin, bifenthrin, or cyfluthrin (view example on Amazon). Test in an inconspicuous area before treating the entire carpet to ensure the product won’t stain. Many insecticides warn against use around people and pets so follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions carefully.

Boric Acid

Boric acid, which acts as a poison on insect metabolism, is only hazardous to humans if ingested or inhaled in large quantities. Find it in powder form at pharmacies or in the laundry aisle of supermarkets. Sprinkle it lightly and evenly on carpet, then use a broom or brush to distribute it into the fibers. Wait several hours and vacuum thoroughly. You may also prepare a larvae-killing spray by adding a tablespoon of boric acid to 2 cups of hot water and stirring until the powder dissolves. Fill a plastic spray bottle with the solution and mist curtains, upholstery, baseboards, and dark nooks and crannies.

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Diatomaceous Earth

Another natural product, diatomaceous earth (available via agricultural-feed stores and various online retailers) is a desiccant that quickly kills by dehydrating larvae. Treat rugs in the method described for boric acid above, and also sprinkle some in the back of cabinets and closets and in pet beds. Choose “food grade” diatomaceous earth, which is safe for pets and humans, but wear a respirator or mask to keep from inhaling the fine dust particles when applying.

Fog

Although they’re no longer chewing your possessions, adult female carpet beetles can be a nuisance by flying around the house. More importantly, left alone they can lay eggs and can start the whole nasty process again. Use a flying insect fogger (view an example on Amazon) to effectively eradicate adult beetles, and keep flying insect spray on hand (view an example on Amazon) to attack any strays or newcomers.

Vinegar

Both white and apple cider vinegar are effective against carpet beetles. Pour straight vinegar into an empty spray bottle and mist well on furniture, carpets, and clothing. If you discover signs of a carpet beetle infestation in a closet or dresser drawers, you may wish to wash clothing stored there in a vinegar and water solution to kill larvae and/or eggs.

Photo: depositphoto.com

Vacuuming and Steam Cleaning

Regular vacuuming can get rid of carpet beetles, sometimes before they have a chance to do much damage. Be sure to work the right attachments to get into crevices and clean drapes and upholstery. Heat is another powerful weapon against carpet beetles, so steam cleaning your home will kill larvae and eggs and then suck them up.

(Video) Safest Way to Get Rid Of Carpet Beetles Naturally and Permanently In Matters

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How to Prevent Future Infestations

Once you’re rid of carpet beetles, make a few smart preventive moods to keep them from coming back. Stop adult carpet beetles from entering your home by hanging sticky flypaper strips near windows. If you find yourself dealing with repeated infestations, place sticky pheromone-type traps on windowsills and in closets to keep carpet beetles from laying eggs.

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Note that carpet beetles prefer to feed on soiled fabrics, so clean clothing of spills, perspiration, and other substances before storing. Keep dry foodstuffs like noodles and flour closed in airtight containers. Stick to a weekly dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming schedule so carpet beetles can’t get a comfortable footing in your home.

Photo: istockphoto.com

FAQ About How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

If you’re looking for further information on carpet beetles, consider the answer to these frequently asked questions.

How many carpet beetles is normal?

Ideally, none! If you happen to notice one carpet beetle, be it worm-like larvae or a flying adult, chances are others exist in your home—or will be invading soon enough! Follow the steps listed above to avoid a carpet beetle infestation.

(Video) How To Get Rid of Carpet Beetles || How to get rid of carpet beetles naturally

Why do you get carpet beetles?

Adult carpet beetles have wings and can fly into a home through open doors and windows, or through holes in screens, most often in springtime. Once indoors, they lay their eggs in dark areas. A lax attitude toward dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming can make a home more hospitable to carpet beetles, so an infestation may be more likely to occur in an unkempt space.

Are carpet beetles dangerous?

No, carpet beetles do not harm people or pets. They don’t bite or sting, nor do they carry disease or emit any poisonous substances. But they can certainly be a danger to pricey home goods like wool rugs, quality silk and linen clothing, and other natural fibers.

FAQs

Can you completely get rid of carpet beetles? ›

To get rid of carpet beetles you can clean infested areas using a nozzle vacuum cleaner, concentrating on removing debris and larvae from cracks and crevices. An application of a residual insecticide should then be made to the area, concentrating on treating cracks and crevices.

Does vinegar help carpet beetles? ›

Vinegar repels carpet beetles, which hate the scent. Use a mixture of white or apple cider vinegar and water to clean areas where carpet beetle larvae can be found.

Why do I keep getting carpet beetles? ›

How did I get carpet beetles in my home? Carpet beetles can enter the home through an open door or window or on an item which is already infested when it is brought inside – like an item of furniture, a plant or on fur. Taxidermy animals are also a popular hotspot for carpet beetles.

How long do carpet beetles stay around? ›

Adult black carpet beetles live 4 to 8 weeks.

What home remedy kills carpet beetles? ›

Vinegar—Water and apple cider vinegar can be poured inside of a spray bottle and applied to infested clothing, carpets, and upholstered furniture. If you notice carpet beetles crawling along clothes in your wardrobe, wash these pieces with vinegar and water to kill any remaining eggs and larvae.

Where do carpet beetles hide? ›

Carpet beetles hide out in places including:

Under carpet edges. In and underneath upholstered furniture. Around door casings. In materials such as carpets, rugs, slippers, blankets and other soft substances.

How do you find a carpet beetle nest? ›

Wool clothing or wool blankets stored in attics, basements and closets are also frequently infested. Check all areas where lint, especially dog or cat hair, tends to accumulate, including areas under carpets and along carpet edges; under seldom-moved furniture; and in floor cracks, registers and ducts.

Do carpet beetles go away in the winter? ›

Some Carpet Beetles will pupate that same summer, but the majority (about 75%) will pass a second winter as a dormant adult. In heated structures, adults may be active throughout the winter and the following spring. Carpet Beetle larvae feed on a wide variety of animal and plant materials.

Does rubbing alcohol get rid of carpet beetles? ›

7- Using Rubbing Alcohol to Kill Carpet Beetles

Our final DIY method to kill carpet beetles is to apply or spray rubbing alcohol directly onto them. Rubbing alcohol kills them by dissolving their outer layer and works as a desiccant to dry them out.

How many carpet beetles is normal? ›

How many carpet beetles is normal? Ideally, none! If you happen to notice one carpet beetle, be it worm-like larvae or a flying adult, chances are others exist in your home—or will be invading soon enough! Follow the steps listed above to avoid a carpet beetle infestation.

Where do carpet beetles lay eggs? ›

Each female carpet beetle can lay from 30 to 100 eggs. Eggs are usually laid on clothing, on lint in cracks, in dusty heating ducts, or on dead insects that have accumulated inside light fixtures. The eggs hatch in one to two weeks.

What are carpet beetles attracted to? ›

Carpet beetles are attracted to light. They'll find a way to get inside toward light through cracks in windows and doors or openings around plumbing entrances, electrical ducts, vents, and even chimneys.

Do carpet beetles get in your bed? ›

Carpet beetles can get in your bed as they might get attracted by animal-based products of your bed and eat the fabrics. But unlike bed bugs, they don't live in your mattress. It's not the adult carpet beetles, but the larvae that devour the bed linen and furnishings in our bedrooms.

Can carpet beetles lay eggs in your hair? ›

Yes, carpet beetle larvae can get onto your scalp. The natural oils in your hair attract the carpet beetle larvae crawling on your bed to your scalp. People with dry hair might not face this problem. But if you've used hair oil, it'll cause the carpet beetle larvae in your bed to crawl up to your scalp.

Do carpet beetles come out at night? ›

They're also more active at night, but they can go out during the day. In reality, their sleep schedule will generally coincide with that of their host (YOU). If you think you have carpet beetles, you should compare the signs you have to those of bed bugs because beetles may not be the issue.

What scent do carpet beetles hate? ›

Carpet Beetles hate the scent of vinegar. White vinegar and apple cider vinegar are especially effective when mixed and used for cleaning areas where you have found carpet beetle larvae.

Does peppermint oil get rid of carpet beetles? ›

If you are looking for how to get rid of carpet beetles naturally, you can rely on vinegar and essential oils. After vacuuming your carpets and steam cleaning them, wipe your surfaces down with a mixture of white distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar. Then, follow behind it with peppermint oil.

Are there traps for carpet beetles? ›

Varied Carpet Beetle Traps (10 pack) are easy to use, non toxic traps that contain pheromones used to lure carpet beetles and rid them from your home.

Should I be worried if I see a carpet beetle? ›

Although these pests are not harmful or dangerous, they can cause significant damage to carpets, clothing, and upholstery. If you have a storage area in your attic or basement this is a place carpet beetles tend to do the most damage because the items remain untouched for longer periods of time.

Do most people have carpet beetles? ›

Carpet beetles are extremely common insects that seem to get in almost everyone's home. They are some of the great recyclers of the insect world as they feed on animal hair, dry skin, and dead insects.

Can carpet beetles get under your skin? ›

It turns out the larvae shed their hairs in the carpet, which causes problems for some people who are allergic. The hairs can even get under your skin! Their larvae can also cause eye irritation and breathing problems.

Do carpet beetles move from room to room? ›

Adults are capable fliers, therefore carpet beetles can move from room to room, allowing for rapid infestation. Carpet beetle larvae destroy fabrics, animal products, and other such items they infest.

Can you see carpet beetle larvae? ›

Signs Of Carpet Beetles

Although carpet beetle larvae can be seen with the naked eye, they are still incredibly small and can easily avoid detection. Carpet beetle larvae are likely to hide underneath and amidst carpets and rugs in your home where they feed on the natural fibers.

Can carpet beetles travel with you? ›

Presence of any of these beetles can be determined either by their physical selves, in adult or larvae form, or by the damage they produce. While carpet beetles don't carry or transmit any diseases to humans, they produce damage which affects your pocketbook, and invade your home.

What temperature kills carpet beetle eggs? ›

In order to kill carpet beetles and clothes moths, infested items need to be held at minimum temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit for at least one week. Freezers capable of reaching minus 20 degrees F are able to kill all life stages within 72 hours.

What does carpet beetle rash look like? ›

Most of the time, carpet beetle rashes look like random red dots on the skin. Bed Bugs — If you have wounds from bed bugs, they will look like bites, not bumps. If there is swelling, it can be minor or major depending on several factors. When bed bugs first infest a home, bites are usually minor and not noticeable.

Do spiders eat carpet beetles? ›

Many animal species consume beetle larvae outside. Certain ant species eat beetle larvae, as do other potential indoor predators like spiders. Typically, none of these animals prey exclusively on carpet beetles.

Do mothballs keep carpet beetles away? ›

While moth balls, crystals, and cedar oil, when properly used, will kill clothes moths and carpet beetles, they do not repel these pests. So they are actually of little value before items become infested.

What fogger kills carpet beetles? ›

Carpet Beetle Insecticidal Treatments

Deltamethrin, cyfluthrin, and bifenthrin effectively kill carpet beetles and larvae, so choose a carpet beetle insecticide that contains at least one of these ingredients.

Can you spray rubbing alcohol on mattress? ›

It's flammable

The most important reason to avoid using alcohol to kill bedbugs has nothing to do with the bugs themselves. Isopropyl alcohol is extremely flammable. Though it dries quickly, spraying it on upholstered furniture, carpets, fabrics, clothing, and mattresses creates a fire hazard.

What percent of houses have carpet beetles? ›

Characteristics of Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are very common. According to a 2012 study cited by The New York Times, they were found in more than 90 percent of the homes studied.

Can carpet beetles make you sick? ›

Carpet Beetles Can't Bite Yet Can Still Make You Sick

You don't have to worry about getting sick if a carpet beetle should try to bite you, but that doesn't mean there are no health concerns associated with these pests. Cross-contamination is possible when carpet beetles come into contact with human foods.

Do carpet beetles eat paper? ›

So, once the larvae reach the books, they continue their feeding. The larvae bore through the books and ate the hardcover and paper. The damages are visible in the form of holes and tunnels in books. Another typical bookworm is the carpet beetles' larvae.

Can carpet beetles eat through plastic bags? ›

Carpet beetles can chew through plastic bags. You may also store items in an oxygen-free container.

How do I know if I have carpet beetle eggs? ›

Carpet beetle eggs are white or cream in color and measure 1/4 to 1/2 mm in length. Eggs have spinelike projections visible at one end and are distinguished by their oval shape. They can be found near upholstered furniture, closets, air ducts and lint buildups.

How do you prevent carpet beetles? ›

Carpet Beetle Deterrents
  1. Use plastic containers or bags to store linens or clothing.
  2. Carpet beetles don't like sunlight, so opening drawers and closets to natural light will deter them.
  3. Avoid natural fibers in rugs, carpets and furniture. ...
  4. Be aware of and remove any other type of household pests.
1 Jun 2018

Do carpet beetles jump? ›

If you have an issue with small, black, jumping bugs in your home, you may wonder if these are carpet beetles. However, these are more likely to be springtails (small, dark-colored, leaping insects) as carpet beetles can't jump.

Do carpet beetles leave stains? ›

While the damage done by carpet beetle larvae is well documented, they are the bane of museums everywhere. There is no evidence that their ability to damage includes stains. There is plenty of evidence connecting bed bugs and other insects with leaving stubborn spots where they poop.

Can carpet beetles live in your ear? ›

There are no verifiable accounts of bugs successfully reproducing in human ears, and simple physiology would prevent even the most excitable insect from burrowing through an ear into somewhere more sensitive, like the brain - there's too much bone in the way.

Do carpet beetles multiply quickly? ›

Carpet beetles are small, airborne insects that wreak havoc on household fabrics like upholstery, clothing, and rugs. They typically enter homes by flying through open windows or hitching a ride on the family dog. Once inside, carpet beetles reproduce quickly and lay eggs in carpets or closets.

Where do carpet beetles originate? ›

Where do carpet beetles come from outdoors? Most carpet beetles live and breed outdoors where they feed on a diet of pollen and nectar. They can hitch a ride into your home on flowers or plants. Most species are attracted to light and because of their small size can easily fly in around cracks in windows and doors.

How do you know if carpet beetles are in your hair? ›

Yes, carpet beetles can live in your hair. Carpet beetles are found in any space and can be confused with bed bugs. Essential oils in the hair attract carpet beetles, which will bite your head when you sleep. You can notice the presence of carpet beetles by their small, black droppings that look like pepper flakes.

Do carpet beetles eat synthetic fabric? ›

Like juvenile clothes moths, carpet beetle larvae also feed on animal materials such as wool, fur, hair, feathers, glue, book bindings, silk, horns, bone, leather, and dead insects. They attack cotton, linen, and synthetic fibers only if the items are soiled.

Are carpet beetles worse than bed bugs? ›

While carpet beetles are much more dangerous to your carpet and other items, if you have an allergic reaction to the larvae, it can affect your health. A bed bug problem is much worse for your health since they can carry diseases and the rash you get from them can become infected if not treated right away.

How do I get rid of carpet beetle larvae in bed? ›

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles (4 Easy Steps) - YouTube

How do you know if you have a beetle infestation? ›

Leaves or Needles
  1. The needles on conifer trees, like pines, begin to turn a reddish-brown color. ...
  2. Some trees may slowly fade in color from green to brown.
  3. Some trees may die within a few weeks of infestation, but may not show yellow-green, fading or red foliage for several months.

How many carpet beetles is normal? ›

How many carpet beetles is normal? Ideally, none! If you happen to notice one carpet beetle, be it worm-like larvae or a flying adult, chances are others exist in your home—or will be invading soon enough! Follow the steps listed above to avoid a carpet beetle infestation.

Can carpet beetles live in your hair? ›

Carpet beetles like the essential oils in your hair, this will cause them to get in bed with you and nibble on your hair while you sleep.

Why do I have carpet beetles in my bedroom? ›

Carpet beetles can get in your bed as they might get attracted by animal-based products of your bed and eat the fabrics. But unlike bed bugs, they don't live in your mattress. It's not the adult carpet beetles, but the larvae that devour the bed linen and furnishings in our bedrooms.

Can carpet beetles travel with you? ›

Presence of any of these beetles can be determined either by their physical selves, in adult or larvae form, or by the damage they produce. While carpet beetles don't carry or transmit any diseases to humans, they produce damage which affects your pocketbook, and invade your home.

How do you find a carpet beetle nest? ›

Wool clothing or wool blankets stored in attics, basements and closets are also frequently infested. Check all areas where lint, especially dog or cat hair, tends to accumulate, including areas under carpets and along carpet edges; under seldom-moved furniture; and in floor cracks, registers and ducts.

What time of year do carpet beetles lay eggs? ›

Biology. The female Carpet Beetles lay 30-60 whitish eggs during May and June. The eggs hatch in 10-20 days and the larvae will feed for two to three months as they develop. Developmental time from egg to adult usually requires 3-4 months at room temperature, but can take up to 2 years at cooler temperatures.

How worried should I be about carpet beetles? ›

Although these pests are not harmful or dangerous, they can cause significant damage to carpets, clothing, and upholstery. If you have a storage area in your attic or basement this is a place carpet beetles tend to do the most damage because the items remain untouched for longer periods of time.

Do carpet beetles lay eggs in beds? ›

Carpet beetles can get into the bed to lay eggs or to eat through natural fiber bed sheets. Carpet beetle larvae are known to live in beds, especially those covered in cotton or silk sheets.

Where do carpet beetles lay eggs? ›

Each female carpet beetle can lay from 30 to 100 eggs. Eggs are usually laid on clothing, on lint in cracks, in dusty heating ducts, or on dead insects that have accumulated inside light fixtures. The eggs hatch in one to two weeks.

Can carpet beetles live in your ear? ›

There are no verifiable accounts of bugs successfully reproducing in human ears, and simple physiology would prevent even the most excitable insect from burrowing through an ear into somewhere more sensitive, like the brain - there's too much bone in the way.

Do carpet beetles live in blankets? ›

Check underneath rugs and furniture, in folds of clothing or blankets, and in corners where lint, bugs, and pet hair collect. These beetles shed their skin as they grow, so if you have a carpet beetle problem, you'll find their skin. Damaged wool, clothes, and blankets.

Can you squish a carpet beetle? ›

If you find a few adult carpet beetles in your home, squish them and vacuum them up. A few adults usually do not warrant a full treatment, but you should watch for a developing infestation.

Do carpet beetles stay on clothes? ›

Any trace of adult carpet beetles, larvae, and eggs can be removed with a good washing. Carpet beetles won't have time to sustain life on your clothing if you stay on top of washing them. Wash and air out clothes immediately after they're removed from storage.

Can carpet beetles make you sick? ›

Carpet Beetles Can't Bite Yet Can Still Make You Sick

You don't have to worry about getting sick if a carpet beetle should try to bite you, but that doesn't mean there are no health concerns associated with these pests. Cross-contamination is possible when carpet beetles come into contact with human foods.

Are there traps for carpet beetles? ›

Varied Carpet Beetle Traps (10 pack) are easy to use, non toxic traps that contain pheromones used to lure carpet beetles and rid them from your home.

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