How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

Find natural methods for exterminating carpet beetles and carpet beetle larvae before they infest your whole home.

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Despite their name, carpet beetles (anthrenus verbasci) live and thrive happily outdoors on plants and feed on nectar. They tend to make their way indoors by following light sources, climbing the exterior walls of a home until they find an opening such as a vent or a window. You might even accidentally bring them indoors when you’re carrying items that have been sitting in the sun all day, like laundry from the clothes line or the shoes you kicked off by the back door.

carpet beetle, anthrenus verbasci


Photo by: Getty/John Downer

Getty/John Downer

Once carpet beetles are indoors, they’re trapped. They don’t carry disease, but they are fast breeders and voracious eaters.

Carpet beetle larvae are drawn to all fabrics and textiles, quickly and swiftly making your home, their home. Much in the way that clothes moths will destroy natural fibers, carpet beetles will find food sources and disperse throughout a dwelling to consume nutrients until they’re fully-grown adult beetles. Once they’re grown, the cycle starts again.

Learning how to get rid of carpet beetles begins with learning how to identify them. Once you know what to look for, you can manage an infestation and deter future infestations around your home.

How to Identify a Carpet Beetles and Larvae

Adult carpet beetles are drawn to light. If you spot an adult carpet beetle, it’s likely going to be on the surface of your furniture or in a brightly lit area.

Fully-grown beetles are round or oval in shape and small in size (less than 1/8”). They appear scaled with hard wings. While many carpet beetles are shades of mottled browns and creams, some species are also solid brown or black.

Carpet beetle eggs are harder to spot, but they are white, oval and less than a millimeter in size. Eggs are commonly laid on furs, woolen fabric and in carpet fibers.

From the eggs come larvae, which are elongated, measuring between 1/8” and 1/4” in length. They’re small, have legs and will slowly crawl, but they do not prefer the same brightly lit environments as adult carpet beetles. Larvae are the most destructive, feasting not only on carpets and natural fibers but also on protein-rich foods. They’re harder to spot because they will be the same color as the food they’re eating. You may find them on fur or feathers, on taxidermied animals, on wool or in pantry areas infesting open pet food bags.

How to Spot an Infestation

It’s easy to overlook a carpet beetle infestation until it’s too late. Eggs and larvae are tiny and hard to see, especially between the fibers of a thick carpet or area rug. Your first indication of an infestation may be an uneven nap in a rug or small holes in cushions or upholstery. Larger holes or a large distressed area on a carpet indicate that many larvae moved through an area.

Once you notice signs of damage, take a closer look. Inspect between carpet fibers. Check window sills, curtains and furnishings exposed daily to sunlight. Look for adult beetles as well as larvae, and more closely for eggs.

If you see a couple of adult beetles, you may have caught the issue before it’s an infestation. If you find them in several areas of your home or see significant damage caused by larvae, it’s time to learn how to get rid of the carpet beetles once and for all.

Natural Solutions for Getting Rid of Carpet Beetles

It is possible to get rid of carpet beetles naturally, especially if you only have a mild infestation. Start any method by thoroughly vacuuming the rugs and furniture to capture what you can the easy way. You should also launder any items near an infestation. At a minimum, run items through the dryer on high heat for 15 minutes to kill eggs and larvae.

To treat an infestation on a larger surface, such as on furniture and carpets, these organic pest control methods can usually get the job done:

1. Steam Clean

Steaming is a really safe way to treat many fabrics and furnishings in the home, and it also kills eggs and larvae on contact. Running a hand steamer over surfaces is not only good for managing an infestation but also for proactively preventing a future issue.

2. Mist Essential Oils or Vinegar

A few drops of peppermint and clove oils mixed into a spray bottle with water can be misted in areas that you suspect contain carpet beetles or larvae. This will act as a deterrent.

Similarly, carpet beetles don’t like the smell of vinegar, so it can easily be mixed 1:1 with water and misted into areas you believe are affected.

3. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth

Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) is an easy, natural solution for tough pest infestations. Anything that crawls through the powder will die.

It’s best to sprinkle it around baseboards or around the feet of your furniture and leave it uninterrupted for 24-48 hours.

If you need to treat a larger area, like the entire sofa or your carpet, plan to stay off the furnishings so the dust is not transferred or disrupted during the treatment. After 24-48 hours, the DE should be thoroughly vacuumed.

Chemical Options to Try (if Necessary)

Indoor insecticides, including aerosols and sprays, can be used to treat areas where there are signs of damage or around baseboards.

Outdoors, you can take steps to prevent carpet beetles from entering on their own will by sprinkling insect killer granules around the perimeter and at points of entry such as near doorways, windows and vents.

A professional cleaner with heavy-duty cleaners can also be hired to deep clean a home.

Preventing a Future Carpet Beetle Infestation

Rest easy and take these steps to deter a carpet beetle infestation around your home:

  • Keep your carpet and floors clean. Carpet beetles and their larvae feast on everything from textiles to dust and dead bugs, so keeping a clean floor can prevent an outbreak.

  • Get in a routine for laundering throw pillows, blankets and curtains (and at the very least, run them through the dryer on high heat)

  • Place carpet beetle traps in rooms where you’ve had issues before; if there’s any chance that some eggs and larvae survived treatment, you may be able to ward off a future infestation.

  • Check items that you’re bringing in from outdoors, whether it’s a bouquet of flowers cut from the garden (remember, adult carpet beetles eat nectar) or an item placed outdoors to dry in the sun

  • Repair holes in window screens

  • Seal cracks around windows and doors

  • Keep foods in sealed containers

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