If you’re currently collecting research on how to get rid of carpet beetles forever, we can assume two things about you.
The first is that one warm day, you left the windows open to get some of that sweet summer breeze. Unbeknownst to you, an adult carpet beetle (or three) realized that your home would make a beautiful nesting ground for its young.
And that brings us to the second assumption: you most likely have a lovely home with plenty of high quality fabrics and furnishings, which incidentally happen to be some of the carpet beetle larvae’s favorite things to eat.
Let’s explore this a little further, shall we?
What Causes Carpet Beetles?
As you noted above, it’s often just a matter of chance. The vast majority of carpet beetle infestations start with something as innocent as having a window open to let in the warm summer breeze.
Adult carpet beetles have a diet of pollen and nectar so they happily live and breed outdoors especially in the warmer months. But they can also fly and they’re attracted to light so if you have a door or a window open, there’s little to stop a carpet beetle from finding its way into your home and setting up a nest.
What about hygiene?
There isn’t a strong link between poor sanitation and carpet beetles like there is with cockroaches, for example.
Carpet beetles will eat a lot of foods that humans eat, but also many that we won’t. However, keeping clean can help reduce the numbers of carpet beetles you’ll get by eliminating their food source.
Don’t Forget Other Pests
Carpet beetles are also often associated with bird nests, since they will feed on feathers, droppings, and other waste the birds produce. If you have a lot of bird nests on or near your house, you may be at a high risk for carpet beetle infestation.
The same applies with other insects. Having a bee or wasp colony in your attic can often lead to a secondary infestation of carpet beetles, as they are attracted to the dead bees.
Remember that carpet beetles only attack natural fabrics such as leather, wool, silk, feathers are other animal products. Protect those fabrics and make sure your dry foods are well sealed, and you’re less likely to have a problem.
Still, when it comes to carpet beetles, there are no guarantees.
What are Signs of Carpet Beetles?
Like the bed bugs they are occasionally mistaken for, carpet beetles are good at staying hidden. And in the larval stage, they avoid light.
Adult carpet beetles like to lay their eggs in tucked-away corners like cracks and crevices in your furniture where their little offspring won’t be discovered.
All that means is that often, the first sign that you have a carpet beetle infestation is the damage they cause.
Carpet Beetle Damage
Carpet beetle larvae will chew a bare spot in a wool rug or carpet. They also eat fur, and will leave bald patches where they’ve chewed the hairs away.
And your pricier clothing may not escape unscathed – check your cashmeres, silks, and woolen fabrics. Carpet beetles have expensive tastes.
Depending on the species, you may also find damage to stored products such as cereals and grains. Carpet beetle larvae are perfectly capable of chewing through paper and cardboard packaging to get to the food inside.
Last but not least, carpet beetles aren’t above laying eggs in, say, your special occasional leather loafers. So your shoe bin isn’t safe either.
Besides the damage they cause, you may start to see signs of the carpet beetles themselves.
Larvae are good at staying hidden, but they do need to shed their skins to grow, and you may start to find these tiny orange shed skins showing up underneath furniture, along baseboards, and in other difficult-to-access places.
It’s creepy to think about but if you find even one carpet beetle larva (or its shed skin), that alone is a sign of an infestation since a carpet beetle will lay around 90 eggs in one go. You can bet there’s more where that came from.
Adult Carpet Beetles
Finally, keep an eye out for the bugs themselves. If you have a carpet beetle infestation, you’ll start to see these bugs showing up on your walls and windows before long.
Once they emerge as adults, carpet beetles are attracted to the light and will often head toward a window, trying to get outside. And if you see an adult carpet beetle buzzing around your house, you can bet it’s laid its eggs there.
Whether it’s an adult carpet beetle or the larvae you’ve spotted, if you’ve seen one – you’ve definitely got more. And there’s no time to dither. Here’s how to get rid of carpet beetles – every last one of them.
How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles
Once you’ve detected the presence of carpet beetles, you’re going to want to get rid of them. Luckily, there are a number of ways of doing that.
Unfortunately, almost all of them involve at least a little bit of work on your part. Still, isn’t it worth it to protect that expensive wool carpet or fancy silk dress you’ve been waiting for a chance to wear?
Here are some of the best ways to get rid of carpet beetles. Keep in mind that using a combination of all the below methods is going to be your best chance at getting rid of carpet beetles quickly and completely.
Let’s start with the basics.
Okay, it’s not glamorous. But it works. Carpet beetles, as you would imagine, often live in the carpet, so vacuuming thoroughly is one of the most effective methods you can use to get rid of them.
Giving your carpets a deep vacuum will suck up and destroy many of the larvae that are causing the damage. Try to vacuum regularly to get on top of the carpet beetle’s rapid lifecycle. Every two or three days, until the infestation is under control, is a good idea.
Tip: Make use of your vacuum’s nozzle to clear carpet beetle eggs, larvae, as well as the debris they like to eat from harder-to-reach corners, cracks and crevices.
Doing the laundry isn’t most people’s idea of fun, but for carpet beetles, it’s deadly. Carpet beetles and their larvae die at temperatures of 120°F (or 48.89 °C) so you’ll want to run your washer and dryer at the hottest setting.
To avoid further damage to your wool, leather, silk, and other fabrics, make sure you carefully follow all directions on the label. Failing that, you could take your clothing to a professional dry cleaner.
The dry cleaner is an option but if you can spare a bit of time, you don’t have to shell out extra money to save your harder-to-wash closet valuables like cashmeres and leather shoes.
You can simply use your freezer.
To kill carpet beetles by freezing them, you need to keep the infested items at a minimum temperature of 0°F for at least one week.
Make sure to use a garment bag or even a plastic Ziploc bag to place your infested items in and then leave them in the freezer until the carpet beetles and their spawn die out.
Because of the type of fabrics carpet beetles infest, it can be tricky to clean everything properly. You can’t exactly run your sheepskin carpet in the wash, can you? And most people don’t have a large enough freezer to host a down duvet.
Enter the trusty steamer.
Steam can be a very useful ally if you want to be even more aggressive about solving a carpet beetle infestation. The high heat produced by a steamer is lethal to all stages of the carpet beetle lifecycle, but it’s the larvae you most want to target.
Our favorite is the McCulloch Steam Cleaner. It quickly heats water to over 200 degrees °F, which is more than enough to kill all the carpet beetles and their spawn.
One filling is enough to provide up to 90 minutes of steam so you can thoroughly heat the little critters to death. And the steamer comes with a ton of attachments so you can blast steam into the tiniest nooks and crannies.
Give your carpets a good steam clean with the steamer, and don’t forget about your drapes, your furniture, and any other source of natural fibers. Plus, a good steamer can also treat your clothes, making it a highly effective way to reduce a population of carpet beetles.
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring mineral that is fantastic for getting rid of a variety of insects. Diatomaceous earth is not a pesticide, but instead kills carpet beetles and their larvae by scratching their exoskeleton and causing them to dry out.
Available in bulk through Amazon, diatomaceous earth works best when it’s lightly applied to hidden areas where carpet beetle larvae like to hide. Think behind baseboards, under sofas, and in cracks and crevices in closets and kitchen cabinets.
Widely available as a laundry detergent booster, boric acid is also a fearsome insecticide when used correctly. You can use it to treat carpet beetles by sprinkling boric acid freely over your carpet and the underside of your furniture.
Wait a few hours, then get the vacuum out and suck up the boric acid and hopefully a lot of dead carpet beetles with it.
Carpet Beetle Insecticide
Carpet beetles can be stubborn, and while it’s better to use natural and chemical-free methods when possible, we don’t live in an ideal world. If you’re having a hard time shifting a persistent carpet beetle problem, pesticides for carpet beetles can be a valuable tool in your arsenal to get rid of these creatures.
For the best method of control, consider a pesticide that combines a contact poison with an insect growth regulator, such as NyGuard Plus. Available as an aerosol spray, this potent pesticide is great for spraying into the kind of cracks and crevices where carpet beetles hide.
This carpet beetle insecticide is so potent because the pyrethroid active ingredient will kill any carpet beetles or larvae it touches and the included insect growth regulator will disrupt the hormonal balance of any survivors, making sure the larvae never grow to the stage where they can reproduce.
Breaking the carpet beetle lifecycle is the most effective way to treat this troublesome pest.
Dusts can also be very effective weapons to use against carpet beetles. Products like Delta Dust are effective against a broad range of pest species, including carpet beetles.
The dust formulation will stay active for a long time, making it ideal for application into places like behind baseboards, wall voids, and the underside of furniture. The dust will kill carpet beetle adults and larvae on contact.
Where to Find Carpet Beetles
In order to effectively use a carpet beetle killer, you’ll first have to know where to apply it to get the most carpet beetle killing bang for your pesticide buck.
So where do carpet beetles hide?
Well, carpet beetles didn’t get to where they are today by being easy to find. Although the adults are attracted to light, the larvae hide from it and prefer dark corners. They also like to be close to a potential food source, whether it’s carpet, upholstered furniture, or a supply of dead bugs.
Effectively treating a carpet beetle infestation means taking the fight to the larvae wherever they are. Let’s go over a few of the carpet beetles favorite hiding spots.
Carpet Beetles in Bed
First things first, do carpet beetles live in bed? Well, adult carpet beetles don’t so if you find bugs that looks like carpet beetles crawling on your bed, it’s likely that you have bed bugs.
That being said, it is possible for carpet beetle larvae to be in your bed, especially if your have animal-based materials on your bed – think: lovely silk sheets or a wool blanket.
So what do you do when you, say, find the shed skins of carpet beetle larvae or the larvae themselves hiding in the seams of your mattress or in cracks and crevices in your bed frame? Washing your sheets in hot water and vacuuming or steaming your bed frame will kill them off.
To prevent any other carpet beetles from sneaking into your bed, try to clean your sheets regularly and don’t eat on your bed. Remember that carpet beetle larvae like to snack on things like the dead skin and hair that you shed every night – don’t let it pile up!
Carpet Beetles in Couch and Sofas
The underside of your sofa and armchairs, especially if they are made of natural fabric like wool or leather, is also a common place to find these bugs.
You can steam or vacuum these areas, then apply an appropriately labeled pesticide or diatomaceous earth to kill any bugs you can reach. Make sure you target cracks and crevices like the gaps around the legs of the furniture or underneath the fabric on the bottom of the sofa.
Don’t forget about your baseboards. A deep vacuum or steam followed by application of a pesticide is an effective way to drive bugs out of these hiding places.
Carpet Beetles in Cars
Although less likely, it’s even possible to have carpet beetles in your car, although fabric in vehicles tends to be synthetic rather than natural. If you do find carpet beetles in your car, inspect thoroughly to make sure there isn’t some spilled food somewhere that is feeding them.
This is especially important if you have kids, as it’s all too easy for children to drop food down the side of a car seat.
Once you’re sure you’ve removed all food sources, a deep vacuum or steam clean of your car should be sufficient to get the bugs out.
If not, you can always apply diatomaceous earth or Delta Dust to finish them off. It’s usually better not to use an aerosol in your car if you can avoid it, since you don’t want to be breathing pesticide residue on your way to work.