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What Causes Carpet Beetles? [And How To Get Rid Of Them]

Have you noticed an increasing amount of holes in your rug or your clothes? Maybe you first thought it was moths. The damage caused by carpet beetles can often be mistaken for the damage caused by moths. Carpet beetles can quickly infest your home and start munching on any animal-sourced fabric you might have. So what causes carpet beetles and how can you get rid of them? We've researched this in-depth to bring you the answers.

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A number of things can cause an infestation of carpet beetles. The adults can fly into your home and lay eggs on clothes and rugs. Carpet beetles could also be infesting your home because of an abandoned bird nest you might not know about somewhere on your property. They thrive on accumulated pet hair and improperly stored animal-based clothing. You can get rid of carpet beetles by:

  • Discarding heavily infested items
  • Vacuuming
  • Laundering
  • Using insecticides
  • Freezing
  • Calling a professional 

This may seem like a lot of information to consider, and you might be wondering which step to get rid of carpet beetles would be best for you. Keep reading as we go into detail about each of the options we listed above. We'll also answer some other questions you might have about carpet beetles!

Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) on a branch on white background, What Causes Carpet Beetles? (And How To Get Rid Of Them)

How To Get Rid Of Carpet Beetles

Macro shot of a varied carpet beetle on a white daisy

Discard Heavily Infested Items

If an item is too heavily infested, the best option is to discard it. While going through your items, place any heavily infested items into heavy-duty trash bags immediately to prevent further spreading the carpet beetles. Tie the trash bags and remove them from your house to a sealed outside garbage container. 

Vacuum

Housewife with vacuum cleaner cleaning floor under couch at home

Begin by vacuuming in locations you've seen carpet beetles. They will most likely be found in less used areas, but make sure to vacuum all of your carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, and curtains. Remember to vacuum the underside as well as the top of the rug. Carpet beetles will prefer the underside of your rug, especially in corners less traveled on. 

Carpet beetles will often be found in piles of built-up pet hair.  It can be easy to forget that pet hair can accumulate in corners, ducts, and air vents, so be sure to check and thoroughly vacuum these areas. Another common area they can be found is in pet food containers. 

Launder Your Clothes

Man putting clothes into the washing machine

You may have stored some old wool sweaters and thought they were safe from any pests. But storing them even slightly improperly can result in carpet beetles damaging your clothes. Pull out any stored clothing you might have and check for carpet beetles. To be safe, especially if your infestation is severe, you should wash and dry all of your clothes. Make sure to use detergent and hot water. 

Spray Insecticides

Macro of hand holding generic aerosol can spraying

If you have a bad infestation of carpet beetles, you might feel better using a chemical specifically designed to kill them. After vacuuming and cleaning, an insecticide, such as Tempo SC Ultra, can be sprayed in areas where the carpet beetles might be hiding.

Many insecticides are not safe to use on fabric or carpets, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's packaging for instructions on how to use this product.  Also, consider using a "flying bug" spray in order to kill adult carpet beetles and prevent them from laying more eggs.

Click here to see Tempo SC Ultra on Amazon.

Place Them In A Freezer

If carpet beetles are in items that cannot be treated with insecticide, you can place them in a chest or walk-in freezer. This is called thermal disinfestation. The freezer will kill all life stages of the carpet beetles. If your freezer can reach minus 20ºF, your items need to be kept inside it for 72 hours. At 0ºF, your items will need to remain inside for at least a week.

Call A Professional

As a last resort, or maybe a first resort if the idea of dealing with carpet beetles is overwhelming, you can always call a professional. A professional pest control company will be able to tell you the severity of the infestation and any solutions they can offer. It is a good idea to call a professional if the infestation is severe and tackling it by yourself seems too difficult. 

Signs Of Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles as adults are harmless to your clothing, furniture, rugs, and carpet. But once they lay eggs and those larvae hatch, you may start to notice some problems. In fact, it might've been the damage that brought your attention to the carpet beetles in the first place. Don't feel bad, this is often the case. 

Some signs you might have carpet beetles are:

  • Damage to clothing (often mistaken for cloth consuming moth damage)
  • Worn or  bare areas of a rug or carpet
  • Live or dead adult carpet beetles (often near or on windowsills)
  • Shed larval skins (most likely to be found on the underside of carpet, rugs, and inside blankets, clothing items, or upholstered furniture)

How Do You Find Carpet Beetle Nests?

Eggs of a carpet beetle blend in with their surroundings and hatch pretty quickly (within 5-20 days), so finding their nest will be difficult. In fact, carpet beetles don't really have nests per se, they just have areas they like to live in.

So instead of looking for their nests, you should just focus on vacuuming and cleaning any area they might be in and removing any favorable conditions that might be attracting carpet beetles to your home. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Carpet Beetles?

The brown carpet beetle Attagenus smirnovi Dermestidae family a synanthropic pest which lives in human homes

Depending on the severity of your infestation and the method you choose to get rid of the beetles, the time it takes will vary. The methods above will kill carpet beetles, but if you miss a spot they are in, your problem will continue. It is important to vacuum daily until any signs of carpet beetles are gone. You can also keep glue traps near windowsills to see if any carpet beetles remain. 

How Do You Prevent Carpet Beetles?

Preventing carpet beetles is possible. Carpet beetles will prey on improperly stored animal-based (fur, wool, silk, etc) clothing, so make sure to thoroughly clean any clothing or blankets before storing them. Consider taking your items to be professionally dry cleaned for extra precaution. 

Regular Cleaning

One of the best ways to prevent carpet beetles is by cleaning on a regular basis. As carpet beetles like undisturbed areas of your home, dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming the nooks and crannies on a regular basis will help deter carpet beetles. 

Store Clothes Properly

Consider using a preventative specifically designed to ward off and kill carpet beetles or moths, such as mothballs or crystals. Make sure to follow the recommendation for the amount of preventative needed to be effective. Not using enough inside your storage container can cause it to be ineffective. 

Click here to see Enoz moth crystals on Amazon.

Watch For Bird's Nests

Bird's nests in attics or near light fixtures outside can be a hot spot for carpet beetles. Be sure to remove any bird's nests immediately after they have been abandoned by the birds.

Clean Up Pet Hair

Stay on top of vacuuming, especially if you have pets. We love our furry friends, but so do carpet beetles! As mentioned above, carpet beetles can often be found in accumulated pet hair, so be sure to vacuum in corners and in any vents or ducts it might have built up in. 

Use Insecticides

Aerosol for the control of insects

Insecticides aren't just for getting rid of carpet beetles. They can also be used for preventing them. Consider spraying around the outside of your home to dissuade carpet beetles from entering. You can do this yourself or hire a professional. 

Use Boric Acid

Boric acid a chemical used in the laboratory

Sprinkling boric acid on your carpet or mixing it with water to create a spray can also help kill and prevent carpet beetles.

Click here to see boric acid on Amazon.

Should You Be Worried About Carpet Beetles?

You should be worried about carpet beetles damaging your belongings. They can wreak havoc on your clothes, furniture, rugs, and carpets. It is also understandable to worry about trying to get rid of them. They are a nuisance pest and can be difficult to remove. It is important to begin treating your home for them as soon as you notice them in order to prevent more of an infestation.

If you are worried about carpet beetles being harmful to humans or your pets, don't stress too much. Carpet beetles, though very damaging to fabrics, are not harmful to pets and are only harmful to humans if you are allergic to them. 

Are Carpet Beetles A Sign Of A Dirty House?

The black carpet beetle Attagenus unicolor Dermestidae family common home pest

Carpet beetles are a common household pest. So common that we've likely all had some in our home at some point in time. Though it is true that carpet beetles are attracted to soiled clothing or rugs, having carpet beetles is not necessarily a sign of a dirty house.

A dirty house might have a bigger problem dealing with carpet beetles, but any single condition could bring them into your home. The rest of your house could be spotless, but carpet beetles might find their way into the old wool blankets you had stored in the basement or the one rug you forgot to spot clean before rolling up. 

For tips before deep cleaning your carpet, read Should Carpet Be Stretched Before Cleaning?

Final Thoughts

Though common, carpet beetles are tiny, havoc-causing nuisance pests. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get rid of and prevent an infestation of the little terrors. Hopefully, we have given you some ideas on what causes them and how you can get rid of them! Stay on top of cleaning, remember to properly clean and store your clothes, and keep an eye out for any accumulated pet hair and you will be on your way to being free from carpet bugs in no time. 

For more reading on how to remove bugs from your home, check out our blog on How To Get Rid Of Black Worms In The Bathroom [4 Methods]