How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles in Your Carpeting, Closets, and Upholstery

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated August 11, 2022
Father and daughter playing while lying on floor at home
Photo: Cavan Images / Cavan / Cavan Images

Don't sweep your carpet beetle problem under the, well, carpet

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When you find mysterious bald patches in your carpeting and huge holes in your favorite wool sweater, those are signs of a carpet beetle infestation. Identifying and learning how to get rid of carpet beetles is crucial—and time is of the essence. These tiny beetles make a meal out of various fibers around your home, leaving you to foot the repair or replacement bill. 

While it might be too late to save your sweater, you can still avoid further damage with the right plan of attack. Here’s what you need to know about how to get rid of carpet beetles and how to keep them from returning.

What Are Carpet Beetles and Why Are They in My Home?

Carpet beetles are small yet destructive pests. Adult carpet beetles are typically less than ¼ inch long, oval-shaped, and mottled with colors ranging from yellow to orange-brown, dark brown, and black. Carpet beetle larvae are small and hairy, causing the most damage due to their ravenous appetites.

Despite their name, carpet beetles go after more than carpeting. These ruinous pests also eat rugs, wool, fur, linens, and furniture, among other fibrous materials. They can sneak into your home through infested items or fly in through open windows, torn screens, and gaps around doors. Since they’re particularly attracted to light, you might see them flying around outdoor lights or crawling on brightly-lit windows. 

What Are the Main Signs of Carpet Beetles?

Identifying carpet beetles is your first step toward treating them. This step can be tricky, as these insects typically resemble bed bugs due to their dark, ovular shape and tendency to hang out in clothing, sheets, and mattresses. 

Carpet beetle eggs are minuscule, so the easiest way to pinpoint a carpet beetle problem is by looking for the key signs of carpet beetle damage:

  • Bald spots on carpeting

  • Large holes in fabrics and furniture upholstery

  • Shed skins in rugs, carpeting, and other infested materials.

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

Person cleaning carpet with vacuum cleaner
Photo: Andrey Popov / Adobe Stock

If you’re dealing with carpet beetles, the good news is that many DIY treatment methods are effective against them. Try one of these tactics to remove carpet beetles from your home.

Carpet Beetle Traps  

Carpet beetle traps are sticky traps that contain a pheromone to attract the beetle. These traps can capture some of the insects and monitor against future infestations. However, they’re not recommended as the sole means of treatment, so it’s best to use these alongside other methods for getting rid of carpet beetles.

Boric Acid

Boric acid is a mild insecticide that is deadly for carpet beetles. Sprinkle a light, even coating on the carpeting or infested material, wait three hours, then vacuum it up. Keep children and pets away from the treated areas in the meantime.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural insecticide that will kill carpet beetles and the larvae that crawl on it. Be sure to use the food-grade variety, which is generally safe around children and pets unless ingested in large quantities.

Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning infested items will kill off eggs, larvae, and insects. Or, if the clothing can safely withstand it, a regular wash and dryer cycle should do the trick.

Sunning Fabrics

The National Pesticide Information Center recommends sunning fabrics that may contain carpet beetle larvae. Since the larvae prefer dark places to hide, the bright sunlight should cause them to relocate to a more subtle and secluded spot. Leave infested items or fabrics in direct sunlight for a few hours to scare away carpet beetles, and then wash or dry clean them.

Chemical Insecticides

Chemical insecticides containing bifenthrin, deltamethrin, or cyfluthrin are potent carpet beetle killers. However, these types of insecticides are dangerous to use around children and pets, so proceed with caution and consider trying a milder method first. Be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure the chemicals won’t stain the carpeting or material. 

Preventing Future Carpet Beetle Infestations

If you’re wondering how to prevent future carpet beetles—and keep bugs out of your house—the most important thing is to seal off potential entry points. Grab some caulk or expanding foam sealant to close any gaps, cracks, or crevices around your home’s perimeter, paying special attention to the areas near vents and utility lines.

Along with that step, here are some tips to prevent carpet beetles from returning:

  • Spray affected areas with vinegar.

  • Vacuum carpets at least once a week.

  • Steam carpeting at least twice a year.

  • Store wools, furs, and other natural fibers in insect-proof bags or containers.

  • Clean seasonal clothing before putting it into storage.

  • Wash secondhand clothing immediately.

  • Perform a monthly check for signs of damage on stored items.

  • Put majorly infested materials in sealed bags and throw them away in outdoor trash cans.

  • Use sticky carpet beetle traps to control and monitor carpet beetle activity. 

DIY Carpet Beetle Removal vs. Hire a Pro

While a lot of DIY methods can stave off carpet beetles, you might need a professional to help remove a serious infestation. A local pest control company will have the tools and know-how to quickly eradicate carpet beetles before they can cause any further destruction. The average pest control service costs $200 to $600, depending on the type of infestation and its severity.

FAQs

Check out these answers to common carpet beetle removal questions.

How long does it take to get rid of carpet beetles?

With the right treatment, you should be able to eradicate a carpet beetle infestation within three weeks or less. If you’re still spotting signs of the insects afterward, call a professional exterminator to help get rid of them for good.

What do carpet beetle bites look like?

Carpet beetles don’t bite humans, so you won’t see any injuries from the pests. However, they may trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, which can look like welts or a rash.

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