Identify the source of the infestation. Both adult carpet beetles and their larvae can enter a home, with the latter causing the most damage as they eat organic materials such as wool, leather, and silk. To determine where to focus your cleaning efforts, look for the source of the infestation, which is the place with the highest number of bugs and signs of maximum damage. Check dark, secluded areas: basements, areas under carpets and doormats. Note the following signs:
- Brown and rough larval shells resembling shells.
- Brown fecal balls the size of grains of salt.
- Adult beetles are slightly larger than a pinhead – they are oval in shape and can be a variety of colors. The beetles can fly and usually live outdoors, although they lay their eggs indoors in dark, secluded corners.
- Larvae are slightly longer than adult beetles and are often covered with tufts of hairs, although some varieties may be shiny and smooth. Larvae can be brown, red, white, or striped.
Vacuum the house to get rid of larvae and bugs. Vacuuming your carpets thoroughly is the best and fastest way to get rid of carpet beetles and their larvae. Although it is advisable to pay special attention to the source of the infestation and the most affected areas, you should vacuum the entire house to be sure to remove all the bugs. Afterwards, immediately throw away the bag of dust you collected.
Continue vacuuming the floor and carpets at least once a day for a week. For serious infestations, you can vacuum several times a day for the first few days.
Vacuum all upholstered furniture and fabric-covered areas if they cannot be put in the washing machine.
Check the labels on carpets to see how they can be cleaned, and rent a steam cleaner if necessary.
Steam clean the carpets or seek professional cleaning. Once the infestation is gone, continue to vacuum and clean your carpets regularly using a crevice nozzle, keeping an eye out for dusty areas that you usually don’t get to very often.
Throw away infested fabrics and clothing. If the bugs have severely damaged any items or fabrics, throw them in the trash outside. If you leave such items in the house, you will have a harder time getting rid of the infestation.
Throw away badly damaged fabric even if you don’t find carpet bugs and their larvae on it.
Wash all clothing and other fabric items, even if they don’t appear to be infested with bugs. Put all clothes, towels, blankets, sheets, and other cloth items in the washing machine and wash them at high temperature with detergent. Carpet bugs, their larvae and eggs are very tenacious, and hot water with laundry detergent is the best way to kill them.
Dry-clean any items of clothing that cannot be washed.
Spray insecticide on areas that cannot be washed, cleaned, or laundered. Look for an insecticide that says it kills carpet bugs. Apply the insecticide to fabrics that cannot be cleaned any other way, and follow the directions for use. Do not spray the insecticide all over the house – it should only be applied to individual areas.
Apply the insecticide only to areas where lint and dust collect, such as under and around the edges of rugs and mats, near the walls of closets and shelving units where fabric items are stored, and into cracks and crevices. Do not spray insecticide on clothing or bedding.
Remember to wear gloves and protective clothing when spraying the insecticide. Do not stay where you have already sprayed the insecticide. Wash your hands after applying it.
Sprinkle boric acid on hard-to-reach areas. If you have difficulty reaching any infested areas, such as the attic or cracks in the walls, sprinkle boric acid evenly over them. You can also make a boric acid spray: Dilute one tablespoon (4 g) of boric acid in two cups (480 ml) of hot water. Stir the water until the acid dissolves, then pour it into a plastic spray gun and spray the hard-to-reach cracks.
Boric acid has a bleaching effect, so do not apply it to dark materials.
For persistent infestations, use sticky hormone traps. In serious infestations, place sticky traps around the house to attract and catch the bugs and avoid further problems. Place traps around areas through which insects can enter the house (windows, doors, and crevices) and where bugs are especially abundant.
Choose hormone or pheromone-based traps that are appropriate for your species of carpet beetles. You can also use hormone-free sticky bug traps, especially to catch those insects that fly in through windows.
Check the traps once or twice a week.
Traps can be purchased at a garden supply store or ordered online.
Locate and eliminate possible sources and nests outside the home. To prevent dermestid bugs from returning, check for holes in mosquito nets and doors, and try not to leave them open. Inspect the area around the house and get rid of old cobwebs and nests of birds, rodents, and bees that the bugs may be hiding in.
You should also check for signs of carpet beetles or their larvae on the flowers and plants you bring into the house. If you find them, remove the plants from the house.
In the case of a particularly persistent or recurring infestation, you can spray insecticide around the lower exterior of the house and near windows and doors. Be aware, however, that the insecticide can affect other, non-harmful insects as well, so use it only as a last resort.
Clean areas that are prone to infestation frequently. Try to vacuum carpets and wash clothes more often, at least every two weeks or so, which is the best way to prevent carpet beetle infestations. Also, remove spills and dirt immediately, as food and sweat residue can attract carpet beetles.
Make sure there is as little hair, lint and pet hair as possible, as these all serve as food for carpet beetles.
Put unused clothing and other fabric items in tightly sealed plastic containers. Store out-of-season clothing and other fabric items you don’t use in sealed plastic bags or containers. At least once a year, ventilate them in the sun, clean them, and check for carpet bugs.
For extra protection, put insecticide-soaked rubber strips in your clothes. You can also use moth balls, shavings, or powder.
If you find carpet bugs, wash or dry-clean clothing and other fabric items before putting them back in storage.
Choose synthetic materials instead of organic ones. This way you reduce the risk of infestation, because carpet beetles only feed on organic materials. This is especially true for carpets, doormats, and upholstered furniture.
Carpets and doormats are often made from synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester, polymer fiber and olefin.
In furniture making, synthetic materials such as acrylic, acetate, nylon, and polyester are often used.
Don’t worry too much if you find individual carpet beetles in the house – it’s not uncommon for them to fly in and quickly leave the house. Special measures are only necessary if you find larvae.
If you cannot get rid of carpet beetles yourself, use the services of professionals. Professionals use more potent products that will help clean carpets and fabrics completely.
Carpet bugs can also get into the felt and hammers in the piano, which can negatively affect the sound of the instrument. If this happens, contact a piano tuning and repair specialist.