How To Get Rid of and Prevent Pantry Moths

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How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths

Three Methods:

Pantry moths are also known as Indian Meal Moths, and discovering an infestation in your home isn't fun. Fortunately, there are simple ways to rid pantry moths from your home and dry foods. Throwing away infested foods, cleaning the pantry out thoroughly, and taking measures to prevent further reinfestation will all keep your home free of this annoying pest.

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To get rid of pantry moths, start by taking everything out of your pantry and throwing away any food that contains eggs, larvae, or adult moths. Then, vacuum out your pantry using a hose attachment. When you're done vacuuming, scrub the inside of your pantry with soap and hot water. You should also scrub any plastic containers that were inside the pantry. Once everything is clean, dry off your pantry with a dish towel and refill it.To learn some homemade, organic treatments for pantry moths, like white vinegar, keep reading!


Cleaning Your Pantry Thoroughly

  1. Remove everything from the pantry.In order to clean the pantry thoroughly, it needs to be completely empty. Only getting rid of infested food won’t be enough to exterminate these pests.
    • This includes all opened and unopened food items, crockery, and any cooking equipment that you might store in there. Anything on top of a shelf needs to be removed before you can start cleaning.
  2. Throw away infested and contaminated food.Any food that shows clear signs of contamination should be discarded. This includes food that you can see the pantry moths in, as well as any other opened dry goods. Pantry moth eggs are hard to spot within dry goods, so it’s better to discard and replace any open food.
    • If you are hesitant about throwing away food that you cannot see any adult pantry moths in, you can place the dry food in the freezer for 1 week. The cold temperatures will kill any moth eggs that you cannot detect with the naked eye. After 1 week, run all of the food through a sieve, and then you can eat it again.
    • If you see any holes in unopened food packaging that you didn’t make, it was most likely the pantry moths.
  3. Remove and clean under all shelving liners.Remove any old liners and vacuum beneath them. Replace the old shelving liners with new ones if you want.
    • If you aren't replacing the shelving liners, wipe clean the ones you currently have with a damp cloth and kitchen disinfectant.
  4. Vacuum the entire pantry.Use a vacuum cleaner with a hose and an angular nozzle attachment to clean the walls, baseboard, and corners of the pantry or cupboard. This will remove any remaining moths and cocoons.
    • Focus on areas with webbing, larvae, or adult moths, but vacuum the entire area. This includes all hardware, wire shelves, and pin holes in the cupboard.
  5. Take out any trash containing moths, eggs, and contaminated food items.The vacuum bag and any trash bags containing infested food should be immediately removed from the kitchen and taken outside. Try not to leave the trash bags or vacuum cleaner bag in your house for any longer than necessary.
  6. Scrub the pantry with soap and hot water.Use a dish towel or sponge to wash the walls, floors, doors, and shelves of the pantry or cupboard. Scrub every possible space in the pantry that you can access.
    • Make sure that you get the door hinges and door jamb, as these spots are the most common hiding places for larvae.
    • You should also scrub beneath any interior racks.
  7. Wipe down the pantry with vinegar, warm water, and peppermint oil.Combine 1 part vinegar with 1 part warm water, and add a few drops of peppermint oil. Wash the entire pantry with the solution.
    • Pantry moths hate peppermint oil, so this will work to repel them in the future.
  8. Wash any containers and jars from the pantry in hot, soapy water.If you have plastic food containers or glass jars currently in your pantry, remove the contents, and wash them in a dishwasher or use hot water and dish soap to clean them out thoroughly. Make sure that you use a scrubbing brush to get them fully clean.
    • This is an essential step if the containers were exposed directly to the pantry moths, but even if there were no pantry moths inside the container, it is still a good idea to temporarily remove the contents of the container and wash it. Doing so will also allow you to more closely examine the contents for evidence of infestation.
  9. Dry the pantry and all of the washed containers thoroughly.Before putting everything back into the pantry, dry the inside of the pantry with clean dish towels or paper towels. Make sure that there is no moisture left on any surface.
    • Make sure that you dry the walls and doors of the pantry too.

Preventing Further Infestations

  1. Place bay leaves in the corners of your pantry or cupboard.You can also tape them to the walls or the undersides of your shelves. You can also add a bay leaf directly to your container of rice, flour, or other dry food.
    • The bay leaf won’t affect the quality of the food, but if you would rather not chance it, you could tape the bay leaf to the inside of the lid and still achieve the desired effect.
    • Note that there is no definitive scientific evidence to support this practice, but there is no definitive proof to discredit it, either. It may only be a "folk remedy," but it is one that many seem to agree on.
  2. Store all new dry foods in airtight containers.Use plastic, glass, or metal containers to store freshly purchased flour, rice, and other foods. This will help to prevent reinfestation of pantry moths.
    • Storing food in airtight containers also means that if you happen to purchase any infested foods, that the pantry moths won’t spread to other foods and will be trapped in the container.
  3. Freeze new dry goods for 1 week to prevent repeat infestations.In the event that you purchase goods with moth eggs already inside, freezing the food for 1 week should effectively kill the eggs. At this stage, they will be harmless and virtually impossible to spot with the naked eye.

Inspecting Your Pantry for Signs

  1. Look for adult moths or larvae.Adult moths are generally gray with hints of either red or white coloring, and they measure roughly 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) long. Larvae are about 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) long and look like worms with 5 pairs of legs.
    • The easiest way to spot a pantry moth problem is to actually see an adult moth flying around your pantry. This usually happens at night rather than during the day.
    • If you suspect that you may have a pantry moth infestation, check all the dry food in your pantry. Moths hide out in flour, cereal, rice, and other grains most often, but you should also check pet food, dried fruit, or any other dry food products. In short, check everything.
  2. Check your pantry for cocoon webbing.Look in the corners and along the inside edges of the cupboards for clumps of stringy or grainy material. Pantry moths leave webbing almost everywhere that they crawl, and it is within the cocoon that they can lay hundreds of eggs.
    • Cocoon webbing is usually found behind where a shelf meets a wall or beneath shelf paper.
  3. Inspect your dry food packaging for holes.Small holes appearing in dry food packaging that you haven't created are an easy way to tell if your home has pantry moths. Check all boxes, bags, and plastic wrapping for signs of these pests.
    • The holes won't always appear only once the food is in your home. Food is sometimes sold already contaminated with pantry moths, so check all packaging before you purchase your groceries.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Are there human health effects to eating food that has unnoticed eggs or larvae?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    Don't worry if you have accidentally consumed any eggs or larvae. Pantry moths don't spread any diseases or parasites, but they are unpleasant to find in your food. These pests aren't a health issue, but they do cause the spoilage and wastage of food.
  • Question
    Do moth balls have any effect on pantry moths?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    Moth balls shouldn't be used around food or food storage containers. Clean out your food cupboards thoroughly instead.
  • Question
    Can I put a few naphthalene balls in the kitchen shelves to get rid of moths
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    Moth balls are toxic and shouldn't be used in areas with food. Clean your pantry out thoroughly instead.
  • Question
    When you see the moth have they all ready laid their eggs if so how many eggs per moth roughly? Will a professional clean them up faster?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    If you see a pantry moth, it's likely that there are many more moths and their eggs which you haven't spotted. Each female moth can lay up to 650 eggs in their life cycle. It should take you only around 2-3 hours to thoroughly clean out your pantry, and to discard any contaminated food. Call a professional if you continue getting pantry moth infestations.
  • Question
    By storing food in glass containers, will this eliminate the larvae?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    This won't eliminate the larvae, but it will stop the moths from spreading either to or from that container.
  • Question
    What essential oils do I use on my clothing to deter moths?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    Peppermint oil is the best to use because it will repel the pantry moths. You can also try tea tree and citronella too.
  • Question
    Will cedar wood cause the moths to go away like clothing moths?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    You can try using cedar wood, but it won't be as effective as thoroughly cleaning out your pantry and contaminated food.
  • Question
    Sprayed closet with raid killed the moths but can't get rid of the smell of raid?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    Clean out your cupboard with a warm water, vinegar, and peppermint oil solution. This should neutralise the smell.
  • Question
    Are meal moths the same as wool moths?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    Meal moths infest food, and wool moths infest clothing. They need to be dealt with differently.
  • Question
    Is it safe for birds to eat larvae or eggs?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    Pantry moths aren't harmful to birds, but it will cause the bird food to spoil and for the nutritional content to be reduced.
Unanswered Questions
  • Can I use spearmint oil instead of peppermint?
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  • Do not purchase torn or opened packages of food. Packages in this condition are more likely to contain pantry moth eggs.
  • If you get continued infestations of pantry moths, call your local exterminator for advice and treatment.

Things You'll Need

  • Garbage bags
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Dish towel, washcloth, or sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • White vinegar
  • Peppermint oil
  • Bay leaves
  • Airtight containers

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Views: 1,380,184

Claire Arenburg

Jul 7, 2019

"We got a moth infestation from using our local food bank. Like we don't have enough issues..... what did have insupply is now garbage and we can't resupply until the moths are gone. I tried using moth balls but only had to throw out more food because it reeked of poison. I'm cleaning the kitchen today and hopefully the problem will go away. This info is detailed and super helpful. Wish me luck. "
Rated this article:

Linda Sanchez

Oct 3

"It helped! We washed down all the cabinets using vinegar and used traps for the moths. "
Rated this article:

Arlene Halverson

Jun 19

"The best part of this article is it's step by step treatment plan. Pantry moths were on a suet cake packet seamfrom a local and major home supply store. It's been over a year and I'm still missing something. All of this is helpful, even the bay leaf!"

Helaine Stone

May 13

"I like knowing that natural products like bay leaves and herbs can help me to keep moths out of my clothing."

K. W.

Jun 28, 2019

"These steps are right on target. The most important point, however, is this is typically not a one-time event. Oncethis infestation is found, efforts to eradicate are already behind the curve. Meaning, ridding the setting of their tenacity to survive and reproduce, is a vigilant one that will last months. Keep this in mind - one is seeking to completely wipe out the reproductive cycle of the Pantry Moth (Plodia Interpunctella), and is just going to take time. Expect to repeat the process."

Teresa Perger

May 17, 2019

"Thank you so much for this article! Answered all my questions and taught me I was doing all the wrong things to tryto eradicate these pests! Information was clear and concise. Especially appreciate the steps and various methods to approach the problem. What a wonderful relief that there are simple, permanent solutions to the infestation!"


Jul 3, 2019

"Great info; post where we can get moth traps! Look behind cabinetry; that's where ours were breeding! They come upand out in the evening. Sprayed and powdered insecticide from the top of cabinetry down between the gap of cabinetry and wall. Have seen less, but has not killed all as yet. "

Patricia Raynor

Jun 22, 2019

"I thought these pests were weevils. Was surprised, because I always freeze flour, cornmeal, etc. before they gointo kitchen. This is an expensive, extensive, and long-lasting problem. I am now going to remove labels from canned foods or maybe just throw them away."

Evelyn Hicks

Aug 31, 2019

"The moth traps work great, however they fill completely in 2 days. No room for more, so you must replace themfrequently. I also use a flyswatter day and night! It is messy, but I can't just let it go because there's more eggs to deal with. Clean constantly!"

Wendy Carter

Jul 26, 2019

"Reaffirmed other advice I've read on pantry moth infestation. Your article was the most well written and enjoyable(if you can call reading about pesky bugs enjoyable) of the several I read on Google. And I'll vouch for the glue traps, they really work."

Anne S.

Sep 25, 2019

"Thank you! Great information. Cleaning everything out thoroughly and throwing out contaminated food is clearly themost important step, but I look forward to seeing if the vinegar and essential oils will keep the little blighters from returning."

Dina Ramirez

Jan 22, 2019

"At first seeing the moths, I wondered why I have this many moths flying around, never heard of this awful thing. Ilooked it up, cleaned threw everything away. Now, three months later, I have more, so I'm back at it. Thank you for your help. "

Allie Longstaff

Apr 18, 2019

"I'm glad to see bay leaves mentioned! You can't be too careful. Sadly, I think the infestation resulted from adamaged package I recently purchased! It contained raisins of all things! The crevices in cabinets were an overlooked point!"

Gretchen Polky

Oct 22, 2019

"The format of article, listing the process start to finish, was most helpful. Also, the information confirmed whatI already learned from other sources. I liked the inclusion of natural cleaners especially because it is the kitchen."

Libby Weichert

Apr 18, 2019

"Great article. It covers everything I've seen while researching them. I found out about these critters from birdseed. I have used these methods, a natural insect repellent of cloves, and essential oils."

Memai Monte

Oct 4, 2019

"I have no idea what happened in my pantry. Little flying insects are starting to multiply. Because of the infohere, plus the pictures, I was able to get rid of the pantry moths! Thank you!"

Shannon McClain

Sep 10, 2019

"Helpful hint...Do not use shelf paper, as the moths can lay eggs under it and you'll just have to replace the paperevery time you treat the pantry. Waste of money in the long run."

Robert Humphreys

Jun 19, 2019

"Just knowing what these devils like and what they do helps in understanding the actions to get rid of them. We havedone all the suggestions, including the bay leaves. Thank you."

Jenanah Amatullah-Muqsit

Jul 7, 2019

"This article helped very much; I have been battling this infestation all spring, and now that the weather isgetting hotter they seem to be germinating at record speed."

Anna Loubriel

Aug 6, 2019

"I have a problem with small pantry moths. I read this page on the internet and it has good and effective ways ofdealing with my moth problem. I can't wait to try it!"

Sean Marquiss

Mar 8, 2019

"I have an infestation of Pantry Moths and needed to find out how to get rid of them. This article was just what Ineeded for proper disposal of these annoying pests."

Jacquelyn Rummel

Jun 4, 2019

"This article is a great start! You can't be thorough enough and must keep traps out even if you don't see them.I've been battling them for 3 years!"

Elinor Colby

Aug 14, 2019

"The pictures were helpful. We have cleaned up infestation two times and I never want to do it again, so theprevention tips were quite helpful."

Penny Meltcher

May 4, 2019

"I found all of the information on moths very interesting! Especially the idea of spraying Windex on them! Thankyou, we have a long job ahead."

Ken Bradford

Sep 12, 2019

"The use of white vinegar and bay leaves as a means of getting rid of pantry moths was most helpful! Greatinformation all around! Thanks. "

Sybil Gld

Apr 18, 2019

"That you mentioned using hot water to clean and making sure everything was completely dry ensured that I followedthe cleaning steps."

Julia E

Jul 7, 2019

"Informing me of the webs and that these moths and eggs can be in my grains and flour or packaged foods reallyhelped."

Kathleen Johnson

Aug 9, 2019

"I should have known about vinegar, and I have a bay leaf tree. Will also double-bag the dog food. Very helpful!"

Virginia Oldham

Apr 18, 2019

"This was a learning experience.

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