After days of fighting moths in my pantry, I have a few tips to share on getting rid of them and keeping them away

Do you have ever have those weeks that you’re all ready and set to tackle—to get er done, if you will? You have a plan of attack, enough sleep and energy to execute the attack—basically, you’re rearing to go. Then something happens to change all of that. It could be a cold, a flat tire, or say, a pantry full of moths. The later was my nemesis ruining all plans to a good productive start to this week. Ugh.

how to get rid of moths

Late Sunday evening, I discovered a fluttering pair of moths in a brand new sealed bag of rice. Totally freaked, I began checking out a few other pantry items and found more of their friends. Then looked up and saw a moth party on the pantry ceiling. The pantry was emptied, moth-y foods discarded, other foods repackaged in zip top bags, jars and cans wiped down, pantry shelving taken apart, vacuumed, wiped down and reassembled. Monday was a total bust. There was no clear surface to be found in the kitchen and the floor was filling up with trash bags.

There’s always a silver lining though, isn’t there? Mine: 1) A super duper clean pantry, and 2) an education on moths and moth deterrents. Oh yes, the pantry was a nightmare. Not only was I able to rid it of moths, but also years of an accumulation of past date items that had been pushed to the back of the pantry never to see the light of day until Moth-nado, The Curse of the Moths, Mothocalypse, Night of the Living Moths …

I’m nothing if not dramatic.

Anyway … so we now have a neat and tidy pantry, and as I said a new education on moth deterrents. I spent time in between all of the wiping and vacuuming to read up on some home remedies for keeping away those pesky winged things, other than mothballs and cedar. Who likes mothballs anyway? Especially in a pantry where your food will no doubt end up smelling like mothballs? Ick. Fresh cut cedar is a good option, so as soon as it cools off, I’ve asked Randy to find a cedar tree to cut slices from to use in our closets as well. But for now, since I was desperate and wanted to be able to use something right away before restocking the pantry, I’m trying a few homemade deterrents as well as one I whipped up on the fly. No pun intended. Just to cover all the bases, I also plan on picking up some moth traps to add to the deterrents to cover any pantry items in the future that may introduce new moth eggs. I know. Ick. But my hope is that we can keep them away instead of trying to trap them.

Here, let me share with you what we’ve done so far.

To begin with, if you already have moths in your pantry there are a few things you need to do before using any type of moth trap or deterrent.

If moths are present in the pantry:

  • Empty pantry. Totally.
  • Throw away any food that you see moths or larvae in, or any that you are the least bit suspicious of being infested.
  • Vacuum every inch of the pantry, including all crevices. I even had to remove shelves in order to get between cracks where eggs and larvae were. It is tedious but necessary. Make sure to empty out the vacuum once all vacuuming is finished.
  • Wipe down every surface in the pantry with vinegar, or hot soapy water, and let dry.
  • Check all cans and jars for moth webbing and wipe them down with vinegar before returning to pantry.
  • If any other plastic or glass containers are being used in the pantry they will need to be wiped down as well, or emptied and cleaned with hot soapy water.
  • Consider removing any boxed foods or paper products that look safe to the naked eye from their boxes and storing them in zip topped bags until you’re sure there are no more moths.

Homemade Moth Deterrent Ideas:

  • Herb Sachets: After some quick googling I learned that strong smelling herbs, like lavender, rosemary, and mint are helpful to keep moths away. There are even companies selling sachets filled with herbs. We have our own supply of herbs right in our backyard, so for a quick solution we made our own. Randy picked a few handfuls of mint, lavender, and rosemary, then using coffee filters and rubber bands made little herb bunches to spread around the pantry.
  • Homemade Herb Spray: In the same vein of using herbs, I boiled some water then added lavender, lemongrass, along with a few lemon slices. I let the concoction simmer and steep for a while. Once cooled, the liquid was strained and added to a spray bottle. I lightly sprayed all the corners and along the back of the pantry with it before restocking the pantry.
  • Chewing gum: Yep. I read somewhere that strong mint smelling gum helps deter moths too. I happened to have some in the drawer and scattered several pieces (sugar free) around the pantry.

(Please note, these are homemade deterrent ideas. Not moth killers or traps.)

how to get rid of moths naturally

We’re trying these three deterrents for now. We may also pick up some moth traps to use in conjunction with the deterrents because I’m a total freak after Invasion of the Moths over here. Of course, diligence is and essential key too controlling any pests. I’m not a professional exterminator, but I can’t imagine that any deterrent or trap will completely work if the pantry is a complete mess, and if new moth infested pantry items are introduced. So I will be staying on top of keeping it clean and tidy and paying attention to what I purchase a little more closely. Lesson learned.

I’ll try to remember to report back in a few months to let you know how it’s going. We’re hoping for the end of Mothville.

I found a great article for more in-depth information and details about moth control over at GetRidofThings.

In the meantime, if you have any ideas on controlling moths, I’d love to hear about them too. Do share!