How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths Fast

Getting rid of pantry moths can be a big job, depending on the severity. These pests will overrun your food, eating through plastic bags and cardboard boxes.

A single female pantry moth can lay hundreds of eggs. So, if you’ve found a moth lurking near your food, it may be a sign there are larvae nearby. You need to work fast to eliminate these insects so the infestation doesn’t spread.

Here’s how to get rid of pantry moths, so they don’t come back.

What Kind of Food Do Pantry Moths Like?

Get Rid of Pantry Moths FastView in gallery

Knowing which food pantry moths prefer can help you hunt down affected items. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, these insects enjoy a wide range of foods, including cereal, grains, chocolate, spices, candy, pet food, beans, nuts, and flour. 


What are the Signs of Pantry Moths?

One telltale sign of a pantry moth is seeing adult moths flying through the kitchen. Here are other signs to watch for:

  • Silk webbing on ceilings, pantry walls, cans of food, jars, or food packages
  • Plastic bags or cardboard boxes with unexplainable holes
  • Worm-like larvae in food packages
  • Grain that’s clumping together or sticky

How to Get Rid of Pantry Moths: Step by Step

Since one pantry moth can lay hundreds of eggs, an infestation can spread fast. Be thorough in inspecting food and cleaning up your pantry or cupboards.

Step 1: Remove and Inspect All Food

Remove all food from your pantry or affected cabinet and inspect each item. 

Throw away the following:

  • Opened food that’s not in a glass or plastic airtight container
  • Any packages with small holes
  • Any package with a web or larvae on it

Since the larvae of pantry moths can chew through plastic bags and cardboard boxes, you need to look for holes in unopened packages.

Step 2: Store “Keep” Items in a Plastic Tote

Because it can be hard to find every egg sac or larva, you need to keep possibly affected food contained. Put your “keep” food in a plastic bin and monitor for signs of pantry moths.

You can place items like grains or cereal in the freezer for a week to kill eggs.

Step 3: Clean the Affected Area

Use a vacuum attachment and clean the pantry or cabinet—vacuum shelves, the wall, ceiling, floor, baseboards, and pantry doors. 

Mix a solution of half-white distilled vinegar and half water to wipe down every inch of the space. If you’re working in the pantry, mop the floor as well.

Step 4: Monitor the Area

Don’t put your food back after cleaning. Instead, hang a yellow sticky trap in the affected area and keep it clear. If there are no signs of pantry moths after a couple of weeks, you can use your cabinet or pantry as usual.

If the pantry moths return, repeat these steps and clean the surrounding cabinets.


How to Prevent Pantry Moths from Returning

The best way to prevent a pantry moth infestation is to store grains and cereal in hard plastic or glass airtight containers. 

Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Clean up food spills. Larvae can survive off a tiny bit of food, so never leave sugar, flour, or cereal spills on the counter.
  • Repel moths with peppermint. A pouch of peppermint leaves or a cotton ball soaked in peppermint essential oil will help keep pantry moths at bay.
  • Don’t open doors and windows that don’t have a screen. If pantry moths can’t get into your home, they won’t be able to destroy your food. 

Do You Need an Exterminator for Pantry Moths?

If you’ve tried eliminating pantry moths only to find larvae or silk webs again and again, it’s time to call an exterminator. An experienced exterminator can eliminate the moths with pesticides if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Can I use a mothball to get rid of pantry moths?

Never use a mothball near food. Mothballs emit toxic fumes and are only legal if used in airtight containers. 

How to get rid of pantry moth larvae on ceilings?

If you notice silk webbing or larvae on your ceiling, vacuum it. Then, empty the vacuum canister outside, so eggs or larvae don’t reenter the house. Pay special attention to corners and light fixtures, vacuuming every square inch of the ceiling. Then wipe down the ceiling with a mixture of half white distilled vinegar and half water.

How to get rid of pantry moths in the bedroom?

To get rid of pantry moths in the bedroom, discard any food. Promptly wash food containers with hot soapy water. Vacuum the entire room from ceiling to floor. Wipe down walls, ceilings, tables, and dressers with vinegar and water. Launder all sheets, blankets, and other linens.

Final Thoughts

Pantry moth infestations spread fast. If you see a moth, silk webs, or larvae near your food, take quick action to clean the area. If the infestation is small, you can stop it by throwing out affected food and vacuuming larvae and eggs.

Large pantry moth infestations can take up to six months to eliminate if not all eggs or larvae are removed during the first cleaning.