Does Steam Cleaning Kill Carpet Beetles?

does steam cleaning kill carpet beetles

Carpet beetles are bugs that feed upon the soft home furnishings in your homes, such as carpets, curtains, furnishings, linens, and clothes. They’re annoying pests because they eat and reproduce rapidly. Before long, they’ve spread throughout your home. 

Many people wonder, does steam cleaning kill carpet beetles? The answer is yes. In this guide, I will show you how to eliminate carpet beetles and their larvae using your steam cleaner.

Steam eliminates carpet beetles and larvae on contact. Carpet beetles can eat soft furnishings, fabrics, and clothing. You should thoroughly clean your entire home (not just the carpets) with steam to remove any infestations and stop the breeding cycle.

How To Find Carpet Beetles Living in Your Home

does steam kill carpet beetles
An adult carpet beetle

Adult carpet beetles are between 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch in size. A fully grown carpet beetle feeds on pollen from flowers and not your carpets, furnishings, or clothing. 

Despite this, it is essential to eradicate the adults and the larvae. A female carpet beetle can lay between 50 to 100 eggs. The growing larvae will feed on vulnerable materials in your home. 

Springtime is the best time to find adult carpet beetles. You will usually see them on the windowsill. This is suggestive of a carpet beetle infestation. Carpet beetle larvae can cause damage, so keep an eye out for signs of:

  • Adult beetles – about a pin size, brown, and oval-shaped.
  • Larvae are between 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and have tiny bristles or hairs on their striped-looking body. 
  • Brown, bristly, and shell-shaped skin shed off growing carpet beetle larvae.
  • Waste pellets from the carpet beetles are brown and about grains of sand in size.

If you think you’ve seen carpet beetles in your house or car, it’s time to look more closely at what’s going on. Carpet beetles like to live in dark places, such as closets, below furnishings, and beneath rugs, practically anywhere that’s tough to reach with your vacuum.

does steam kill carpet beetle larvae
Carpet Beetle Larvae (magnified)

You will most likely find them in dark areas far from the sun or direct light, so if you presume a problem, this is where to examine. Thoroughly look at corners, closets, behind the bed headboard, basements, attics, and anywhere you store unused items. 

Unlike bed bugs, carpet beetles don’t live in your mattress. They also seldom infest regularly used items or items that are routinely vacuumed.

You are not likely to see the carpet beetles unless you have a magnifying glass. The simplest way is to look for spots on your carpet or upholstery. You may also observe droppings that are brown to black. The possible cause is the beetle. When you identify this, and you need to act quickly.

The only method to get rid of this pest is to do a complete clean of your whole house. They spread pretty quickly, and given that they are so tiny, you can not be sure where they are hiding, so you need to examine everything. 

You may notice bare spots forming in carpets or small holes in clothes or furniture materials. With carpet, proof can look like a much shorter nap or irregular spaces in the weave. Look around the edges of rugs and carpets and on the underside, rather than out in open spaces. 

If you think you have carpet beetles, the good news is you don’t need an exterminator straight away. Your vacuum can effectively remove larvae and a steam cleaner or clothing steamer produces steam hot enough to kill carpet beetles and their larvae on contact. 

What Carpet Beetles Eat

According to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, carpet beetles like to eat anything containing keratin. Keratin is a fibrous animal protein easily digested by carpet beetles. 

Any clothing, carpets, or soft furnishings made of wool, silk, animal skins, leather, fur, natural felt, and leather are a smorgasbord for carpet beetles. If you have taxidermy items in your home, they could be attracted to these.

Regrettably, the household kitchen may also serve these pests, as some species of carpet beetles feed upon pasta, flour, cornmeal, and dry pet food. 

Some species of carpet beetles consume dried flowers, potpourri, and animal hides. You may even find them in your light fixtures eating dead bugs, flies, or in your basement or attic. Dark, undisturbed places are where they like to live.

How Do You Get Carpet Beetles in the First Place?

As they are relatively small, carpet beetles do not experience much difficulty discovering a way into your house. The standard techniques used by these six-legged invaders are to hitch a ride on any plants or flowers you bring into your home, through air vents, and fly through cracks and crevices or open windows.

Some innovative members of the species may also cling to pet hair or clothing, coming inside undiscovered. It’s likewise possible that the little mischiefs use chimneys, plumbing openings, electrical conduits, and vents as a door to your home.

How to Eliminate Carpet Beetles Using Steam

  1. Find the source. Find where the beetles are most active and where they live. Carpet beetles are not adventurous, so they tend to reside in dark locations close to their picked food source. Look beneath or inside furnishings, in cabinets that store dry food, and at the edge of carpets. Search for damaged locations, and you will likely find the carpet beetles nearby.
  2. Vacuum the location thoroughly, and follow this by vacuuming the rest of your home. Next, vacuum every part of your upholstered furnishings (couches, armchairs, and so on). Ensure you use the proper accessories to clean in the hard-to-reach locations. 
  3. Steam clean the area thoroughly. The heat from the steam is hot enough to kill carpet beetles and their larvae on contact. If you think they may be inside your soft furnishings, steam as thoroughly and as long as the fabric will allow without causing damage. 
  4. After your carpet and soft furnishings have dried, vacuum again to remove any remaining debris from the dead beetles. On hard surfaces, wipe away with a clean cloth. 

If you think you have carpet beetles in your clothing, linen, cushion covers, curtains, or blankets, wash these items in hot water if the fabric allows. Dry in the clothes dryer (check the recommended washing instructions first).

The heat from the hot water and clothes dryer will kill the carpet beetles and larvae. Finally, you can use a steam iron or clothing steamer to remove wrinkles from clothing, blankets, or linen before storing them away again. 

Ensure you check the cupboards where you have had these stored and give this a thorough steam cleaning as well. Be careful using steam on any porous materials or surfaces that steam may damage (such as unsealed timber and water-based paint).

Carpet beetles and their larvae cannot withstand heat greater than 120°F. The majority of steam cleaners that you can easily buy nowadays can produce steam whose temperature can vary anywhere from 200°F to 300°F.

Get crafty and use your clothing steamer, handheld steam cleaner or steam canister cleaner to kill carpet beetles on contact. If you have a steam mop with a carpet tool, this will work for flat surfaces, but you might need a handheld steamer to get into cracks and crevices and for above floor cleaning.

Natural Pest Control Options to Use with Steam Cleaning

Colton’s Naturals Peppermint Oil Pest Spray

Peppermint oil effectively kills carpet beetles. A natural pest control spray that uses 100% peppermint oil will assist you in handling this insect issue. A good choice is Colton’s Naturals Peppermint Oil Pest Spray.

Natural Armor Pest Control Spray

This natural bug control spray uses peppermint and geranium oils to kill insects like carpet beetles. It is safe to use on furniture and carpets. It also is available in a large container with an easy-apply sprayer to help you reach difficult areas and cover more ground.

You can utilize this pest control spray both inside and out to help reduce adult carpet beetles outside while likewise removing larvae and adult carpet beetles from inside your home. This spray also manages ticks, bed bugs, dust mites, roaches, spiders, and more.

Eco Defense Home Pest Spray

This natural insect spray is naturally degradable and safe for the environment, family pets, and people. It does not stain and is safe to use on fabrics and furnishings, making it perfect for pests like carpet beetles and their damaging larvae.

You can spray this product into crevices and cracks too for area treatment or utilize it as a preventative to keep pests from going back to your house. It works against carpet beetles, roaches, spiders, ants, fleas, silverfish, and many other insects.

Home Remedies to Combine with Steam Cleaning to Keep Carpet Beetles Gone for Good

Here are some suggested home remedies for eliminating carpet beetles and their larvae:

Essential Oils

Many essential oils can act as carpet beetle insecticide. Some clinically shown reliable ones include clove, cedarwood, peppermint, lavender, neem, and cinnamon essential oils.

Peppermint oil and clove oil are the most popular oils used to manage carpet beetles. They don’t just repel these bugs but can kill them on contact. You can make a carpet beetle spray by mixing ten drops of the oil of your option into a spray bottle with one cup of warm water.

Spray this mixture anywhere you have seen indications of carpet beetles or carpet beetle larvae. As we mentioned above, you can spray it straight on the beetles to kill them on contact, assuming you can see them.

You can also use cedar oil on affected surface areas to help you eliminate carpet beetles by causing osmotic dehydration and suffocating adult beetles. It also has fatal impacts on larvae and eggs. 

You can apply cedar oil straight to the infested carpets, rug, clothing, and furnishings. You can also mix the cedar oil with water and create a spray for a more straightforward application. 

Important: Do not add any essential oils to your steam cleaner or clothing steamer. 

Neem oil is also known to penetrate the bodies of carpet beetles and destabilize their hormone system. This causes the carpet beetles to cease feeding, mating, and laying eggs. Once the mating cycle stops, the carpet beetles are extinct in your home.

Other Essential Oils to Kill and Repel Carpet Beetles:

  • Cedarwood oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Citronella oil
  • Lemon Eucalyptus oil
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Citrus Oil

Please be careful spraying oils on carpet and furnishings. Some fabrics are prone to staining. Check an inconspicuous area first. 

Other DIY Pest Control Options for Carpet Beetles

Here are some other suggestions to keep carpet beetles under control with common items found around the home, or that are inexpensive to buy.

White Vinegar

Vinegar’s level of acidity can eliminate larvae carpet beetles on contact. It can likewise damage carpet beetle eggs before they hatch and introduce a brand-new batch of larvae carpet beetles into your house.

Vinegar is a natural repellent for other pests trying to find a fast meal in your house. You can include plain vinegar and water mix in most steam cleaners – check your manufacturer guidelines for your specific cleaner first. 

Moth Balls

You can place mothballs around entry and exit points to help deter carpet beetles from entering. You can likewise use mothballs in closets or storage areas where you are storing linens and clothes.

Mothballs might also assist in keeping other insects out of your home, like bats, rodents, spiders, roaches, and ants. These types of products work best when placed inside plastic storage containers where the scent is concentrated.

Vacuum Daily

Thoroughly vacuuming your home every day will help keep a carpet beetle invasion under control. 

Vacuuming will help draw carpet beetles and the eggs out of concealing places. It likewise helps get rid of lint, food bits, loose human hair, pet shedding, and dead insects that those bothersome insects eat.

Please make sure you empty the vacuum into a garbage bag, seal it tightly and place it into an outside trash can. Don’t forget to vacuum dark locations like closets, under lounges, pantry cupboard corners, etc.

I recommend using a vacuum with a HEPA filter so tiny particles do not re-enter the air in your home.

Declutter Your Pantry 

Remove infested food. Get rid of all food that reveals signs of beetle activity or which you presume are beetle targets. Store any open food in sealed containers.

Launder Your Clothing

Female carpet beetles typically lay eggs on clothing. Try to keep your laundry pile to a minimum rather than letting it build up. The carpet beetles will love the dark, cool pile of dirty laundry and may munch away on your clothing.

Does Carpet Cleaning Get Rid of Carpet Beetles?

Absolutely. Carpet steam cleaning is the best way to eradicate carpet beetles and larvae. Keep in mind, however, despite being named carpet beetles, these little critters don’t only live in carpets. 

You will need to do a thorough inspection and cleaning of your entire home. Carpet cleaning will assist you in removing carpet beetle larvae triggering damage in your house. 

Can You Buy Carpet Beetle Traps?

Pheromone or hormonal agent traps are other options for control of carpet beetles. They work by drawing the beetle with a pheromone and trapping them with sticky glue.

If placed around entry points and in restricted locations where you’ve seen the beetles hanging around, they work best. Inspect the traps every couple of days.

How to Avoid Carpet Beetle Reinfestations

Here are my recommendations for keeping carpet beetles out of your home:

  • Clean regularly. Keeping your house tidy and free of lint, hair, and dust to eliminate possible food sources.
  • Store dry food in air-tight containers.
  • Store pet food in air-tight containers too. 
  • Protect clothing with plastic covers, or use cedar in your closets. Carpet beetles cannot eat through plastic, and cedar is a natural repellent. 
  • Open closet doors regularly and let in the sunlight. This discourages them from nesting in light places, as they prefer dark spaces. 
  • Regularly get rid of bird and animals nests from around your house. Carpet beetles are amongst the many bugs which call bird and animal nests home. Eliminating nests from in and around your property will help keep you secured from potential beetle intrusions as well as mites and ticks.
  • Use insect screens on windows.
  • Inspect plants and freshly cut flowers before bringing them into your home. Some carpet beetles are found on plants.

When To Call A Professional Exterminator

A problem of carpet beetles and carpet beetle larvae in your house may suggest a more serious concern. We recommend calling a regional pest control company you trust if you can’t appear to eradicate the problem on your own.

Carpet beetles are not usually a threat to pets or people. They can cause damage to your belongings in large numbers. It is best to attempt and control them as quickly as possible.

Most bug control experts charge between $100 and $300 depending upon your region and the severity of your infestation.


There are many natural home remedies for carpet beetles. You should have good results if you want to DIY pest control using steam to eliminate carpet beetles. 

Washing infested items in hot water for a minimum of 30 minutes works, as well. Anything that you can wash in hot water will save you time. 

Steam is gentle enough to use on delicate fabrics such as silk and wool. When using steam on carpets, always check the manufacturer guidelines for cleaning. If unsure, contact a carpet cleaning service for help.


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