What Smell To Repel Moths? (6 Scents & Preventive Tips)

what smell to repel moths

Moth infestations can be a hassle. Not only will you have to call pest control to get rid of all the moths flying around in the infested areas, but you also have to deal with two of the places moth larvae are commonly found after they’re laid there as eggs—your clothes and your pantry.

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than a cure. Instead of going through the nightmarish headache of picking at your favorite sweaters for moth larvae and digging them out of your pantry snacks, it’s best to repel moths and keep them out as much as possible.

One of the most effective ways to deter moths from looking for a place to call home in your house is by using smells that they hate against them. So, what smell to repel moths should you use to keep them out? We’ll discuss six of them today. Keep reading to find out more.

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What Is a Moth Infestation Like?

What Is a Moth Infestation Like1

There are two main types of moths in infested households—clothes moths and pantry moths.

Clothes moths feed on animal fibers, such as wool, silk, and fur. That’s because they contain keratin, a  protein that moths consider food. That’s why you’ll find them most often in your closet, making a home in your favorite sweaters and silk blouses.

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Learn more about clothes moths and what brings them to your closet in the first place by watching this quick video:

Next, there are pantry moths, which are moths that raid your pantry and infest the area. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not adult moths that eat your food when you have an infestation in the kitchen or pantry. It’s the larvae they leave behind.

Female moths commonly lay their eggs near food sources—thus the hunt for your pantry. When the eggs hatch, little worms called larvae crawl out. Larvae are responsible for chewing at plastic containers and bags to eat the food and snacks in your pantry.

6 Smells That Can Help Repel Moths

6 Smells That Can Help Repel Moths1

If you experience signs of a moth infestation—whether in your wardrobe or your pantry—make sure to call your trusted pest control service to help sort things out for you.

It may cost a pretty penny and require you to get your house treated for some time, but it’s non-negotiable for getting your home back in tip-top shape.

Treating your moth-infested home is a huge hassle. Avoiding the situation altogether by deterring moths from coming close to your home is a better plan. One of the best ways to do that is through scents that can drive them away.

Whether you’re traumatized by a severe moth infestation in the past or simply someone anxious about having moths in their home, you may be wondering what smells can repel moths.

To make it easy for you, we’ve listed six of the most effective smells to use against moths. Use any of these regularly to keep moths as far away from your closet and pantry as possible.

1. Cedar oil and cedarwood

Cedarwood has a very distinct smell thanks to the sesquiterpene hydrocarbons in it. These chemicals give this type of wood a dirty and resin-like smell, which moths hate.

If you have the budget for it, replace your current drawers and cabinets with cedarwood. Sand it down every month to maintain its fresh smell. This is a foolproof way to keep moths out if you’re diligent with the maintenance of the wood.

You can also opt to place cedarwood chips in sachets and place them around your home, specifically in your closets and pantry.

Cedar essential oil is also a terrific alternative to actual cedarwood. Simply dilute the essential oil in some water, pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and spritz your home with it every couple of days. You can also diffuse cedar oil to keep your home smelling woody and warm.

2. Lavender


Although lavender is a calming scent that lulls people to sleep, it’s something that moths don’t like because of how strong and overpowering it is. It’s an excellent repellent to use against moths while keeping your home smelling wonderful.

You can diffuse lavender oil, or dip some cotton in it and leave it in your drawers and pantry. You can also put some dried lavender flowers in sachets and distribute them around your home.

The best part is the lavender doesn’t just repel moths. It’s also terrific for keeping mosquitos, ticks, and other small insects away.

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3. Mothballs

Mothballs are amazing for repelling moths—that’s how they got their name. These balls have active ingredients like naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which release fumes with a super strong scent that deters and sometimes kills moths.

Just be careful when using mothballs. Exposure to the chemicals in these balls can cause headaches and nausea even in people because they’re so strong.

Pro tip: don’t place mothballs in plastic containers. The powerful fumes released by the mothballs can soften and melt the plastic.

4. Spices with strong aromas

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Herbs and spices with strong odors can help keep moths away as well. These include thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, clove, and more. Their odors are so intense and strong that moths will hate the area they’re in and deem it uninhabitable for them and their larvae.

The best way to use these spices is to fill up some fabric sachets with chopped-up pieces of these dried herbs. It’s better to use all of them in one sachet rather than one type of spice per pouch.

Leave the sachets in your closets and pantry to keep the area smelling fresh. Remember to replace them every month after the smell fades. You can also simply leave whole dried leaves of these herbs in your closet.

5. Peppermint

The minty, refreshing scent of peppermint may be lovely to people, but it’s a natural repellent for moths and other insects because of how strong it is.

Experiment with peppermint oil to see the best way to use it to keep moths away from your home. Diffuse it now and then to make your entire house smell fresh and cool, or perhaps spray a diluted version of it into your closets and pantry every couple of weeks.

6. White vinegar

It’s not ideal to regularly spray your clothes and kitchen with vinegar—that just leaves it with a sour stench. However, white vinegar is excellent for the times you find one or two moths in your closet.

Spraying moths with vinegar can kill them almost instantly. It’s more of an emergency solution for when you spot a moth or two in your home than a repellent you should regularly use to keep them out.

Cleanliness is Key for Moth Infestation Prevention

Cleanliness is Key for Moth Infestation Prevention1

Of course, you can’t just rely on the smells we listed above to keep moths out of your home. If you diffuse peppermint oil every day in your home but keep your closet and pantry untidy, you could still find moths and larvae there one day.

The key to keeping moths out of your home forever is by keeping it clean. One thing you should always do is vacuum your carpets to get rid of the keratin there (the protein can be found in human hair and pet fur).

In the pantry, make sure your food and snacks are organized and won’t be discoverable And of course, practice proper storage in your closet and pantry. Only use airtight containers to store food, not flimsy plastic bags that moth larvae can just munch on and eat through.

Properly storing your clothes in your closet will also help with moth prevention. Here are some of our top tips for keeping your wardrobe clean and tidy so that moths won’t find it attractive:

  • Brush wool and fur clothing when you come home after wearing it outside. This helps get rid of any eggs that might have latched onto your clothes.
  • Make sure your clothes are completely dry before you fold and store them in the closet. Moths are attracted to humid, bad-smelling areas, and putting clothes away while they’re damp can result in that.
  • Keep special pieces like coats and jackets made of animal fibers in garment bags when you don’t expect to use them any time soon.

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Get even more tips on how to keep moths away from your wardrobe by watching this informational clip:


Using scents as moth deterrents is an excellent way to protect your home—especially your clothes and food in the pantry—from being infested with these pesky insects. Natural scents like cedar, lavender, rosemary, and more will be your best friends in fending off these pests.

On top of these scents, you should also keep your home as clean as possible to prevent moths from infesting it. Always ensure your clothes are clean and dry before putting them in your closet. And keep your pantry and kitchen organized so as not to attract moths.

Hopefully, the smells above can help you repel moths so that you never have to face a severe moth infestation. Having those scents available in your home may be an extra step, but it’s so worth it if it means you won’t have issues with stubborn moths. Good luck keeping them out!

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