a man looking for pests on carpet

Can Steam Cleaning Kill Carpet Beetles? [No More Beetle Mania!]

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Have you spotted one of those pinhead-sized black beetles moving over your carpet? If there is one, chances are there will be others too.

Bad news: you have a carpet beetle infestation and need to take immediate action.

So, can steam cleaning kill carpet beetles?

Yes, it can. Washing the infested carpet in steam with temperatures over 120°F for more than 30 minutes will get rid of them. That makes the high temperature of steam effective for killing the beetles and their eggs too.

Want to see how it works right now?

Keep reading…

Related Post: Does Steam Cleaning Kill Dust Mites?

What Causes Carpet Beetles in the First Place?

carpet beetle closeup

These oval-shaped beetles are usually black but can also have yellow or brown patterns on their body. Adult carpet beetles are harmless and will not damage your carpet. They usually feed on flower pollen.

But boy do they multiply!

Every female can lay around 50 to 100 eggs on materials like wool, silk, leather, felt, and other natural fibers. And the eggs hatch to produce the larvae which are the main culprits.


Well, the natural fabrics contain keratin, a particular form of protein that these larvae love to munch on. And the result is threadbare spots or holes on your favorite carpet. They can also feed on materials like lint, hair, and debris in various corners or under the dashboards.

Note, these beetles can also damage clothing items, bedding, and blankets. In short, they are a menace.

The good news is, unlike bed bugs, carpet beetles don’t bite. (Thank goodness! I really hate bug bites). They do not carry any disease-causing germs either.

But the larvae have bristles on their skin and shed their skin as they grow. These materials can lead to allergic reactions at times. The symptoms can include a running nose, itchy skin, and gastrointestinal issues.

Carpet beetles are attracted by light and warmth. Usually, they enter your home through the gaps in the window and door frames. They can also enter from the openings around utility lines. 

Since summer is the season when these beetles are most active, that is when most infestations begin.

4 Ways to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

If you are using a carpet made from synthetic fiber, you don’t need to worry about beetles. They only get attracted to natural fibers. (Sad to say, I am biased towards wool or silk when it comes to carpets).

Thankfully, there are quite a few steps that you can take to get rid of carpet beetles. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most effective forms of treatment – with steam, but other methods as well.

1. Vacuuming and Steam Cleaning

If you vacuum clean your carpets regularly, the chances of carpet beetle infestations will be much less. Vacuums will suck up the adult beetles and also the larvae. Make sure you empty the vacuum in a garbage bag and dispose of it properly.

However, vacuuming will not be able to remove the eggs. So, the most effective way to get rid of them is using a steam vacuum cleaner.

Note, carpet beetles die when the temperature is at 120°F or more. The residential steam cleaners allow you to use temperatures between 150° to 300°F. That makes them highly effective in removing these beetles and their eggs.

can steam cleaning kill carpet beetles

In addition, steam cleaning will kill off the bed bugs as well.

In case you don’t have a steam vacuum cleaner, you can always take the help of a professional carpet cleaning service.

All in all, these pests are tough to remove. So, DIY treatments may not work all the time. A massive infestation might require high-capacity steam cleaners that can deliver steam continuously for 30 minutes. 

In such cases, we suggest that you take the help of professional service to get the job done.

That said, if you live in an area where carpet beetles are common, investing in a high-quality steam cleaner is a good idea. Generally, carpet beetles hide in hard-to-reach spots. So, using a small, handheld steam cleaner is a practical option.

2. Spraying Insecticides

While insecticides are effective in cleaning carpet beetles, spraying them on carpets or bedding isn’t a good idea. We would recommend insecticides only for spot treatment. 

But first, a few precautions.

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines before using any insecticide. Use them in a well-ventilated area so that the chemical can easily disperse in the air. Also, wash your hands after use.

Usually, bug cleaning insecticides contain chemicals like bifenthrin, deltamethrin, or cyfluthrin. It’s best to test the insecticide on a small area before treating the entire carpet. That will prevent any major damage to the fabric.

3. Use Boric Acid

Boric acid is another effective chemical for killing carpet beetles. It’s readily available in powder form in pharmacies. All you need to do is sprinkle the powder lightly over the carpet surface. Wait for a few hours and then vacuum clean the entire carpet.

You can also prepare a solution of hot water and boric acid in a 2:1 ratio. Then spray it evenly over the carpet.

Remember, boric acid can be hazardous if inhaled or ingested in large amounts. So, use it with cautionusly and keep it away from children and pets. Always use gloves while handling boric acid.

Want to know about another DIY carpet beetle removing process?

Simply use a mixture of white or apple cider vinegar and water on the carpet. The acidic property of vinegar will kill off the larvae and the eggs.

4. Cold Treatment

Storing the carpet in a freezer kept at a temperature of -4°F for seven days will kill the beetles and the larvae. For large carpets, a commercial freezer can be used.

First, you should place the carpet in a plastic bag and wrap it with polyethylene sheeting. Then tape the seams. After taking it out of the freezer, let the carpet warm up gradually to room temperature before removing the sealing. This can take around 24 hours for a large woolen carpet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a hot dryer kill carpet beetles?

Theoretically, it will kill the carpet beetles. Dryers can deliver heat above 120°F that will make your carpet beetle-free. But large carpets are difficult to clean in dryers. Moreover, the dry heat can have a negative effect on fabrics like wool and cause them to shrink.

What do carpet beetle eggs look like?

Carpet beetle eggs are white-ish to cream, and oval in shape. They can be ½ mm or less in length, unlike the actual bugs that can grow up to 4 mm and can have almost any color on their bodies, from white to black!

What are the signs of carpet beetles? 

These beetles are sneaky and can be difficult to detect. They usually attack one large spot of the carpet and can leave behind a bare spot. Another sign of carpet beetles is leftover dead skin and fecal pellets in various corners or darker areas.

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