The Magic Carpet - Fine Oriental Rugs

Oriental Rugs » Moth or Myth?

The Magic Carpet: Art Underfoot
Moth or Myth?

Submitted by Carolien van Straten, The Magic Carpet

Moth damage before and after restoration at The Magic Carpet.

Moth damage before and after
restoration at The Magic Carpet.

In spite of the good care you have always given your Oriental rug, it could happen that one day you notice something unfamiliar about it… little bald spots or channels, bits of loose carpet fibers or light colored filaments. Maybe all of the above. By the time you notice it, your precious rug has been a moth’s favorite meal. Moths are very persistent and hungry invaders, and outsmarting them takes some very specific strategies. Let’s start with some common myths about moths:

  • Adult moths are the ones who do the damage. Not true. An adult moth’s lifespan is short (only about one month), during which the female’s main function is finding a suitable habitat to lay its eggs - 100 to 150 eggs per moth! It will have gotten all of its nutrition during its larval period. It’s the hatched egg, a small light colored larva about 1/8 inch long, that has the longer life span and feasts on your rug, doing all the damage.
  • Mothballs and cedar will prevent moth infestation. Not entirely true. Mothballs only work in an airtight environment and they do not take care of moth eggs or larvae that may already be present. The chemicals in mothballs (which are not particularly healthy to have around) dissipate over time, as do the oils in cedar. Both are mere repellants, not killers.
  • Moths only infest dirty environments. No! While dirty environments are much more appealing to moths, an open window or a dusty air duct is enough to initially invite them in. It’s likely you won’t know you have them until you see areas of your rug that have been compromised.

So, what can be done to prevent damage to your beautiful rug? Here’s a list of the easiest and most effective things you can do:

  • Top priority: keep your rug clean. Regular vacuuming is the best defense against moth infestation; there’s no nutrition in clean wool. When vacuuming, don’t forget about the area under any furniture you might have sitting on your rug. Moths thrive in dark, undisturbed environments.
  • Regularly check underneath your rug for moth activity. A sure sign is the presence of larva casings, which can have the same color as your rug and look like flat pieces of rice. Remember to check rugs hanging on the wall as well.
  • Make sure you take care of food and drink spills, as well as pet accidents, right away. Moths love the sugar and protein left in rugs from these sources.
  • Rotate your rug periodically. Because moths usually don’t attack areas of rugs that are walked on frequently or exposed to light, it’s good to rotate parts of rugs that have been under furniture or are less used. Additionally, this will help distribute wear evenly as the rug ages.
  • Have your rugs professionally washed at least every 3-5 years. There is no substitute for a thorough, deep cleaning. It’s the most effective way to get rid of all the eggs and larvae, wash away dirt that attracts moths, and save your rug from permanent damage or expensive repairs.

The Magic Carpet offers expert rug washing, as well as restoration of moth-damaged areas of your rug. If you suspect moths, or if your rug has already suffered moth damage, just bring it by our store or give us a call. We can help guide you on the best approach to bringing your rug to optimal condition and preserving its value.

We invite you to come and enjoy our rug collection in our shop or view our entire inventory online at
The Magic Carpet will continue our monthly educational articles on the extraordinary art and history embodied by Oriental rugs.

For any questions about Oriental rugs, please contact us at 530-265 9229 or at . We are located at 408 Broad Street(The New York Hotel) in Nevada City.