Tiny White Bugs In Kitchen – What Are They and How to Get Rid of Them

A common issue many people face is the presence of tiny white bugs in the kitchen. Even when you periodically clean your whole house, it seems they keep coming back! What exactly are these tiny white bugs in kitchen cabinets, cupboards, and shelves? And how do you get rid of them?

The most common types of tiny white bugs found in kitchens are psocids and grain mites. Both are very small bugs, making them difficult to spot and get rid of. These bugs thrive in dark and damp areas where there’s little movement. The back of your pantry is one of their favorite hiding spaces.

Psocids feed on the mold that grows in humid spaces. On the other hand, grain mites feed on, well, grains and other dry goods. You will know you have an infestation when you see strange brownish dust around your kitchen or your food items smell and taste funky.

The best way to get rid of tiny white bugs in your kitchen is to do the following:

  • Clear out your pantry
  • Discard any infested items
  • Wash your pantry with soapy water

Read on to learn more about these tiny white bugs, how to stop them from infesting your home, and how to prevent them from coming back.

Tiny White Bugs In Kitchen

tiny white bug in kitchen

First, it’s important to identify the bugs in your kitchen before even trying to rid them from your home. There are quite a few types of pests that can be described as tiny white bugs, and the exact type largely depends on where they are located. 

There could be any number of tiny white bugs present in and around your home. Some of the most common tiny white bugs are the following:

  1. Termites
  2. Clothes Moths
  3. Psocids
  4. Grain Mites
  5. Mealybugs
  6. Whiteflies

You cannot, however, find not all these bugs in your kitchen. Only psocids and grain mites are most likely to be found in kitchens, thanks firstly to the perfect environment in which these two types of bugs can easily thrive. 


Psocids (Psocoptera), more commonly known as “bark lice,” can thrive both indoors and outdoors. They earned their nickname as they are more commonly found under tree barks. But once they have managed to sneak inside the home, they can be tough to spot with the naked eye, thanks in part to their being so tiny.

Where to Find Them?

For some odd reason, they are also called “booklice,” but they are in no way related to lice, and they do not really thrive inside the pages of books. They do feed on the glue in book bindings, though, and may also be found near books stored in humid shelving.

Characteristics and Behavior

Psocids measure only about a 25th to a 13th of an inch in length, so they are quintessentially tiny. They love to be in moist, mold-infested, and dark areas. Their diet mainly consists of even tinier molds that grow in the moist areas that they are in. 

Grain Mites

From the name itself, you’d have probably guessed that grain mites are most likely to be found in kitchens and pantries than in any other part of a house. This is because they feed on all kinds of processed grains and cereals, yeast, flour, wheat germ, and even cheeses.


Mould Mites (or Mold Mites), also called Mold Mites, these tiny white bugs are some of the tiniest insects you could find, and their colors characterize them, either grayish-white or pearly-white. You will see that these tiny insects have long “hairs” all over their round body under a magnifying glass. They look very much like small grains, so much so that you can mistake them for actual grains if you don’t look hard enough. 

Where to Find Them?

Grain Mites thrive in humid and high moisture areas, so if your kitchen cabinets and main pantries are warm enough, these critters can multiply in no time. Female grain mites can lay up to 800 eggs in their lifetime, contaminating your food in the process. 

They can also be found near damp areas like around the dishwasher or near pipes, and since they love being in moist areas, it may be a sign that you have a leaky dishwasher or damaged pipes. You will know you have these tiny white bugs in kitchen cabinets and counters when you find them known as “mite dust,” which is some form of residue with a brownish shade.

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white bugs in the kitchen

Are Tiny White Bugs in Kitchen Harmful to Humans and Pets?

Generally speaking, tiny white bugs found in and around your home will not cause any real harm to your health, but there could be a few exceptions to the rule. Some people may experience an allergic reaction similar to dust mite allergy when exposed to large quantities of grain mites or, more specifically, their residual brownish dust.

Specific allergic reactions or symptoms include:

  • Itchy rashes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Stuffy Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Red, itchy and watery eyes
  • Coughing

Are Psocids Harmless to Humans and Pets?

And much like grain mites, psocids are also generally harmless to humans and even to pets. They will not sting or bite and just pretty much mind their own business. But accidentally ingesting these critters or the residual “dust” of grain mites is a different story. Like many other allergens, ingesting a few will unlikely result in any real harm, but ingesting large quantities of contaminated food can cause inflammation, especially for allergic people.

Pet food infested with grain mites are very harmful and should be thrown out immediately. Ingesting these tiny white bugs may result in allergic reactions and diarrhea, and intestine inflammation in pets. It can also cause them to eat less food which can lead to stunted growth. 

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How to Get Rid of Tiny White Bugs in Kitchen

Let’s be honest, health hazard or not, these tiny white bugs in kitchen shelves are a big annoyance and can really be a pain due to their lightning speed at reproducing. You may only find a few of them today and then come tomorrow. They are all over your kitchen or other parts of the house! So how exactly can you get rid of these tiny white bugs?

Here are a few simple yet sure-fire ways you can take to rid your kitchen (or basically your whole house) of these tiny white bugs:

1. Discard Contaminated Food

Be sure to discard any contaminated food upon discovery, and that means WHOLE boxes of cereals, pet food, and the like. This is important to ensure no family members, especially children or pets, get a hold of or eat infested food. Food like crackers or cereals infested with grain mites may give off a minty smell. Baked goods (e.g., bread) made with contaminated flour will have a “muddy” taste.

2. Inspect Food Packages and Container

Once you discover tiny white bugs in kitchen cabinets, make sure you judiciously inspect each food package and container for contamination and throw them out as needed. A magnifying glass may come in handy for this step. 

Take out all the uncontaminated food items and transfer them to another clean area.

3. Clean Cupboards with Warm Soapy Water

Clean out all cupboards and cabinets with warm soapy water or a diluted bleach solution. The use of hot or warm water is key here as it would kill any tiny bugs on contact. Be sure to rinse off your sponge or rag each time so you don’t unwittingly move bugs around the house.

4. Vacuum All Nooks and Crannies

Once done with the initial cleaning, vacuum all nooks and crannies of your whole pantry to get rid of any psocids or grain mites that still may be hiding. Dispose of the vacuum contents in outside garbage bins together with some talcum powder so that the mites can no longer reproduce.

Once everything is clean and disinfected, you can start moving back your uncontaminated food items inside pantry shelves.

5. Repeat the Process

You may repeat the process in all other areas in and around your kitchen where you might be storing food. It could help check with kids if they have stored any food items like cereals or crackers in their rooms as mites can travel and thrive even in closets or bedside table drawers.

Tips to Prevent Bugs from Inhabiting Your Home

white bugs

A few tips to consider when you’ve had your first experience with tiny white bugs and never want to experience them again:

  1. Consider keeping food items, especially grains, in air-tight containers to prevent any moisture from growing. Sealable or screwable lids are the best options for this.
  2. Make sure your pantry is well lit with a reduced humidity of about 55 to 60 percent, you’re usual. Since tiny white bugs prefer dark and damp places, doing this step will reduce future infestations.
  3. Make it a habit to periodically clear out your pantry to check for expired food items and throw them out as needed.

Conclusion – Tiny White Bugs in Kitchen

A clean kitchen is a sign of a healthy home. But you may not be wary of the tiny white bugs hiding in the dark and humid crevices of your kitchen cabinets, taking their merry time contaminating your food stockpile. Knowing what you are dealing with is the first step in making sure your kitchen is clean and free from pests.

We now know that many different types of bugs can live inside your home, and the likes of psocids and grain mites favor your kitchen. These bugs are tiny and are generally not harmful to humans and pets, but they can truly be a nuisance. 

How to Spot Tiny White Bugs?

Here’s a rundown of how to easily spot these tiny white bugs and know for sure if your food items are contaminated:

  1. Grain mites leave brownish dust on their trail that can cause allergic reactions to both humans and pets.
  2. Contaminated food items may give off a minty smell, which is unusual for regular dry grains.
  3. Cooked food could taste muddy if you accidentally use infested flour in the recipe. Although you’ll likely kill said bugs once the food is subjected to heat for cooking, it will still have a strange taste in the end, which is not appetizing.

How to Get Rid of Tiny White Bugs?

Here are some tips to rid your kitchen and other areas around your house of these tiny white bugs:

  1. Clear out your pantry and throw out all expired and known contaminated food items
  2. Wash all areas with hot or warm soapy water, making sure to clean and wring out the rag after each use. Vacuum all cracks and crevices to ensure no bugs will be left hiding and reproducing in your pantry again.
  3. Get a humidifier, make sure your pantry is well lit, and use talcum powder in non-food areas to dry them out and prevent further mold growth.
  4. Consider transferring your food items in air-tight containers so that no moisture can seep in. it will not only be a welcome change and a cleaner look for your kitchen, but it can effectively lessen the possibility of another bug infestation.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to keeping your kitchen clean. In fact, there is a wide range of cleaning tools and products available for any bug infestation or other problem you may have in any part of your house. 

The key to keeping your kitchen free from these tiny white bugs is periodically cleaning. The areas used for food storage and even the underbelly of kitchen counters where water pipes are located. These areas are moist and humid, which are hot spots for pests. Making a few changes to organizing your kitchen is a simple way to prevent any further infestation from taking place.

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