How to Get Mothball Smell Out of the House – Odorless Alternatives

Mothballs are effective, but the smell becomes a problem of its own. Here’s how to get mothball smell out of the house. Keep reading!

A hundred years ago, a group of scientists discovered the various capabilities of a new substance: Naphthalene. It was clear that it could kill a stubborn insect by the name of Tineola Bisselliella, also known as the clothes moth.

This chemical was flammable, so it was soon replaced by a similar compound which is Paradichlorobenzene. Both were made into mothballs, and they had one more trait in common. A potent smell that clung to clothes, carpets, walls, and pretty much overpowered the whole house.


How to Get Mothball Smell Out of the House


Houses should smell of delicious food, flowers from the garden, newly baked cake, and home-brewed coffee. Walking into a house that reeks of naphthalene mothballs is the opposite of welcoming.

Here are 5 tried and true tips to get rid of that unpleasant smell.


Tip #1: Wash the Clothes With a Deodorizer


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Wearing a pullover or a coat that smells like mothballs is an absolute faux pas! The naphthalene traces are so unpleasant and annoying that they really need to go away. Here’s how.

  • Soak the clothes in vinegar and lemon water overnight.
  • Put vinegar in the washing machine along with mild soap.
  • You can also use washing machine detergents containing deodorizing agents.
  • Use warm water whenever possible.
  • For delicate fabrics, it’s advisable to use cold water.
  • Some clothes cannot be washed, so take these to the dry cleaner’s.
  • Aerating the clothes out in the sun and fresh air also dilutes the mothball smell.


Tip #2: Aerate the Blankets


You can follow the same procedure for blankets that you did with clothes. However, this works well if the blankets are small and lightweight. Knowing that big and heavy blankets aren’t the easiest things to wash, here are some other ways you can use.



  • Put the blanket in the drier and select a ‘hot air only’ program.
  • Pass a steamer all around the blanket.
  • Hang the blanket out in the sun for a day.
  • You can wash it at a laundry service that cleans bedding.


Tips #3: Sweep the Floors With Baking Soda


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Rooms easily pick up the heavy odor of naphthalene. Especially during the winter when the ventilation is less than optimal. This is how you can decrease or eliminate that smell.

  • Baking soda is quite effective at absorbing smells. So use it to sweep the floors.
  • If the walls seem to retain the smell, then you can wash them with the same solution.
  • Open the doors and windows to maximize ventilation.
  • Place some materials that neutralize odors in the room. Vinegar, charcoal, or coffee grounds are good.
  • Place naturally fragrant materials, or air freshener, around the room.


Tip #4: Ventilate the House Often


Keep the fresh air circulating inside the house. Open as many windows and balconies as you can, and try to keep the doors of all the rooms wide open.



This might be easier in summer than in winter and in the suburbs more than in the bustling city areas. But it’s still a necessary measure to maintain a clean, healthy, and fresh-smelling house.


Tip #5: Put a Coffee Mix Inside Winter Shoes


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Shoes are also clothing items that could easily catch the smell of mothballs. The washable types should have a spin in the washing machine, then they should be left to dry off out in the sun. But the more sensitive ones need a creative approach.

Putting coffee grounds inside the shoe for a few days should do the trick. Other than that, there are some foot powders that work well in deodorizing footwear.


How to Get Mothball Smell Out of the House – Odorless Alternatives


Mothballs don’t just have an obnoxious smell. These chemicals can be harmful, especially with long-term exposure, and affect human health negatively. Some of the adverse symptoms include headaches, anxiety, nausea, decreased appetite, and chronic fatigue.

Mothballs are generally unsafe for use around kids and pets, and they aren’t too friendly with the environment. Complete dissociation of naphthalene could take up to a whole year. After it has spread its fumes in the widest possible area.

Here are some of the alternatives you can use to discourage moths from munching on your clothes.


1. Put Little Packs of Cedar Chips with Your Clothes


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Not many people know that cedar chips are powerful bug repellants. Putting a little pouch of cedar chips inside your closet or storage cabinet should be sufficient to ward off the wool munching moths.

It’s worth mentioning that some cloth hangers are made from cedar to provide extra maintenance for the clothes. Also, there’s a spray that spreads the cedar aroma all around the storage space to maximize protection from hungry bugs.


2. Use Essential Oils in Storage Spaces


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Some essential oils are good at repelling insects and moths away from your clothes. The ones with a good smell are naturally more popular. So you can use lavender oil, thyme oil, rosemary oil, and mint oil.

Additionally, you can use dry herbs and spices like cloves, peppercorn, ginseng, lemon peels, and eucalyptus.


3. Clean up the Drawers, Cabinets, and Closets


Accumulated dust, human skin debris, and other types of dirt are perfect breeding grounds for moths. Thus, a good cleanup between the seasons should make the storage spaces much less attractive to bugs.


Start with vacuuming everything with a pointed brush. If the wood can take a little humidity, then use soap, warm water, and a mild disinfectant to clean the storage spaces. It’s important to wait until all the surfaces are completely dry before putting the clothes back in the closet or drawers.


4. Wash Clothes Before Storage


Insects are hugely attracted to human odors and dead skin. To keep them from feasting on your clothes or bedding, it’s best to wash everything prior to storage.

Read the washing instructions on every piece and the ones that can’t be machine washed should be hand-washed, sent to the dry cleaner, or at least aerated in the sun.

This thorough cleaning process also keeps the clothes nice and prim in the next season.


5. Use Vacuum Sealed Bags for Storing Clothes



Vacuum sealed bags don’t give moths any chance at all to come near your precious clothing items. Additionally, they minimize the storage volume, which lets you pack your stuff in a neat and organized manner.

This method is highly effective, but it’s still not the most popular among users. Some see the whole procedure of packing and vacuuming as a bit of an extra effort. And some feel that it’s an unfamiliar solution.

Considering its many benefits, we expect it to become more utilized with time.


How to Get Mothball Smell Out of the House – In Conclusion


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Mothballs have been a household item for around a hundred years. Despite their strong smell and toxicity, many people still count on them for repelling the cloth-eating bugs.

By the end of the season, the clothes, shoes, and bedding items are intact, but the naphthalene smell is all over them. Even the rooms smell like mothballs.

Luckily, there are ways to get the mothball smell out of the house. And even better, there are odorless alternatives to ward off moths that are totally worth trying.

CLICK HERE to browse our complete selection of non-toxic pest control products!


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