How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in Your Home

The scent of mothballs can permeate an entire room in addition to making the garments smell. Nobody wants to wear a smelly sweater, even if those wool garments were unharmed by moths.

Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that mothballs may be unhealthy, especially for sensitive people. If the region has been influenced by the smell for a long time, removing it could take some time.

This article will describe the numerous techniques on how to get rid of mothball smell in your home, whether that be from clothing, blankets, rooms, or shoes.

Key facts:

  • Mothballs are tiny, pungent-smelling pesticide balls
  • Naphthalene is what smells bad in mothballs
  • Mothballs slowly liquefy and release poisonous gas. When you smell mothballs, the insecticide is being inhaled by you
  • Eliminating the smell of mothballs in your home will take at least a month
  • Vinegar, bleach, baking soda, fresh air, cedar chips, and activated charcoal are best for removing the mothball smell from your home, clothing, and shoes

What Are Mothballs?

Mothballs are tiny, pungent-smelling pesticide balls that are commonly used in older homes to ward off mildew and moth larvae. Mothballs have a fragrance that repels pests and insects like moths and mice, and they absorb moisture to stop mildew. Despite the benefits, removing the smell of mothballs is a top priority for many people.

In addition to being unpleasant, the stench can be harmful if inhaled over an extended period of time. Mothballs sublimate from a solid to a gaseous form because they contain either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, both of which are deadly compounds.

Naphthalene is what smells bad in mothballs. Tar from coal or crude oil is used to make naphthalene. Naphthalene can be found in cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and smoke from forest fires because it is also created when things burn. It serves as a pest deterrent and pesticide. In 1948, naphthalene was approved for use as a pesticide in the US. Learn more about it here.

Long-term exposure to these vapors can cause severe headaches, motion sickness, nausea, exhaustion, loss of appetite, restlessness, and other symptoms.

How Long Does it Take for Mothballs to Dissipate?

In the open air, a mothball needs three to six months to completely disappear. It may take up to a year for the mothball to entirely disappear if it is not exposed to air or is placed in undergarments. After dispersing, the mothball fragrance lingers in your house for months or years. The scent of mothballs frequently never really goes gone.

How Long Will it Take to Get Rid of the Smell of Mothballs?

Eliminating the smell of mothballs in your home will take at least a month. That is roughly how long it takes for the mothball stench to entirely disappear in a warm, well-ventilated environment if you’re actively trying to get rid of it.

How to Remove Mothball Smell from Clothes

If you store your clothing in a tightly sealed container, mothballs will last even longer than the norm four to six weeks. The stench will probably linger longer regardless of how long the mothballs stay before they disappear.

Your clothing absorbs the mothball odor, which gives your winter gear a strong, disagreeable fragrance.

Here are a few simple techniques to get rid of the mothball smell from washable and dryable clothing:

Note: It is not advised to use any of the procedures listed below for dry-cleaned clothing.


The smell of mothballs is one of several household odor problems that vinegar is frequently used to solve. You can soak fragile garments in a pail of water. Put the clothing in the bucket with the eight parts warm water to one part vinegar solution.

Allow them to sit for an hour before giving them a thorough clean water rinse and letting them air dry. To prevent any unwanted stains, use white vinegar. When it comes to cleaning garments that can be washed in a machine, vinegar works well.

Put your clothes and a cup of vinegar in the washing machine, then let it go through a cycle. Run a second detergent cycle as usual after that. The mothball smell should have vanished after the clothing have gone through both cycles.

Repeat the procedure if you smell a persistent odor. Prior to letting your garments dry naturally or through a dryer cycle, take care to completely get rid of the smell.


This is another efficient odor removal method if you have durable clothing that can withstand the effects of bleach. Make sure you have non-chlorine bleach first. After that, you can run a bleach and water laundry cycle in the washing machine.

To be sure that this procedure is safe for your clothing, read the care directions on both your garment and the bleach container.

Baking Soda

Perhaps you have a practice of keeping a container of baking soda in your refrigerator to eliminate any odors. The absorbent qualities of baking soda might also help your winter apparel.

You may either run a wash cycle in the machine with a cup of baking soda and your usual quantity of detergent, or you can soak your garments in a bucket with a cup of baking soda. Repeat the process if any odour is still present.

Fresh Air

A natural, hands-off method of getting rid of the smell of mothballs is fresh air. Take your clothes outside and leave them to dry in the sun for a while. Without allowing the smell to spread within, the open area can aid in its dissipation. For milder scents, this option is often the best.

Check the weather report before leaving as you don’t want any rain to saturate your clothes and add to your list of worries the scent of mildew. You might try airing out garments right away or hang damp clothes outside to dry on a bright day.

Check to verify if the smell has disappeared completely before bringing them back inside. If it hasn’t worked, you will have to attempt a different approach.

Cedar Chips

The fragrance of cedar is powerful but nice. Wood chips can help with the scent of mothballs and also shield clothing from insects. Any impacted clothing should be stored for a few days in a sealable jar with cedar chips. This method can be useful in situations where scents are persistent despite repeated washings.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is another highly absorbent substance that can help remove the smell of mothballs. You buy sachets of activated charcoal to hang in your closet or place in your dresser drawers.

One final method to try is using alternatives to mothballs. We will present all the various alternatives to mothballs to help prevent the moths and other insects from eating your clothing. Wondering Why Do Moths Eat Clothes? Visit our guide!

How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in Your Home: Eliminating Mothball Smell

The removal of the mothball smell from your home can be a very demanding and time-consuming task. Typically, hiring odor removal experts is the best option.

However, if you want to attempt to get rid of the mothball scent on your own, several everyday smell treatments, including vinegar and baking soda, are your best bets. We can assist you in eliminating the smell of mothballs in:

  • Blankets
  • Rooms
  • Shoes

Removing Mothball Smells in Blankets

Put the blanket in the dryer and set it to the “air only” setting. The fragrance will dissipate with hot air. The blanket can also be heated with an iron or dried in the sun.

Removing Mothball Smells From a Room

Utilizing baking soda is the most effective technique to get rid of the mothball smell in your house. Warm water and baking soda should be combined before using the mixture to clean the floors.

When mopping, be sure to keep the rooms properly aired. Then lay up a plate of activated charcoal, a bowl of vinegar, or a bowl of coffee grounds in the space (or closet). This will eliminate any lingering mothball odor.

You can purchase scented air fresheners and house cleaners as a stopgap measure while the stench is being eliminated. To totally get rid of the mothball smell, you might in some situations have to pull out and replace the carpet.

Leave windows and doors open, weather permitting, to promote airflow. An air purifier or filter with a HEPA filter will assist eliminate any odor-causing molecules if you are unable to open windows.

The second-best solution is an ozone generator if the mothball smell won’t go away. Your neighborhood hardware shop sells or rents these tools. They function by creating pure ozone, also known as “activated oxygen,” which oxidizes odor molecules to oblivion. Simply keep the ozone generator operating for the time period advised by the manufacturer in a closed space.

Removing Mothball Smells in Shoes

To get rid of the smell of mothballs from your shoes, use the same vinegar and lemon juice solution that you use on your clothes.

The shoes can alternatively be filled with a paper pouch with freshly ground coffee beans and left for at least a week. Mothballs’ stench will be muted by the aroma of coffee, which works similarly to baking soda in absorbing odors.

What Can I Use Instead of Mothballs? Mothball Alternatives

Finding alternative methods to avoid moths and other insects from eating your clothing will be necessary if you intend to stop using mothballs.

Some of the best choices are listed below:

  • Use cedar chips for clothing storage
  • Use fragrant essential oils in your storage spaces, such as lavender, clove, and mint
  • Your clothing should be kept in vacuum-sealed bags
  • Make sure to clear out any moth eggs or larvae from your containers or drawers before using them
  • To eliminate any odors that can attract moths, wash and dry garments

Try natural solutions the next time you want to stop insects from devouring your clothing. An effective moth repellent is cedar wood. Homeowners can line their closets with cedar wood or use cedar chests to store their clothing. Due to its lovely aroma, red cedar is the most preferred variety of cedar for closets and storage. To get rid of the cedar smell, you can also use cedar chips in sachets. When the stench has worn off, swap out the chips. Cedar has a wonderful scent, but it also lacks the negative (or unpleasant) side effects of mothballs.

Additionally, there is proof that mint, lavender, and cloves can deter moths. In tiny bowls, you might try putting some essential oils or herb sachets in the storage places. Clothes can be kept in zippered bags by homeowners as well. Space-saving vacuum-sealed garment bags ensure that no pests will get into your garments.

The majority of these solutions, like clearing out drawers before use, washing and drying clothes, and storing in vacuum-sealed bags, are easy to carry out and wise to do in any case. If you have a small home, the bags will also aid in minimizing the space that the clothing takes up.

Mothballs are useful, but they can be hazardous if left alone for a long time. The removal of mothballs and their scent is in the best interests of you and your family. Being at home will be more pleasurable anyhow! Always seek alternative ways to keep insects like moths and other pests away so you don’t spoil your clothing.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Will mothball smell go away?

In the open air, a mothball needs three to six months to completely disappear. It may take up to a year for the mothball to entirely disappear if it is not exposed to air or is placed under garments. After dispersing, the mothball fragrance lingers in your house for months or years.

Is mothball smell bad for you?

Both humans and animals are poisoned by the toxins in mothballs. By inhaling the gases, people are exposed to the compounds in mothballs. You are exposed to these compounds if you smell mothballs.

How do you get the smell of mothballs out of furniture?

Spray or wipe off wood furniture with a solution made of equal parts water and vinegar before letting the surfaces air dry. Place a bowl of coffee grounds or baking soda inside any drawers, shelves, cupboards, or other enclosed spaces on that piece of furniture because both of these materials are effective odor absorbers.

Are moth balls toxic to breathe?

They are harmful to your health, yes. Mothballs slowly liquefy and release a poisonous gas. When you smell mothballs, the insecticide is being inhaled by you.