What Are Mothballs?
Mothballs are small balls of unpleasant smelling chemical pesticide used in many older houses to keep away mold and moth larvae. Despite the advantages, getting rid of the odor of mothballs is a major concern for many people.
Not only is it unpleasant, but the smell can also be dangerous if inhaled for too long. Mothballs contain either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, both of which are toxic chemicals, which means they sublimate from a solid to gaseous state. Prolonged exposure to these fumes can result in severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, lack of appetite, restlessness, etc.
What Are Mothballs Used For?
The smell of the mothballs deters insects and pests like moths or mice, and they absorb liquid, preventing mold.
How Long Does it Take for Mothballs to Dissipate?
One mothball in open air takes 3-6 months to dissipate entirely. If you place the mothball underneath clothing or otherwise not in open air, it will take up to 12 months to completely dissipate. The mothball smell stays in your home for months or years after dissipating. Often, the smell of mothballs never truly ever go away.
How to Get Rid of Mothball Smells
It can be an extremely difficult, time-consuming process to get the mothball smell out of your house. It’s typically best to bring in odor removal specialists, like Jenkins Environmental Services. However, if you wish to try and remove the mothball odor yourself, many common smell remedies such as vinegar and baking soda are the best options. We can help you get rid of the mothball smells in:
Get Rid of Mothball Smells in Clothing
Prepare a solution of vinegar and lemon juice, and then dab this mixture on the areas of clothing that have mothball smell. Let the solution sit for a while before you rinse it off with warm water.
Heat can also help to remove the mothball smell, so you can use a hot iron to press through the clothing or hang the clothing out in the sun. Another option is to put the clothes in the washer using vinegar instead of laundry detergent.
Remember that mothball odor can take weeks to get off. Make sure you do this several times. You can also mask the odor temporarily with deodorants or perfumes.
Remove Mothball Smells in Shoes
Use the same mixture of vinegar and lemon juice that you use on your clothing to remove mothball smells from your shoes. You can also stuff a paper pouch of freshly ground coffee beans into the shoes and leave them for at least a week. The smell of coffee will suppress the smell of the mothballs, and it works similarly to baking soda and absorbs the smell.
Get Mothball Smells Out of Blankets
Toss the blanket in a dryer and choose the ‘air only’ mode. Hot air will help the smell go away. You can also press the blanket with a hot iron or bask it in sunlight.
Remove Mothball Smell From A Room in Your House
The best way to remove the mothball smell in your home is by using baking soda. Mix some baking soda with warm water and mop the floors with the solution.
Make sure that you keep the rooms properly ventilated when mopping. Then place a bowl of vinegar, bowl of coffee grounds, or a plate of activated charcoal in the room (or closet). This will absorb any leftover mothball smell. As a temporary option, while you’re removing the smell, you can get scented house cleansers and air fresheners.
In extreme cases, you may have to rip up and replace carpet to completely remove the mothball smell.
How Long Will It Take To Get Rid of The Smell of Mothballs?
Plan on spending at least a month eliminating mothball odors in your home. If you’re actively working to remove the smell, that is about how much time it takes in a warm, well-ventilated area for the mothball odor to completely go away.
However, sometimes the smell is so ingrained in your home that you may have to call an odor removal specialist such as our sister company, Jenkins Environmental Services.
What Can I Use Instead of Mothballs?
As we mentioned previously, mothballs are used to prevent moths and other pests eating stored clothing. If you stop using mothballs, you’ll need to find other options for preventing the moths and other insects from eating your clothing.
Here are some of the most effective options:
- Store your clothing with cedar chips
- Use essential oils such as lavender, cloves, and mint in your storage areas
- Store your clothing in vacuum sealed bags
- Make sure your containers or drawers have been cleaned out before use to remove any moth eggs/larvae
- Wash and dry clothing to remove any moth attracting smells
Most of these options are fairly simple to implement and are good to do anyway, such as cleaning out drawers before use, washing and drying clothing, and storing in vacuum sealed bags. The bags will also help reduce the space taken up by the clothing if you have space constraints in your home.
While useful, mothballs are potentially dangerous to have in your home for long periods of time. It’s in you and your family’s best interests to remove mothballs and their smell. It will be more enjoyable to be in your home anyway!
Make sure you find other methods to prevent moths and other insects so you don’t ruin your clothing. And if you’re unable to get the mothball smell out yourself, contact Jenkins Environmental Services for professional odor removal and deodorization!