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How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell - 10 Easy Methods

how to get rid of mothball smell

Mothballs can smell very unpleasant and may ruin your home. The fragrance may also persist for decades in furniture, walls, or other clothing.

It can be very tricky how to get rid of mothball smell in your home. You may have stored away some clothes for the winter and forgotten about them until spring, or maybe you're moving into a new home where the previous owner used mothballs to deter pests.

Whatever the case may be, getting rid of that distinctive odor can be difficult. In this blog post, we'll share ten methods to get rid of the mothball smell.

What is a Mothball?


Mothballs are a crystallization chemical that releases a distinctive odor if warm. When dried, these substances are not terribly dangerous for human life, but when wet or heated the substances can be toxic.

There is one major type of mothball - naphthalene and camphor balls. Naphthalene balls are formed of naphthalene crystals and are heated and molded into balls.

Often people let the air of the ball before they are used to accomplish that purpose. These repel wool moths a lot better than carpet bees.

Camphor balls are formed using camphor particles melted together and then formed in balls. These balls are usually smelly mothballs.

What Do Mothballs Smell Like?

The modern mothball made with pyrethroid is odourless. The moth balls we remember from our childhoods contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene.

These are white opaque crystal-like orbs with a distinct, noxious, burning odor.

Is it Dangerous to Smell Mothballs?

The smell can be deadly. Several experts warn against the use of mothballs, as it is toxic to the human body and can cause cancer, kidney and anemic symptoms.

Inhaling naphthalene converts the brain to alpha naphthalene.

Beta naphthalene causes damage to the liver and lungs. This could cause bursting of your blood cells, reducing oxygen absorbed in them.

Another common chemical used to make mothballs was paradichlorobenzene.

According to research studies and the WHO, these substances can become harmful or cancerous.

Read Also: Cinnamon for Bed Bugs: Does it Kill Bed Bugs?

How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell from the House

Mothballs are a great way to keep your clothes and other items safe from moths, but they can leave behind a strong smell that can be difficult to get rid of.

If you're dealing with a mothball smell in your home, there are a few things you can do to try to get rid of it.

Here are some methods for getting rid of the smell

1. Using Charcoal Bags - One of the best ways to get rid of the mothball smell is to use charcoal bags.

Activated charcoal is very porous, which means it can absorb large amounts of gas.

Simply place a few charcoal bags in the affected area and leave them there for a few days. The charcoal will absorb the chemicals causing the smell.

2. Using an Odor Remover - You can find commercial odor removers at most hardware stores.

Look for an odor remover that contains activated charcoal, since this will be most effective at absorbing mothball fumes.

3. Use white vinegar and lemon juice solution

white vinegar

White vinegar and lemon juice are both great at neutralizing odors.

You can make your own solution by mixing equal parts water, white vinegar, and lemon juice. Then, just pour it into a spray bottle and spritz away.

This solution works best if you can spray it directly on any surfaces that may be holding onto mothball fumes, like carpeting or upholstered furniture.

4. Use Baking Soda

baking soda

Baking soda is another great option for absorbing odors. Just sprinkle it liberally around the room where the smell is strongest and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming it up.

You may need to repeat this process several times to completely eliminate the mothball smell.

5. Get some ventilation in the room - One of the best ways to get rid of strong odors is to simply air out the affected area. If possible, open windows or place fans in the room to help circulate fresh air and dissipate any lingering smells.

Just be sure not to leave any food out while you’re airing out the room, as this could attract pests!

6. Spread zeolite - Zeolite is a natural mineral that’s often used in industrial settings to control odors. You can find zeolite online or at some pet stores (it’s often used in aquarium filters).

Just spread a layer of zeolite over the affected area and let it sit for a few days before vacuuming it up.

7. Using a leather cleaner & conditioner - If you have any leather furniture or clothing in the room where the mothball smell is strongest, try using a leather cleaner and conditioner on these items.

This will help remove any residual smells from the leather while also keeping it soft and supple.

8. Mop the floors in the room - Mopping with a mixture of water and vinegar can also help freshen up musty-smelling rooms by removing any trapped odors from surfaces like floors and baseboards

9. Use air fresheners - In bedrooms, wardrobes, and closets, use an air ionizer to remove any odor-causing particles. Use gel or plug-in air fresheners in conjunction with odor absorbents like cat litter or charcoal to assist.

10. Use an air ionizer - By releasing negative ions into the air, air ionizers use electricity to bind to particles that can cause allergies and odors.

See Also: Does Baking Soda Kill Bed Bugs

How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in Different Places?

Remove Mothball Scent from Clothes

If you've stored your clothes with mothballs, the first thing you'll need to do is wash them. Start by reading the care labels on your clothes to see what temperature they can be washed at.

Then, add 1 cup of vinegar to the washing machine along with your regular laundry detergent. The vinegar will help break down the oils that are carrying the mothball smell.

If you're still concerned about moths, you can add a few drops of lavender oil to the washing machine as well.

Remove Mothball Odor in the Car

Mothballs can be used to protect your car from rodents and other critters, but the odor can be difficult to remove. Start by airing out your car by opening all the doors and windows.

If it's warm outside, you can also turn on the air conditioning to help circulate fresh air through the car.

Next, vacuum all the upholstery and floor mats to remove any mothballs that might have fallen out.

Finally, use a strong air freshener or odor eliminator to get rid of any lingering smells.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is mothball smell permanent?

It may take up to 12 months when the moth balls have been placed under clothing.

Mothballs are scented and can be found in your household months or years after they are gone. Mothball's smell usually never disappears.

How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell From Clothes Without Washing

You can try putting the clothes outside in the sun for a day or two. Sunlight is a great natural odor eliminator.

How do you get the mothball smell out of furniture?

Nobody likes the mothball scent. Then it is necessary that remove old mothballs is done. You may also use vinegar or baking soda when cleaning furniture to reduce smell and reduce mothballs.


Getting rid of the mothball smell can be tricky, but it's definitely possible. The most important thing you can do is remove the source of the odor—the mothballs themselves.

Once they're gone, ventilate the area and clean any porous surfaces that might have absorbed the smell.

You can also use vinegar to remove mothball odor from non-porous surfaces like counters, floors, and walls.

With a little time and effort, that pesky mothball smell will be gone for good!

About The Author:

Meet Mark Calhoun, a seasoned pest control expert in the realm our pest control company. With over 10 years of dedicated experience and Managing Editor. His primary mission is to furnish you with precise and invaluable DIY insights, ensuring your home remains pest-free while aiding you in distinguishing various household pests.
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