How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in Your Home?

Published Categorized as Moths

When living at home you’re probably familiar with the fact that having a moth infestation comes with its own nightmares. The problem isn’t only their unsightly appearance; it’s also the smell they leave behind. That pungent odour is a combination of mothball chemicals mixed with other things like a cluster of moths camping in your closet, or fungus. It has a way of sticking around long after the pests themselves are gone. Here are some tips for getting rid of that lingering mothball smell in your home.

What are Mothballs?

Mothballs are a type of chemical repellent used to keep moths away from clothing and fabrics. They are typically made from naphthalene or camphor, both of which have a strong smell when heated or used in large quantities. The main purpose of using mothballs is to prevent clothes from being damaged by moths, but they can also be used to deter other insects from entering your home like spiders, cockroaches and bed bugs.

Mothballs are not toxic per se, though they just happen to release an unpleasant odour, that is often described as heavy or strong for most people (although some people actually enjoy the smell). However, because many people don’t want their homes smelling like mothballs all year long, there are some ways to reduce this smell once you’ve removed them.

What do Mothballs Look Like?

Mothballs are small balls, about the size of a small jaw breaker or larger. They come in two main types: ones made with naphthalene and those made with paradichlorobenzene. Both chemicals are toxic to moths, but they break down at different rates so there can be a significant difference in how long it takes for your house to smell better and how long it takes for your clothing to be safe to wear again (without smelling horrible).

The most important thing for you to know about mothballs is that they don’t work by actually killing moths; rather, they work by making them too lethargic and disoriented when they land on your clothes or other materials around the house (like sweaters). This means that if any live moths have survived being exposed to these chemicals – which may happen if they’re still alive after being exposed – they will most likely move on once things start smelling fresh again.

What do Mothballs Smell Like?

Mothballs are chemical-doused products that come in the form of small white balls. Initially, they have a sweet smell when opened, but this quickly becomes pungent the longer you’re exposed to them. Generally speaking, mothballs tend to impart a tell-tale strong, unpleasant, acrid smell. This smell can be caused by naphthalene and camphor amongst other things.

How Long Does the Smell of Mothballs Last?

The main chemicals found in mothballs are naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene. Made up of these key elements, a mothball will generally last between four and six weeks. However, the fumes can last much longer – allowing your mothballs to effectively last for several years if placed in a properly sealed container. The smell that you’re exposed to upon opening your closet or drawer, is the chemicalised vapours released upon air exposure.

Even though you may not be able to smell them anymore, there is certainly still a layer of odour that has been left behind after using mothballs in your home – and it’s not just your imagination! If everyone else in your house doesn’t smell anything odd about their clothes anymore (or can’t tell you what that strange scent was), then maybe it’s time for you to get rid of those nasty old mothballs before they take root once again!

Getting Rid of the Mothball Smell

If you have any mothballs in your home, the smell of these chemicals can be overwhelming. While it’s possible to wait out the mothball smell (and some people recommend this), this isn’t approved for two reasons:

  • The toxic residue from mothballs can remain in your clothes and fabrics even after the chemicals evaporate
  • If you have little ones crawling around on carpeted floors or playing with toys, they are absorbing that residue into their bodies, and it is best to take steps now to get rid of that stench, so they don’t have to endure any health risks later

Here’s how to get rid of mothballs odours from:

  • From Furniture and Carpets
  • From Your House

From Furniture and Carpets

If your couch is fabric-covered (including carpets) and has that pesky mothball odour, then yes, you’ll want to buy a product that is specifically designed for removing pungent odours from fabric like Febreze. You can also use this method to get rid of the mothball smell from other types of furniture, even if it’s made of something like wood or leather. You may need to decide whether or not you acquire an odour eliminator for the material type.

If you have hardwood or leather furniture that has been sitting around for a while without being used and has picked up some serious funk, as a result, mix up some 50/50 vinegar-water solution in a spray bottle and apply it, liberally over the surface area where the mothballs were stored. Then go over those same areas with your wet vacuum (or normal vacuum) on its highest setting with no attachment – just the vacuum pipe itself – and let it suck up all those nasty fumes while they’re still fresh in the air. This will not only help deodorise things but also clean them at the same time while killing any bed bugs or other small pests hiding out inside them.

From Your House

The smell of mothballs can be a tough one to get rid of. It’s best not to experiment with the previous remedy within the confines of your closet, as the smell can become overpowering and leave you choking on the unpleasantness, that can potentially cling to your articles of clothing!

Instead, opt for a bowl of vinegar or activated charcoal if you want to absorb the odour from a room or closet. The former is more cost-effective than the latter and will work just as well at absorbing smells in most cases. Vinegar won’t add additional odours along with its abilities; instead, it will simply replace them with its very own distinct scent! Feel free to add any essential oils that appeal to you here as well – just pay attention to the smells, ensuring that they aren’t too strong.

Odour-absorbing candles are another option worth considering if you’re looking for ways on how get rid of the mothball smell in your house without the active use of chemicals or other products akin to bleach. Again these can be used alone or combined with other methods like vinegar, so long as there isn’t too much going on at once.

Coffee grounds are another promising option that has been proven effective against odours over time because their porous surface absorbs liquid molecules from nearby objects such as clothing items, which causes them to not only reduce any unpleasant smells but also prevent mould growth when applied directly onto clothes themselves – trust me it works.

Mothball Odour Remover

The smell of mothballs is one of the worst smells to have in your home. It can linger for months after the first use and is not something you want to deal with regularly. Fortunately, several products will help eliminate the odour from your home and prevent it from returning in the future.

Most of these products do a great job of getting rid of the mothball smell and we recommend two in particular:

Methods of Removing Naphthalene Smells

Before you seek the professional assistance of odour removal specialists, consider the effective methods of removing mothball scents in other ways:

  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Blankets
  • Rooms


To remove the mothball smell from your clothing, prepare a solution of vinegar and lemon juice, then dab this mixture on the areas of clothing that have a mothball smell. Allow it to absorb for a several minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Additionally, heat is also great at remove the mothball odour from your clothing. Try to use a hot iron to press through the clothes or simply hang them out in the sun.

Another option is to put the clothes in the washing machine using vinegar instead of laundry detergent; if you don’t have time for that, just add some baking soda directly in place of detergent (make sure not to overfill). Remember: Mothball odour can take weeks to get off, so you may need to repeat this process several times until you no longer notice an odour when wearing those items.


If you have mothball-infested shoes, there are a few ways to get rid of that pungent odour. You can use the same mixture of vinegar and lemon juice that you use on your clothing to remove mothball smells from your shoes. Another option is to 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 by absorbing odours in your home.


To rid a blanket of mothball smell, you can place it in the dryer and choose the “air only” mode. This will help remove the odour from your sheets and blankets, as well as make them look new again. If you don’t have access to a dryer or iron, another option is to lay out your blanket on the patio or balcony during warm weather, as sunlight can also help to naturally eliminate the horrible mothball smells.


The best way to eliminate the pungent mothball smell from your home is by applying baking soda. Mix some baking soda with warm water and mop the floors with this solution. Be sure to keep the rooms properly ventilated when mopping. Then place a bowl of vinegar, a bowl of coffee grounds, or a plate of activated charcoal in the room. This will absorb any leftover mothball odour evident in the room. In extreme cases, you may have to rip up and replace the carpet to completely remove the mothball smell!

How Long Will it Take to Get Rid of Mothball Smells?

If you’re actively working on eliminating the smells from your home, then about a month should be enough time for them to completely fade away (assuming there are no other sources for more odour). However, it depends on how ingrained these odours are in your environment and how well-ventilated your space is. If these factors aren’t optimal or if there’s just too much residual odour left behind after some cleaning efforts, calling an odour removal specialist might be necessary.

How to Remove Mothball Smell From Cedar Chest?

Mothball smell is a common occurrence in your home, especially when you happen to have mothballs stored in your cedar chest. To get rid of this odour, you need to open the wooden chest and allow it to air out. Additionally, the smell may have become trapped inside the wood itself, which means that it may take time for the odour to fade away completely. If that is the case, then you will need to use some sandpaper which will help the wood release a fresh cedar smell.

Mothball Alternatives

Mothballs are used to prevent moths and other pests from feeding on stored clothing. If you’ve committed to not using mothballs, you’ll need to search for other options and alternatives in hopes of preventing moths and other insects from eating your clothing. Store your clothing with cedar chips or in vacuum-sealed bags. The bags will help reduce the space taken up by the clothing, as well as protect it from dust and moisture damage.

Make sure your containers or drawers have been cleaned out before use, to remove any moth eggs/larvae which may have been present during previous storage periods, this will reduce future infestations at least for a little while longer until those eggs hatch again.

So How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in Your Home?

As you can see, there are a number of ways to get rid of mothball smells. Some methods will work for certain situations and some won’t. We recommend trying out the methods that seem most promising to you first, before moving on to something more extreme like replacing furniture or carpeting!


How long does it take for mothball smell to go away?

Mothball odour is a terrible smell to have lingering in the rooms of your home. Unfortunately, a single mothball takes around 3 to 6 months to dissipate, so unless you remove the mothball completely, washing anything it had come close to in proximity, that terrible smell will be hanging around for a while!

Is mothball smell permanent?

The smell of mothballs can be very potent but not permanent. To get rid of the smell, you’ll need to remove any remaining mothballs, clean out the storage space, and clean any affected clothing.

Is the smell of mothballs harmful?

Mothballs contain toxic chemicals, which become gaseous when exposed to air, creating that pungent smell. These gases are irritating to the eyes and lungs and can cause headache, dizziness, and nausea.

Will Febreze get rid of mothball smell?

Febreze Fabric or Febreze Fabric Extra Strength can help alleviate the smell of mothballs.

How do you get rid of mothball smell without washing?

You can make use of various household supplies to remove the powerful odour, including white wine vinegar, non-chlorine bleach, or baking soda.

By Travis Amos

My house is my castle, and there is no space for unwanted neighbors.

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