With seasonal changes, comes a change of clothes and bedding to suit your skin and have you feeling comfortable. But what happens when moths get to your precious clothing? Often you’ll find your items of clothing strewn with tatters, tears and bits of fluff no doubt from the mouths and bodies of moths. While mothballs are great at chasing these pests from your clothes, they happen to leave an unpleasant smell behind. Fortunately, there are some great mothball alternatives, that will do the job just as well!
What to Use Instead of Mothballs?
Moths are often mistaken for butterflies, especially when they flutter in the breeze, but they have a couple of unique features and these include: feathery antennae and attached wings. Mothballs are one of the most common methods used to control clothes moths. However, they can be harmful to humans and pets. There are many ways to eliminate moths without using mothballs. Using a more organic approach and utilising natural remedies such as essential oils, spritzed in your wardrobes, which can help chase those pesky fabric beasts away. Alternatively, you could create organic mothballs, using a variety of materials that provide pleasant smells as opposed to the chemical-clad mothballs, which smell terrible and linger for days after use.
How to Get Rid of Moths Naturally?
If you have a moth problem and are looking for some alternatives to mothballs, you’ll be pleased to know that there are a few options. If you have pets or young children in your home, it’s best not to use products made with paradichlorobenzene (PDB). This chemical can cause neurological damage and harm their development if inhaled or consumed. Fortunately, there are some excellent tips and alternatives, to help tackle this problem:
- Wash Clothes Before Storing
- Non-Toxic Moth Traps
- Lavender Satchels
- Cedar Chips and Blocks
- Cloves, Rosemary and Thyme
- Airtight Containers
- White Camphor Oil
Wash Clothes Before Storing
Before you begin balling up your clothing into garment bags and storage bins, make sure to thoroughly wash them first. For more delicate items, a laundry mesh bag can be used to protect the clothes during a vigorous wash. Things like moth balls are not the only way to keep moths away from stored clothing. Making sure your clothing goes into storage moth-free, should be your first priority, and then the next steps will fall into place. Without thorough cleaning, you could be creating a moth sanctuary where larvae chew their way through garments for an entire season.
Non-Toxic Moth Traps
Clothes moth traps are an excellent modern alternative to old-fashioned and very potent mothballs. Additionally, they don’t contain hazardous fumes, are fairly easy to use, and effectively trap adult moths on their sticky paper for an uncomplicated clean-up. As a result, you don’t have to worry about inhaling toxic air or having harmful chemicals seep into your clothing or bedding – both of which may be harmful to your health and can even affect your skin.
Lavender satchels are a great substitute for mothballs. While the almost addictive, comforting scent of lavender is marvellous for us, most moths run – or fly far away from it! You can find lavender sachet bags readily made online, or at a natural health store. Alternatively, you can opt to make your own, using a handful of branches and some thin pieces of cloth. Simply create a few satchels out of some mesh cloth, and fill them with dried and fragrant lavender. Then dangle them using a thin thread, in several areas of your closet. You can even tuck them into your drawers to keep the moths even further away!
Cedar Chips and Blocks
Cedar wood is a popular choice for clothing and closet protection. It’s often used as an organic moth repellent because the oil in cedar blocks and chips has been shown to repel moths. The downside here is that these oils are short-lived and will lose their scent after a few months of use, meaning you’ll have to replace them more frequently than other alternatives.
However, if you can find durable blocks or chips that last longer than those made from bamboo or lavender (which tends to break down over time), they may be worth considering as a way to keep your clothes safe from moths without filling them with chemicals. These scents do not kill adult clothes moths; they are merely non-toxic deterrents that help prevent larvae from entering your closets and wardrobes in the first place.
Did you know that the smell of mint is revolting to insects, rodents, and raccoons? If so, then you can use dried mint leaves to make a sachet. Another option is to place cotton balls soaked with peppermint oil around your storage area. Keep in mind that essential oils are potent so make sure they won’t stain any items in the storage area.
Cloves, Rosemary and Thyme
If you’re sticking with the homemade non-toxic mothball theme, this mothball alternative might sound more at home in the kitchen than in the bedroom closet. Simply make a sachet bag that delivers pleasant scents that can also drive moths far away. Rosemary and thyme aren’t killer herbs; their smells are generally something moths tend to avoid.
Find some dried cloves, thyme, and rosemary; combining them into a sachet bag. The combination can be powerful enough to put moths off for about six months after which you can refill the bag with a fresh collection of herbs. Cloves alone have been known to have enough power to deter flying moths so you could try keeping them loose in your closets if you wanted an even stronger effect on your clothes hangers.
If you’re looking for a good mothball alternative, then this is the one for you! Minus the unpleasant odours, and potential harm to pets and toddlers at home, using airtight containers is probably one of the best preventative measures against moths. They’re also a good way to keep your clothes safe from any insectile damage. Store your bedding and seasonal clothing in airtight containers that are bug-proof. You can use zip-up chemical-free garment bags for items that need airflow while also keeping insects at bay. Also, clear vacuum storage bags should be used with care and caution around delicate garments.
White Camphor Oil
White camphor oil is a natural insecticide that repels moths and other insects. It’s also considered safer than mothballs, but should still be used with caution. Camphor oil is derived from the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora), which is native to Japan and China. White camphor oil has been used for centuries as a folk remedy for various ailments such as bronchitis, arthritis, toothache and nausea. The most effective way to use this aromatic plant for pest control is through its vapours rather than wearing it on your skin or putting it into your food — just remember: camphor is considered a medicine!
Homemade Moth Repellent Spray
Alongside placing packets doused with lavender or rosemary all over your home, you can blend a few ingredients to make a DIY spray that uses components like neem oil, which is proven to repel and kill many species of moths including clothes moths.
It’s easy to make and use ingredients like neem oil, which is proven to repel and kill many species of moths including clothes moths. Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the margosa tree that grows in India, Sri Lanka and Africa. It’s also used in some organic pest control products sold commercially today.
While home remedies are great, they happen to come with some risks, the main one being that it may not work. But if you want to try it out anyway then here’s how:
For a basic recipe of homemade moth spray you’ll need:
- a 2-quart spray bottle.
- Pour in ¼ cup of neem oil
- Fill the remaining space with water and add some liquid soap
- You can also use white vinegar and water or a mixture of vinegar, neem oil, and vinegar to make a moth-killing spray
- Be careful about what kind of clothing fabrics you spray the solution on to since vinegar could potentially stain leather suede, and silk.
Do Non-Toxic Mothballs Exist?
Yes. While natural moth repellents like cedar and lavender are safe to use in the home, they aren’t 100% effective against moths. That’s why you’ll want to take a look at some alternatives that can be used throughout your home without harming your health or the environment.
Mothballs contain naphthalene, which is a by-product of coal tar processing and has been linked to cancer in people who work with or live near sources of naphthalene emissions, such as coal-powered factories. Other chemicals found in mothballs include camphor, limonene and alpha-pinene – all known toxins that can cause respiratory issues when inhaled over time.
While many manufacturers have reduced the amount of naphthalene in their products since these findings were first reported decades ago (and some now use safer alternatives), it’s still not safe for you or your pets when exposed to high doses for long periods at a time -which would occur if you used enough mothballs inside one room!
Organic Mothball Alternatives
Of the many alternatives, try cedar is a natural mothball alternative. Cedar is a natural moth repellent and very effective at deterring them. It can be used in many ways, but it’s best to use it as an air freshener or to store clothing in because it has a strong scent.
You can also use the power of mint leaves to repel moths. Mint leaves are another great natural way to keep moths away from your clothes, blankets, sweaters and other woollen items. You can simply place the leaves in your drawers with your clothes, or dry them out and make sachets that can remain beside or in between your clothing as well!
Another great non-toxic alternative to mothballs are cloves. Use them as a moth repellent for sweaters and other garments made from woollen material such as cashmere or angora wool sweaters. Cloves have been recognised for centuries, particularly for their pleasant scent when burned, but they also have insecticidal properties which makes them perfect for preventing pests and insects such as moths from invading your homes during summer months, which is when most people tend to wearing lighter fabrics.
These normally include cotton based clothes as opposed to the heavier, warmer ones made from animal hair fibres or even synthetic fibres like rayon. If you remember that wool is a moths dream, then it’ll be easier for you to have them safely stored away, with your organic alternatives tucked between them.
Dangers of Mothballs
Mothballs are made from naphthalene, a toxic compound that can cause nausea and vomiting, dizziness and even liver damage when ingested. It’s also known to be a carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer). Because of these dangers, moth balls should not be used in any room where there is food preparation or storage.
We hope this article has helped you to make an informed choice about whether or not to use mothballs. We know that they are a convenient repellent, but we also think other alternatives could be just as effective.
What can I substitute for mothballs?
Make your own natural, moth repelling sachet with a sheer stiff fabric, such as organza, or wrap whole cloves in tissue paper and hang them in your closet. Cloves are a more natural alternative to mothballs, without the harsh chemicals and irritating smell.
What scents keep moths away?
Like many insects, moths can’t stand the smell of some pleasant smelling herbs like mint, lavender, bay leaves, cloves, rosemary, and thyme.
How do you make natural moth balls?
Homemade mothballs won’t actually be a ball at all, instead it will be a sheer bag of fresh herbs, dried flowers, cinnamon stick and essential oils. You can place cotton balls with essential oils on them for a quick alternative, though adding the extra herbs makes them even more effective.
Can you make your own moth balls?
You can make your own mothballs at home, and they’re just as effective as commercial ones, with natural and pleasant smelling ingredients.