The smell of mothballs is like an instant nostalgia every time I come across it. I remember my mother stuffing our closets with these mothballs to prevent them from moth infestation. And even though I do not have a significant problem with the smell, I have met several people through the years who do. And that includes my husband and kids.
Mothballs are made of specific chemicals which tend to leave an odor behind. And since they take a while to evaporate completely, this particular smell clings to fabrics, walls, and even furniture.
After trying and testing various methods, I will have to give a fair warning that it is not very simple to get rid of the smell entirely. But I have several tricks up my sleeve to help you combat the pungent odor of moth balls in this article.
So do you want to know how to get rid of mothball smell in house? Keep reading till the end!
What are mothballs, and what do they smell like?
The primary application of mothball is to repel moths from clothes. Hence, most of us use it as a pesticide. But do you know how it works?
Once you place the mothballs in between the clothes, it emits gases and chemicals mixed in the air. That smell of chemicals drives away insects and moths. But it does not just work on moths; it can also help keep away rats and mice.
The evaporation process takes a while, and a single mothball can last for around 3 to 6 months, based on how exposed it is to the air. Mothballs contain one primary component known as naphthalene.
I am pretty sure most of you have a fair idea of what naphthalene smells like. But if I have to describe it, it smells sweet initially, and the intensity increases the longer you keep sniffing it. Apart from mothballs, naphthalene is also used in several other industries producing coal, tar, etc.
Why is it essential to remove the scent of mothballs from the house?
I used to love the scent of mothballs, as I mentioned above. But I remember every time I tried sniffing them, and my dad used to stop me from doing it. And now we are here trying to find solutions to get rid of the mothball smell from the house. So why is the smell of mothballs problematic? And why should you try removing it from your house?
Naphthalene, the primary component in mothballs, is toxic to human health. When you stuff these pesticides between your clothes, the fumes it releases into the air are poisonous and can harm your physical and neurological health, especially if exposed to them for longer durations.
Professionals even say that inhaling these gases can cause kidney damage, liver damage, anemia, and cancer. Let me briefly explain the process to help you better understand what happens inside your body when you inhale the scent of mothballs.
When you inhale the poisonous fumes, the naphthalene gets converted into alpha naphthol, which can potentially burst blood cells and decrease the amount of oxygen the cells in our body can absorb.
I hope you did not have this experience, but if you smell mothballs for too long, you will feel slightly dizzy and nauseous. If the exposure is prolonged, you can even faint due to that.
How to get rid of mothball smell in house?
Use an air purifier
Getting an air purifier is a worthy investment and the best solution how to get rid of mothball smell in house. The primary objective of using an air purifier is to improve the overall air quality of your house.
The filter used in these devices can eliminate airborne particles and contaminants to a considerable extent and can help you breathe clean, fresh air. Getting an air purifier with a carbon filter is best to eliminate the mothball smell.
Even though HEPA filters are excellent for removing even the finest pollutants, they are not entirely practical when eliminating orders. A carbon filter or an activated charcoal filter can do the job very well and absorb all unpleasant smells and smoke, including toxic chemicals, fumes, and volatile organic compounds.
Use a mothball deodorizer or air fresheners.
You must have used air fresheners in different scenarios multiple times. And yes, these babies work great in getting rid of that pungent mothball smell very well. Today you even get mothball deodorizers in the market specially designed for this specific job.
Let in the fresh air.
Proper ventilation and letting in fresh air is one of the best solutions for ‘how to get rid of mothball smell in house.’ Nothing works like fresh air in doing the magic to remove any foul odor from the house.
The higher the air circulation, the faster the process will be. Open the windows and doors, and turn on your ceiling fans to their maximum speed. The smell gradually reduces after proper air circulation goes on inside the space.
Get rid of the mothballs.
Removing the root cause of the smell is one of the initial steps you must implement. Go around your house and look for mothballs to get rid of them. This process can be a little time-consuming as we usually stuff them deep Inside clothes and in the hard-to-reach nooks and corners. Remember to use gloves and a filtering mask while removing these pesticides.
Use a solution of vinegar and baking soda.
Want to know how to get rid of mothball smell in house using simple ingredients? Mix vinegar and baking soda in water to make a solution. And use it to mop your floors, clean furniture, wipe down your walls, and clean hard surfaces. It will help neutralize the smell of mothballs, as vinegar and baking soda are great neutralizing agents to remove chemicals from your home.
Mothballs tend to emit gases faster when you use heat. And this is a great trick to eliminate the smell. I use my hair dryer as the heat source to speed up the process of the mothballs’ dissolution. But again, this will not happen overnight; you must continue doing it for at least a couple of weeks to eliminate the smell.
Place coffee grounds in closed spaces.
Nothing smells better than a pot of freshly brewed coffee, and I am absolutely in love with that aroma. But what’s interesting is placing coffee grounds around the house is also an excellent solution to ‘how to get rid of mothball smell in house.’ It offers the same effects as baking soda and helps mask unpleasant odors.
You can pour coffee grounds into small bowls and place them around the house. Focus on the spots where the intensity of the mothball smell is the highest. I use this technique in closed spaces that do not get enough air and shoes.
Spread around zeolite.
The specialty of Zeolite is that it has such an unusual structure that all odors tend to stick to it. Zeolite is primarily found in cat litter, and you can use it to hide unwanted smells by scattering it around your floor, furniture, and even carpets.
My neighbor actually taught me this technique, and I have used it a couple of times till now. I can vouch that it can absorb the send of naphthalene very effectively.
Iron your clothes.
This follows the same principle as we were talking about the heat factor in one of the previous solutions. Ironing your clothes means applying heat to them to remove the mothball smell. I will give you another tip to implement while doing this process.
After you have ironed your clothes, hang them in a space that gets sufficient sunlight and air. Although this method does not work in removing the smell entirely in one go, it can fade the scent to a significant extent if you repeat the process for 2 to 3 days.
Use a solution of vinegar and lemon juice for clothes and shoes.
The last technique I have for you is a solution of vinegar and lemon juice. I have used this more than three to four times, and it works like a charm always.
All you need to do is make a solution by mixing both the ingredients and dab it on the affected areas. Let the solution sit like that for some time before rinsing it with warm water.
You can use the same solution to remove the mothball smell from your shoes. Rub the solution on both the outer and inner surfaces. Doing this will not only get rid of the smell, but it will also help absorb excess moisture.
Mentioned above are some practical tips and tricks on how to get rid of mothball smell in house. Mothballs are also toxic to humans if inhaled and exposed to the scent for more extended periods, leading to various health issues.
Using mothballs in the house is even more dangerous if you have small kids and pets running around, as there is always a risk of ingesting them. If you are looking for alternatives, you can go for essential oils, vacuum-sealed bags, and cedar chips.
These are natural repellents, are comparatively safer, and will also repel insects and moths from your garments.
How long does it take to get rid of the mothball scent?
If you want to eliminate the mothball scent from your house, you will need at least a month or two to dissipate the mothballs completely. The duration usually depends on whether they are exposed to air or not.
The less they are exposed to fresh air, the more time they will take to dissipate completely. Sometimes, the smell can even stay for months or years, but it is not permanent. You’ll have to ensure your area is adequately ventilated and is getting enough sunlight, and you will have to clean the affected fabrics and spaces thoroughly.
Can dry cleaning remove the scent of mothballs?
The mothball smell tends to linger, but reaching out to professional assistance and getting the fabrics dry cleaned, should be able to eliminate the smell of mothballs to a large extent, if not entirely. So you can try out this method.
How to get rid of the mothball smell from furniture?
The best trick to remove the mothball smell from furniture is a solution of white vinegar and baking soda. You can apply this to the affected areas of your furniture and even to your carpets and curtains. It will help remove the mothball odors.