5 Steps to Remove Moth Balls Smells from Clothes

Mothballs are an excellent way to keep insects out of your clothing. However, they have a strong smell that will cling to your clothing and be challenging to get rid of. If your clothes smell like mothballs, try these tricks to get rid of the odor.

What are Mothballs Made of?

Mothballs are used to control moths and other fabric pests that cause a terrible odor to clothing. Naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene are the main ingredients in mothballs.

Both chemicals are harmful to human health, and there is no doubt about them. These substances at room temperature form round or flaky balls before slowly turning into gases and emitting toxic fumes into the environment.

Moths, other insects, and tiny pest infestations like rats and mice will be scared away by the smell. Mothballs could also be used to prevent mold growth by soaking up excess moisture in the air.

What causes the pungent smell of mothballs?

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The smell of mothballs comes from naphthalene, a chemical found in tobacco smoke. Mothballs can be dangerous to the health of our children and the health of our pets if smelled for a long time. They also have an offensive odor. They can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and other health consequences.

Proper Way To Use Mothballs

Mothballs are pesticides and can only be used according to the instructions on the label. This product is intended to protect clothing from being infested with moths and other fiber insects. Place the clothing or materials in containers with tightly closed lids and the mothballs for proper storage.

The moths will be killed by the vapors that remain inside the container. The containers’ lids keep the chemicals from dispersing into the air and contaminating the rest of the home. Before resuming the use of the mothball-treated items, wash them thoroughly. Mothballs should never be used on diapers.

How Long Does Mothball Smell Last

One mothball left out in the open will decompose in three to six months. If you don’t leave the mothball out in the open, it can take up to a year to dissipate completely. It takes months or years for the smell of mothballs to leave your house after they’ve been used. The scent of mothballs can linger for days or weeks after they are removed from a room.

Different Smell Remedies To Remove Mothball Smells in Clothes

how to get rid of mothball smell

Removing the smell of mothballs from clothes can be a time-consuming and challenging task. However, if you’d like to remove the mothball smell on your own, here are some over-the-counter smell remedies you can use.

1. Vinegar

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With vinegar, many household odor problems can be solved, including the one caused by the smell of mothballs. You can soak delicate clothing in a bucket for a few hours before wearing it. Mix warm water with vinegar and put the clothes into it.

Set aside for an hour before rinsing under running water and allowing to air dry completely. To prevent stains, treat the fabric with white vinegar. If you have washable clothing, vinegar is an excellent stain remover. Put your clothes and a cup of vinegar in the washing machine and let it go through a cycle.

After that, proceed as usual with the laundry detergent cycle. The clothes should no longer smell like mothballs after going through both washing and drying cycles. If the smell persists, repeat the procedure. Before letting your clothes air dry or putting them in the dryer, ensure the odor is completely gone.

2. Bleach

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Bleach can also be an effective odor removal solution if you have sturdy clothing that can withstand the bleach’s effects. To begin, make sure you’re using non-chlorine bleach instead of regular household bleach.

After that, simply add bleach and water to the washing machine and wash as usual. Make sure this method is safe for your clothing by reading the care instructions on the item and the instructions on the bleach bottle.

3. Baking Soda

how to remove mothball smell from clothes

You may keep a container of refrigerator baking soda in your refrigerator to lessen odors. The absorbent properties of baking soda can also benefit your winter clothing. Soak your clothes in a bucket of baking soda and your regular amount of laundry detergent in a machine washer. When a bad odor persists, repeat the procedure.

4. Natural Air

how to get rid of mothball smell in clothes

Mothballs can be removed naturally and without using any chemicals by simply opening, allowing a lot of fresh air to come in. For several hours, leave your clothes out in the sun to dry. The open area can aid in the dissipation of the smell without allowing it to spread throughout the house or building.

When dealing with odors that aren’t overpowering, this is the best option. Check the weather forecast before leaving home. Any rain will soak your clothes and leave them smelling musty, and that’s the last thing you want.

Try hanging wet clothes outside to dry on a sunny day or airing out clothing as soon as possible. Before bringing them back inside, make sure the odor is gone. If that’s the case, you’ll have to try something else.

5. Cedar Shavings

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The smell of cedar is strong, but it’s pleasant. Wood chips can be used to keep clothing free of insects and mask the smell of mothballs. For a few days, store any contaminated clothing in a sealed container with cedar chips. This method is proper when dealing with odors that persist despite numerous washings.


It is possible to get rid of the smell of mothballs by using activated charcoal, another highly absorbent substance. Activated charcoal sachets can be stored in a drawer or hung on the back of a door.

Other Options

Instead of using mothballs, try these other options: Use an alternative solution if the smell of mothballs becomes bothersome or if you believe the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. Preventing insects from damaging your clothing is easy with essential oils.

To keep your dresser drawers and other storage areas fresh, use essential oils like lavender oil. Whole botanicals can also be used to make DIY sachets. Insect repellents like lavender, cloves, cinnamon, and rosemary are all-natural. You won’t have to worry about the smell of your clothes when you take them out of storage because these products leave a pleasant one behind.

5 Steps to Get Rid of the Mothball Smell

Getting rid of the smell of mothballs can be accomplished through a variety of means. If you’re using any odor removal method, here’s how to do it step by step.

Step 1. Take out the mothballs from the closet

While mothballs dissolve over time, some may remain when you go to remove your clothing from storage. Discard any remaining mothballs, whole or partial.

They pose a health hazard because of the toxic chemicals they contain. Look into neighborhood waste disposal for the mothballs and keep them in an airtight container. When handling mothballs, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.

Step 2. Shake out the clothes

Your clothes may be stored in a mothball-filled closet or drawers or storage containers in your dresser. When you get stored clothes from the cabinet, give them a good shake. Mothballs have a musty smell, and this practice can help mask that smell a little.

While you’re outside, give your clothes a good shake to remove any remaining moisture. You can then dry the clothes out in the sun to help the smell go away faster. You can hang your clothes in the laundry room if you can’t hang them outside. Remove any remaining mothball pieces from the clothing by hand if you find any.

Step 3. Soak clothes

Durable clothing materials can be washed in the washing machine. The ones with delicate fabrics should be soaked in a bucket first. White vinegar, non-chlorine bleach, and baking soda are all excellent options for getting rid of bad odors. All of these are perfect deodorizers.

If you’re using the washing machine, let the clothes air dry before smelling them. Repeat this step if you can still smell mothballs. If your clothes still have the smell of mothballs, don’t put them in the dryer. Heat, like a stain, can cause an odor to become permanently embedded in a piece of clothing.

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Step 4. Remove the clothes from the dryer

Follow the care instructions on the clothing to dry it once it’s odor-free. When it comes to drying, you have the option of either laying them flat to air dry or using a dryer.

Never dry anything without first checking to see what setting works best for it. Allow the fabric to air dry if soaking the clothes doesn’t work. After that, take the stinky clothes to a dry cleaner or launderette.

Step 5. Remove all your clothes in the closet

Clothing and mothballs may leave a lingering smell in the closet, dresser, or other storage space. To air out a small dresser, move it outside every day for a few hours at a time. Over time, the odor will go away. Hairdryers can also help speed up the process, but only in well-ventilated areas should they be used.

Other Ways To Remove Mothball Smell

how do you get rid of mothball smells

To keep clothes moths from destroying your clothes in your closet, you can use mothballs. However, the smell will get into the fabric. Here are a few methods for getting it out of there.

  • Apply a mixture of vinegar and citrus juice to the area in need.  In a separate bowl, combine white vinegar and lemon juice. Afterward, use a clean cloth to dab the mixture on the areas of the garments that smell the worst before washing them as usual.
  • Put some heat on it. Mothball odors can be removed from clothing by ironing. Hanging the garment in the afternoon sun will help warm up a garment that doesn’t require ironing. The smell may need to sit for a few days before it is completely gone.
  • Allow some fresh air to circulate the area. If the weather is nice, try hanging the clothes outside. If you’re buying shoes, try to keep them out of the sun if possible.
  • Dry it using the “air fluff” setting in the dryer. Using a low heat setting is also an option, but watch out for fabrics that will shrink if not air dried first.
  • Rather than using detergent, use vinegar to wash clothes. To remove any residue from the vinegar, run them through the washing machine twice. By now, the stench of mothballs should have faded.


Mothballs are a simple and effective way to get rid of a clothes moth infestation. It’s frustrating and challenging to get rid of the smell of mothballs. When dealing with clothes moths, mothballs come in handy.

When left in your home for an extended time, mothballs not only stink but are also hazardous. Removing the mothballs and their obnoxious odor is the most brilliant move on your part. Fortunately, even though the smell lingers, it is simple to get rid of using household items like vinegar, baking soda, cedar, and a washer.

how to get rid of moth ball smell

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