Mothballs can be an effective method of keeping moths out of your stored woolen clothing. However, they are also made from the highly toxic chemical naphthalene and are linked to several health issues, especially in children. This is a guide about alternatives to using mothballs.
Solutions: Alternative to Using Mothballs
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3 sticks of cinnamon bark, broken into small pieces
Mix the cloves, pepper corns and cinnamon bark together in a bowl. Then using double-layer cheesecloth, sew little pillows or make little bags to hold about 2 tablespoons of the mixture. Make little bags to hang in your closet and a little pillows to put in your drawers. You can also just sprinkle this mixture in areas that you want to prevent moths, but be careful. If comes into contact with clothing, it can stain.
A better idea than using mothballs is to take your leftover soap slivers and put them in a vented plastic bag. You place the bag with seasonal clothes before packing them away. Not only will the scent prevent them from moth harm but also they'll smell great when you pull them out. I especially like this for sweaters, which can be difficult to remove the odor of mothballs from. Using soap you simply have a clean smell rather than the smell of an attic.
I pack many of my woolens in a cedar-lined hope chest. The rest of my stored clothing goes into the attic in plastic trash barrels with tight lids. I place 1 or 2 bars or scented soap, unwrapped, in each barrel and have never had a problem with moths or other insects.
We get so many requests about how to get rid of pests and invariably people say to use mothballs or were given this advice from exterminators. Mothballs are very toxic. They contain Napthalene which is highly poisonous. It does keep moths away and many other pests but is also bad for us, our pets (dogs, cats, and birds) and wildlife.
We also get many, many requests asking how to get rid of the mothball smells after using them to keep mice out of their attics and crawl spaces. The best way is not to use them in the first place. If you must use them, make sure you contain them in something. As soon as you want to remove them, all you need to do is remove a mesh bag rather than trying to find them all over the attic.
Personally, I don't use them for anything and wouldn't recommend their use. Cedar shavings do repel moths and work well repelling some other pests also.
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