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Removing Mothball Odor from Clothing

Category Clothing
It is great that there is no moth damage on those clothes, but getting rid of the smell can be a challenge. This guide is about removing mothball odor from clothing.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 2 found this helpful
March 23, 2016

I just got a great score of vintage fabric from an old barn sale. Some smells like moth balls really badly. Most has had some mouse poop/urine on it. The latter I know a wash will fix, but the mothballs?

Vinegar is my normal go to for things of annoyance. But cold, warm, hot water? I don't want to fade it out, I just want the stench gone.
Would I be better off soaking in a mix of baking soda and vinegar?
Help. Please.


March 28, 20160 found this helpful

I found this article, I hope it helps!

http://www.stre … s/01/010924b.cfm

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April 10, 20160 found this helpful

Try putting a lot of cedar balls everywhere and get the real cedar, that smells the loudest.

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June 19, 20160 found this helpful

Mouse urine and feces are a scare for the hantavirus. It is best to burn! Be sure to wear mask and gloves!

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July 28, 20160 found this helpful

Have do you get the moth ball silver out b your house

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October 20, 20160 found this helpful

That is only a cover up. It doesn't ELIMINATE the mothball smell. Same with Frabreze.
Plus everyone should read up about Fabreze health issues.
It makes me sick and dizzy.
Turns out I'm not the only one.
Everyone educate yourself about these chemical cover ups.
Even fabric softnesrs and scented laundry soap.
Now with the new front load washers that use WAY LESS water, the soap and softners don't come out.


Then u put this on your children. Their own body heat make the Fragrense emit from the clothing.
This clothing is right UNDERNEATH THEIR LITTLE NOSES!!
Petroleum chemicals. These chemicals actually are able to pass the brain barrier when breathed thru their noses.
Then at nite after a nice bath using chemically scented bath gels and body lotions, they climb into a nice freshly laundered bed and breath in more man made chemicals all nite long!
We wonder why they can't focus or sit still in school. Or just don't feel good, but can't explain why or what is wrong.
You think when they show a pretty flower or herb on the package, that's what in it, right?
Wrong. Even " natural essential oils" are usually produces by extracting the oils using petrochemicals.
Unless ur making these oils yourself ...... don't believe what you read.

Plus some people and children especially are sensitive to the aroma of lavender or thyme and many others.
It can make their little eyes feel tired or burn same with their skin.
I finally had to switch my family over to coconut oil.
Not butter, oil. Comes in a big jar and looks like mayonnaise lol. It has absolutely no scent and nothing else in it or used in it to process it.
Please people, please rethink all the yummy perfumes lotions and other scented things you use.
If not for you then for your children.
Or for the people like me, that are sitting next to you, or walk pass you in the grocery store.
I die.

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August 26, 20170 found this helpful


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July 14, 20140 found this helpful

I have a fur jacket that has been handed down to me, but it smells of moth balls. How can I get rid of the smell?

By Christine S



November 5, 20141 found this helpful
Best Answer

Spray with vinegar & water, 50/50 mixture until it's well wet. Then, leave it out in the fresh air to dry. Repeat the process until the odor is gone. However, if this doesn't eliminate the smell after a couple of tries you could also try using baking soda water, again, a 50/50 solution and let it air dry as well. Leave it out in the air for several days, as fresh air helps more than anything else. The combination of both treatments should work, but then dry cleaning would be an easier remedy - just a lot more costly.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 6, 2011

How do I get rid of the moth ball smell on clothes?

By Scott from Boise, ID



March 11, 20110 found this helpful

The best solution is to use vinegar. This article tells you the exact steps:

http://voices.y … 44442.html?cat=6

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July 20, 20140 found this helpful

The best solution is to use vinegar.

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November 25, 20141 found this helpful

I had washed this winter shirt about 5 times & could not get the smell out. You suggested vinegar & someone else also said baking powder! I did them both and it worked! Thank you so much.

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February 10, 20160 found this helpful


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November 24, 20160 found this helpful

Ok sounds good. Now what amount of vinegar and baking soda?

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By 0 found this helpful
November 4, 2010

How can you get the smell of mothballs out of a natural sheep's-wool lining of a leather jacket?

By Fitschen from IN


July 31, 20050 found this helpful

How do you remove Mothball smell from woolen sweaters?


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November 5, 20100 found this helpful

Just hang the item somewhere with air circulation, nearly empty closet, doorway, etc. and the odor will disappear in a few days. It might help to turn the jacket inside out.

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October 27, 20150 found this helpful

Hang it in the sun. I had no luck just hanging my things, including shearling, outside - but when they were in the sun, the smell went away. good luck

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November 12, 20080 found this helpful

I bought brand new Playtex bras second hand. The catch is I can't get rid of the mothball smell. I've tried vinegar and left it in water over night. Yet the smell is still there. Any answers?



November 12, 20080 found this helpful

Instructions Difficulty: Moderate
Things You'll Need: Laundry Detergent, White Vinegar, Hangers, and biological odor remover

Step 1 Remove clothes from the closet and take them out of boxes, plastic bags or storage containers.

Step 2 Hang clothes outside on a nice day to let them air out.
Step 3 If clothes are washable, place 1 to 1 1/2 cup white vinegar in the load at the beginning of the wash cycle.

Step 4 Dry clothes outside, not in a clothes dryer.

Step 5 Use a biological odor-eliminating product. Follow instructions carefully.

Step 6 Be sure that all family members - especially grandma, who has used mothballs for a good portion of her life - understand the danger that mothballs pose.

http://www.ehow … hball-odors.html

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November 12, 20080 found this helpful

To clean the moth ball smell from scarves, I used Johnson's Bedtime Bath cleanser for babies. I put some in a sink full of water and soaked the items for about 30 minutes and then scrubbed and rinsed. They came out smelling pretty strong at first, but I let them air dry and after the second washing in the machine, smelled like everything else.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 27, 2015

I bought the most adorable purse and it arrived reeking of mothballs! The purse is made of plastic. All suggestions are appreciated!


May 27, 20150 found this helpful

Yeah, they are stinky aren't they? You need to remove the smell rather than try to mask it... since it may only smell worse!

I would try airing it outside for as long as possible, then possibly filling the bag directly or make a cheesecloth full of baking soda, tying it shut and leaving it in the bag to absorb some of the odors. You may need to change the baking soda a few times.
Leaving it in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer with the baking soda may help as well.
Good Luck!

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July 27, 20130 found this helpful

How do I get rid of mothball smell on clothing? I have tried lots of fresh air, but the jacket still overpowers the senses. It is dry cleanable, but I do not want to spend the money if it won't come out.

By Bobbie D


July 29, 20130 found this helpful

Hope this works: Put the coat on a hanger and put it outside on a nice, sunny day. The sun will help. I had lost my leather jacket and when I got it back, it smelled awful. I did not want to dry clean it. I put it in the sun for a day or two and it was fine! Try it to see if this works. It can't hurt!

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June 8, 20120 found this helpful

How do you get mothball odors out of your clothes?

By Christelle


June 11, 20120 found this helpful

Usually just airing them for a few days will take care of the odor. I have heard that using a clothes dryer set to air fluff will speed the process. I usually put mine on hangers and hand them where the air will circulate around them. I suppose you use a fan to help.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

June 18, 20092 found this helpful

How do you remove the Moth Ball smell from clothing? I have just purchased some nice second hand clothing, which have been stored in moth balls. I have washed them in washing powder and Eucalyptus Oil but the smell is still there.

Jackie Y from Adelaide, Australia


Removing Mothball Smell From Clothing

How do you remove mothball smell from clothes?

VJW from Lakeland, FL


Removing Mothball Smell From Clothing

The best and least expensive way to remove mothball odor is to put them outside and let the clothes air. It may take some time but the smell will go away. (11/02/2006)

By Dean

Removing Mothball Smell From Clothing

Put them in your dryer on air dry with no heat, and toss in a few sheets of fabric softener and tumble for 20 minutes. The clothes will not smell of moth balls. (12/19/2006)

By Donna

Removing Mothball Smell From Clothing

I bought some beautiful sets of sheets at a garage sale a few summers back and just packed them away in a plastic bin. When I went to go use them they wreaked of mothball smell! I washed them, put them in the dryer and hung them out side on the clothes line! Nothing worked. So I just packed them away again. Several years later I had to move and needed to decide what to do with these beautiful but very smelly sets of sheets! So just just dumped them on the front porch for a while, in freezing cold temperatures! Now they don't smell anymore! Fresh air, and lots of it seems to be the best thing! (10/26/2007)

By A. Verdonk

Removing Mothball Smell From Clothing

Mothballs, Febreeze, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets are all very toxic. It will not protect you from the toxicity of mothballs to cover up the smell with other toxic scents. The best remedy is hanging outside but a vinegar rinse is a good start before hanging. I hang my things in the garage during winter months and even that seems to help. Add the vinegar to the rinse water as it will "fight" with any soap or detergent you use if you wash the item first. (10/30/2007)

Removing Mothball Smell From Clothing

Use baking soda, it takes a while to get rid of the odor, but it works. (07/31/2008)

By Old Man

Removing Mothball Smell From Clothing

Oh my, the hardest odor to remove, and very toxic. I just fill the washer, add a couple of cups of white vinegar, add the clothing, rotate a few minutes, then stop machine and let soak for an hour or two. Since you have already washed, just turn the machine on to complete the cycle. Have never heard of vinegar "fighting" with soap, but if some scent is still left, hang outside.

I have to laugh at people who spend their good money on all those odor remover products. I buy a gallon of white vinegar for about $1.75, and leave it by my washer. Anytime I detect odor in the laundry, I just add maybe a quarter cup, and all my laundry is odor free. I have also used it many times when shampooing carpeting, and any other odor problem. The owner of the Vinegar Co. says the law will not allow them to say it deodorizes and disinfects, but it's great and cheap. I have rental property and when they move, I grab the vinegar with my other cleaning products. LOL Ellen (08/20/2008)

By Ellen

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March 6, 20110 found this helpful

How do I get the mothball smell from my clothing? I've washed them 4 times.

By Donna from Athens, AL

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October 29, 20100 found this helpful

I cannot get the smell of mothballs out of my clothing. I've washed them twice, hung them outside for 2 weeks, and just washed again with vinegar in the wash to no avail. Help!

By DorisB from Taylor, MI

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September 29, 20100 found this helpful

How to remove the smell of moth balls from clothes.

It's easy and costs nothing (providing you have a steam iron).

Wash the garment then iron at the relevant setting. The heat from the iron releases the molecule causing the smell. You could also try this on dry clothes with the steam setting.

My advice is to set the ironing table up out of doors. As you see the steam blowing away you know the smell is going with it. Then hang the clothes outside to air. When you are sure they are completely dry, pop them into a plastic bag with some lavender and you will have your formerly unusable clothes back (the lavender step is optional - or use a cotton wool pad sprayed with your favourite perfume - be creative).

I have just retrieved a bag full of woolen garments this way. I washed the garments then set the iron on wool/steam and was amazed at the instant results. I've just brought my woolens in from the line and there is not a trace of the smell of moth balls (an hour ago the smell from them was making me sick).

I suppose carpets, curtains and upholstery can be steam cleaned as can vehicle interiors just remember to create as much ventilation and through draft as possible as the steam produced is carrying the smell.

I don't know about using steam on timber furniture. I read a post saying wetting timber only injects the smell further into the object, but maybe a question placed on the woodworking forums might produce a solution.

I agree with the writer who said this stuff should come with a warning and thanks to the Perth (Australia) writer who explained about the 'smell molecule' affected by heat.

Hope you have as much success as I did.

Love, Margaret from Brisbane Australia


Removing Mothball Smell From Clothing

Never steam. I steamed a garment following this advice and the smell came back stronger than ever a few days later. Now nothing I do can remove it. It's been more than a month of washing and air drying. Steaming only causes the odor to penetrate deeper. (05/16/2010)


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November 1, 20060 found this helpful

I put a bunch of clothes in a plastic container and then put in some moth balls since I was storing them in the basement.

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February 7, 20060 found this helpful

Last night while visiting my sister-in-law in her new home, she asked if I knew of any way to remove the smell of moth balls.

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