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Removing Mothball Smell From Clothing

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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