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Removing Mothball Smell From Your House

Category Odors
The strong odor of these moth deterrers can linger in your home. This guide is about removing mothball smell from your house.


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.

March 18, 2017

How do I get rid of a moth ball smell inside my house?


March 18, 20171 found this helpful

Activated charcoal and a spray bottle of diluted vinegar will work.

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March 18, 20170 found this helpful

There is a long thread about it here: http://www.thri  -Your-House.html

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March 18, 20171 found this helpful

Air it out as much as possible but when the doors and windows are closed, keep sachets of lavender and cloves in corners.

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By 1 found this helpful
August 27, 2011

I am moving into a home that was occupied by an elderly couple who had an extreme fondness for mothballs. The entire house reeks of the odor. How can I remove, not mask with Febreze or the like, but actually remove the odor permanently without tearing out the entire interior of the house. Please please help me.


By MizAyo from Chicago, IL


August 27, 20111 found this helpful

A old trick to remove bad odors from a house or room, is placing small bowls of vinegar around.
Place them at the course of the bad smell, or generally around in eye height.
Ofcourse the acid smell of the vinegar will dominate locally for some time, but that's easy to get rid of, by opening a window.

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August 29, 20110 found this helpful

Air the house thoroughly. Put fans in the windows turned to pull the air out, not in. I use mothballs and to remove the odor from clothes, I hang them somewhere with good air circulation. Good luck. At least you do not have a house full of insects.

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February 15, 20160 found this helpful

Mothballs don't just smell bad, they are bad for you. Their active ingredients, naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene, are toxic and can cause headaches and confusion, as well as liver and kidney damage.

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August 7, 20160 found this helpful

fabreeze on you aircondition filter will help

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September 5, 20160 found this helpful

You need to locate all the moth balls (old days they put them in the attic, crawl space, basement for pest control against spiders, roaches, squirrels, mice, rats, snakes, etc.). Once you have located and deposed of ALL the moth balls turn off your A/C unit. Open as many windows in your home as possible (for a few days (2-3)). Return to the crawl space/attic or basement area and spritz it LIGHTLY with a spray mist bottle containing apple cider vinegar or white vinegar and water at the ratio of 2/1 (2:water 1:vinegar).


(Caution do not soak your insulation with it). Use the same vinegar and water mix to wipe down your walls and baseboards. After a few days you should be able to turn the A/C back on and be free in clear. Before you turn the A/C back on replace your A/C filter, clean the A/C coils on the outside unit.

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October 14, 20160 found this helpful

If they were put in the block foundation of your basement can you dilute by pouring vinegar on the inside of the block? I am unable to vacuum out

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October 21, 20160 found this helpful

I'm having the same issue with moth ball odor in my home. It's been a week and its still very very strong. The owner of the rental put moth balls in our attic and the smell is seeping through the air vents. It has stained EVERYTHING. Every time we leave the home we smell moth balls on our clothing. It's embarrassing! To rid the smell we are going to open every window, turn off the air conditioner and crank up the portable fans in the house for as long as we can (hot weather will cause us to stop doing this step).


Once we get the smell out we plan on washing everything...yes EVERYTHING from ceiling to floor in vinegar and laundry detergent in the washing machine...yay ....we also bought some arm and hammer carpet odor eliminater...fingers crossed. BUT I do know that airing everything out (clothing, the house, your car, etc.) gets rid of the smell...oh and time. Definitely give it time...its not an overnight fix.

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By 1 found this helpful
June 3, 2014

How do I get rid of mothballs smell out of my house. I just recently moved in and the previous owners had them all over.

By avaloslupe50 from Baytown, TX


July 25, 20142 found this helpful

Mothballs will be the death of me. Bought a house that reeked of those suckers. Had owner get rid of them and that helped, but not much. What's really helping me is small bowls of white vinegar all over the house.


Helps get rid of cigarette odors also. Going to have to get rid of carpet going upstairs and that will help too. I'm winning but not very fast.

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August 1, 20161 found this helpful

Me and my husband have been feeling sick I believe it's the mott balls I put in the room I think I put too many one in each drawer
W . Otherwise have been feeling tired dizzy and headaches please tell me that we are going to be OK

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August 14, 20161 found this helpful

I had to move out of my house for 3 months because previous owner had mothballs. Also had to go to a pulmonologist and had asthma symptoms for 2 months. I highly recommend getting out of your house until the smell goes away. It took 3 months in our case for the smell to go away. There is a machine called the ozone generator that is suppose to be able to get rid of the smell.


I never used it because I found out after the fact. I high, highly recommend you try out the machine, if not get out of your place because you will get very sick. Mothballs are actually banned in several countries, including Australia around the world because they have killed babies.

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August 23, 20162 found this helpful

How do I remove moth ball odors from a cedar chest?

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September 30, 20160 found this helpful

Please how do I get rid of moth ball smell put some out for some proble with a snake an it has penetrated throughout the house put it outfit just for want day and remove it the next day

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October 10, 20160 found this helpful

That was just a major redundancy. As cedar itself is a moth deterrent. It's why you make chests and line closets with it. Set it out in the sun, open for an afternoon or so

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November 23, 20160 found this helpful

What was your solution? I have the same problem. Put out snake deterent now smell has permeated my basement storage area and crawl space.

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December 3, 20160 found this helpful

What beside coffee grinds work to get rid if mothball smell in mobilehome?

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By 1 found this helpful
November 23, 2016

How can I get rid of the smell of moth balls in my basement?


November 27, 20161 found this helpful
Best Answer

Place charcoal briquettes all around the room. Do not use the ones with lighter fluid added. I place them in an old pie tin. Works great.

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September 3, 20142 found this helpful

We have a serious problem with a mothball smell which has been an issue for selling our home. Buyers has been turned down because of this. We even painted the whole inside of the house along with an entire carpet shampoo. I mop the floor with Pine Sol everyday, but no luck. Can anyone help with how to get rid of strong mothball odor?

By Sang C.

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June 29, 20120 found this helpful

I need to know the best and fastest way to rid my home of mothball smell. We had critters in the ceiling of our trailer (no crawl space) at least not for people. Anyway the good ol hubby decides to put not just the half box of mothballs, but a full one as well. No need to say they work well at getting people out and I'm sure the critters would not want to stay (I hope).
Is there a sure way to get my home back? Do I have to replace my furniture? This really is stressing me out, out of my house. How long do I need to stay out of the house? Are there any companies out there that can help?



July 3, 20120 found this helpful

Are the mothballs still up there? If so of course they have to be gotten out.

For the interior, anything that can safely be set out in the sun should be, including upholstered furniture. Vinegar is a good deodorizer, you could set shallow bowls of it around the house, and wash clothes and bedding in it.

Heat intensifies the release of odors - you could let it get real hot in there, maybe turn on the heat even though it's summer, and go somewhere else for a few hours. Then open all the doors and windows to let out the released odors.

Consider renting an ozone air cleaner - they're available for use after house fires to clear the smell out.

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July 5, 20130 found this helpful

I am buying a new house. The previous owners put moth balls in every room and closet drawer. The entire house is saturated with this smell. How can I remove it?

By V.C.W.

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

April 28, 20080 found this helpful

How do I get rid of moth ball odor in clothes and furniture? The smell just permeates anything it comes in contact with.

Joe from Reading, PA


Removing Mothball Smell

I have acquired a down comforter that reeks of mothballs. I have tried every remedy imaginable, and have been unable to get the smell out. the weather has been rainy for many days so I have not had a chance to hang it outside. That will be my last resort. Right now I can't have the comforter anywhere in the house because it makes us all ill. I have to store it in the shed.

The reason older people aren't bothered by mothballs and other chemicals is that they have become acclimatized to the odors over many years. This does NOT mean that the health risks do not apply to them. Mothballs contain a known carcinogen in large doses. Anyone who still uses them is crazy, and they are banned in many places in the world. (01/03/2007)

By rumbledoll

Getting Rid of Moth Ball Smell

Since most moth balls are made from napthalene which is a volatile...heat and water do wonders if the fabric can take it. Napthalene is one of the heavier volatiles so it takes more heat to evaporate than say acetone that will evaporate at room temperature. I purchased a new maternity jean jumper that smelled horrible of moth balls. I could not even stand to be in the same room with it. For good reason napthalene is no good for you. Anyway, a hot iron on full steam took care of the smell after several washings and hangings inside did nothing. For cars...a suggestion would be to steam clean and leave in the sun on a really hot day with the windows only slightly open to relieve steam but not heat. For fabrics that cannot be ironed hang wet outside in the sun (they might fade but who can wear a smelly sweater). Just remember napthalene evaporates with heat and water helps. Good luck! (03/23/2007)

By Preggo

Removing Mothball Smell

That's why you dont put that many, read the directions, something like 1 mothball per 50 cubic feet. Try to get the uncscented mothballs or the ones that actually smell good. (04/02/2007)

By Brian

Removing Mothball Smell

Instead of using mothballs to keep mice away, I've read that you could place a few drops of peppermint essential oil on some cotton balls & put around. The scent is supposed to confuse them & keep them away. Just a few drops as it can be very powerful. I put this in my car after having mice get in. And the smell will go away with airing, unlike I've found mothballs to do. Plus I'd rather small peppermint than mothballs. I'm still trying to get mothball odor out of our camper. (06/26/2007)

By Rose

Removing Mothball Smell

Charcoal briquettes in a pan overnight - this works in fridges/cars etc. They absorb all odors. (08/01/2007)

By A. Toy

Removing Mothball Smell

Ditto on the horrid experiences with moth flakes. I was told by the roofer that spreading moth flakes in the attic would deter the rodents that I had heard, as opposed to spreading moth balls that they would be able to remove. Within minutes of me spreading this awful product, my house wreaked from the attic all the way to the basement. Neighbors even smelled the odor, several houses down. I called the NPIC and they strongly recommended getting rid of the flakes, even if it meant removing the insulation.

Turns out the product in the moth flakes is toxic, and because this product produces a vapor, it releases into the whole house. What a nightmare! Turns out, getting emergency removal of insulation is close to impossible! My neighbor and friend climbed up in the attic and helped me remove 40+ bags of blown insulation, as we wore respiration masks, goggles, and were covered head to toe in 120 degees for hours. We are all beat, so after taking off of work, making approximately 20+ phone calls later and learning that there are not many companies to install insulation in a private residence (not even handy men) in less than a week's notice, I've finally found someone and am having new insulaltion installed tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, I continue to be sick to my stomach, have a loss of appetite and the flakes have cost me at the very least $1500. I'd hate to think how much it would have been if I had found a professional to remove them. If anyone knows of a miracle product to rid my home of this foul stench before my domestic pets and myself are permanantly ill from inhaling this junk-please post ASAP! As for now, I'll try the vanilla extract and the charcoal. (08/09/2007)

By yokingirl

Removing Mothball Smell

My back bedroom smelled awful when my friend moved out, so I sprinkled moth balls all over the room to kill the smell. It killed the awful smell but then I had to get rid of the moth ball smell. I sprayed febreeze on all carpets and fabrics, then I put a small bowl of ammonia & set it in there and closed the door. After one night the room smelled better, after a couple hours with a window open it smells fine! (09/24/2007)

By Brigitte Carpenter

Removing Mothball Smell

I bought this beautiful dresser and I didn't realize how much of a oder it had from moth balls. I've had it for a few years, using it for odds and ends but not clothing.

This summer I decided to bake it outside in the sun - didn't work. Then I washed the drawers and the inside of the cabinet with Murphy's Soap - didn't work. Then I spray everything with Febreze on top of the Murphys Soap - WAS THAT A WRONG MOVE!

The smell got worse. So I put a 4" x 4" x 2" container in each drawer and filled them 3/4 of the way with baking soda. So every once in a while I would stick my nose in there to no avail - the smell was still there, worse than when I started.

However! Two weeks ago I stuck my nose in to smell a drawer just for the hell of it, because I had given up and lo' and behold the smell had diminished, so I shut the drawer quickly because I didn't want the workings to stop. I went in today and the smell is just about gone, it is very faint.

So I think that maybe people are just giving up to soon.

Today I put in fresh baking soda, I am so impressed. Looks like I will be able to use this dresser after all. I believe the solution is baking soda and time. (10/24/2007)

By Ean

Removing Mothball Smell

TO remove the smell of moth balls from anything you must remove a solid hydrocarbon called Naphthalene. This is a highly toxic solid that sublimes into a gas at room temperature. Airing clothes in a warm ventalated enviroment (outside preferably) will do the best job. It is a function of temperature, ambiant saturation of Naphthalene gas, and time. Good Luck kittens. (11/24/2007)

By Tiffany

Removing Mothball Smell

My son moved into an apartment which had mothballs scattered around it. We removed them, aired the place out, vacuumed with "Pet Fresh". Then it rained and rained, and the place flooded. We got him out of the lease--he lived there for 6 days--but his clothes smell of mothballs even from that short time. I tried TSP, then 1/2 vinegar and water solution, then washing them in Sunlight to no avail.

I have discovered that soaking washable clothing in a solution of orange scented 4 in 1 Lysol (the kind that removes 99.9% of bacteria/germs) did the trick, thank goodness!! I let the clothes soak for an hour, turning them now and then, then washing them as usual with Sunlight detergent. It was the Lysol that did it though. What a relief! I hope this helps. (12/30/2007)

By Sandy

Removing Mothball Smell

Naphthalene is insoluble in water, somewhat soluble in methanol/ethanol, soluble in organic solvents and very soluble in ether, chloroform, or carbon disulfide.
You could therefore use alcohol or methylated spirits. (01/03/2008)

By Mark from Perth Australia

Removing Mothball Smell

Hardware store told me to put mothballs in my crawlspace where I had squirells. Dropped them in through a very small opening at the door threshold and sealed the hole (two boxes worth). Checked into the local Marriott by that night from the intense fumes. Drilled pilot holes and pumped in 20 cans of triple expanding foam to try and encapsulate them as there is no access to remove them. Also left all the windows in the room open and sealed the romm for 2 months. The odor is 90% gone but the room is still not usable. There should be a warning label on a box of mothballs. (04/05/2008)

By John

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