How To Get Rid Of Mothball Smell In House

If you’re looking for effective tips on how to get rid of mothball smell in house, then this guide will be of help to you. One of the things that helped set Seinfeld apart as a sitcom was its ability to comment on those little everyday things that get under our skin. For as much as the show liked to bill itself as “A Show about Nothing” – to the point that conceit would be parodied in-show with Jerry and George’s pitch of their “own” Seinfeld-esque show to NBC executives – it’s really in large part about the social faux pas we commit every day. That’s part of its enduring charm. Corded phones and 90s décor may come and go, but the anti-consumerist-Christmas joke holiday Festivus and “Worlds Are Colliding!” endure.

A perfect example is the opening of “The Cigar Store Indian” episode. Jerry and Elaine walk into George’s parents’ house – a hovel for social faux pas if ever there was one, and they react to the smell of the house, which they eventually describe as “dandruff, kasha, mothballs, cheap carpeting. It’s potpourri, really.”

Who hasn’t been in that situation? We all hate walking into a home only to find it beset by a foul odor. What’s more, we all hate being the person owning such a home as well. From either side of the ordeal, it’s a socially awkward, potentially embarrassing, and almost certainly unpleasant situation. This is especially true when, like the Costanza Family, your home is ridden with mothballs. This smell can be particularly difficult to address, given the fact that it tends to be an odor that creeps up on you. Most of us don’t see mothballs littering the floors of our home. Instead, they originate in dark, closed off areas (perfect for moths) and spread from there.

This particular odor often isn’t immediately apparent, can thus be difficult to detect. And even when you do identify it, it’s usually a struggle to get rid of it once and for all.

Thankfully, unlike George Costanza himself, you don’t have to be resigned to your fate. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you rid your home of a mothball smell once and for all.

Rid Your Home of Moths

First and foremost, you’ll want to attack the problem at its source. If your house suddenly smells like mothballs, it won’t be much good to get rid of that initial mothball smell if you’re apt to be stuck with it again in short order due to moths encroaching back into your home. That’s why you’ll want to take the time to devise means of repelling moths once and for all. For starters, you’ll want to throw out any material that has been infested with moths.

That doesn’t mean getting rid of everything in your home that moths have ever touched, of course, but if your sheets are ridden with moth eggs or your drapes feature massive holes where they’ve been chewed through, it’s time to chuck them out. Not only are they likely to be unsightly from a decorating standpoint at that stage, but they might well be ridden with moth eggs, pupae, and larvae. As such, even if you get rid of the moths already in your home, if you don’t get rid of these, a new generation of moths will simply renew that rank mothball smell all over again.

In addition, you’ll want to start thinking about ways to protect your clothing from future moth infestations. Investing in means by which to seal up your blazers and other seasonal clothing in plastic vacuum-sealed bags can be a gamechanger here. You’ll want to make sure that the seal is tight and complete, leaving no space for moths to get in.

Throw out what you must, wash what you can, vacuum everything, and you’ll have taken the first step towards getting rid of the moths – and the smell – once and for all.

How To Get Rid Of Mothball Smell In House

Now let’s turn our attention to battling that mothball odor itself. This is going to be a multi-step process, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re ready to take on the issue in every respect necessary.

Since we’ve already addressed some of the first steps you’ll need to take to prevent mothballs from persisting in the first place, it’s time to attack the odor with activated carbon. The scent of activated carbon can help cancel out that of mothballs. Before you can add some scented freshness to your home to replace the mothball odor, you’ll need to cancel it out first. If you try to fight fire with fire – or, in this case, scent with scent – you’ll only mingle the two, and the mothball odor is likely to overpower anything you set against it. As such, you’ll want to place some activated carbon in bowls around the affected closets and other mothball-ridden areas.

There’s another reason why you’ll want to turn to these bowls of activated carbon. Another problem with mothballs is the fact that the fumes they emit can be not only noxious but mildly toxic as well. Mothballs contain chemicals such as paradichlorobenzene which, when inhaled, can cause problems. As such, not only are mothballs a homemaking faux pas, but they can also prove hazardous to your health, especially when used in large quantities. You’ll thus want to make sure that neither you nor your guests are forced to breathe in those toxic chemicals. Setting bowls of activated carbon around your home isn’t a cure-all, but it is a good first step toward both neutralizing the mothball odor and simultaneously taking in those noxious vapors and working to combat their negative chemical effects.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be ready to start thinking about making your home smell fresh again. Of course, this is its own topic, with any number of different aromas being perfect for adding a fruity or fresh scent to your home. How strong you want this scent to be is up to you, but that might be influenced by the state of your mothball infestation. If you have significantly lessened your mothball door problem but some of it still persists, for example, you may want to invest in odor eaters or aromatic items that are a tad stronger so as to combat the smell.

Getting Rid of a Mothball Smell in Clothing

Moths, closets, and clothes.

This is, by far, the most common combination that leads to a mothball smell. We’ve already talked about what you can do to try to get rid of moths, and you obviously won’t be getting rid of your closets, so let’s turn our attention now to how to treat your clothes.

Lemon juice and vinegar can be of great help in this regard. They are common repellents used for getting rid of different insects and pests around the home, and can do the same for moths. What’s more, this mixture can be of immense help when it comes to combating a mothball smell. Dab it directly onto the affected clothes, and you’ll be able to take advantage of both its moth-repellent powers as well as its ability to mask the smell. Let the clothes soak in this solution for a while before washing them once more with warm water.

You can also use a hot iron to help combat a mothball smell by pressing it against the affected clothes and starting to iron out the odor. Alternatively, if the cloth is delicate and cannot be ironed, set it out in the sun for a while. For a short-term fix, you may want to try perfumes, deodorants, or other scented options to try to mask the odor. However, in terms of a long-term fix, whether you iron them initially or begin with hanging the clothes outside, airing them out is an essential step to ridding your clothes of the mothball smell.

Getting Rid of Mothball a Mothball Smell in Blankets

Of course, it isn’t just clothes which you store in your closet, and which are thus prone to taking on a mothball smell. Many of us store blankets in our closets during the warmer months, and if you aren’t careful, these too can become moth magnets. If you do find your blankets infested with moths, you’ll want to follow the same advice laid out above for general mothball removal – vacuum everything up, wash your blankets as rigorously as the material will allow, and see where you stand.

While dryers may help a bit, getting rid of that mothball smell in your blankets is going to depend much more on simply airing them out. What’s more, if you do choose to use your dryer, you’ll want to use a setting that can perform the same function as airing the blankets out without being so intense as to damage the fabric.

Getting Rid of a Mothball Smell in Shoes

You may not think of shoes as something that can be affected by mothballs. After all, as stated, we tend to instead associate mothballs with clothes and closet space. That being said, the same conditions which exist in closets – a dark, quiet, enclosed area – is true too of the inside of your shoes. As such, moths can sometimes set up residence there, spreading their mothball odor with them. It is thus important that you come up with a means of tackling the stench of mothballs there as well.

Now, chances are you may have a few shoe odor stopgap measures already at your disposal. If your shoes have odor eaters or you have shoe odor sprays on hand, for example, these can be effective for limiting the odor. To get rid of it once and for all, however, as demonstrated time and again throughout this article, you’ll have to tackle the underlying problem.

There are a variety of methods you can attempt to use to tackle the problem of a mothball infestation head-on. Putting shoes out in sunlight to address the mothball problem can help, but only if you do so for short spells, as prolonged exposure to sunlight can dry out your shoes. You might have more prolonged success with other methods, such as the tried and true white vinegar and lemon juice solution described previously. Even so, you’ll again want to be careful so as not to use too much and risk damaging the materials your shoes are made of. Another surprising home remedy? Coffee grounds. If you want a short-term solution before your shoes are finished airing out and you have gotten rid of that mothball smell for good, you can use ground-up coffee beans to give your shoes a coffee lover’s dream scent in the meantime.

In addition, you might be able to use an ozone machine to try to suck some of the odor and fumes out of your shoes—and your closet, clothes, and blankets as well, for that matter. However, you’ll want to exercise caution when looking into this approach. Too much of a good thing can be a problem, and using too high-powered of an ozone machine within an enclosed space can lead to its own problems.

In each of these cases, combating a mothball smell is, at its core, a two-step process. First, you want to make sure that you have a means of combating the smell in the short-term. Here, everything from coffee beans to odor eaters to scented items can be of use. Be sure that whatever you’re using is strong enough to be the “dominant” scent, and will not simply mingle with the mothball odor, as previously stated. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re using products with a scent you actually like. That may seem like an obvious point, but far too often, people get so caught up trying to fix one odor problem with home remedies that they inadvertently cause another. For all the organic materials listed above, be sure that they are fresh and remain so throughout the treatment process. In terms of a long-term solution, you’ll want to heat, dry, and air out the items in question. This can take a few sessions to complete, so be patient. Last but not least, you will want to be sure to clean the items thoroughly and vacuum up after them so as to prevent further mothball outbreaks in the future.

Avoid the Seinfeld-ian social faux pas of a mothball-ridden home with these simple tips to deodorize your home and rid it of mothballs once and for all.