How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell | Top 7 Ways


As humans, we are constantly looking for ways to keep our clothes and belongings safe from the attacks of pests and critters. Moths, which typically damage the clothes inside the cupboard, are tended to by the mothballs. But, as much as you appreciate not having unwanted moths in your clothes and furniture, damaging them, you can’t get over the strong and pungent smell it has.

Mothballs are multipurpose, and while some people genuinely enjoy and appreciate the smell, some don’t. The musty smell from the mothballs is often a hit or miss among most people. However, you can’t deny that stepping out of the house with such a strong smell is a no-go for most people.

So, how to get rid of mothball smell? You need to find a solution that works and one that works quickly and without inflicting unnecessary damage to the clothes. 

Also read: How to Get Rid of Ladybirds? | Top 10 Tips that Work

What are Mothballs?

Before diving into how to get rid of the smell, let us clarify what they are. Mothballs are white-colored, spherical pesticides that can keep the moths out of the cupboards and prevent their infestation in enclosed spaces around the house. The following sublimation means the chemicals become gas and gradually mix with the air.

Napthalene Balls

Not just moths, the strong and pungent smell from these mothballs is quite effective in preventing the infestation of rats and other critters too. They also prevent unnecessary mold growth that could result from moisture.

Mothballs are typically made with naphthalene, but more and more companies are now switching to paradichlorobenzene since they are less flammable. They are very high in chemicals and unsuitable for consumption as they contain carcinogens.

List of Ways to Get Rid of Mothball Smell

As much as mothballs help keep the insects and pests out of your clothes, they also come with their fair share of complications. The biggest issue with mothballs is the smell. The strong and pungent smell has undertones of mustiness that many individuals don’t appreciate. 

If you wonder if the mothball smell goes away on its own, the answer is yes. It does go away on its own. However, there are a lot of factors that you need to be mindful of. You can opt for easy and DIY ways, or you might have to get other constructive ways to get rid of the smell out of the clothes for good.

For your convenience, we have sorted out some of the most common ways to eliminate the strong mothball smell from your clothes.

1. Ventilate the Area

Mothballs follow sublimation, meaning they mix with the air in the gas form. This is one of the reasons why you will see the size of the mothballs gradually decrease over time. Since they follow the sublimation property, ventilating the area is the easiest way to eliminate the smell.

Image Source:

You can open the doors and windows and keep the wardrobe open for better access to the insides. Once the air passes around, it will eventually become much easier for you to eliminate the smell. Also, never overdo the number of mothballs you have in a wardrobe. The more you add, the more intense the smell gets.

2. Use Vinegar & Water Solution

If you can’t remove the pungent mothball smell from the wardrobe where you put the mothballs, the easiest way would be by spraying down the area with some vinegar and water solution.


Avoid using very concentrated solutions. Instead, mix the vinegar and water in 50-50 proportions for the maximum potential. Transfer the solution to the inside of the spray bottle and then use the same to spray down the surfaces inside the wardrobe. Make sure you use a clean and dry rag to wipe down the surface.

3. Use Zeolite

Zeolite is a cluster of minerals that has very potent effects in absorbing the surrounding odor. It is a very common inclusion in cat litter. So, if you have cat litter around your house, you are lucky because cat litter has zeolite. If you have cat litter handy, sprinkle some around the areas where the smell of the naphthalene is the most potent.


They also work optimally on the carpets and flooring. Using zeolite is also very potent if you want to eliminate the smell of the furniture in your house. It will take a few trials before all the smell is wiped out.

4. Try Coffee Grounds

Now, this is a very controversial opinion. While some individuals vouch for it, some prefer not to dirty or stain the areas by sprinkling on coffee grounds. Both of these situations are justified. However, the strong and pungent smell of the coffee beans has fantastic benefits in deodorizing the spaces they are sprinkled in.

Coffee Grounds
Image Source:

So, if you are a heavy coffee drinker and have spare coffee nubs that you’d throw away, use the coffee grounds to get rid of the strong smell of the mothballs. If you want to avoid directly sprinkling the coffee grounds, another good alternative is to empty them into a bowl and then place the bowl inside the wardrobe or near the areas where the smell of the mothballs is the maximum.

5. Use Baking Soda

There’s no question about the efficacy of baking soda, especially regarding odor elimination. Although baking soda doesn’t have a smell of its own, it can effectively absorb the adjoining smell that surrounds it. It works a lot as zeolite does. 

Baking Soda

You can take a small bowl and sprinkle a good amount of baking soda into it. Once done, you can place the bowl near the area where the smell of mothballs is at its peak. Doing this will eventually get rid of the strong and pungent smell of the mothballs without you needing to put in extra effort in the process.

6. Use Lemon Juice & White Vinegar Solution

You can douse yourself in a perfume bottle to mask the smell, but it’s not economically practical. So, the best alternative is to look for natural DIY solutions; thank god there is one.

White Vinegar
Image Source:

The lemon and vinegar solution has very potent deodorizing properties that can effectively eliminate the strong mothball smell from the clothes. You can make a solution with lemon, vinegar, and water and spray it on the area of the clothes where the smell is the maximum.

7. Hang Your Clothes in the Sunlight

Ventilation plays a crucial role in getting rid of the pungent smell. If you can’t get rid of the strong smell of the mothball, hang your clothes outside in the sunlight throughout the day. This can make a lot of difference, especially when warding off the lingering fumes in the clothes.

Hanging Clothes
Image Source:

Also, exposing the clothes to direct sunlight ensures to protect the clothes from bacterial growth. It also removes unwanted critters and insects crawling all over the clothing. Sometimes, minor efforts can help you solve the most significant issues without complications.

How often do you think of how to get rid of the mothball smell? As much as they help, they also come with their fair list of downsides. We’d recommend that you either use them in moderation or avoid using them altogether since they don’t positively influence the health of the humans or the pets around you.

Also read: How to Get Rid of Flour Mites? | 7 Potent Remedies

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the Mothball Smell Permanent?

No, the mothball smell isn’t permanent, and it will eventually go away with the correct methods and remedies you implement from the list of options we have sorted out for you in this guide.

Is the Smell of the Mothball Harmful?

Yes, the chemicals present in the mothballs are harmful and often carcinogenic too. This means that consuming or even inhaling the smell is harmful to both pets and human beings. We’d recommend that you steer clear off of it.

How to Get Rid of the Mothball Smell without Washing?

The easiest and most effective way to get rid of the mothball smell is by placing a bowl of vinegar in the area with the maximum smell.

By James Edwards

James Edwards is a writer & editor with almost 15 years of experience from Murphys, California. He earned his bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *