Few things are more dreadful than finding out that your T-shirt is riddled with holes. Unfortunately, moths can eat away the fibers of your clothes, often leaving them unwearable. Enter mothballs. These small, white pallets are able to protect your clothes from becoming the favorite chew toy of insects.

But how do they work, and do they have any other uses besides keeping your closet moth-free? Let’s find out!

What Are Mothballs?

Mothballs are chemical insecticides shaped into small balls. Generally speaking, they are made using paradichlorobenzene, naphthalene, or camphor, which are all very effective fumigant insecticides. In order to dispel insects, the mothballs slowly turn from solids into toxic vapors over the course of six months. This vapor kills off the pests and gives off the unique mothball scent that people are familiar with.

Word of Caution

As previously mentioned, paradichlorobenzene and naphthalene are active ingredients in mothballs. However, according to the WHO, both are carcinogenic to humans.

In other words, these chemicals are toxic, and exposure to them can cause a variety of negative effects. Those include headaches, nausea, jaundice, dizziness, diarrhea, and the occurrence of blood in the urine. Additionally, paradichlorobenzene can lead to liver and kidney damage in pets, while naphthalene can damage red blood cells.

As a result, sniffing or chewing mothballs is very dangerous. So make sure that your pets or kids don’t have access to these insecticides. And if they somehow manage to get a hold of mothballs, you should contact a doctor immediately.

How to Use Mothballs?

The purpose of mothballs is to kill adult moths, their eggs, and larvae before they can damage your clothing. However, since mothballs can be dangerous to your health, you need to be extremely careful when using them.

For starters, you should wear gloves when placing a mothball in the closet, as skin contact can cause a dermal reaction. Secondly, mothballs are most effective when placed in an airtight container along with the clothes you want to protect. That way, the vapor penetrates the clothes’ fibers and repels any pests.

When you want to take your clothing out of storage, remember to bring the container outside and let it air out thoroughly. And don’t forget to wear gloves and a face mask to avoid inhaling the toxic vapors. Also, keep in mind that it can be very hard to get rid of the mothball smell. Of course, you can always use cedar or lavender-scented mothballs, as they have a more pleasant odor.

After airing out the clothes, you should wash them to remove the chemicals altogether. While it might sound like extra work, it’s the only way to ensure they won’t cause any negative effects on your skin.

Additional Mothball Uses

Mothballs have a variety of uses besides protecting your favorite clothing from pests. However, you shouldn’t attempt any of them if you’re not entirely sure what you are doing. Otherwise, you risk putting your family’s health in danger.

Here are a couple of ways you can use mothballs around the house:

  • Protect your garden: Is your garden infested with rodents? Then you can place a few mothballs near flowerbeds or in the garden soil to keep them away. You can also crush and scatter them in the pots to avoid insect infestations. But remember to replace the mothballs regularly, as they evaporate faster than indoors, depending on the soil’s moisture.
  • Get rid of pests: Bats, rats, and mice are common in most US attics and basements. Fortunately, mothballs can keep these pests from entering your home as the smell of naphthalene suffocates them. The chemical reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of their red blood cells. Mothballs are so strong that they can also drive away snakes and reptiles.
  • Avoid rust: You can use mothballs to protect your silverware from rusting. All you have to do is put them in a bag and add a couple of mothballs. That should be enough to keep them shining until the next usage. Just don’t forget to clean your silverware thoroughly after taking it out of the bag.
  • Kill fleas: Adding some mothballs to the vacuum bag will kill any fleas or insects sucked in by cleaning.
  • Removes bad odors: It’s true that mothballs don’t have the most pleasant scent. However, they can cover bad odors like the smell of dead animals.

Alternatives to Mothballs

Although mothballs are very effective, people avoid using them too often due to their high toxicity. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives that you can rely on. For instance, you can use natural deterrents, like lavender sachets, cedar blocks, or cedar rings. Or, you can mix thyme, rosemary, lemongrass, neem, and cloves and place the compound in a small bag on top of your clothes to keep moths at bay.

However, these are deterrents, meaning that they won’t help remove adult moths, larvae, and eggs. For that, you’ll need to rely on products such as:

  • Clothes Moth Traps use pheromones to attract moths to their sticky surface. Once there, the insects will be unable to leave and spread chaos in your closet ever again. And best of all, these are child and pet safe, so you won’t have to worry about endangering your family’s health.
  • Clothes Moth Killer Kits are the ultimate solution to your moth problems. These packages contain various items, including moth traps, sprays, and foggers. Not only are they easy to use thanks to their detailed instructions, but they are also highly effective. In fact, since they are designed to target each part of the moth’s life cycle, you can use them to get rid of any infestation, regardless of its severity.

You may also like to read: How Many Mothballs to Use in a Room

The Bottom Line

Overall, mothballs can be a great way to protect your clothes from pesky insects. However, it’s important to remember that they contain toxic chemicals that could harm your health. Therefore, you should only use mothballs for their intended purpose and keep them away from your kids and pets. And remember that you can always use a safer and more effective alternative, such as natural deterrents or moth traps.

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