Mothballs are a great tool for protecting your clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, and anything else that can be damaged due to either moth larvae and mold. If you’re unfamiliar with what mothballs technically are, they’re small, tiny balls of deodorant and pesticide that help keep your belongings clean and protected. Although mothballs are a very popular and effective type of protective repellent, many people still don’t fully understand how long moth balls last.

How long do mothballs last?

Mothballs are made out of a chemical called naphthalene. This chemical dissolves at room temperature overtime and turns into a gas that enters the air. The rate at which a mothball evaporates really all depends on the temperature and the environmental conditions. Mothballs tend to evaporate faster in more humid and hotter temperatures and less in the cold.

When your mothballs have been totally evaporated, you’ll know it’s time to add new ones. Typically, moth balls can last anywhere from 2 months up to a year, but like previously mentioned, the rate at which they dissolve really depends on the temperature and the current environmental conditions.

Once your mothballs have dissolved, they’ll usually leave a very annoying odor, especially if you use them in an indoor area like your basement, your attic, or the inside of a shed. This can become quite troublesome. To get rid of this smell, it’s recommended that you never use any sort of air freshener to cover up the smell. Why? First, as mothballs evaporate, they leave a gas in the air. You don’t want this chemical mixing with the chemicals in the air freshener. It could be toxic if breathed in. Second, by crossing one odor with the other, you’ll more than likely create a new odor that’s just as disgusting if not worse. So, what’s the solution to ridding your area of this smell?

One product you can use is a scentless neutralizer. A quality neutralizer will actually destroy the odor of the mothballs instead of just trying to cover it up. Another method that works well is simply opening up the windows and letting the odor scape. Although this takes time, turning up the temperature in your home will help dissolve any leftover mothball residue that may still be around. In addition to this, using fans and air purifying systems may also come in quite handy.

The proper way to use mothballs

Mothballs should always be put in air tight bags and containers. They should never just be placed randomly. Why? Like mentioned earlier, mothballs evaporate into a gas overtime that’s very toxic to your health. By keeping them in air tight containers or plastic bags, you can prevent the dangerous fumes from escaping and causing unnecessary health issues.

If by chance you put mothballs inside a container with clothes, you’ll want to wash this clothing in vinegar before you wear it again. By neglecting to do this, you could make yourself quite sick. It’s important to note that you should never dry your clothes until the odor of the mothballs has been completely eliminated. Otherwise, the odor will never leave.

All containers should also thoroughly be washed out with vinegar after being used. You’ll want to get rid of those lingering chemicals for your household’s sake. It’s best to even let your containers soak in vinegar for a while before finally rinsing them off with water and drying them with a towel.

Last but not least, you’ll always want to use rubber gloves when handling mothballs. This will prevent you from accidently rubbing those toxins into your eves or into your mouth. Some people even use face masks, so they don’t breathe any of the fumes. Whatever you do, just make sure you take precautions and follow the directions on the label on the box of mothballs you’ve purchased.

Safety concerns with mothballs

Like mentioned earlier, because mothballs are made out of the chemical naphthalene, they release harmful gas and should always be kept in an air tight bag or fully sealed container. Neglecting to do this could result in respiratory problems for either you, your family, or your pets.

Besides breathing the toxic gasses, ingesting mothballs can also lead to serious health concerns including death. This is why it’s extremely important to make sure you store your mothballs not just in an air tight bag or container but also in a place where children and pets can’t get them. Some good places to store your extra mothballs include cupboards up high, locked sheds, and even lock boxes.

Josh Hurd
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  1. Terry J Brennan Reply

    Josh, I find they work great under your car hood for chasing away rodents (pack rats in my case) & keep them from eating the insulation on any wiring there !!

  2. I have a really bad flying squirrel problem in my attic. Paid two exterminators 2000.00 and still had the problem. Called animal control and their methodology also proved useless. Finally hung open bags of mothballs in my attic. Six months later not one problem. When safely used they and are effective deterrent.

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