How to Remove Mothball Smell from Clothes: Tips and Tricks

If you’ve ever stored clothes with mothballs, you know how difficult it can be to get rid of the smell. While mothballs are effective at keeping pests away, they can leave a strong, unpleasant odor on your clothes. The smell can be particularly stubborn, and many people struggle to remove it even after washing their clothes multiple times.

Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to get rid of mothball smell from your clothes. Whether you prefer natural remedies or store-bought products, there are options available to help you eliminate the odor. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective ways to get mothball smell out of clothes, so you can wear your favorite garments with confidence once again.

Why Mothball Smell is Hard to Remove

Mothballs are commonly used to protect clothing and other items from moth damage. However, they emit a strong, distinctive odor that can be difficult to remove from clothes. The reason why mothball smell is hard to remove is due to the chemicals used in the mothballs themselves.

The main ingredient in mothballs is naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. These chemicals are volatile and can easily vaporize into the air. When they come into contact with clothing, they penetrate the fibers and create a strong, long-lasting odor. The odor can become even more difficult to remove if the clothes have been stored in a confined space with the mothballs for an extended period of time.

Another reason why mothball smell is hard to remove is that the chemicals used in mothballs are not water-soluble. This means that simply washing the clothes in water will not remove the odor. In fact, washing clothes in water can actually make the odor worse, as the heat from the water can cause the chemicals to vaporize even more.

Pre-Wash Steps

Before washing your clothes, there are a few pre-wash steps you can take to help remove the mothball smell:

  • Air out the clothes: Hang the clothes outside in a well-ventilated area for a few hours to allow fresh air to circulate through them. This will help to remove some of the odor.
  • Use activated charcoal: Place activated charcoal in a container and put it in the same space as the clothes. The charcoal will absorb the odor and help to remove it from the clothes.
  • Use baking soda: Sprinkle baking soda on the clothes and let it sit for a few hours. The baking soda will absorb the odor, and then you can shake it off or brush it off the clothes.
  • Use vinegar: Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a container and soak the clothes in the solution for a few hours. The vinegar will help to neutralize the odor.

By following these pre-wash steps, you can help to remove some of the mothball smell from your clothes before washing them. This will make it easier for the washing machine to remove the remaining odor.

Washing Steps

Here are the steps you can take to wash mothball smell out of your clothes:

  • Sort your clothes according to color and fabric type. This will help prevent color bleeding and damage to delicate fabrics.
  • Add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer and can help neutralize the mothball smell.
  • Use a mild detergent that is free of fragrances and dyes. Fragrances can clash with the vinegar and create an unpleasant odor, and dyes can stain your clothes.
  • Wash your clothes in hot water. Hot water can help break down the chemicals in the mothballs and remove the smell more effectively.
  • Run an extra rinse cycle to ensure all the detergent and vinegar have been washed away.
  • Hang your clothes outside to dry, if possible. The fresh air and sunlight can help eliminate any remaining odor.

If you prefer to use a washing machine, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and select the appropriate cycle for your clothes. Avoid using fabric softener, as it can trap the mothball smell in your clothes.

Remember to always read the care label on your clothes before washing them, and test any cleaning solutions on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure they don’t cause damage or discoloration.

Post-Wash Steps

After washing your clothes, there are a few additional steps you can take to ensure that the mothball smell is completely gone:

  • Hang clothes outside: Hanging your clothes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can help remove any remaining mothball odor. Be sure to hang them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight to avoid fading.
  • Use activated charcoal: Activated charcoal is known for its odor-absorbing properties. Place a few pieces of activated charcoal in a breathable bag or container and leave it in with your clothes for a few days to help absorb any remaining mothball smell.
  • Try white vinegar: White vinegar is another natural odor eliminator. Add a cup of white vinegar to your washing machine during the rinse cycle to help remove any remaining mothball smell.
  • Use baking soda: Baking soda is another household item that can help absorb odors. Add a cup of baking soda to your washing machine during the wash cycle to help remove any remaining mothball smell.

By following these post-wash steps, you can ensure that your clothes are free from mothball odor and ready to wear again.

Tips to Prevent Mothball Smell in Clothes

If you want to avoid the unpleasant smell of mothballs in your clothes, there are several things you can do to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid using mothballs altogether: The best way to prevent mothball smell in clothes is to avoid using mothballs altogether. There are many natural alternatives that work just as well, such as cedar chips, lavender, and essential oils.
  • Store clothes properly: Proper storage of clothes can also help prevent mothball smell. Make sure to store clothes in airtight containers or bags, and consider using vacuum-sealed bags for extra protection.
  • Clean clothes before storing: Before storing clothes, make sure they are clean and free of any stains or odors. Mothballs tend to cling to dirt and odors, so cleaning clothes beforehand can help prevent the smell from setting in.
  • Air out clothes: If you do use mothballs, make sure to air out your clothes before wearing them. Hang them outside or in a well-ventilated area for a few hours to help dissipate the smell.
  • Use mothballs sparingly: If you must use mothballs, use them sparingly. One or two mothballs per container or bag is usually enough to keep moths away without overwhelming your clothes with the smell.

By following these tips, you can help prevent mothball smell in your clothes and keep them smelling fresh and clean.