I remember walking into my great-grandmother’s house when I was a little girl and there was…well….there was a smell. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t homemade cookies baking in the oven. I never knew exactly what it was at the time, but years later I discovered that the smell was mothballs. Since the smell of mothballs permeated throughout my great-grandmother’s house, she was not using them in a proper manner. I think many people may not know exactly how to use mothballs properly, hence my writing this particular blog post.
First off, please understand that mothballs are a PESTICIDE and can be harmful if not used according to label instructions. Mothballs contain napthalene (I made napthalene in a college chemistry class as one of our laboratory experiments) or paradichlorobenzene as the active ingredient. Both products are fumigants, or volatile chemicals that vaporize at lower temperatures (i.e. room temperature). While “mothballs” is a common term that most are familiar with, these fumigants may also come in the form of cakes, crystals, tablets, bars, among others.
To use the products properly, they should be used in an AIRTIGHT space, such as a well-sealed container, garment bag, etc. They should not be placed in an open container, in a closet or attic, or sprinkled willy-nilly throughout the home (hello great-grandma!). As with all pesticides, you should read and follow all label instructions. All pesticides, including mothballs, should be kept out of reach of children and pets (mothballs can be mistaken for candy, so this is really important).