how to get rid of mothball smell in furniture
Kristina Davis

If you’ve been wondering how to get rid of mothball smell in furniture, read on to find out what steps you can take.

Mothballs are a common way to protect clothing and other items from becoming infested with moths, but their powerful odor can be tough to remove from the furniture.

If you have recently gotten rid of your mothballs and now have an unpleasant smell in your home, there are a few things you can do to remove them from furniture and other parts of the house.

Mothballs are a type of repellent that can do as much harm as good. The scent lingers for an extensive period. It can require several methods to rid the home of a mothball odor.

What Are Mothballs?

what are mothballs

Mothballs are small, pellet-shaped objects that are usually white or blue. They consist of either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which are toxic and cause respiratory problems.

  • Naphthalene – a colorless, crystalline hydrocarbon used as a solvent, in the manufacture of plastics, and mothballs
  • Paradichlorobenzene – a white crystalline solid with a strong odor used to repel moths, insects, and other vermin; also called p-dichlorobenzene
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Mothballs protect clothing and other items from becoming infested with moths by emitting a strong odor that the moths find unpleasant.

As a result, mothballs are a pesticide and you should use them with caution.

The smell of this pesticide is powerful enough to linger months or years after dissipating.

Tip #1: Avoid putting mothballs inside your clothes

Why Do People Want To Get Rid of Moths?

Moths can be a nuisance because they can damage clothing, carpets, and furniture.

They are attracted to natural fibers like wool and cotton, so they can do a lot of damage over time.

These insects are also a health hazard because they can spread airborne diseases and dermatitis.

How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in Furniture?

get rid of mothball smell

So, just how do you get rid of the smell of mothballs in furniture?

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The most important step is to identify the source of the smell and take care of it quickly.

If you are storing clothing or other items in mothballs, take them out and air them in a well-ventilated area.

Then, you can begin working on removing the mothball smell from your furniture.

Here are a few things you can do to try and remove the scent:

  1. Raise the air temperature in the room
  2. Remove the furniture piece from the room and take it outside. Sun and fresh air can help to remove the smell.
  3. If the furniture piece is too large to move, try airing it out by opening all of the windows and doors in the room.
  4. Sprinkle baking soda over the furniture piece and let it sit for a few hours. Then, vacuum up the baking soda.
  5. Buy some Zeolite, a sand-like material used in cat litter

Fresh Air and Heat

Heat is one of the best methods to get rid of the mothball smell in furniture. Take advantage of the heat by raising your room temperature or setting the furniture out in the sun.

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Air or heat speeds up the process of the small particles breaking down and releasing the smell.

Tip #2: Using outdoor heat and opening windows works best during warmer seasons

Natural Products

If you are wondering how to get rid of mothball smells in furniture using natural ingredients, you don’t have to look any further than baking soda or Zeolite.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is probably already in your home and won’t harm the furniture. It is also very cheap. So, if you have to cover a lot of furniture, baking soda is a cost-effective way to do so.


Zeolite is a common product used in cat litter, so it is easy to find and effective. It does not simply mask mothball odor.

Rather, it works to trap unpleasant odors inside its crystalline structure.

This substance is environmentally-friendly and non-toxic, and can absorb gasses, liquids, and suspended particles.

Unfortunately, the mothball smell may still linger in your furniture and throughout the home. If this is the case, you may need to call a professional cleaner.

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If you have wooden furniture that the above methods have not worked on, sanding it down might be your last option.

It can be a long process, but it is the most effective way to remove smelly particles from wood. However, the work does not stop there, as you will need to seal the wood again afterward.


You could reupholster the furniture with a synthetic fabric, but this can be expensive.

If you have an heirloom piece of furniture that has a persistent smell, you may want to consider professional cleaning.

Replace Furniture

If all of these methods have failed, it might be time to replace your furniture. Moths are attracted to natural fibers.

So, if you have furniture made of wool, cotton, or another natural fiber, it may be hard to eliminate the scent.

How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in a Room

mothball smelling room

We’ve answered the question, “how to get rid of mothball smell in furniture?” but what steps do you need to take if the smell is present in an entire room?

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If that’s the case, you may need to follow various methods to simultaneously remove the smell from the room and the furniture.

Here are ways to remove the mothball smell from a room:

  1. Open all of the windows and doors in the room to let fresh air in
  2. Put bowls of vinegar, baking soda, or coffee grounds around the room
  3. Use a dehumidifier to help remove the moisture from the air
  4. Try products such as Febreze or Odoban to lessen the smell in the short term
  5. Place Zeolite packs around the house

White Vinegar

Vinegar is all-natural, and it is not toxic to breathe in. Leave the bowl out overnight to absorb all types of odors.

Acidic molecules in vinegar bond with the smell-producing compounds in the air to kill them. When you remove the bowl of vinegar, the smell of vinegar will eventually dissipate as well.

Tip #3: White vinegar is best to use as opposed to apple cider vinegar

Baking soda

Baking soda is another all-natural product option. If you sprinkle it anywhere, vacuum after a few hours.

When baking soda absorbs smells, it forms a carbon-based molecule that is not harmful.

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Coffee Grounds

Like vinegar and baking soda, coffee grounds are all-natural and non-toxic. They absorb the smell of mothballs by trapping the odor molecules.

They may not work as well as some other methods, but they are cheap and easy. It is also a way to recycle coffee grounds after a morning brew.


A dehumidifier can remove moisture from the air, making it harder for the mothball smell to linger.

Dehumidifiers are available for purchase at most home improvement stores.

If the smell is lingering throughout a big room, you may need to use more than one dehumidifier.

Healthier Alternatives to Mothballs

mothballs alternatives

Once you have gotten rid of the mothball smell in your furniture, you will want to take steps to prevent future infestation. It is best to do so without using mothballs again.

Firstly, store clothing and other items that are susceptible to moths in airtight containers. Luckily, there are a few healthier alternatives to mothballs.

Tip #4: When you use the herbs or flowers listed below, it can be more cost-effective to make your own sachets

Cedar Balls

Try using cedar balls. Cedar is a natural moth repellent with a pleasant smell. You can purchase cedar balls at most home improvement stores or online.

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Lavender is a beautiful flower that shares the name of its color. Lavender has a strong smell people often love, but moths don’t.

You can purchase fresh lavender from farmer’s markets, or you can buy lavender essential oil. Lavender sachets can also be placed in your closets and drawers.


Peppermint is a great natural moth repellent. It smells very strong to moths and they do not like it.

Peppermint essential oil is easy to find. You can also get peppermint plants from garden stores or online.


Eucalyptus grows in Australia and it is the main ingredient in Vicks vapor rub. The strong smell of eucalyptus repels moths.

You can purchase eucalyptus oil at most health food stores or online.


Cloves are a spice found in numerous dishes. The smell is great for chai tea, but moths despise it.

You can purchase cloves at most grocery stores in the spice section. Create some sachets or simmer cloves in water on the stove and let the room fill with the smell.

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Moth Repellent Strips

If you are looking for a more long-term solution, consider moth repellent strips. Place these strips in closets, on stacks of clothes, and other strategic areas to trap moths.

Tip #5: Regularly switch out moth strips as dead moths collect on them


Another option is to use a product called Cedarcide. This product is made from cedar oil, and it is safe for people and pets.

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Final Thoughts About Mothball Smell in Furniture

When figuring out how to get rid of mothball smell in furniture, be prepared for a lot of work.

The scent that lingers from dissolved mothballs may last months or years. Luckily, there are several methods to rid the home of the repugnant smell.

Think about the source of the smell before choosing a method to purge your home of the scent. The type of furniture you have will determine what method to use.

Once you have handled the lingering smell, you can focus on using alternative replacements for mothballs. Luckily, you can repel moths without sacrificing your health.