Mothballs - Getting rid of the smell??

Iowa Lizzy

Jul 2, 2008
DH and I recently purchased a home. I thought during our initial walkthrough that I could smell something chemically or synthetic. I thought perhaps the owner had just bought a new rug or shower curtain or something. We just had the home inspected a couple days ago and I asked the inspector "What the heck is that smell? It's kind of giving me a headache." At first he said he didn't know what I was talking about but after awhile, we walked into a spare bedroom and the smell was crazy intense. He immediately said "oh, that's mothballs."

I'm not familiar with that smell. My family never used them when I was growing up but it's honestly so overpowering and off-putting to me. I am pretty sensitive to smells and from what I'm reading, it sounds like the gas these things produce is quite dangerous. When I mentioned something to our realtor she said "Oh, the owner is retired Air Force, so that explains it." So armed service members are big on the use of mothballs? I'm so confused.

Anyway, the purpose of this thread is to ask: HOW THE HECK DO I GET RID OF THAT SMELL ONCE THE HOUSE IS IN OUR POSSESSION? I did a quick search on Google and it seems like this is one of the hardest smells to get rid of as it soaks it's way into all surfaces. I do not like synthetic air fresheners. If I use any kind of scent in our home, it's natural essential oils. Has anyone ever used Zero Odor or the Bad Air Sponge? I'm reading things like placing bowls of coffee beans or vinegar around the house. We will have a week from when we close on the house until we move in so I'm hoping I can eliminate the smell before our furniture gets in there.

It was so bad that even after I'd been out of the house for a few hours, I could still smell it on my clothes. Help please!


Nov 3, 2009
It eventually vents out of CLOTHES if you take them outside. It actually sticks to fabric so it is probably the carpet that smells. Since you probably can not keep the windows open through the whole year, the best thing is to change carpet to floors, but this is expensive! Maybe start with the bedroom. I am pretty serious with this advise because mothballs are also pretty toxic. It is naphthalene, you can google it, it is a toxic substance.


Jul 27, 2011
I agree with Crasru - mothballs are toxic, so your primary goal should be to ventilate the place. I would suggest throwing open all the closets, a hepa air filter and a window fan to exhaust out before you move in. We didn't have a mothball issue before we moved into our place, but we had new paint and newly sealed wood floors (stinky)! The fan and filter helped a lot.

A "natural" way to deodorize after you move in - I love baking chocolate chip cookies to add some "fragrance" in a home. :lickout:
I absolute hate burning scented candles because it gives me headaches.
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