Mothballs for Pests?


I have used mothballs in my trash and compost bins for years to repel bugs, rodents, raccoons and skunks. I think they work, but something I saw you write about mothballs is giving me pause. What is your recommendation about mothballs? –Rachel, WS


The publisher of my first book, Clean & Green, put mothballs in his family compost bucket, the one that they kept in the kitchen. That was my first experiences of someone using mothballs to repel pests other than wool moths. And I taught him alternative, less toxic methods. But your e-mail comes at a good moment because I was just skimming some “green” content in a book that recommended mothballs for pests and I was shocked! Green? Healthy? No, no, no!

Mothballs are recognized carcinogens and the last thing you want to have near or in your home, or to support in any way. To boot, not only are mothballs severely neurotoxic, but they are one chemical odor that is almost impossible to rid from your home. It impregnates itself into surrounding materials such as wood, wall, and fabric, and it just won’t leave. The only way I know to remove the odor is direct sunlight, but it is impossible to put a closet in the sun, so better avoid the problem to begin with.

Alternatives? Essential oils have a lot of potential for repelling pests. Make natural moth balls (repellent sachets), with 2 ounces each of dried rosemary and mint, 1 ounce each of dried thyme and ginseng, and 8 ounces of whole cloves.

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Ram R.
Ram Reddy3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Chris Ray
Chris R.4 years ago


Chris Ray
Chris R.4 years ago


Abbe A.
Azaima A.4 years ago

sounds much better-smelling

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago


Svetlana S.
Svetlana S.4 years ago

Whether the moth balls are made from naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, both are fumigant volatile chemicals. Mothballs release benzene fumes. Circumstances of exposure can vary, from ingestion or inhalation to contact with skin. Inhalation of mothball fumes can result in respiratory irritation and hemolytic anemia. Once ingested they cause the victims stomach to get upset, followed by a abnormal stimulation of the central nervous system leading to lethargy and seizures. Ingestion of mothballs by pets can cause kidney and liver damage, not to mention, gastrointestinal distress. Why anyone would want to use them at all is mind boggling!

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago

Try lavender bags!