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Mothballs for Pests?

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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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


+ add your own
12:40AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

Thanks for sharing

7:32AM PDT on Jul 15, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

3:11AM PDT on Jul 15, 2012

Thank you

10:31AM PDT on Oct 25, 2011


10:31AM PDT on Oct 25, 2011


3:56AM PDT on Jul 11, 2011

sounds much better-smelling

1:10AM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

Thanks for the article.

1:08PM PDT on Apr 2, 2011


12:15PM PST on Mar 9, 2011

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!

1:51AM PST on Mar 9, 2011

Try lavender bags!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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