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.