How Many Mothballs to Use in a Room?

Mothballs, those small, white crystalline pesticides, have been the quintessential saviors for many who look to protect their cherished garments from pesky moths and other insects. But how do we strike the balance between enough protection and not turning our room into a fume-filled chamber?

Starting with the foundational knowledge of what mothballs are and their working mechanism, this blog post aims to provide a clear roadmap for those venturing into the world of mothballs. So, let’s embark on this enlightening journey, demystifying the ideal number of mothballs to use in different spaces, including rooms, while always prioritizing safety.

What Are Mothballs & How Do They Work?

Mothballs are small, round, or crystalline structures made predominantly from naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Their primary function? To act as a deterrent against moths and various other pests that are infamous for feasting on our beloved garments, especially those made of wool or silk.

Upon exposure to air, these chemicals undergo a process called sublimation, wherein they transition directly from a solid state to a gaseous one. This released gas is not only pungent but is also toxic to moths, effectively repelling or killing them.

But here’s the catch for mothballs to work efficiently, they need to be in a sealed environment where the vapor concentration is sufficient to be lethal to pests. If simply scattered around in an open space, they might not be as effective, and you’ll find your garments bearing holes despite their presence.

Another crucial thing to note: while they deter pests, they also come with certain risks, which makes it essential to understand their safe usage a topic we’ll delve into later in this guide.

How Many Mothballs to Use in Different Spaces

Navigating the world of mothballs requires precision, especially when determining the right quantity to use. Let’s break it down for various spaces:

How Many Mothballs to Use in a Room?

The number of mothballs required largely depends on the size of the room and its airtightness. For a standard-sized bedroom, approximately 5-10 mothballs might suffice, but it’s essential they’re placed in airtight containers or sealed storage areas within the room. Remember, scattering them around openly will diminish their effectiveness.

How Many Mothballs to Use in a Garage?

Garages are typically more spacious and less sealed than indoor rooms. For such spaces, you might require around 20-30 mothballs, especially if you’re storing off-season clothing or fabrics that attract pests. Always prioritize sealed containers.

How Many Mothballs to Use in a Closet?

Closets, being smaller and often more sealed than entire rooms, might need fewer mothballs. Typically, 2-5 mothballs can be effective for an average-sized closet. Again, ensure the garments are stored in sealed bags or containers.

How Many Mothballs to Use in an Attic?

Attics can be tricky, given their varying sizes and purposes. If you’re storing clothing or fabrics, consider using around 15-25 mothballs, distributed evenly in sealed containers.

It’s worth noting that while these are general guidelines, you should always refer to the specific instructions on the mothball product you’re using. Adjustments might be needed based on the brand or type of mothball, as well as specific conditions of the space in question.

Safety & Precautions with Mothballs

While mothballs are undeniably effective against pesky critters that threaten our garments, they are not without risks. Awareness and precautions are paramount when using these potent pesticides.

How to Handle & Store Mothballs

Always wear gloves when handling mothballs to prevent skin irritation. After using, wash hands thoroughly. Store mothballs out of the reach of children and pets, preferably in a high or locked cabinet, to prevent accidental ingestion.

Are Mothballs a Pesticide?

Yes, mothballs are classified as pesticides. They contain chemicals that can be harmful if not used as directed. Therefore, always follow label instructions and never use them in a manner inconsistent with their labeling.

Are Mothballs Harmful or Poisonous?

Indeed, mothballs can be poisonous when ingested, inhaled in large quantities, or when they come into prolonged contact with the skin. Symptoms of mothball poisoning include headache, nausea, dizziness, or in severe cases, damage to red blood cells leading to hemolytic anemia. If someone is suspected of consuming mothballs, seek medical attention immediately.

Dealing with Mothball Odors

The pungent scent of mothballs is distinct and can linger. To remove the smell from clothes, air them out outdoors. For indoor spaces, ventilate well by opening windows or using fans. Baking soda or activated charcoal can also help absorb the lingering odor.

Always remember, while mothballs serve an essential purpose in protecting our cherished items, safety should never be compromised. Ensure you’re well-informed and cautious to reap the benefits without the associated risks.

Dealing with Mothball Odors

A common aftermath of using mothballs is the distinct and often overpowering scent they leave behind. While effective against pests, this smell can be a nuisance and tough to eliminate. Let’s explore ways to tackle this odor effectively:

What To Do If Your Clothes Smell Like Mothballs

First and foremost, air them out. Hanging your garments outdoors for a day or two can significantly reduce the mothball smell. Sunlight and fresh air work wonders. If the scent persists, consider washing them. Adding a cup of white vinegar or baking soda to your wash can help neutralize the odor. However, always do a spot test first to ensure the fabric doesn’t react adversely.

Ventilating Your Space

For rooms or closets with lingering mothball odors, proper ventilation is crucial. Open windows and doors, allowing fresh air to circulate. Using fans can also expedite the process.

Natural Odor Absorbers

Baking soda and activated charcoal are potent natural odor absorbers. Place bowls of these in affected areas to help draw out the mothball scent. Coffee grounds can also be effective, though they might replace one smell with another.

Commercial Products

Several odor-neutralizing sprays and products are available in the market. Opt for those specifically designed to combat mothball odors for best results.

Remember, while the scent of mothballs can be off-putting, it’s a sign of their effectiveness. With a little patience and the right techniques, you can enjoy a moth-free environment without the lingering smell.


Mothballs have long stood the test of time as one of the most reliable defenders against moths and other fabric-destroying pests. While their efficacy is beyond question, their use demands a measured approach. The key lies in understanding the right number of mothballs to use in specific spaces, combined with a deep knowledge of safety protocols.

But like all powerful solutions, they come with their own set of challenges, most notably the pungent odor. Thankfully, with the tips and tricks we’ve discussed, you’re now equipped to handle and neutralize this scent, ensuring your spaces remain fresh.


Can I sleep in a room with mothballs?

It’s not recommended to sleep in a room with mothballs, especially if not properly sealed. The chemicals released can be harmful when inhaled in large amounts over prolonged periods.

Where do mothballs go in a bedroom?

Mothballs should be placed in sealed containers or storage areas within the bedroom, rather than being scattered openly, to ensure their effectiveness against pests.

How many naphthalene balls to use?

The number of naphthalene balls you’ll need depends on the space size and what you aim to protect. For a standard drawer or small container, 2-4 balls should suffice.

How many mothballs should you put in your closet?

For an average-sized closet, using 2-5 mothballs within sealed bags or containers will be effective in protecting your clothes from moths.

Is it safe to breathe in the smell of mothballs?

Inhaling the strong odor of mothballs can be harmful, especially over prolonged periods. Extended exposure can lead to health issues, so always ensure proper ventilation.

Is it OK to smell mothballs?

While the scent of mothballs is a sign of their presence, constantly smelling them indicates that they might not be stored properly, and prolonged inhalation can be harmful.

Visit the rest of the site The House Trick for more interesting and useful articles.


I'm Admin for TheHouseTrick. My blog seeks to help you solutions for house problems and a collection of simple recipes that are perfect for busy people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *