Natural alternatives to mothballs

Mothballs may be effective, but the smell leaves a lot to be desired. Matching the smell is a mothball’s toxicity – they are rather nasty from an environmental point of view.

Back when I was growing up, mothballs were made mainly of naphthalene, which is highly flammable. These days mothballs are made from dichlorobenzene instead. Anything with the word “benzene” in it is cause for alarm as these substances tend to be carcinogenic.

While dichlorobenzene breaks down “safely” in the air – it’s a pesticide and heavy concentrations can have ill effects on animals and humans.  Dichlorobenzene doesn’t dissolve easily in water nor is it readily broken down by soil organisms. It can also accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals and humans.

Another component of traditional mothballs is camphor. While camphor is a natural product that comes from the wood of the camphor laurel tree; much of the camphor used in commercial products these days is a synthetic – and how that’s made is anyone’s guess.

Ditch the mothballs – greener alternatives

While having moths dine on your expensive woolens is very undesirable, there are some more earth friendly alternatives to mothballs:

– Ensure all your woollens are washed before storing. This is to ensure any eggs have been removed and odd as it may seem, it appears moths are attracted to human scents.

– Wipe out all containers or drawers to be used for storage to remove any existing moth eggs.

– Ensure clothes are thoroughly dry before storing

– Store clothing in well sealed containers

– Try one of the following in a cheesecloth bag; but ensure the bag doesn’t touch the clothes: Bay leaves, cedar shavings, cinnamon sticks, cloves, eucalyptus leaves, lavender, peppercorns, rosemary, wormwood.

Cedar balls and blocks are also said to be effective in repelling moths, but need to be sanded occasionally in order to “refresh” them. Cedar kept popping up when researching this topic and many people reported it to be highly effective. Some people even go as far as lining their cupboards with cedar panelling.

If you do find yourselve having to face mothball protected clothing for one more time before you switch to other alternatives, ensure you wash the items thoroughly to remove all trace of the mothball smell before use.

What natural alternatives have you tried and found successful in keeping moths at bay? Add your tips and ideas below!