You may associate mothballs (and their smell) with your grandmother’s closet. Many people think that this simple method of pest control has faded away with time. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Mothballs are versatile and you can use them around the house, not just in your closet. Here are a few ways that you can use these objects around your house and help get rid of moths and other pests.
What are mothballs? Mothballs are balls of pesticides, traditionally naphthalene but now often dichlorobenzene. They have ingredients that kill and repel pests such as moths. Usually, mothballs come in a sealed plastic barrier to prevent vapors from escaping and harming unintended targets.
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In the Closet
One of the best ways to use mothballs is for their intended purpose—when storing clothes. When you are folding away clothes for extended storage, for example when storing your winter sweaters for the summer, put in some mothballs to prevent moths from eating the clothes and laying their larvae.
Put mothballs in a closed storage container or closet drawer with the clothes that you mean to protect (you don’t want the vapors to get everywhere else). You can also use mothballs when storing clothing in your attic or basement.
Only use mothballs with natural fibers, such as wool or silk. Pests don’t like synthetic fibers, so you would be putting mothballs among your polyester sweaters for no reason.
Around Your Houseplants
Having houseplants can brighten up your living space, but many houseplants also attract pests. You may notice tiny flies, moths, and other bugs congregating around your plants and then spreading around your home. Not only are those bugs annoying, but they can also damage your plants and kill them.
Mothballs can help you get rid of the bugs around your houseplants (which makes sense, since these objects are technically pesticides). The best part is that mothballs will not hurt your plants at all but kill off the pesky bugs.
To use mothballs to debug houseplants, put the plant in a sealed, clear plastic bag such as a cleaning bag. Add a few mothballs and seal the plant for up to a week (make sure that the plant has plenty of water first). The sealed environment will still have enough carbon dioxide for the plant to survive, but the concentrated mothball fumes will kill off any pests.
The best part about using mothballs with your houseplants is that the residue will continue to repel pests for several months.
In the Shed or Garage
Mothballs may not have enough pesticide content to kill larger pests such as rodents, but they can still repel critters from your shed or garage. Pests such as mice love nesting in your garage in the winter to stay warm since there isn’t enough human activity to stay away. Pests particularly love sheds where you store plants over the winter.
Placing a few mothballs around your shed or garage can help keep rodents away in the winter. Mothballs are small, but if you place them strategically you can protect your whole space. Place them near objects that attract pests the most, such as potted plants, or near entrances and exits.
You can also place mothballs around the exterior perimeter of your shed to protect your things from pests. However, double-check local ordinances before doing so. Some places forbid using mothballs as a squirrel or snake repellent for poison control purposes and you could get fined if you are caught putting mothballs outside.
In the Attic
Even if you aren’t storing any woolen sweaters in your attic, putting a few mothballs up there will keep away pests. Bats like to nest in attics. Not only are their flapping wings frightening, but their dung can accumulate and damage your possessions. Scatter a few mothballs so that they’re lying around your attic, and you can prevent bats from nesting in the area.
Another common attic pest is silverfish. Silverfish are not fish at all, but tiny, wingless insects that get their name from their silvery color. Silverfish like to feed on pulpy materials such as books, magazines, food in storage, and even clothing. No matter what you are storing in the attic, add a few mothballs to the box to prevent silverfish from eating their way through your possessions.
In Your Silverware
Don’t store mothballs in your regular silverware drawer, as the smell will just permeate your everyday forks and knives. However, if you have a set of silverware that you only keep for special occasions or sentimental reasons, then add some mothballs to their storage area.
Mothballs prevent silverware from rusting with time. While you can salvage tarnished silverware, rust is harder to clean. Add mothballs to the sealed bag or drawer where you keep your silverware and be sure to air it out and clean it before using it again.
Using Mothballs Safely
Although mothballs are useful and extremely versatile, as shown by the many uses in this article, you still need to be careful when using them. Although they are a household object, mothballs are still a pesticide. The quantity of pesticides in them is not enough to harm a human, but it could still irritate you.
When touching mothballs, be careful to touch the plastic wrapper or to use gloves. If mothballs touch your skin, the chemicals could irritate it.
After taking an object out of storage with mothballs, air it out for a few days before using it. This will get rid of any harmful chemicals and potent smells.
Mothballs may have fallen out of fashion thanks to the rise of synthetic fabrics and modern pest control methods, but they are still highly useful when it comes to keeping pests away. Besides protecting your wool sweaters, mothballs can protect your plants, books, and storage areas from all sorts of pests. Just be sure to take precautions before using mothballs as they are made of chemical pesticides.