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5 Reasons to Avoid Mothballs

Remember walking into your grandmother’s closet and seeing those strange roundish shapes that smelled as weird as they looked? Yep, those are mothballs.

And we hope they stay in those old closets. Better yet, it’s time to get rid of them. And we’ve got five reasons to avoid mothballs. Let’s learn more.

What Are Mothballs? 

But before we get to why we should avoid mothballs, it’s helpful to know what they are. These small, round objects are made of naphthalene, a white, crystalline solid. 

Naphthalene is a volatile compound, meaning that it easily turns into a gas. When you place mothballs in an enclosed space, the naphthalene evaporates and fills the area with a strong, musty odor.

Why Do People Use Mothballs?

And that odor is why people use mothballs. People commonly use them to protect clothing and other stored items from moth damage.

Mothballs work best in small, enclosed spaces, such as storage boxes. But people also use them outdoors to keep moths away from areas such as patios and decks. 

What Will Mothballs Keep Away?

The odor repels moths and other insects, such as cockroaches and silverfish. However, contrary to popular belief, mothballs won’t keep away bed bugs, rats, mice, spiders, or ants. 

And while we generally consider mothballs safe to use, they can be toxic if inhaled or ingested. As a result, use them with caution or simply avoid them altogether.

5 Reasons to Avoid Mothballs

In the past, people placed mothballs in closets to prevent moths from destroying clothing. Today, we know better. Instead of placing them in open or non-airtight spaces, we only put them in tightly closed containers. 

The gasses they release into the air can cause respiratory problems, amongst other issues. And they can harm pets and wildlife and give off bad smells. These and improper usage are just a few reasons to avoid mothballs.

1. Bad Smell

That funky smell you thought was just how everyone’s Grandma’s closets smelled was probably mothballs. The musky, sour scent from the chemical wards off moths and other pesky insects. Unfortunately, the chemicals that create that smell can also be quite harmful.

2. Harmful to Pets

Whether ingested or inhaled, mothball fumes can be dangerous for pets and may cause respiratory irritation. If a pet ingests or inhales the fumes, they can experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

In severe cases, they can cause liver damage or even death. For this reason, keep them out of reach of pets. Contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has been exposed to them.

3. Can Cause Illness 

The same goes for humans, as well. They can easily be misidentified for food or candy by both children and pets and can cause a range of illnesses. Symptoms of mothball poisoning include headaches, nausea, eye and nose irritation, and coughing. 

In severe cases, poisoning can lead to dizziness, respiratory problems, and hemolytic anemia. Continued exposure can also cause liver and kidney damage and even coma or death. 

Anyone who suspects they have been dangerously exposed to mothballs should seek medical attention immediately.

4. Not a Mouse Deterrent

Mothballs can cause illnesses and be dangerous to humans, pets, and other wildlife, but they don’t work as a mouse deterrent. They may work to rid your home of mice and rodents in large quantities, but that can become dangerous to humans and pets. 

Using them to deter mice and rodents will only make your house smell bad and compromise your health. Call a professional exterminator if you have a mouse or rodent problem in your home. They can safely and effectively get rid of your rodent problem.

5. Can Harm Wildlife

Another common misconception about mothballs is that you can use them outdoors to detract spiders, ants, and other insects from entering your home. While they may kill some of these pesky creatures, the real danger to pets and other wildlife outweighs the possible effects of this.

Mothballs harm wildlife in similar ways that they pose threats to pets and humans. They can also harm the environment. If you want to rid your home of moths and other unwanted pesky creatures, you may want to consider alternative and natural solutions instead of using chemicals.

What Is an Alternative to Mothballs? 

You can use many alternative methods to deter moths from entering your home and closets, including cedar chips, lavender, lemongrass, and furniture made of cedar.

You can place cedar chips in closets and storage chests to protect clothes from moth damage. Furniture made out of cedar can also repel moths. Additionally, place lavender and lemongrass in drawers or closets to deter moths and other insects. 

These safer alternatives make your home smell pleasant and protect humans, pets, and wildlife. So, the next time you come across a few pesky moths that won’t go away, reach for some cedar instead of a mothball. You’ll be happier for it, especially your nose.

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