Uses for Mothballs

by Sharon Durmaskin ; Updated September 28, 2017

You pull out a sweater that spent the summer in storage and you find a hole. You have moths. But there's good news--moth balls might prevent this from happening again. There are two different types of moth balls--one uses naphthalene as its main ingredient, while the other uses paradichlorobenzene. Both chemicals kill moths and moth larvae with the fumes and there's no difference in effectiveness.

What Moths Eat

Clothes made from natural fibers, such as wool, attract moths. They also eat feathers, fur, hair, leather, lint, dust, paper, and sometimes cotton, linen, silk, and synthetic fibers that are combined with natural fibers. Basically, no clothing is safe from moths.

Other Things Moths Eat

Moths are particularly attracted to things that have been untouched for long periods, like old military uniforms and blankets, antique dolls and toys, wall hangings and especially wool carpets.

Using Moth Balls

Because cedar-lined chests and closets aren't 100 percent effective, moth balls are a good alternative. Moth balls must be used in an airtight space, such as a garment bag or well-sealed container. Some gardeners use moth balls to winterize rose bushes, scattering them to discourage burrowing animals from disturbing the rose bush, but moth balls are a strong pesticide and should only be used according to the label directions.

Keep Away From Children

Moth balls are extremely hazardous to children, so never place them where children or pets can reach them. They can be harmful if ingested or if the fumes are inhaled in high concentrations.

The Smell

Moth balls work by emitting a toxic gas. The gas and vapors from the gas kill moths and moth larvae and can be an irritant for humans as well.

About the Author

Sharon Durmaskin has been a writer since 1969. She’s written for newspaper ("The Wichita Beacon," "Downtown Wichita News" and "East Wichita News"), radio, advertising and audiotext, where she actually got paid to write horoscopes and soap opera updates. Sharon earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing emphasis from Wichita State University and is the owner of Durmaskin Communications.