Things You'll Need
Use alternate ways to repel moths, such as cedar and lavender. Store unused clothing and blankets in a container with a tight lid. If you must use moth balls, keep and use them in an airtight container, such as a locked chest.
Moth balls work by turning from a solid into a gas that permeates whatever space they are in, including soft materials like clothing, blankets, carpeting and curtains. The gas is toxic and unpleasant to moths so they stay away. Unfortunately, the smell is just as unpleasant for us, but it is a choice we make to protect stored clothing and blankets that moths like to chew into. Fortunately, the fumes are not permanent and there are ways to rid your home of them.
Remove all the moth balls from your house. Continued use of them will negate any effort you put forth in trying to get rid of the smell. Don't throw them in the garbage, take them to a household hazardous collection site. Moth balls are made of paradicholorobenzene, which is a known hazardous chemical. Prolonged inhalation of the fumes can cause irritation to your nose, lungs, throat and eyes. In severe cases, it could cause damage to your liver and kidneys.
Hang all your drapes, curtains and clothing outside in the sun for a few hours to dissipate the fumes. Open all the windows in the house to air it out. Mix a solution of half a cup of vinegar in one gallon of water and use a sponge to wipe and clean your closets and any other areas where you used mothballs.
Steam clean your carpets, rugs, furniture and bedding. Dry clean drapes and curtains that are not machine washable. Machine wash all your clothes and bedding, including pillows. In addition to your regular laundry soap, add half a cup of Borax to each wash load and use half a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle. Do not put these items in the dryer; the heat might set the odors into certain kinds of fabric and make it impossible to ever remove the smell. Instead, hang them outside to dry.
Melanie Siminick resides on the prairies of Alberta in Canada. She works at an Asian specialty market with an emphasis on Vietnamese cuisine. She is preparing to attend a Library and Information Technology course in 2013.