How Many Mothballs to Use in a Room?

Often, we end up with holes in our clothes that have been stored in the closet forever, and these holes are made by tiny insects called moths. Mothballs are the solution for this, and it is suggested to use two to four mothballs in spaces like bedrooms and closets.

Additionally, you should use one to two mothballs for every 8-10 cubic feet of area, and avoid using more than 8-10 mothballs in a single room. But for a good number of reasons, they must be used as little as possible!

If you’re still confused about how many mothballs to use in a room, keep reading this article because we’ve got you covered on this and more!

Number of mothballs neededPlaces to use mothballs
2-4Small spaces like closets, storage boxes, etc.
8-10Larger spaces like rooms
How Many Mothballs to Use in a Room

Facts about Mothball

Although we are accustomed to mothballs, we know very little apart from the fact that they kill moths. Mothballs, if misused, can impose a lot of risks, such as exposure to chemicals and fumes.

Children and animals are more vulnerable since naphthalene from mothballs can introduce toxins in blood, and cause eye and lung irritation, headache, nausea, and possibly cancer too.

Mothballs are officially categorized as pesticides that can control other pests apart from moths. But they should be strictly used to kill off moths as instructed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Proper Uses of Mothballs

It is not enough to simply place mothballs in your clothes, rather you must know how to properly use them. Firstly, mothballs must be used as administered on their labels. For proper use, put the mothballs along with the clothes in an airtight container so that the chemicals trapped inside can kill the moths, and also to restrict these vapors from reaching your space.

When not being used, store your mothballs in sealed boxes in a cool, dry place. Don’t overuse them, since exposure to their toxic gasses can cause abdominal cramps, digestive issues, and diarrhea.

Since mothballs have active ingredients, they mustn’t be used outdoors as they can pollute the air, water, and soil and infect wildlife. Don’t dispose of them in drains, instead use sealed trash bags.

Can you Sleep in a Room with Mothballs?

Yes, you can, but it is not recommended!

A single mothball kept out in the open takes 3-6 months to completely vaporize, meanwhile emitting chemicals that can enter your system through breathing and cause complications in your organs and blood. Imagine the harm caused by sleeping around multiple mothballs!

Moreover, pets and children can mistake them for treats or candies, making them ingest mothballs, and risking their health. Prolonged exposure to mothballs can also irritate and burn your skin and eyes.

Where should you Put Mothballs in your House?

It is crucial to put mothballs in the correct places in your house for maximum safety and efficacy. Here is how you should place mothballs in your house:

Sealed Containers

Put mothballs in airtight containers, like plastic bags or Tupperware, to trap the vapors and not let them out.

Surround your Houseplants

Mothballs can eradicate the bugs that feed on your houseplants. Simply seal your watered houseplant up with a few mothballs in a ziploc bag, and allow a week to go by for the mothballs to kill all the pests.

In your Cutleries

Don’t apply this tip for the cutleries you use regularly, but for the ones you put away only for special occasions. Mothballs can block rusting, and putting them along with your cutleries in a closed drawer will keep your cutleries rust-proof.

Also, avoid putting mothballs in the following places:

Confined Areas

Spaces like attics, trunks, and basements are a no-no for mothballs since their gasses can build up and threaten your health even more.

Flammable Surroundings

The naphthalene in mothballs is extremely inflammable, hence make sure to check for any fire hazards before placing mothballs.


Mothballs placed outdoors can spoil water, soil, and air, and also harm wildlife.

Can I Put Mothballs in My Closet?

Yes, you can, but you have to take some necessary safety measures. First, you must clear out your closet space before putting mothballs. After that, deep clean with a vacuum, and wipe down the shelves and walls to ensure a clear space free of any moth eggs.

Next, declutter your clothes by getting rid of the moth-infested and old ones. This organizes your closet and lessens the possibility of moths plaguing your clothes. You can also skip out on using mothballs for synthetic clothing, as moths only feed on natural fibers.

Stack your final pile of clothes up in a plastic laundry bag and put it in the closet instead of placing your clothes directly into the closet. Mothballs in direct contact with your clothes can pass on their chemicals, so place them in the corners of the closet.

The number of mothballs you’ll need to put depends on your closet size— a small closet needs 2-4 mothballs, while a large one needs 8-12. Don’t exceed the number, to avoid excessive fumes and odor.

Risk of Using Mothball

Risk of Using Mothball

There are three main risks of using mothballs:

  • Mothballs contain naphthalene which is carcinogenic. It is also an active ingredient that can cause headaches, vertigo, nausea, and respiratory problems. If excess naphthalene vapor enters your system, you can develop hemolytic anemia, and prolonged exposure can damage your kidneys and lungs.
  • Pets and children are susceptible to accidentally ingesting mothballs, assuming that they are treats or candies. This can cause jaundice in children and turn their skin yellow.
  • Direct contact with mothballs can cause skin irritation and breakouts.

Natural Alternatives to Mothballs

Mothballs come with a lot of cons, so you must have some natural options at hand. Here are some natural alternatives to mothballs:


Rosemary, cloves, lavender, eucalyptus, mint, and thyme are herbs that naturally repel moths. You can place sachets of these herbs in your closets and storage spaces. They give off pleasant scents, and you can also wrap them up in a tissue and place them inside pockets for a better effect!


You can use cedar blocks, chips, and hangers, which are great natural moth repellents. Its aroma is enough to tarnish the moths, and it is easily available in stores. 

Essential Oils

Lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, and white camphor oil are some of the best essential oils to use instead of mothballs. Add a few drops of these to water in a spray bottle and occasionally sprinkle it on your clothes to keep away the moths.


Lemon peels can go a long way with its acidic nature in combating moth infestation. Not only that, it can also repel beetles and other pests.

Additionally, you can also try DIY repellants using natural ingredients instead of mothballs:

  • Add one-fourth cup of neem oil, a few drops of liquid soap, and some water and mix them. Pour them into a spraying bottle and you have your natural moth-repellent spray ready.
  • Mix vinegar and water, or vinegar, neem oil, and water to drive away. However, maintain caution in using this spray as vinegar can discolor leather and silk clothes.

While using any of these natural alternatives, keep in mind that they are not as effective as mothballs, and may take longer than usual to kill or repel moths. Natural alternatives tend to be slow, but they surely minimize the risks caused by mothballs to a great extent.

Best Way to Protect Clothes from Moths

By now, you must be tired of swinging between one repellent to another just to keep out these annoying pests! That is why we have compiled some methods to protect your clothes from moths and prevent moth infestation before it begins.

Wash your Clothes Properly

The primary step to keeping your clothes moth-free is washing them properly. Storing unwashed clothes makes way for more moths as they are attracted to the odors. Dry clean the clothes that aren’t suitable for washing.

Make sure to brush the clothes that easily catch pet furs after you have washed them since these furs make good food for moths. In conclusion, maintain proper hygiene and cleanliness while handling your clothes.

Keep your Clothes in Sealed Storage Containers

After washing and drying your clothes, neatly fold them up and store them in sealed storage containers, such as plastic laundry bags or baskets, or airtight storage boxes. This method keeps the moths from having access to your clothes. To take it up a notch, add one of the natural alternatives inside your storage box.

Store your Clothes in the Correct Place

As previously mentioned, storing clothes in sealed bags and storage spaces is effective in repelling moths. But not every cloth can be stored away; you need to keep the ones you wear regularly within your reach. For that, you need to choose the correct place to hang or keep your clothes in.

If you want to store your clothes in your closet, maintain its internal environment. Make sure it is not always dark and humid, since moths thrive in these conditions. Make sure the closet stays well-ventilated.

Furthermore, we suggest you maintain the following guidelines for moth-free clothes:

  • Regularly vacuum your storage spaces.
  • Launder your clothes every now and then for professional cleaning.
  • Use adhesive moth traps in your closet and around the shelves.

How Long do Mothballs Take to Work?

Since mothballs contain the active ingredient naphthalene, they start working as soon as the packaging is opened. They work best in confined spaces as the fumes get trapped and concentrated for the moths to die.

Mothballs can ward off moths for up to 3 months.

How Long do Mothballs Last?

Mothballs can last 3-6 months in open air, and up to 12 months in confined spaces. On the other hand, their smell can linger for months or even years after they have completely vaporized.


Are mothballs toxic to breathe?

Yes. Mothballs contain naphthalene and often para-dichlorobenzene, which are toxic active chemicals that can cause respiratory problems, coughing, and more.

Why do I keep smelling mothballs?

Mothballs have a lingering smell that can stay even after they’ve dissipated. If you’re constantly smelling mothballs, you might be overusing them.

What happens to mothballs left in the open?

Mothballs in the open air will slowly sublimate, and how fast they disappear in the open depends on their size, temperature, and airflow.

How many mothballs are toxic?

One mothball is toxic enough, but for practical purposes, it is safe to use 2-3 mothballs for small spaces, and 8-10 for large spaces given that you’re not exposing yourself to them too much.

Final Words

It is very important to be aware of the chemical exposures and health risks imposed by mothballs. Overusing them can spread toxic fumes and damage your organs. Be careful of how many mothballs you use in a room, and do not be in direct contact with them.

Natural alternatives to mothballs can go a long way in terms of safety, but they are not as efficient as mothballs. To prevent moths from infesting, keep your clothes clean by regular laundering.

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Manuel Elmad

Manuel Elmad has always been interested in technical things. When he was just a kid, he worked in a mechanical shop and learned all about the inner workings of electronics and machines. This sparked his thirst for knowledge and led him to pursue a career in this field. For the past 8 years, He has been working as a technician and loves to learn new things and also helps others to learn. In his spare time, Elmand likes to strike on the keyboard for spreading his knowledge and go hiking with his friends.

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