Moth balls are among the most infamously used pesticides in homes for controlling pests like silverfish and moths in fiber clothing and wool.
The regulated pesticide is still used in many homes but not everyone knows how it affects their health.
To begin with, moth balls contain naphthalene, a chemical that could trigger the early destruction of red blood cells in people with G6PD deficiency.
Not only that but the naphthalene, which is also found in fumigants, gives off a vapor that if people with G6PD deficiency are exposed to by inhaling the vapor or ingesting them, can lead to hemolysis or hemolytic anemia.
For this reason, many people are seeking the best moth ball alternatives that can still keep the cloth-eating moths from destroying their properly stored garments in the home.
Why Are Moth Balls Used
Have you ever unfolded your woolen cardigan or sweater only to find that it’s riddled with some holes?
These holes come from hungry moth larvae, which love anything made of natural fibers because they’re able to lay their eggs and get their offspring something to eat too.
Moths and carpet beetles also love hair and pet dander, which is why you must clean your clothes thoroughly before you store them away.
While it’s almost impossible to find the larvae and remove them from your clothes, moth balls make for an effective and efficient way to ensure that your clothes are in one piece when unpacked.
This is especially so if you’re planning to store them away for a month or more.
How Moth Balls Work
Moth balls contain deodorant and chemical pesticides that are used when storing articles of material like clothing away as a protective measure.
For instance, during the winter months, you may need to keep away your summer apparel or during summer, you store away your warm clothing and unbox them in the next season.
With moth balls, you can rest assured that any larvae that may be hiding in your clothing will be eliminated thanks to its poisonous vapor.
The vapor can kill such larvae but its toxic gas is also harmful to human beings especially when exposed to the chemical agent while indoors.
Plus, the chemicals in moth balls are also flammable, which can be dangerous when indoors.
However, most moth balls today don’t have naphthalene. Instead, the modern formulations consist of 1,4-dichlorobenzene, a hazardous chemical to both people (cells or organs) and animals.
10 Best Moth Balls Alternatives
The reason why many people still trust moth balls to keep critters and moths away is because of their rather unpleasant odor.
However, if you’re G6PD deficient or you have little kids in the home who can be affected by the exposure to the moth balls’ chemicals, there are other alternatives you can use that are just as effective.
We’ll share 10 of them with you – some natural – that are just as efficient as moth balls and smell just as good or better.
If you want a natural way of repelling insects, you can use certain plants that are often used for natural pest control.
Such plants include mint, which has a pungent scent that deters insects such as moths just as moth balls would.
Mint leaves are known to be natural repellents to moths and other insects, meaning you can get dried leaves and spread them throughout your wardrobe or drawers to keep moths away.
You can also use essential oils like peppermint if you don’t have mint leaves.
Apply a few drops of the oil to a ball of cotton and set the balls within your closet.
If you’re using dried mint leaves, you can make a sachet with the mint or get loose mint leaves and place the sachet or leaves among your clothes in your storage area.
If you’re using the peppermint oil and cotton balls, you’ll need to check whether the smell is wearing off and if so, add more of the oil.
Peppermint oil not only wards off moths, but also insects like ants and aphids.
2. Cedar Chips and Blocks
Cedarwood has an aroma that repels several kinds of pests and insects.
The wood is an old moth repellent that works to keep the pesky insects away, which is why you’d find some closets or chests made out of cedar.
Alternatively, you can buy cedar rings or cedar drawer liners that fit over clothes hangers and they’ll keep the moths away.
The cedar chips and blocks are readily available in commercial stores, so you can buy a bag of these chips or blocks and hang them next to your coats or suit jackets to keep the moths away.
You can also keep some cedar blocks within storage drawers or bins, but keep changing them to bring the scent back and maintain a fresh scent every time (cedar loses scent over time).
Alternatively, you can buy a bottle of cedar oil and apply it to the wood or sand the cedar lightly to bring back the scent.
The red cedar chips or savings are a great alternative to the naphthalene moth balls but make sure your family members aren’t allergic to cedar before using it as an alternative.
Another way to make sure the cedar scent moves through the home is by creating a potpourri out of the shavings or placing them in sachets so they work as décor and moth repellents.
If you want to buy cedar products, you can go for Household Essentials’ CedarFresh Value Pack.
The value set offers 71 solid cedar pieces, which you can place around the home to repel moths and keep your clothes and rugs protected.
The set also includes cedar cubes, sachets, hanger rings, and hang-up boards.
You can place the cubes in specific spots similar to what you’d do with moth balls and place the sachets in drawers.
For hanger rings and hang-up boards, you can use them in linen or clothing sachets, but don’t place such boards or rings next to silk and other delicate fabrics that can be snagged.
Your clothes will be sweet-smelling and free of damage from the moths that eat away at your precious woolen clothing.
3. Vapor Moth Repellent
If you want to kill moths on contact and ensure that your rugs and clothing have a protective barrier, you can use a strip of unscented vapor insect repellent.
This repellent won’t stain clothes and is safe to use on your items though it contains chemicals so you’ll need to use it with caution especially around your pets.
The repellent is very effective and a great alternative if your home is moth infested and you want to eliminate them completely.
It’s good also for large surface areas where larvae may be hiding and has no long-lasting odor, which makes it ideal for use in your living spaces and clothing.
One of the best such repellents is the Hot Shot 5580 No Pest Strip vapor repellent, which eliminates even cockroaches, flies, and wasps. The product is highly rated by consumers who want to eliminate adult moths in a closet or room.
The repellent contains a single strip that can work for up to 4 months but is most effective on moths for two months after which you can replace it.
Make sure neither you nor your children inhale the repellent’s spirit often as it contains artificial chemicals.
4. Cloves, Rosemary, and Thyme
Spices in your kitchen make for good moth ball alternatives. Among these spices are cloves, rosemary, and thyme, which you can mix together to create sachet bags that smell good for your closet and pantry.
To make this repellent, fill a sachet with any of the three spices: cloves, rosemary, and thyme, or combine the three spices and the moths will flee because they don’t like the smell of these herbs.
Be sure to replace the contents of the sachet whenever they begin to lose their fragrance or every six months.
You can buy these herbs at any natural food store but if you want to save money, buy them in bulk from bulk bins at your local grocery store.
Like all other substances, make sure you keep oils and herbs out of the reach of children and pets. Just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they’re harmless.
Hang the sachets up in your cupboard or your wardrobe to repel bugs and moths.
Lavender emits a soothing scent for humans, but moths hate it so they’ll stay away from it.
You can buy lavender in sachets from your nearest natural health store or get a handful of lavender branches and a cloth to make your own.
Fill the sachets with dried lavender, or get lavender essential oil and dip some cotton balls in the oil.
Place these cotton balls dipped in lavender oil in your drawers, boxes, or closets to repel moths and other insects while keeping your clothes smelling great.
Products with a lavender scent are also a good alternative if you don’t want the woody cedar smell or moth balls.
You can try lavender-scented tablets which dissolve with time and repel moths.
However, you need to keep replacing the tablets once they dissolve, which can be pricier than using moth balls but it’s a good alternative and safer especially because it lacks naphthalene.
Otherwise using dried lavender is a more environmentally safe and friendly deterrent to moths and other insects.
If you store your clothing properly, they’ll be protected from most pests and ready to wear when you remove them from storage.
6. Moth Traps
If you have carpet or clothing moths, a moth trap will be a good way to eliminate the problem.
You can get moth prevention sticky moth traps that attract clothing or carpet moths, and once you expose the sticky paper, it will attract the moths and eliminate them.
The sticky moth trap contains a special pheromone that attracts the insects wherever you hang the trap in your closet or any other spot where the moths are a problem.
The traps’ German engineered pheromones magnetize the moths away from your clothing or carpets and other home textiles.
Plus, the traps are stink-free, safe, and natural so your sweaters won’t have a different repellent scent after using the moth traps.
On top of that, the moth killer traps deliver 3 months of repellent in your closet or home for long-lasting protection. You can also refill and reuse it once it runs out or expires.
While the moth traps may seem pricier compared to other moth repellents, they’re highly effective and work with all common types of moths.
7. Herbal Moth Repellents
If you don’t have access to natural moth repellents, you can buy a herbal moth repellent like the Richards Moth-Away repellent.
The product is pleasantly scented with an aromatic blend of herbs that is not only effective in repelling moths but also smells great.
Each pack of this herbal moth repellent contains 72 sachets that feature a mix of thyme, rosemary, peppermint, and cloves, which you can place in your drawers, shelves, or in your closets as it works best in enclosed spaces.
The sachets emit a great scent compared to other popular repellents and seem to work well to keep your garments free of moths compared to other products.
However, you need to use the product by the expiration date otherwise you’ll have to replace it.
8. White Camphor Oil
Camphor oil is another natural repellent that keeps moths away from your clothes rack and storage areas.
While commercial repellents like moth balls and sprays contain naphthalene, camphor oil is aromatic and natural, which makes it effective at keeping moths away.
White camphor oil is also safer than moth balls and sometimes is considered a medicine, so you need to be cautious not to use it in large amounts.
You can check with your physician about the quantities and any other concerns you may have before you use it.
However, if you’re good to go, you can dilute some camphor essential oil to reduce any health risks or complications.
To make the camphor oil mixture, you can use a 3 percent dilution ratio that’s about 10-15 essential oil drops for each ounce of carrier oil.
You won’t use the oil on your skin so you can always adjust these ratios, but if you want to play it safe, you can use an 11 percent ratio for your mixture and measure it with a dropper to get the precise amounts.
Store the resulting mixture in a glass bottle and then seal it tightly before shaking the contents to mix the oils thoroughly.
The mixture is ready for use right away, or store in a cool dry place to use later.
When ready, get some cotton balls and pour several drops of the mixture onto them to create camphor bundles, and then place the balls in a reusable sachet or a cloth pouch.
The smell of the camphor is traceable through the bag and will repel any moths in your closet, storage, or vicinity.
Keep the pouch slightly open so that the aroma can permeate the space and add a colorful ribbon to ensure moths are attracted to it.
From here, you can place the sachets in your dresser or trunk, or wherever the moths are a problem, but keep them close enough to prevent moths from getting into your closet or drawers.
This creates an extra line of defense against the insects, but you can also hang the bundle with netting above the frames of your doors.
If you want a more botanical moth ball alternative, you can go with the Stay Away moth pouches, which come in a pack of 6 identical pouches.
In each pouch, there’s a plant-based mixture of oils including cedar, Geranium, and Geraniol, which are designed to repel pesky moths and their larvae.
The botanical natural alternative lasts about 30 days at maximum effectiveness, but you can place them inside punctured plastic bags to regulate airflow and prolong their lives.
The packs are placed in a cardboard box that looks rather bland and unpretentious, but you can hang it in your wardrobe or closet space, suitcase, chest of drawers, between stacks of clothes, or in kitchen storage places and other areas.
These pouches emit a fairly noticeable scent meaning if you put several of them in a small space, you’ll get an even stronger scent to repel the insects.
They’re harmless to people or animals so you need not worry about your family’s well-being.
The product is eco-friendly and natural, and the packs’ size and simple design make them easy to place anywhere you want them.
However, not everyone may find the smell appealing so make sure everyone likes it before buying the product.
10. Using Airtight Storage Containers
While there are many natural and artificial moth repellents available, one of the other best moth ball alternatives is using airtight containers to store your clothes and keep moths away.
Naturally, moths hang out in dust and dirt, so if you wash your belongings and dry them before storage, you’ll be creating an environment that’s unfavorable for the moths.
When you store your clothing, use airtight containers or garment bags to keep the moths from getting in in the first place.
Wash all your clothing and ensure that they dry in the sun before you pack them away to kill the larvae in the clothing. You can also iron cotton garments as a further deterrent.
Get sealed containers like plastic storage, chests, suitcases, and more where moths can’t enter and use garment bags for wool coats and suits.
Store your clothes in a dry place like under your bed or in the attic, and vacuum your baseboards or carpets regularly to keep moths away since they’re attracted to dirt.
Make sure you change the vacuum filter or bag regularly to get the larvae out of your home.
You can also place the affected garment in the freezer for a day to kill any larvae in the garment. Over time and with persistence, this moth problem should ease up.
Bonus Tip: If you have fruit peels, you can place them in the closet or on your shelves.
Alternatively, you can make sachets in a linen bag and use citrus oils like orange, which have a strong smell that will repel the moths.
Mix the citrus peels with water and spray your closet. You can also soak some pieces of the fabric in the oil mixture and then place them on the shelves.
What To Look For In A Moth Ball Alternative
When you’re choosing the best moth ball alternatives for your situation, there are several factors to consider such as:
The species of the moths
Not all moths are the same. There are pantry moths and clothing moths that are different in species so they’ll need different methods of treatment and repellent.
There’s no one-size-fits-all moth repellent, so pay attention to the type of moth and get a repellent suitable for it.
Method of application
There are several ways to treat the moth infested area. For instance, you can use sprays that kill larvae or the moths themselves and create protective barriers on your clothing, rugs, or carpets.
Cedar blocks are hassle-free so you can just put them in the drawer or corners and allow them to take effect.
You can also use traps that kill moths using sticky substances but once they’re full, replace and dispose of them until the moth infestation is eliminated.
The classic scent of moth balls comes from the naphthalene chemical that may not be conducive for everyone or animals.
Thankfully, you can use other natural blends or oils like lavender or cedar to repel moths.
Most people know the damage that moths can have on their clothing, pantry items, or carpets and rugs.
However, there are also bugs that can do the same damage, but with these 10 best moth ball alternatives, you can get rid of moth infestations for good.
The best method is to use airtight containers after washing and drying your clothes in the sun, but if you don’t have that, you can try the other options in your storage units for an effective and pleasant smelling experience.