Need pest help? Save $50 on your first recurring service today with code GET50

What are mothballs used for?

What are mothballs?

Mothballs are small balls, flakes, or cakes of chemical pesticide, sometimes used when storing clothing and other materials susceptible to damage from mold or moth larvae. The active ingredients in mothballs are naphthalene, camphor and paradichlorobenzene. These chemicals are solids at room temperature and slowly change to a gas and become fumes in the air. Mothballs should only be used as specified on the label. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates usage of mothballs. Be careful when purchasing mothballs since some mothballs for sale may be illegal, which often means they were imported without oversight of the product contents or labeling. Because they have not been evaluated, the risks they pose are unknown. Ensure the mothball product you use has a proper label that includes an USEPA Registration number.

How do mothballs work?

Mothballs transform from a solid to a vapor, a process called sublimation. As they sublimate, mothballs release toxic fumes that kill moths and larvae. To work most safely and effectively, mothballs are placed into an airtight container where the fumes kill the pests without exposure to people, animals, or pets. Mothballs are classified as a pesticide and used to control moths, silverfish and other fiber pests in wool and other natural fiber clothing and materials.

Can mothballs be used to repel pests indoors/outdoors?

Mothballs are somewhat effective at repelling rats, mice, squirrels, bats, snakes, or other wildlife in outdoor areas. However, mothballs may contaminate soil and water and their use as animal repellants is not appropriate and can be illegal. Be certain to read the mothball product label to determine whether outdoor use is permitted.

Do mothballs repel cockroaches?

While mothballs may provide a temporary way to repel roaches, mothballs are not a safe or effective long-term cockroach infestation control option.

Do mothballs keep mice away?

Mothballs are useful when kept in a closed container with the items you are trying to protect. However, leaving mothballs out in the open to repel rodents is a very bad idea. Mothballs are ineffective as a rodent repellent. Plus, using them in a manner not approved by the mothball label can expose your family to toxic chemicals.

Will mothballs repel mice & rats?

Mothballs contain naphthalene, but the small quantity in mothballs is insufficient to effectively deter rats or mice, plus the mothball odor rapidly dissipates. The smell can be a deterrent in large quantities but will not prevent rodent infestations and the use of mothballs against rats and mice may involve health risks.

Do mothballs repel snakes?

Contrary to popular belief, mothballs are not very effective at repelling snakes. The best way to keep snakes out of areas inhabited by pets and humans is to make the area less appealing to the reptiles by using ways to prevent snakes from living in the area.

Do mothballs ward off snakes?

Mothballs don't repel snakes. Since snakes are attracted to areas that provide cover and shelter, homeowners should remove logs, leaf litter or trash piles close to the home and maintain grass or other vegetation to make the area less appealing to snakes.

Are mothballs toxic?

Yes, mothballs are toxic, and their use must be managed appropriately. Mothballs are commonly made of naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, both of which are toxic to humans. Mothballs can also be dangerous if they are chewed or eaten - children, pets, and wildlife may mistake them for food or candy and eat them. One mothball can cause serious harm if eaten by a small child.

If someone has swallowed a mothball, call the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 for emergency medical advice. If you think your pet has eaten a mothball, contact your veterinarian for their professional advice. Fumes produced by mothballs are harmful to humans and pets. If they’re not used in airtight containers (as required by the EPA), they can damage lung tissue, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. Breathing fumes from mothballs can cause headaches, nausea, eye and nose irritation and coughing. Also, Naphthalene is categorized as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA.

Connect with Us

Our customer care team is available for you 24 hours a day.


Find a Branch

Our local Pros are the pest experts in your area.

Get a Personalized Quote

We will help you find the right treatment plan for your home.



Pest ControlTermite ControlPrevent and Protect


Browse All Pests

© 2024 Orkin LLC

Terms of UsePrivacyAccessibility StatementCareers

Your Branch  

Call Now