How Long Does It Take for Mothballs to Evaporate?

It takes one mothball about 3 to 6 months for it to evaporate if kept in the open air. But, if put in-between clothes, it will take up to 12 months for it to dissipate.

That is just for the ball to disappear. But the smell does not dissipate immediately the ball is gone.

It takes a few more months for the smell of mothballs to totally dissipate from the room if you leave off to disappear naturally. Exposing it to air can dissipate faster than when inside a closet or box of clothes.

The time taken for the smell to go off totally can be reduced when you apply some DIY methods. Some mothballs can take a long time or even lesser time to sublime depending on the size of the mothball.

But, the regular size of the ball, should not take more than 6 months to sublime. If you actually need it to stay longer in your clothes box, you need to keep replacing it in order to sustain the smell.

People use mothballs for many reasons and one of them is to keep moths away from clothes.

How does Mothball smell happen?

Mothball smell is actually caused by a chemical called naphthalene. Naphthalene is a toxic chemical that is used to keep some moths and pests away from the environment when applied to mothballs.

In some cases, it is not just naphthalene, there is another chemical that causes the smell in mothballs. That chemical is Paradichlorobenzene.

But, the primary cause of mothballs’ smell is the naphthalene chemical. Those in the chemical field use naphthalene for many other things.

And, they play an important role in keeping clothes safe in the house.

Before mothballs begin to smell in your house, you must have placed them there to wade away moths, which is a good thing.

Or, you might have placed them within your clothing to prevent moths from damaging them. And that is the major thing they are known for. But, what happens when you no longer want the smell on your clothings?

What happens when you no longer like the smell of mothballs in your house? Will you have to wait for 6 months before the smell is out? Or are there things you can do to dissipate the smell?

Let’s see how to get rid of the mothball smell.

Different ways to get rid of mothball smell

The professional advice I will give you about removing the mothball smell is to get some professionals who can do it for you and you don’t have to stress yourself.

But, we don’t have to pay so much for everything, right? So, here are some DIY methods you can apply to get rid of the mothball smell.

How to remove the smell from the room

You can simply use baking soda for this. So this is what you will do.

  • Get your baking soda from the market or the one you have at home.
  • Boil a bucket of water and don’t let it steam hot. You need the water to be warm
  • You can then mix the baking soda with the warm water in a bucket, probably your mop bucket.
  • Ensure that everywhere is ventilated. Open every window and door and keep them open until you are done with this.
  • You can then start mopping the floor with your baking soda and warm water solution.
  • Mop the whole house, especially the places you placed the mothballs.
  • After that, you can now keep a bowl of vinegar in the room. If you do not have that, you can place a bowl of granulated charcoal in the room. That will further dissipate the whole smell.
  • You may have to wait for days or weeks for the smell to totally dissipate. You may want to replace your carpets.

 To remove the smell from clothes

  • You will need to get vinegar, lemon juice, and warm water for this.
  • Mix the vinegar and lemon juice to form a solution.
  • Then you can sprinkle the solution of vinegar and lemon juice on the clothes.
  • After doing that, keep it for some minutes, then rinse the clothes with warm water.
  • You can then sun dry your clothes. With that, you have successfully taken out the mothball smell on your clothes.


  • you can decide to put the clothes in your washing machine using vinegar as your detergent. You can then let it rinse and sun dry.

If you cannot get vinegar or lemon juice presently, there are still other ways to get rid of the smell of clothes.

  • if you want to use the clothes immediately, you can just press the clothes with an iron or just sun dry if you have enough time. But, that may not totally take away the smell of mothballs from your clothes.
  • for a temporary effect, if you are in a haste, you can choose to douche the clothes with enough deodorant or perfumes just so the mothball smell can be overshadowed.

Note, that you may have to do any of these options repeatedly for the mothball smell to be totally out. So, you have to keep doing it until you are satisfied with the resultant smell.

To remove the smell from shoes

You can do this in two ways.

  • get freshly granulated coffee beans and wrap it in a paper pouch.
  • you can then stuff the paper pouch of granulated coffee beans into the shoes.
  • leave it that way for about a week and the smell will be gone.


If you cannot wait for that long to have your shoes back, you can use the dryer.

  • put your shoes in the dryer.
  • in the settings of the dryer, choose “the air only” and leave it there for a while. You can then get them out and the smell will be gone from your shoes.

I think these methods are simple enough for you to easily try them yourself. But, if you cannot do any of these yourself, you can always get it done through dry cleaning services.

Some people prefer to just leave them out for the smell to go off. But, there are people who have actually embraced the faint smell of mothballs on their clothes and they do not bother if the smell is out or not.

The smell will naturally get off as you continue to wash and wear your clothes normally. That will mean that you will have to stay with the smell until it’s out.

These methods are needed to get rid of the smell quickly, instead of waiting for months before the smell goes off naturally.

What about those who actually like this smell, especially the faint smell the mothball leaves on clothes. Does it mean anything if you just let the smell stay in your room or in your clothes?

As much as these mothballs are useful, they also have side effects. Just like everything good, there will always be a bad side to it if when misused.

In the next slide, we are going to find out if this mothball smell can actually harm us, being humans.

Can Mothball smell hurt you?

Here is a very important question. Why do we even need to get rid of mothballs as quickly as possible if not to prevent the harm they might cause us? Just relax, it’s not that bad.

Mothball smell does not have the potency to outrightly fatality, but it can cause other side effects like dizziness when smelled for a prolonged period of time.

It can also cause headaches, fatigue, nausea, and restlessness. All of these can happen when there is prolonged exposure to the mothball smell.

This is why it is important that you get rid of the smell as quickly as possible.

Short exposure to this smell may not cause any harm, but when you stay long enough to inhale the mothball smell, that is when the effects may begin to take effect.

And, you may not even know what is causing your restlessness or dizziness until confirmed by a doctor.

So, you have to, first of all, stay out of the environment of mothball smell until the smell is dissipated. Aside from these, the mothball smell is not really deadly.


In this article, we have realized that it naturally takes mothball 3 to 6 months before they sublime, that is, move from being solid to gas.

And as they sublime, the smell is what does the work of keeping moths away from your clothings or your entire house.

Naphthalene is the major cause of mothball smell. Sometimes, it is caused by the Paradichlorobenzene chemical.

There are different methods to get rid of this mothball smell and I have discussed them above. So, check them again and ensure the smell is removed from your clothings and house.

Mothball smell can cause basic side effects like dizziness, nausea, restlessness, fatigue, headache, and others. Ensure you do not stay long enough with the mothball smell.


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