Why Do Some Jeans Smell Like Moth Balls

Why do some jeans smell like mothballs, and how can we avoid it in the future? You’re not alone. It happens to the best of us.

If you’ve ever put on a pair of brand-new jeans and caught a whiff of mothballs, then, welcome to the club.

The phenomenon is actually fairly common and you can either notice this in new or old jeans.

Mothball smell comes from the chemical compound, Naphthalene Formaldehyde, which is added in the jeans production process, in order to stop moth, bacteria, mold from reacting to the new jeans wherever they are stored.

When a garment is made, chemicals like Naphthalene Formaldehyde are added to the fabric. These chemicals are what give jeans their unique color, texture and even protect the jeans from wear and tear.

However, these chemicals evaporate over time when stored in an airtight space. This causes the garment to acquire a distinct moth ball smell.

Naphthalene is also found in some household cleaners and cosmetics, and so, there is a possibility that when your old jeans come into contact with this chemical, they absorb it, which is what causes the smell when you wear them.

Naphthalene is also is used in the manufacturing process of many items that we have in our homes – including some types of mothballs and moth repellents.

So, there really isn’t anything to worry about; just that pungent smell.

In addition to smelling like mothballs, your denim may also retain odors that can be traced back to chemicals or scents used on your clothing during its manufacturing process.

How can I remove moth ball smell from my jeans?

Why Do Some Jeans Smell Like Moth Balls

The review I am going to be giving here will help solve major issues like removing moth ball smell from my jeans, getting mothball smell out of my pants, getting rid of mothball smell from your hands.

Let’s get to my steps:

Step 1: Remove the clothes from the washer

Step 2: Put two cups of baking soda into a bucket and fill it with warm water

There are two ways of making your baking soda do its work here. One is to make a baking soda paste by combining baking soda and water. Then rub it into the fabric of your jeans.

Another is the one I mentioned at the beginning, which is to let the mixture sit overnight so that they have time to absorb the odors.

This is a more effective way to deal with moth ball smell on your denim.

Step 3: Place the jeans into the bucket of warm water and add your detergent

It’s important to be patient and let the enzyme-based detergent do its job. It can take several washes to remove the smell completely.

Step 4: Let them soak overnight

Step 5: You can then add two-30ml cups of Vinegar this time per one number of jeans

You might have heard of using vinegar to get rid of smells, and it does work. Just soak a cloth in vinegar and leave it on the jeans for about an hour.

Don’t use anything stronger than white vinegar or it may affect the color of your jeans.

Step 6: Wash this time to remove the smell

You don’t want to scrub too hard when cleaning with vinegar since it might cause some color loss. But if you’re careful, you should be fine!

Step 7: Wash them on a hot cycle again, no soap this time

Step 8: Take them out of the washer and put them in a warm dryer for about an hour

Step 9: Hang them in a place to air out for a few days

You can also try putting them on a sunny windowsill or on your porch. This should remove most odors.

If the smell still persists, wash them inside out with vinegar in warm water again and tumble dry on high heat for 20-30 minutes.

If you’re very sensitive to detergents, especially fragrances and artificial scents, you may want to avoid using any kind of chemical laundry product.

Focus on the natural options instead like baking soda or lemon juice as a pre-treatment for stains or when washing whites or bright colors.

Once the jeans are washed though, the smell goes away because it’s no longer being absorbed into the fabric.

Takeaway: You can remove the mothball smell from your jeans by soaking them in baking soda and vinegar. Then wash them in a hot cycle and dry them on hot for an hour or so.

Is the moth ball smell harmful to my health?

If you were to walk up to me and raise your hand slightly and ask the question…is the smell of moth balls harmful to my health, I would respond with an enthusiastic “no”.

Moth balls smell is a smell that historically meant “cleanliness” or comfort. Dresser drawers, boxes, closets, and wardrobes are all places where mothballs were once ubiquitous.

The chemical which causes moth ball smell has recently been linked with health risks: naphthalene is labeled to likely cause nausea and eye, nose, or throat irritation. So, it is important to do all you can to get rid of moth ball smell in your jeans.

I felt the smell in my jeans for a long time before making the decision to get it off, and prior to the time, the smell never affected me healthwise.

I wouldn’t advise that you be like me and wait for a long time before getting rid of the smell from your denim.

Got it?

Parting words

I think the steps we discussed will help you get rid of the mothball smell in your jeans a lot easier.

It might be as simple as airing them out, but if you have sensitive skin, I’d steer clear of that and try using baking soda instead.

If you do decide to air them out, whenever it’s not too hot outside, hang them up outside with a fan blowing on them.

The smell should disappear quickly.

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