Mothballs are a chemical pesticide that are used for killing moth larva and for mold removal. They are shaped like small round candy, are composed of naphthalene or para-dichlorobenzene, and they emit fumes that kill moths and their larva. These chemical balls are primarily used to protect clothes and other items that are being placed in storage. They are placed along with the items, usually in closed containers. They are also quite effective against silverfish.
Most of us associate mothballs with their strong odor. Naphthalene was more commonly used in mothballs in the past; however, it is more toxic as compared to para-dichlorobenzene and is also flammable. As a result, most mothballs made today consist of para-dichlorobenzene as the main ingredient, which has a similarly strong odor.
Using Mothballs in Enclosed Spaces
While it can be harmless in small quantities, it is essential to contain mothball fumes by keeping them in sealed containers. The fumes emitted will still be effective against moths and mold. However, care must be taken to avoid inhaling the fumes when the container is being opened since they can be harmful. It is best to take the container to an open area and then dispose of the used mothballs.
Mothballs as Pest Control
The smell of mothballs is offensive to most animals, so they are often used around the home and the garden as pest repellents. In the garden, they can serve as effective deterrents against rabbits and deer, which can be harmful to vegetables. Used in sheds and garages, they serve as effective repellents against mice and other rodents. Be cautious about using too many in your backyard, especially if you do not have a fenced yard, or if you have pets. Beneficial creatures in the soil and backyard may also be accidentally harmed by use of mothballs.
Minimizing Health Risks
Mothballs are very toxic when ingested and can cause serious complications or even death. Because of the side effects and health risks of mothballs, many people now consider safer alternatives to protect their clothing.
In households with infants and young children, mothballs must be used very cautiously. Because of their candy-like appearance, they may be attractive to toddlers and young children. Never leave mothballs on the floor or in the closet where they can be accessed easily.
It is a good practice to wash clothes that have been in storage with mothballs when they’re taken out. This is because some people, especially young children, may be more vulnerable to any side effects of the toxins. If you do not wash the clothes, it is necessary to air them out thoroughly and rid them of any fumes or smell. Avoid wearing clothes immediately after taking them out of storage. If using mothballs indoors as deodorizers, avoid closed rooms. Do not use too many in one area as high quantities can cause respiratory complications.