How to Get Rid of Moth Balls

Written by karen cotton
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How to Get Rid of Moth Balls
Moth balls kill moths, their larvae and other pests. (yellow moths. papillon. image by Oleg Berlov from

Moth balls are a pest-control method used to repel or kill moths and moth larvae. Moth balls are highly toxic. They are made from hazardous chemicals including: napthalene, paradichlorobenzene and camphor. The volatile nature of moth balls means that, over time, these pest deterrents convert from a solid to a gas. The gas emanating from moth balls is associated with numerous health issues, including anaemia, kidney failure and ultimately death. For this reason, moth ball disposal requires special care and may need assistance from hazardous waste handlers.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Disposable gloves
  • 2 garbage bags

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    Preparing for Moth Ball Disposal

  1. 1

    Open windows and doors in the room or space where moth balls are being stored. Ensure the room is well-ventilated.

    How to Get Rid of Moth Balls
    Ventilate your space for a minimum of 60 minutes after opening moth ball containers. (minuteur image by Danielle Bonardelle from
  2. 2

    Examine the space, area or container where moth balls were placed. If absolutely no signs of moth balls remain, proceed to step 3. If moth balls were held in sealed containers or bags or if any signs of moth balls remain, refer to section 2.

    How to Get Rid of Moth Balls
    Non-toxic moth deterrents include lavender and cedar chips. (moth image by Colette MacDonald from
  3. 3

    Rinse area where moth balls were once present, including containers. Take precautions undertaking this task, including wearing gloves and/or mask, to avoid risks associated with napthalene, paradichlorobenzene and camphor. Used water can be placed directly in the drain. Ensure it is flushed down with plenty of clean water.

    How to Get Rid of Moth Balls
    Throroughly clean any items which have been in direct contact with mothballs. (washing dishes image by Horticulture from
  4. 4

    Place any empty and rinsed mothball containers for standard waste collection.

    How to Get Rid of Moth Balls
    Empty mothball containers can be rinsed and put out with your normal household waste. (trash image by Orlando Florin Rosu from

    Moth Ball Disposal

  1. 1

    Collect and double-bag any moth balls left outside of containers. Again, ensure the room is well-ventilated and take precautions, including gloves and masks, as necessary.

  2. 2

    Call your local wastewater treatment plant to see whether they undertake moth ball disposal. Some sites use bacteria which can make moth balls safe. This is a good solution for moth balls which are stored in bags or sealed containers.

    How to Get Rid of Moth Balls
    Some bacteria can detoxify moth balls. (bacteria 18 image by chrisharvey from
  3. 3

    Contact your local licensed hazardous waste handler to arrange collection of any remaining bagged or sealed moth balls. Alternatively, dispose of these as part of your area's household hazardous waste collection program.

    How to Get Rid of Moth Balls
    Double-bagging moth balls for storage reduces the risk of exposure. (Garbage bag image by Mykola Velychko from

Tips and warnings

  • Dry-clean any clothing which comes into contact with moth balls to prevent risk of inhalation or irritation of eyes or nose.
  • Use natural alternatives to moth balls, such as dried lavender, cedar chips or white peppercorns. These carry no health hazards and can be disposed of easily.
  • Keep all moth balls out of reach of children. According to the Washington Toxics Coalition, eating just one moth ball can kill a child in less than 60 minutes.
  • It is imperative that moth balls are kept in enclosed spaces away from both pets and humans. Long exposure to large amounts of naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene may cause cataracts, liver damage or kidney damage.
  • Short-term exposure to napthalene or paradichlorobenzene can cause headaches nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.

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