How to remove mothball smell from wool sweaters

Written by yvonne ward Google
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How to remove mothball smell from wool sweaters
Mothballs can keep insects from eating your wool sweaters, but the odour can be tricky to remove later. (sweaters image by Ruta Saulyte from

People use mothballs when storing cloth materials such as wool sweaters to protect them from damaging insects such as moths and beetles that feed on wool and other animal fibres by using naphthalene, a vaporous insecticide. Mothballs can be very effective but the smell can be difficult to destroy. You may have to try one or several odour removal methods before the distinctive odour is finally gone. So before you throw your sweaters away or place them in your washing machine with hot water, consider all of the alternatives.

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Things you need

  • Clothes hangers
  • White vinegar
  • Mothball odour removal pouch
  • Ioniser machine

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  1. 1

    Hang your wool sweaters outside on a sunny day. Direct sunshine and fresh air is the first line of defence to mothball odour removal. Bring them inside when the sun goes down and repeat the process until the smell is gone.

  2. 2

    Wash your sweaters if they are machine washable by filling up your washer with cold water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Place the sweaters in the water and allow the washer to complete its full cycle. Hang or lay flat to dry. If the mothball odour is still present, repeat this process until it is gone or try another method. Take your sweaters to a dry cleaner if they cannot be machine-washed.

  3. 3

    Purchase a mothball odour remover such as Smelleze. This type of product works by attracting and absorbing mothball odours within an enclosed space. One pouch will work in an area of less than 150 square feet. Hang your wool sweaters in a closet or put into a drawer. Take the plastic covering off the pouch and place into the closet or drawer with the sweaters and close. Change the pouches once per week until the mothball odour is gone.

  4. 4

    Purchase an ioniser machine. An ioniser is commonly used to remove a wide variety of odours from many sources. It works by emitting ozone that destroys odour. Hang your wool sweaters in small enclosed space and turn the machine on. The ioniser works with an optional 60-minute timer or you can turn on and leave on as long as needed.

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