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Removing a mothball smell

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Hey everyone,


I got a few little pieces to throw on some mannequins (wool pants, shirts, etc.) but unfortunately they seem to have been very good friends with mothballs before they came to me. I am usually not too bothered but its a little too strong for my taste this time. Any suggestions as to how I could safely remove the smell?




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Can try to air it out a litle at time in fresh air or in a seprate room.Also you may be able to place it in a sealed tote or garbage bag/ zip lock clothing bag with several dryer sheets and check its progress after a couple weeks.There is also odor absorbant products in bags that people hang in basements etc.Possible you could put one in a tote and see how it will work.The home stores typically carry these absorbant products

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  • 1 month later...

I have a good friend who swears by mothballs and I am highly sensitive to mothballs so anytime we trade items, etc. I have to deal with the smell before the item comes into my collection.  The route that works best for me is to simply air the item(s) out before placing them in my "room."  
During good weather I will place the items outside (direct sunlight works really well).
During inclement weather I use the basement.
If it is something with folds such as a garment, I will open the item up as best as I can.
What I have found is that using the outside, the item will usually be fairly free of the smell within two days (usually 8 hours a day).
Using the basement usually takes about three to four days.
After the airing out there is usually a slight odor that lingers for several days but it is hardly noticeable.  
After years of experimenting, I have found that this is the most reliable solution.

To add to this... my friend REALLY USES MOTHBALLS!

One more point - please, do NOT use mothballs.  They are chemical based and not only can damage your items, they can cause health issues with prolonged exposure.  Remember, mothballs were intended to be placed into an enclosed chest, etc. where they were left undisturbed with little exposure to the user.  I see many collectors today using them in their "war-room" where they are exposed to them on a daily basis often for hours at a time.

Just my 2 cents...


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  • 4 weeks later...

Ditto to srossio's comments about using mothballs. They are bad for you and damage brain cells and the olfactory senses! Also, this goes for deodorizers like Fabreze. Fabreze doesn't remove the odor, it simply puts a chemical on the item that causes your brain to not smell the odor. Same thing as the Optical whiteners in soap and things. Those only make things appear whiter/brighter. It is simply an optical illusion. 


That said . . . our Grampa had two prized wool blankets - a USN navy blue and a Pullman blanket. He stored them with mothballs, and upon his death, Sis and I received them. We were absolutely thrilled! However . . . the smell! We aired out - outside on the line and inside in the back room (no basement). No success. We worked on these for two years. They just stank! In the end, we had to carefully wash them with Fragrance Free soap and then hang-out to dry. Finally got it. 


We also bought a cedar chest at an auction. It was filled with blankets . . . some wool, some acrylic, some cotton. Well, the people thought cedar wasn't enough, and they filled it with mothballs. We had that trunk for years. We tried everything . . . never did get it moth-ball smell free. We ended up selling it in the end. The blankets . . . again . . . airing, and airing . . . no success. Washing was the only way to get it gone and a few had to be washed three times. 


Whatever you do . . . remember to NEVER put wool in the dryer! Wash it and let it hang dry! If you put it in the dryer, or apply heat, the wool actually felts and will drastically shrink! 


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  For myself,  I put moth ball smelling  items next to a dehumidifier.  Works well for me.

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