How To Get Mothball Smell Out Of Wool Clothes

How To Get Mothball Smell Out Of Wool Clothes

How To Get Mothball Smell Out Of Wool Clothes

Wool clothes are a popular choice for their warmth, comfort, and insulation properties. Unfortunately, if these garments have been stored with mothballs, they may acquire an unpleasant odor that can be challenging to eliminate. The distinct scent of mothballs can cling to wool fabrics, making it difficult to wear or enjoy them without feeling uncomfortable. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various methods to effectively remove the mothball smell from your beloved wool clothes. Whether you are dealing with a single garment or an entire wardrobe, these tips and tricks will help you restore your wool garments to their original freshness.


1. Understanding the Mothball Smell

Before we dive into the removal techniques, it is crucial to understand what creates the unpleasant mothball odor and why it tends to linger on wool fabrics. Mothballs are small white balls or flakes infused with a pungent chemical called naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. These chemicals are highly effective at killing moths and other fabric-damaging insects. However, they leave an overpowering smell that can be challenging to eliminate.

2. Sunning and Fresh Air

One of the most accessible and traditional methods to remove mothball odor is to allow your wool clothes to air out in the sun. Sunning your garments helps eliminate the smell by providing natural sunlight and fresh air to penetrate the fabric. Start by selecting a sunny spot in your backyard or balcony where you can hang the wool clothes. Make sure to turn the garments inside out to expose the affected areas to direct sunlight. Leave them out for several hours, or until the odor has dissipated.

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If outdoor space is limited or if the weather does not permit sunning, you can also hang the wool clothes near an open window. This allows fresh air to circulate and help neutralize the mothball scent. Keep in mind that it may take a few days to completely eliminate the odor using this method, especially for garments that have been stored with mothballs for an extended period.

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda is renowned for its ability to absorb odors and eliminate unpleasant smells. It is also a gentle ingredient that is safe to use on wool garments. To remove the mothball smell using baking soda, follow these steps:

1. Fill a clean container with baking soda.

2. Place the wool clothes inside the container, ensuring that they are fully covered with baking soda.

3. Close the container and leave it undisturbed for at least 24 hours.

After the designated time has passed, remove the wool clothes from the container and shake off any excess baking soda. You can then hang or lay the garments in a well-ventilated area to air out any remaining odor. If the smell persists, you may need to repeat the process or try alternative methods.

4. Vinegar Solution

Vinegar is a versatile household ingredient known for its natural odor-neutralizing properties. When combined with water, vinegar can help remove the mothball smell from wool clothes. Here is how you can use vinegar to freshen up your garments:

1. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a clean sink or basin.

2. Submerge the wool clothes in the vinegar solution, ensuring they are fully saturated.

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3. Gently agitate the clothes in the solution for a few minutes to allow the vinegar to penetrate the fibers.

4. Let the clothes soak in the solution for 15-30 minutes.

5. Remove the clothes from the vinegar solution and rinse them thoroughly with cold water.

6. Squeeze out excess water and carefully lay the clothes flat to dry.

As the clothes dry, the vinegar smell will dissipate, taking the mothball odor with it. If needed, you can give the clothes a final rinse or air them out to ensure no vinegar scent remains.

5. Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a fantastic odor absorber that can effectively eliminate the mothball smell from wool clothes. It works by trapping and neutralizing odor particles, leaving your garments fresh and odor-free. To use activated charcoal for removing the mothball smell, follow these steps:

1. Place the wool clothes in a sealable plastic bag or container.

2. Add a few pieces of activated charcoal to the bag or container.

3. Seal the bag or container and let it sit for several days to allow the charcoal to absorb the odor.

4. After the designated time, remove the clothes from the bag or container and shake or brush off any residual charcoal.

5. Air out the clothes in a well-ventilated area to remove any lingering odors.

Activated charcoal is readily available in stores or online. It’s a handy item to have on hand for various odor removal purposes, making it a worthwhile investment.


Q: How long does it take to get rid of the mothball smell from wool clothes?

A: The time required to eliminate the mothball smell depends on various factors, including the severity of the odor, the ventilation in the storage area, and the method used for removal. It can take anywhere from a few hours to several days or even weeks to completely remove the smell.

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Q: Can I use fabric fresheners or perfume to mask the mothball odor?

A: While fabric fresheners or perfumes may temporarily mask the mothball smell, they do not eliminate it. It is best to focus on removing the odor rather than covering it up with other scents.

Q: Can I wash my wool clothes in the washing machine to remove the mothball smell?

A: It is generally not recommended to wash wool clothes in a washing machine, as the agitation and harsh detergents can damage the delicate fibers. However, some wool garments may have specific washing instructions on their care label. If machine washing is suitable for your particular garment, follow the instructions carefully, and monitor the garment closely for any signs of damage.

In Conclusion

Removing the mothball smell from wool clothes requires a combination of patience and the right techniques. With the methods outlined in this guide, you can successfully eliminate the unpleasant odor and restore your wool garments to their former freshness. Whether you choose to sun your clothes, use baking soda, vinegar, or activated charcoal, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and take the necessary precautions to preserve the quality of your wool items. Remember, prevention is key to avoiding mothball odors in the future, so ensure proper storage and ventilation when storing your wool clothes. Enjoy the comfort and warmth of your odor-free wool garments once again!

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