How to Remove That Delightful Mothball Smell

As a seller of old clothing, I come across many offensive odors in clothing.  I am the weirdo in the thrift shop sniffing everything to make sure that any scents present are scents that I can actually remove.  Today, let's talk about the modern marvel known as mothballs.  As you know, mothballs produce a very strong smell aimed at keeping those little chompers off of clothing (or aimed at keeping larger varmints out of your garden).  Cedar works just as well on clothing and actually smells good, so let's use that going forward, shall we?

I can understand why people would pack their nice wool items in mothballs, but I'm finding lots of polyester that has been packed that way, too.  Only a self-hating moth would choose polyester over wool!  The tricky thing with polyester is that you may not know anything is amiss until you wash the items and the washing releases the mothball odor.  Surprise!

Here's the short answer for removing mothball scent- newspaper, and lots of it.   Spread newspaper out on a table and lay your garment on top of it.  Spread another layer on top of the garment.  Do not skimp on the paper!!  Roll your item from top to bottom in the newspaper.  If any piece of the garment is exposed, cover with more newspaper.  Place inside a large paper bag and fold down the top.  Check in one week to see if smell is gone.  

If the smell is light, a week or two will do it.  If the mothball smell is strong, you will have to leave it for a month or more.  For a few particularly strong-smelling garments, it took three months (!!!) of the newspaper treatment but it did eventually go away.  Take the item out and roll in fresh newspaper once per month as needed.  You can continue with the same paper bag.


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