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What is moth balls actually?
Uses of Mothballs
How Do Mothballs Work?
Can mothballs make you sick?
A Few Tips on Using Mothballs Safely
#01 What is moth balls actually?
Clothing care has evolved over time as fashion and technology have changed how we clean, preserve, and protect our clothes. Mothballs have a long history as an insecticide used to keep cloth-eating moths from damaging garments stored in drawers at home.
Mothballs are small balls that contain chemical pesticides and deodorant and are sometimes used to store clothing and other materials that are susceptible to mold or moth larvae damage. Mothballs will also be used as a pesticide to control silverfish and other fiber pests that will feed on fabric material, as moths and carpet beetles love anything made of natural fibers because it will allow them a place to lay their larvae and ensure their offspring has a hearty first meal of your clothing material.
For many years, mothballs have been used to keep moths and other fiber-eating pests away from clothing. Older mothballs contained naphthalene, which was first registered as a pesticide in the United States in 1948. Experimentation with naphthalene continued for several decades after it was discovered that burning naphthalene produced significantly large flames. So, mothballs are a pesticide that are used to control moths, silverfish, and other fiber pests in wool and other natural fiber clothing and materials.
The chemical 1,4-dichlorobenzene is now used in many modern mothball chemical formulations. This chemical is less flammable and can also be used as a fumigant insecticide to control clothes moths. 1,4-dichlorobenzene, like naphthalene, is a hazardous chemical to human and animal health. This mothball chemical, according to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), is broken down in the body to form other compounds that may be harmful to cells or organs such as the liver.
#02 Uses of Mothballs
The primary purpose of chemical-based mothballs is to kill adult clothes moths, their eggs, and the larvae that damage your clothing. Mothballs, as regulated pesticides, must be used only as directed on the label. Mothballs are intended to kill moths and other fiber insects in order to protect clothing. Mothball fumes kill clothes moths, their eggs, and larvae that eat natural fibers in indoor storage areas like closets, attics, and basements.
The primary use of mothballs will be to protect clothing and other fabrics that are being stored for a longer period of time, such as clothing and linens after winter through the spring and summer months. Mothballs are packaged in airtight bags made of a non-reactive plastic such as polyethylene or polypropylene. Mothball-protected clothing must also be enclosed in these plastic sealed containers to ensure that the mothballs chemical vapors are not released and spread into the air of a home. When mothball chemical vapors begin to flood a home's indoor air space, they not only contaminate the indoor air quality, but they also reduce the effectiveness of the mothballs in your storage containers.
Furthermore, many homeowners will use mothballs as a snake or rodent repellent (squirrels and rats). Mothballs, on the other hand, are ineffective for this purpose. When you use mothballs for this purpose in your yard, they are more likely to be harmful than beneficial. These mothballs will eventually begin to have an adverse effect on the occupants of the home, including pets in some cases.
Followings are some more usages of mothballs
Use mothballs to kill bugs on potted plants
To get rid of bugs on a potted plant, place it in a clear plastic bag, like a cleaning bag, add a few mothballs, and seal for a week. When you take the plant out of the bag, it will be free of bugs. It will also keep moths at bay for a short time.
Use mothballs to repel mice from garage or shed
Do not allow mice to spend the winter in your garage. Place a few mothballs around the garage, and the mice will look for other places to live. Put mothballs around the base of wrapped or covered plants to keep mice out of our potting shed.
Use mothballs to keep dogs and cats away from the garden
Do not dispose of old mothballs. Spread them around your flowerbeds and gardens to deter cats, dogs, and rodents. Animals despise the odor!
Use mothballs to rinse woolens for storage
Of course, storing woolens with mothballs to keep moths away is a good idea. To give your favorite sweaters even more protection, add a few mothballs to the final rinse before storing them.
#03 How Do Mothballs Work?
The use of mothballs inside a home is to use as a pesticide to protect stored fabrics and materials in particular. The label on mothballs states that they are to be used to kill moths and other fiber insects in order to protect clothing. These mothballs use the gas that evaporates from the chemicals in them to kill the moths and moth larvae that are attempting to develop and thrive on the materials in your home. The following instructions will be followed to use mothballs:
- Use mothballs on clothes that you will not be wearing during the winter months; try to keep these garments in a sealed storage container to keep these moths and insects at bay.
- Put the clothing in an airtight container, such as a plastic laundry bag or a plastic storage box.
- When it's time to wear your clothes, air them out for a few days to try to expel the chemical odors produced by the mothballs from the fabric.
- Do not put the clothes in the washing machine because the smell may transfer to other clothing garments.
#04 Can mothballs make you sick?
The use of mothballs in the safe, confined space of your home can pose a number of potential health risks and problems, particularly if this chemical pesticide is used incorrectly. The question of 'can mothballs make you sick?' has been raised in relation to mothballs, and the answer is potentially yes.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), the chemicals used in mothballs are toxic to humans and pets, and when people are exposed to these chemicals, toxic fumes are released into the home's air space. As previously stated, when mothballs are not used properly and are not placed in an airtight, sealed container, the mothball chemicals rush into the air of your indoor space, resulting in compromised indoor air quality and strong potent chemical odors in the environment.
If you detect the odor of mothballs in your home's air, you are being exposed to these chemicals in your indoor environment. In some cases, some of the chemicals used in mothballs can cause adverse health effects such as headaches, nausea, eye and nose irritation, and coughing. Many of the chemicals used in mothballs are potential carcinogens, which can lead to more severe health effects such as liver and/or kidney damage.
The health effects of mothballs are dependent on the active ingredient and the method of exposure. When used according to the label, no significant health effects are expected. The symptoms will differ depending on the type of mothball exposure. Individuals exposed to naphthalene-containing mothball vapors may experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, respiratory irritation, blood effects, and eye effects. Dermal exposure symptoms include skin irritation and burning, as well as the possibility of allergic reactions with repeated exposures.
Are Children More Vulnerable to Mothball Poisoning?
Mothballs pose a challenge for users and parents because many products are shaped and colored like food or candy, making them appealing to children. Children may also be exposed as a result of mothball-treated clothing, diapers, and bedding. Furthermore, certain populations of children appear to be more vulnerable to developing anemia, jaundice, and kidney damage (due to red blood cell destruction) after being exposed to mothballs. This sensitivity is due to these children's decreased ability to rid their bodies of naphthalene metabolites.
#05 Common Misunderstandings
Mothballs should not be stored in closets, attics, basements, storage chests or trunks, garment bags, or any other space other than the tightly closed containers described above. Mothball gasses escape into the air and can cause respiratory problems.
Chemical fumes can build up to dangerous levels in enclosed spaces. Mothballs used incorrectly can cause long-term exposure to people and pets. Because the fumes are heavier than air, they will accumulate along floors, endangering small children and pets.
Another common misconception is the use of mothballs to repel rodents, squirrels, bats, snakes, and other wildlife in outdoor areas. Mothballs are ineffective in this application and can contaminate the soil and water. Using mothballs to repel animals is inappropriate and may be illegal.
#06 A Few Tips on Using Mothballs Safely
- To prevent vapors from escaping into occupied rooms or cabinets, use only tightly sealed bags or other containers.
- Before using treated fabrics (especially children's clothing), wash and/or air them out.
- Only store in the original container in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
- Do not flush unused mothballs down drains, whether indoor or outdoor.