Mothballs/Moth Crystals


Naphthalene has been classified as a Group C, possible human carcinogen by the EPA. Exposure to naphthalene occurs from the use of mothballs as well as from the burning of coal and oil.

Para dichlorobenzene:
Exposure to 1,4 dichlorobenzene (para dichlorobenzene) via inhalation has been associated with irritation to the eyes, throat and skin.
This material is also found in toilet deodorizer sticks.

Health Risks:
 Heavy exposure to naphthalene has been associated with liver damage and hemolytic anemia. Naphthalene has also been associated with neurological damage in infants. Cataracts have occurred in humans and animals who have ingested or inhaled heavy amounts of naphthalene.

Symptoms of exposure include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, jaundice, and coma.

Proper use and disposal:

Mothballs should only be used in an airtight space, such as a sealed garment bag.

Mothballs should not be used inside attics, trashcans, vehicles, crawl spaces or any other enclosed area to repel any unwanted creatures other than moths.

If you have left over mothballs, try to find someone who can use them. Do not just throw mothballs away. Otherwise, contact your local collection center.


You can make your own moth repellent balls using the recipe below (makes about 12 balls)

  • 2 ounces of dried rosemary
  • 2 ounces of dried mint
  • 1 ounce dried thyme
  • 1 ounce dried ginseng
  • 8 ounces whole cloves

Mix the herbs and tie them into a handkerchief or piece of muslin.

Cedar chips are another adequate alternative.

Regularly wash and air your clothing to prevent moths

More about alternatives

Return to Green Home Cleaning Campaign home page


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