How to get mothball smell out of house?

reno_fanMarch 7, 2006

Yay! I have my very first RE listing. That's the good news.

The bad news is that it smells something awful of mothballs.

I'm somewhat averse to all of the fragrance sprays, plug-ins, candles, and all of the Febreze type sprays. (I usually can smell the original smell *through* the cover up smell, and it's just too much!) I just need something for our open houses, etc.

Does anyone have any ways to eliminate such an odor from a house?

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Is the home vacant? Perhaps a good airing out would help somewhat.

If the closets reek, try crushing charcoal and placing lots of it in the closets. Lay down newspaper, place a shallow basket on it and line the basket with a dishcloth. Gently load the charcoal into the dishcloth. The idea is to allow for maximum air exposure to the charcoal. Shut the closet door and check back after a few days.

I have heard that bowls of vinegar set out will absorb cigarette odors, perhaps it will work on others...?

Congrats, Steph! Hopefully you'll sell that baby so fast you won't have time to worry about the mothball smell!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 11:22PM
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Pecan, you're the best. Really. Your posts never fail to lift my spirits!

Yes, the house is vacant, thought the homeowners do have some of their personal items around. I've searched high and low for the offending balls...but to no avail.

I'll try the charcoal, but I'll need to remember to remove it before the next open house. Can you even imagine someone opening a door and seeing that on the floor???

"Oh honey, just look at this great closet....I just...what on earth *is* that?"


    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 11:29PM
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I'm wondering if it's actually mothballs. DH's grandmother's house had that smell, and we found no mothballs. Never figured out what it was. I did the charcoal treatment, sat over there with all the windows open for days while I did our taxes, and took over my super-duper air purifier from Sharper Image (purchased online- reconditioned model- for a great price!!) Also sprinkled baking soda on the carpets and left it for a couple of days before vacuuming. Don't run the air purifier till you've vacuumed well.

Change out the filters in the AC! Some homeowners have NEVER done this. That could make a HUGE difference.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 8:02AM
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Sorry I don't have any insights on the mothballs, but I wanted to give you a BIG congratulations on the listing!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 8:40AM
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Stephanie, this is gross, but it might not be mothballs. My 2 1/2 year old son's BM's often smell like mothballs. What I'm saying is that it could be remnants of dog or cat poo that soaked into carpets or wood floors. Also, moth balls are made from cedar. Are there any cedar closets or chests in the house? Or cedar panelling?

I've often heard that when holding an open house, you should bake chocolate chip cookies. You could also brew coffee. Many scent shops have fresh coffee grounds for you to smell to clear your nose of the scents.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 11:07AM
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Mothballs are made from naphtha, which is toxic to humans and animals. Some brands are cedar-scented or mixed with cedar.

If just mothballs were used for something in the house and then removed, the odor should disappear within a few days.

Look in the attic. People used to strew mothballs in the attic for rodent control. Maybe they had rats or squirrels up there. If so, the smell will go away after the mothballs have dissolved, which could take a while.

Another possibility is that they had fleas in the house, and vacuumed up a few mothballs to kill fleas in the vacuum cleaner bag. This will definitely scent the air for a while.

Hope it's better by now!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 1:58PM
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Whew!!!! Had a buyer come back for a second showing today, and when we were talking about the odor, she told me she'd found the offending box of mothballs! She'd seen them on her first tour through the house in one of the closets.

I laid them to rest in the garage storage, and then we went outside to look at the pool. When we came back in, the scent was already MUCH less noticeable, so hopefully it'll wear off completely b/f the next showing!

I'm SO relieved!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 2:49PM
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Oh, sure, Reno, after I tell the whole world my son's poo smells like mothballs :-)

Glad you figured out the culprit!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 4:46PM
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lol proudmama, it's ok, you're amoung (does amoung have a u?) friends!

Fingers crossed for you Reno, hope that 2nd looksie turns into an offer!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 1:11PM
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Even though you probably don't need this now, I thought I'd post this link I just saw on the Kitchen Table forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: odor absorber

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 10:22AM
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