Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Febreeze Odor Eliminator and the Moth Ball Challenge: The Winner!

Yesterday, I washed and dried two loads of the nice hand-me-down clothes stored with mothballs. One load I washed using the Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator and a capful of All Free and Clear liquid laundry detergent. The other load I used a capful of detergent, plus about a half-cup of baking soda and straight vinegar in the fabric dispenser cup.

I have to say, the load with the Febreeze significantly reduced the mothball scent. Some items, after coming out of the dryer, still smelled faintly of mothballs. I rewashed them in the second baking soda/vinegar load. While normally baking soda and vinegar works wonders to clean clothes naturally, it didn't really make a dent in removing the scent of mothballs. I ended up rewashing that entire load with a capful of detergent and two capfuls of the Febreeze (which the container says to use on heavy odors). That time, it still didn't help much.

I ended up folding the clothes over laundry baskets and setting both baskets of dried clothes outside in the sunshine and fresh air for the rest of the day. In the evening, they smelled significantly better--just like fresh air. But this morning, some of the smell remains on certain items.

I think the reason the scent of mothballs is so difficult to remove is because mothballs contain a compound called napthalene. The fabric of the clothing absorbs the scent and is tough to eliminate. Here is some information from the CDC website on napthalene:
"If families use naphthalene-containing moth repellants, the material should be enclosed in containers that prevent vapors from escaping. The containers should not be accessible to young children. Blankets and clothing stored with naphthalene moth repellents should be aired outdoors to remove naphthalene odors and washed before they are used."
Everything I've read suggests that airing the clothes outside for up to a week is the best way, after washing, to rid the clothes of the scent. I don't have a clothesline, but if I did, I would hang each item and air it out. In the absence of a clothesline, I am just going to fold the clothes over laundry baskets again and stick them outside for the day.

A word of caution--if the scent remains, even after these steps, I would be hesitant to dress an infant in mothball-scented clothing.
"Hospitals have reported many cases of hemolytic anemia in children, including newborns and infants, who either ate naphthalene mothballs or deodorant cakes or who were in close contact with clothing or blankets stored in naphthalene mothballs. Newborns or infants are thought to be especially susceptible to this effect on the blood, because their bodies are less able to get rid of naphthalene than adults." (Public Health Statement for Napthalene)
*The public health statement emphasizes it is the dose (how much of the product), how long one is in contact with it, and how one came in contact with it that determines potential adverse affects. Short term exposure is probably not that harmful, but I recommend you read the article and see what you think.

With this test, I am really putting the product up to a challenge. I do have to say it did help. Some pieces of clothing smell as good as new; some, the scent still remains. Febreeze Laundry Odor Eliminator advertises that it will eliminate the toughest odors from "cooking, smoke, perspiration and pets." I didn't test the product on clothes containing cooking, smoke, perspiration or pet smells. But you can!

The winner's of the Febreeze giveaway are:
Comment #3--Carleen
Comment #7--Brooke

Please email me at cheryl@momsinneedofmercy.com with your mailing address as soon as possible. The free coupons expire January 30, so they need to get in the mail no later than tomorrow.
For everyone else, if you would still like to try the product, there are $2 off coupons here. Thanks for entering!

Have you ever tried to remove the scent of mothballs? What worked best for you?

(linked to Works for Me Wednesday)


  1. uh...wait Ur trying to get rid of the smell of mothballs with Febreze?That's fighting fire with fire.(Or toxin w/toxin) Febreze is a neuro-toxic petro chemical full of carcinogenic chemicals that cause horrible health problems. Fragrance chemicals across the board cause stupidity too. Covering one scent with another is proof of that.

  2. I believe of the putting them outside is better