In the earlier days, moth balls were made of naphthalene. However nowadays, these moth balls are made of dichlorobenzene. Benzene is known to be carcinogenic. Essentially, dichlorobenzene is a pesticide and large concentrations of it, can have serious effects on both humans and animals. Moreover dichlorobenzene does not dissolve in water easily, nor does it easily breakdown by organisms in the soil. What’s more this dichlorobenzene, can also collect in the fatty tissues of humans and animals.
Camphor was another ingredient that was used in the mothballs of earlier days. Camphor is a natural product, however the camphor used in mothballs as well as some other commercial products are synthetic and so not recommended.
While my mum swears by her mothballs, there are plenty of more suitable, not to mention greener options. Firstly, wash all your clothes before putting them away. This way, you ensure that any unwanted substances are removed. Before storing, clean out your drawers and cupboards. Make sure you wipe it down clean, and there’s no moisture. It needs to be completely dry. Also, make sure that the clothes are completely dry as well.
Now, what could you substitute for moth balls? Plenty of things…
You can use regular products that are found in most kitchens. Products such as eucalyptus or bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon sticks, pepper corns, lavender, rosemary etc. But you need to be careful that these things do not come in direct contact with your clothes. Moreover they should not be left in places, as over time, certain products like cloves, cinnamon leave out oil, and these oils could prove to be disastrous for the clothes. Stains caused by clove oil etc are extremely hard to remove.
Another good thing to keep in your cupboard and replace the mothball, is cedar balls. Cedar blocks are also used. These are effective when it comes to repelling the moths. However you need to remember to sand these occasionally, so that they are refreshed. Cedar is supposedly quite effective, so much so that a number of people even line their cupboards with some cedar paneling.
There are plenty of other products that you can use instead of mothballs. Keep away from mothballs, and definitely keep it away from food!