How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in Car

How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in Car

Without a doubt, mothballs help keep your car free from vermin, but many times their smell ruins car experiences. If you have a mothball problem, we’ve tabled down the solution in this article.

Getting rid of the mothball smell in a car will mean you’ll have to air it out. To do so, run a fan or an ionizer inside the car overnight, but ensure you leave the windows or doors open. Another good method is to put a container filled with a natural odor absorber such as charcoal, baking soda, or ground coffee in your car and allow it to sit for three days.

Proper aeration is one safe and effective way to eliminate the mothball smell in a car. However, sometimes it isn’t always enough, especially if the odor is overwhelming and lingers.

Guaranteed Steps to Get Rid of Mothball Smell in Car

In this section, we discuss steps and methods to be observed when trying to get rid of the mothball smell in a car.

Step 1: Find and Get Rid of Any Mothball, if Found.

The first step in eliminating odors is to locate the source. Search every nook and cranny of your car and take out any mothball you find.

Step 2: Clean Your Car

Vapors from mothballs permeate the fabric of your car’s upholstery, especially cloth-based seats. This is why the smell lingers. A thorough cleaning job will get the smell out of the vents, upholstery, carpets, and even the trunk.

To do this, you need

Step 3: Neutralize the smell

After removing any mothball, if present, and cleaning out your car, purify the air using the following treatment techniques.

Proper Aeration

The circulation of fresh air and enough sunlight does many wonders in eliminating bad smells. So let the sunshine and breeze in. Get your car out, roll down the windows, open the doors and let it bake for some days. If the smell persists, try using an odor absorber or an air ionizer.

Natural-based Odor Absorbers

Ground coffee, vinegar, and baking soda are well-known odor absorbers. They soak up the bad smell from the air, allowing fresh air to circulate properly. You can use either of them or combine them to increase their efficacy.

Fill up a cup or an open container with your desired item(s). Place secure holders in strategic positions in your car, like in the trunk or under the seats. Allow to sit in for about three days. Ensure your car is garaged in a well-ventilated area. Roll down the windows to allow full circulation of air.

If using only baking soda,pour ample amounts over the car seat, carpets, trunk, and every surface possible. Please open the windows, and let it for as long as possible. As fresh air circulates in the car, the baking soda will soak up the nasty smell. After the set time has elapsed, remove the baking soda with a vacuum.

Charcoal is another effective odor absorber. You can put charcoal bags under the seats, glove boxes, and other car compartments.

Odor Removing Products

These products are very effective in clearing out bad smells like that of mothballs from your car. Examples of these sprays are

Ozone treatment

Mothball smell has a knack for getting into every surface, nook, and cranny, plus the vents. If, after trying the above-listed methods and the smell persists, take things a notch higher by treating your car with ozone. To do this, you need an ozone generator. This machine produces ozone by reacting molecular oxygen with electrical discharges and ultraviolet light rays.

Ozone gas (O3) is a powerful oxidizing, odor-removing, and sanitizing agent. It penetrates every surface and corner of the car, oxidizing and breaking down odoriferous chemicals. To get this done, you may need to take your car to a professional auto detailer or treat it yourself.

How to treat your car with ozone:

  • Search and remove any mothball present in your car.
  • Clean your car thoroughly. You only need mild cleaning agents like regular soap or washing liquid for this. Allow your car to dry fully.
  • Set up your machine outside the car and run a connecting pipe into the car. Roll up the windows, set your car’s fan to circulate, and shut the doors.
  • Switch on your generator and allow it to run for 30 minutes or more, depending on how pungent the odor is.
  • Open the doors and allow the car to bake in the sun for another hour or two to allow the ozone gas to clear out, so you don’t inhale any of it.

When your car has aired out fully, the smell becomes history. 

A note of caution is that you wear face masks and protective clothing when treating your car with ozone, so you don’t expose yourself to the same oxidizing effect of the gas. 

Exposure to ozone gas has been linked with various respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous diseases. It is unsafe for both humans and animals.

Why is Clearing Out Mothball Smell from a Car Crucial?

The gas released from mothballs contains either of these chemicals: naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene, which are responsible for the strong chemical smell. Naphthalene has been linked with hemolytic anemia and various forms of cancer. Paradichlorobenzene is a toxin associated with nervous disorders.

Inhaling mothball gas increases your risk of developing cancer, liver damage, anemia, neurological disorders, or renal failure. Gas from mothballs permeates the fabric of your car’s upholstery which is why it persists and is difficult to remove.

Sitting or riding in a car with this smell exposes you to its toxic effects. The good news is this smell is not impossible to clear, so long as you know what to do and use. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get rid of that mothball smell from your car.

Safety measures to Take When Clearing Out Mothball Smell

  • Always protect yourself from limiting exposure to chemicals in mothball gas by wearing respiratory masks, gloves, and safety eye goggles.
  • Avoid sitting in or staying close to your car while treating it with ozone.
  • Do not run your generator in high-humid areas.


Do remember that even though mothballs are useful in keeping vermin out of your car, they smell quite unpleasant and can even be harmful. Clearing out the vapors is important to reduce any risk to your health. 


Similar Posts