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3 Mothball Alternatives to Keep Stored Clothing Safe

A woman opening a packet of lavender moth repellent and putting it in with her sweaters.
Alliance Images/Shutterstock

When you put clothing in storage, you want to protect it from bugs. But mothballs are foul-smelling, and the stink can linger on material for a long time. Fortunately, there are some alternatives that smell much better!

While clothing is one of the most common things to attract bugs like moths, you can use these same options when storing linens, papers, and other stuff that could attract moths and rodents.

Try Cedar Chips

Cedar chips have a far more pleasant smell than mothballs, as long as you don’t mind wood scents. You can put them in a sachet and dropped into storage bins, put in storage drawers, or placed on the shelves in your closet. You can hang a block of cedar in your closet or the attic. You’ll find no shortage of shapes and sizes of cedar blocks ranging from little discs you can tuck in drawers to hanging options meant for closets and wardrobes.

Cedar chips will also repel rodents. Rats and mice find the natural acids in and aroma off cedar irritating and prefer to avoid it.

Throw in a Sachet of Lavender

Lavender is a relaxing scent that can also protect your clothing and other susceptible storage items from moths (and it smells way better than mothballs). You can decorate your closet shelves and your attic with sprigs of dried lavender, or you can fill sachets with dried lavender flowers.

Lavender does more than keep away moths; it’s also effective against mites and spiders. Both of these critters can find their way into your storage items, storage areas, and your closets.

Use Airtight Containers

Finally, if you’d prefer to have clothing that doesn’t smell like anything—be it mothballs, cedar, or lavender—you can skip the repellents and jump right to storing it in an airtight container that is at least moderately chew-proof. Plastic storage containers with tight-sealing snap-down lids are the best.

For extra protection, you can even put clothing and other items in airtight zipper bags and then put them in the tubs. This may add some additional protection against moisture, as well as pests.


If you’re storing clothing, always be sure to wash it first. While you’re likely to rewash items before they go back in the closet when the season returns, clean clothing is less likely to attract pests that could be attracted to the smells of sweat or food remnants on your dirty items.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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