Mothballs are one of those common, mouse repellent buzzwords that often pop up in pest control discussions (other related buzzwords you may have heard include peppermint oil and Irish Spring bar soap).
But do mothballs actually get rid of mice and keep them away for good? Or are you better off using more traditional repellent methods, such as rodenticides?
Keep reading to find out if using mothballs can repel mice away, keep them away, and get rid of them for good.
Will mothballs keep mice away?
The simple truth is this: not only are mothballs an ineffective mouse repellent, but they are also illegal!
Mothballs contain an organic compound called naphthalene which produces the unpleasant odor that drives away moths. However, the amount of naphthalene in mothballs is much too small to have any impact on a mouse. It would require an unreasonable and potentially dangerous amount of mothballs to repel mice in even the slightest capacity (NOT recommenced).
While some people have claimed that they’ve had success using mothballs as a mouse repellent, there is never any evidence to support their claims. And those who do claim that their mouse problems improve in the presence of mothballs either neglect or forget to mention the other, more probable, reasons for this improvement, such as effective trapping; they also may never have had any improvement, and they just think that they did because they stopped seeing mice run across their floors.
The illegality of using mothballs to repel mice might be much more shocking news to you…but after reading this, it shouldn’t be.
Mothballs are pesticides, and therefore fall under the regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All types of pesticides have specific, intended purposes (listed on their labels), and using one of them in a way that is not listed on its label is in fact illegal.
According to the directions on mothball packaging, mothballs are intended only for the purpose of killing and repelling moths and other fabric pests and they must be stored inside airtight containers. Therefore, according to the EPA regulations of mothballs, it is illegal to use mothballs to repel mice or get rid of them.
In addition to the infectiveness and illegality of using mothballs as a way to keep mice away, mothballs are also hazardous and pose a handful of health hazards to you and other people (and pets) living in your home. Naphthalene is a toxic compound to humans and particularly hazardous to young children; due to their shape, size, and color, children can mistake mothballs for candies and may tempt them to touch or eat them. Furthermore, recent studies have linked contact with naphthalene to several illnesses, including nasal cancer.
Lastly, it should go without saying that mothballs give off a very strong and undesirable odor. If you do choose to use them in your closest for moths or fabric pests, or if you choose to use them for other illegal purposes, wherever you place them, if you can smell the odor, you are inhaling naphthalene and putting yourself at risk.
What’s the best alternative to mothballs?
When it comes to pest control and keeping mice away, the best alternative solution to mothballs is practically anything but using mothballs. However, there are a few methods that are known for their effectiveness at getting rid of mice.
A few of the best methods that get rid of mice and that have stood the test of time are listed below:
- traditional trapping methods (snap traps, repeater traps, electric traps, etc.)
- get a dog AND a cat (mice hate the presence of competing predators)
- clean your home (especially kitchen), and KEEP it clean
The most reliable methods are rodenticides and traditional trapping methods. Cleaning your home and keeping it clean should be thought of more as a requirement for any method(s) that you choose.
Some people swear by natural repellents, such as peppermint oil and cayenne pepper, but the results are inconclusive as to how effective these repellents actually are.
What kind of animals do mothballs keep away?
Mothballs keep away mothballs and other fabric pests. They do not keep mice away: regardless, it would be illegal to attempt to do so.
However, some other types of naphthalene products, particularly in higher concentrations, do keep other animals away (legally). Some commercial repellent products that contain naphthalene and sulfur are sold with the legal purpose of repelling snakes, rodents, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, bats, woodpeckers, and others. But, even these products have had very poor results in repelling these types of animals over time.
Most of the claims that naphthalene products repel certain types of animals are made by the manufactures of the repellent products, and thus do not hold much merit. On the other hand, third party researchers have revealed that the results of whether or not naphthalene products effectively repel animals is inconclusive.
Do mothballs keep mice out of cars?
Mothballs are NOT an effective way to get rid of mice or repel mice. Therefore, mothballs should not be used to get rid of mice or repel mice from your car.
Not only would this strategy be ineffective, it would also be highly hazardous, for the small, enclosed space of a car would trap the toxic odor inside and pose health risks to anyone who enters the vehicle. Even if you place the mothballs in the truck, glove compartment, or some other concealed compartment, odor will leak out and build up in concentration over time.
If you have mice in your car, you must make sure not to be tempted to use mothballs, and instead, you should first further assess your specific situation. Mice will generally use cars as a place to sleep or nest if the car does not get much use. If you keep your car parked outside near trees and vegetation, it’s possible that you just have a mouse or two impermanently passing through your car. It’s also entirely possible that mice have nested somewhere out of sight, such as behind the glove compartment, in which case you should consider bringing your car into your mechanic so that they can get to those hard to reach places.