Using Mothballs For Mice – My Experience With This DIY Mouse Deterrent

In my 20 years of experience, I’ve dealt with hundreds of mice infestations in homes. Rodent infestations can be difficult to get rid of, but they can also be very destructive to your home! Mice will chew through any wiring and insulation, but they’ll also poop and pee everywhere which introduces dangerous diseases to your home.

In my pest control experience, I’ve heard many people mention using mothballs for mice as a deterrent, but I finally put this theory to the test!

Key Takeaways On Mothballs for Mice:

  • The theory is that because mothballs contain small amounts naphthalene which is a pesticide and deterrent in large doses, mothballs should repel mice, but this is not the case! Mothballs don’t contain enough naphthalene to deter mice, and aren’t effective against rodents.
  • My testing shows exactly this, I attempted to use mothballs to deter mice, and after two weeks I saw next to zero changes in the mouse infestation. I wouldn’t recommend this mouse prevention method, and I would consider using a more traditional approach such as sealing exterior holes with steel wool and then using traps.
  • Common DIY rodent control methods, including Irish Spring soap for rodents, used kitty litter, and ultrasonic pest repellers, are not supported by evidence and should not be regarded as effective solutions.

Mothballs and Mice: The Truth Unveiled


Despite popular belief, mothballs aren’t a magic solution for your mouse problem. Not only do they fail to control mice, but they also pose significant risks to our health and the environment.

It begs the question: why are mothballs ineffective against mice? The answer lies in understanding the composition of mothballs, their primary purpose, and their actual impact on rodents.

Composition of Mothballs

Mothballs are composed of either naphthalene or 1,4-dichlorobenzene, both of which are toxic chemicals. These substances vaporize at room temperature, and mothballs transform into a toxic gas designed to kill pests. However, contrary to widespread belief, these toxins do not deter rodents effectively.

Although mothball fumes are lethal to smaller pests like moths and I’ve seen decent results using mothballs for roaches, but they lack the potency necessary to deter mice. Despite their toxic ingredients, the concentration of active elements in mothballs is insufficient to significantly impact mice.

Intended Use for Mothballs

Designed predominantly to kill moths and silverfish, mothballs serve as a pesticide for small insects infesting natural fibers in clothing. Stored in airtight containers with the infested materials, the fumes released by mothballs are lethal to these small pests.

Nevertheless, mothballs are frequently used beyond their designed purpose, contributing to unfounded claims of their efficacy against larger pests like mice. The reality is that, although mothballs may deter certain pests, they are ineffective in managing rodents.

Effectiveness of Mothballs Against Mice

Even with their toxic vapors, mothballs prove to be ineffective against mice. These intelligent creatures can easily navigate around the mothballs, rendering them useless as a deterrent. Furthermore, the main active ingredient in mothballs, naphthalene, is present in too small an amount to have any significant effect on mice.

The notion that mothballs repel mice is thus a common misconception. The fact is, mothballs, engineered to exterminate smaller pests like moths and silverfish, don’t provide a dependable solution for mouse control.

Dangers and Risks Associated with Mothballs

While mothballs may seem like a simple solution to a mouse problem, their use comes with its own set of risks. From health hazards to environmental concerns, the dangers associated with mothballs extend far beyond their inability to deter rodents. In fact, the belief that mothballs keep mice away is often misguided and can lead to further complications.

Health Risks for Humans and Pets

Exposure to toxic fumes produced by mothballs can lead to a range of health issues in both humans and pets. Symptoms can include:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • eye and nose irritation
  • damage to lung tissue
  • blood cells damage, leading to conditions like hemolytic anemia

Prolonged exposure to fumes kill, worsening these symptoms and increasing the risk of health complications. It is important to take precautions when using mothballs and ensure proper ventilation in the area.

Cats and dogs are particularly at risk, with cats being highly sensitive to the toxic effects of mothballs and dogs being prone to ingesting them. Thus, using mothballs to control mice can cause more harm than good, posing serious health risks to your household.

Environmental Impact

mothballs and the environment

The environmental impact of mothballs is another concern. When used outdoors, mothballs can contaminate soil and water sources, harming wildlife and contributing to air pollution. The chemicals naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene, released as the mothballs decay, are not only ineffective against rodents but also potential environmental pollutants.

Moreover, mothballs can negatively affect plant growth and health, leading to agricultural issues. Clearly, the environmental damage caused by mothballs further underscores the dangers of using them as a rodent deterrent.

Alternative Methods for Rodent Control

Considering mothballs’ ineffectiveness and associated risks, it becomes imperative to investigate more reliable and safer alternatives for managing rodents. From preventative measures to traps and repellants, to professional pest control services, there are numerous alternatives that can help you tackle your mouse problem effectively.

Preventative Measures

When tackling rodent control, prevention always emerges as the optimal strategy. Sealing entry points larger than a dime, trimming shrubs, and maintaining cleanliness can significantly help prevent mice infestations. Mice can enter through surprisingly small openings, and gaps around air conditioning compressor lines, gas lines, electrical meters, and different housing materials are all potential entry points.

Maintaining cleanliness helps eliminate potential food sources and clutter that could serve as shelter and nesting materials for mice. By eliminating the factors attracting mice to your home, you can prevent infestations more effectively than any mothball could.

Traps and Repellants

Mouse trap with bait

Certain mouse traps and repellents can prove to be effective in managing a mouse population. Victor wooden mouse traps and poison baits, for instance, are highly effective. However, one should bear in mind that natural repellents like peppermint oil, despite their potential repellent properties, don’t have solid evidence supporting their effectiveness against mice.

Though these methods demand slightly more effort compared to merely scattering mothballs, they provide a safer and substantially more effective solution for mouse control. Plus, they spare you the potential health risks and environmental damage associated with mothballs.

Professional Pest Control Services

For an all-encompassing solution to mouse issues, turning to professional pest control services is advisable. These services provide:

  • Rodent removal
  • Extermination
  • Treatment
  • Pest control plans specifically designed to address mice and rats

With their years of experience and access to the best resources and tools, professional exterminators can ensure your home is protected from a rodent infestation.

The cost of hiring professional services typically ranges from $150 to $450. While this might seem pricey, considering the potential health hazards and ineffective results of using mothballs, it’s an investment worth making.

Final Thoughts On Mothballs and Mice

In conclusion, while mothballs may seem like a convenient solution for a mouse problem, their effectiveness is a myth, and I didn’t see any improvements when I tried this myself.

The most effective strategies for rodent control include preventative measures, traps and repellants, and professional pest control services. So, next time you encounter a mouse problem, remember, that mothballs are not the answer. Choose safer, more effective alternatives for a rodent-free home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will moth balls keep mice away?

No, mothballs will not effectively keep mice away as they are not powerful enough to repel rodents and mice. It’s a common misconception that mothballs can deter mice and rats.

What smell will keep mice away?

Using citronella, ammonia, or peppermint oil can help keep mice away from your home. You can burn citronella candles, spray ammonia, or use peppermint oil to repel mice effectively.

What is the best thing to keep mice away?

The best thing to keep mice away is peppermint oil, which disorients rodents with its strong scent, making them avoid the area. You can use pre-made repellents, scented cotton balls, or a water and peppermint oil spray.

What animals do mothballs keep away?

Mothballs can keep away animals such as squirrels, skunks, deer, mice, rats, and snakes. Make sure to use them for controlling the pests listed on the label only!

Why are mothballs ineffective against mice?

Mothballs are ineffective against mice because the active ingredient, naphthalene, is present in too small an amount to deter these intelligent creatures. Mothballs are designed to kill small pests like moths, not rodents.