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Do Mothballs Keep Mice & Rats Away? (Answered)

Getting rid of mice and rats is a task that should be dealt with as soon as you notice the first signs of rodent infestation.

While there are many ways to repel mice and rats, people are seen to believe that mothballs can keep these intruders away. However, that might not be the true scene after all.

Keeping mice & rats away with mothballs

Mothballs do not keep mice and rats away from your house. Since mothballs contain poisonous compounds that can also be carcinogenic, using mothballs as rodent repellent is neither safe nor effective. Placing mothballs would only disturb mice and rats and make them shift from one space to another.

Mice and rats are indeed intrusive, and noisy animals. Once they enter a space, the rodents occupy the territory like they are the ones living in there and you are just a visitor.

Now you’d want to get rid of them and what better rodent repellents than the cheap, easy-to-get-a-hand-on mothballs, right? Well apparently, not right!

Contrary to popular belief, mothballs are not effective when it comes to preventing mice and rats from inhabiting your house as compared to many other repellent alternatives.

Although mothballs can be used, rats and mice are too smart as creatures to be frightened away by the scent of mothballs.

The most that mothballs can do is disturb the mice and rats, compelling them to move from the area you have kept your mothballs in. However, you can expect the rodents to simply shift to another space or room in your house when you use mothballs.

What’s vital to recognize is how you should not use mothballs because they can be poisonous and detrimental to anyone’s health inside the house. The active ingredient in mothball which is naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene turns into toxic vapor.

Mothballs are considered to be carcinogenic, meaning that the compound contains agents that could directly or indirectly cause cancer.

Since mothballs are manufactured with toxic ingredients, they are no longer legal to be used as animal repellent. The only way to use mothballs is to get rid of pests and moths, that too with the right safety precautions.

Will mothballs keep mice and rats out of these places?

Mothballs work as deterrent for many animals. But they do not work effectively for rodents. But do they keep the rodents out of this place? Let’s find out.


Mothballs might not be as effective to keep mice and rats out of your house. This is because mice and rats are intelligent and can sense that you are trying to perturb their peace by placing something that smells to them.

The most mothballs placed inside the house can do is disturb mice and make them shift places. They would still not be fazed enough to leave your home since there would always be rooms without mothball traps.


Garages are good spaces to use mothballs to repel mice and rats away. You would often find squeaky little rodents running from here to there in a garage.

Since you, your children, or your pets don’t visit the garage as often, you can have mothballs placed in corners and near holes. Being a closed space, the vapor would be more potent, and hence more disturbing to the rodents.


You should not put mothballs inside the car because the space in a car is compact and small.

If you have your air conditioning on during drives, you would inhale a lot of that pesticide vapor before the mouse does.


You use your camper van once in a while and repelling mice and rats before a camping trip can be possible using mothballs.

Although repellent alternatives are better options than mothballs, it helps to keep rats afar only temporarily.

Do mice dislike the smell of mothballs?

Mice do not like the smell of mothballs but they are neither repelled by it nor are they severely annoyed by it to leave your home completely.

Merely mothball smells can make a mouse shift its living space, possibly from one to the next. For the smell to be strong, you’d have to be using a lot of mothballs, which is not safe for the environment.

What do mothballs do to mice and rats?

You would first have to note that for mothballs to have an impact on mice and rats as a repellent, you would have to use a lot of them. The problem with that is, however, if the smell of mothball vapor irritates a rodent, it should also be as harmful to you.

Mothballs have a smell that mice and rats do not like. Hence when they are placed in a room, the mice and rats are disturbed by the scent and look to move to another spot.

How to safely use mothballs to keep mice and rats away?

Mothballs are cheap and easily available. Using mothballs, the right way can be like beating two birds with one stone. Here are a few tips and tricks to using mothballs, all the while making sure does not posses any health risks.

Use safety gloves and masks:

Safety precautions are mandatory when using mothballs to keep mice and rats away. Never handle the mothballs with your bare hands.

Safety gloves, especially ones that are either washable or disposable should be used. Handling mothballs would not burn or sting your bare hands, but with remains in your hand, you would harm yourself without knowing.

You would also need to wear masks since mothballs work by vaporizing and there is a risk of inhaling the poisonous compound, even if you are working quickly.

Use container:

How much mothball you would need to use is important to ensure safety. You do not want to use or handle too many mothballs at once since it could be harmful to you if you inhale the vapor of the mothballs.

What you can do is use a container with an opening so that the vapor spread is limited. You would also need to remember that if the smell is strong and it is affecting mice, it is also causing the same effect on any human in the home.

You may well use the mothball in a place where there are no children. Mothballs are best used in basements and attics that you don’t visit so often.

Dispose safely:

You cannot keep using the same mothball for eons. This means, every once in a while, you would have to dispose of it. Disposing of it safely is as important as using it safely.

When you dispose of the mothballs you would want to place the mothball in a sealed bag. This would reduce the risk of strays eating the mothball as well.

Wash clothes if in contact:

If you place mothballs to get rid of mice and rats near clothes, you would want to either wash the clothes before wearing them or dry them up in a well-ventilated space.

Other than that, you should certainly avoid using any kind of mothball if you have children or pets at home.

What are the better alternatives to mothballs for keeping mice and rats away?

Reaching this point of the article means you already have a grasp of the idea of how using mothballs is neither too safe, nor too effective go keeping away mice and rats.

There are better alternatives to mothballs and here are a few tips to follow to get rid of mice and rats from your space.

Essential oils:

Natural ways are considered to be the best because they are not harmful to children, pets, and even the animal you are trying to deter.

You can use natural essential oils as a mice repellent. This has proven to be quite effective because mice and rats particularly dislike oils that smell fresh and fragrant.

Although the effect from the natural oils lasts only temporarily, you can always go ahead and spray or sprinkle a little more of the oil in the area you expect these intruders to enter from.

Seal entrance:

Take steps that involve the entrance of mice into your home. You would not be able to keep rats and mice away if several entry points allow them into the home.

You may use duct tape, chalk, or a block to seal off the holes in your home.

Other than that, you would have to be careful with little and keep food sources in sealed containers.

Additionally, it would be mighty helpful if you get rid of any nesting materials in your home. Nesting materials for rats and mice blanks, soft rugs, or even storage bins in your home.

Ultrasonic device:

You would find effective and safe ultrasonic resellers in the market that use the science of sound to keep away rats and mice. This device is more effective to keep mice away from a particular room or open space.

Final thoughts

Mothballs are not effective in keeping mice and rats away. Mice and rats are intelligent creatures that are only repelled by stronger agents like traps. Mothballs are certified pesticides, and when used as a repellent, can harm humans and the environment.