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Does Mothballs Get Rid of Fleas?

Mothballs do get rid of fleas and other common pests at home because its main ingredients are dangerous chemicals that can transform from a solid-state to gas or fumes. When exposed to insects like fleas, the toxic fumes released will kill them by interfering with the breathing system. 

For mothballs to work significantly, they need to be used as directed, especially in a sealed container. Also note that mothball fumes can be harmful to you and your pets and should never be used in open areas where there are a lot of activities in the house. 

Will mothballs also repel fleas?

Mothballs will also repel fleas, apart from other pests. Unlike other insecticides, mothballs are also effective in destroying fleas’ eggs and larvae. The pest control method may also repel and eliminate other pests you may not want, such as spiders, cockroaches, rats, and snakes. 

As a pet owner, you have to be cautious when applying the control method since it is toxic and dangerous to pets and human health. 

Where do you put mothballs to kill fleas?

Put mothballs inside a vacuum cleaner, either in the tubes or sweeper bag. If your vacuum cleaner has been around for ages and relies on bags, that is where you place the mothballs. In addition, you may find it proper to sprinkle your carpet with moth crystals to eliminate any available fleas and eggs before performing a thorough vacuum cleaning. 

Avoid placing mothballs on your floors with the hope of killing fleas. Your pets and children may innocently come into contact with the toxic chemical balls, leading to their sickness or death. If you expose your floors, including the dog house, to the chemical, every particle must be removed and safely discarded when the treatment is over.

How to use mothballs to kill fleas

Use mothballs for fleas by placing items you suspect are infected in an air-tight container or bag. Then, place mothballs into the containers or cans containing flea-infested items. Mothballs will produce chemical gasses to attack and kill fleas and their eggs.

Only apply mothballs in air-tight spaces to avoid the spread of the toxic vapors released inside your home. 

Subsequently, below is how to use a combination of mothballs and salt to eliminate a flea infestation.

  1. Sprinkle salt all over portions of your floors with a carpet and below your furniture. The salt should rest in locations placed for a couple of hours. The salt works by absorbing the moisture on the surfaces exposed to it during that time. As a result, the fleas will be killed, and the eggs destroyed because of the loss of water from their bodies and the surrounding environment.
  2. Place a few mothballs in the bag of your vacuum cleaner. 
  3. Vacuum clean all potential areas infested with fleas, like below your furniture.
  4. Remove the vacuum cleaning bag and dispose of it or place it into a bigger plastic bag. Then, subject the bag to freezing or hot temperatures to destroy all the fleas, eggs, and larvae.
  5. Whenever an infestation threatens to happen again, repeat the procedure as many times as possible in a year.

Is it safe to use mothballs for fleas at home? 

Mothballs and the possible dangers on pets like cats, dogs, and children: It may not be safe to use mothballs to kill fleas at home unless you follow the use directions on the label. The exposure risk to humans and pets is high if the chemical solution is misused and in an open space. When applying the treatment and you feel the mothball odor, you are in danger. 

You or your pets may show symptoms of mothball poisoning because of exposure, including irritation of the nose and eye, vomiting, headaches, appetite loss, excessive urination, and coughing. 

Some of the reasons it may not be safe to use and keep mothballs at home are highlighted below.

High chance of ingestion among children

Kids have a high risk of ingesting mothballs since they look like candies and, once ingested, lead to illness. Keep the candy-looking chemicals away from children during and after use in your house. Importantly, understand what you need to do if there is swallowing of the chemical by a child or an adult.

Prone to use in inappropriate locations

Mothballs can be more dangerous to humans and pets living in a house if they are applied inside your garden, vehicle, crawl spaces, and attics. For example, if you put moth flakes in your attic, expect a long-lasting poisonous smell throughout your home. 

Putting mothballs in closed-off areas may accumulate gasses to a toxic level for humans and pets who get into close contact.

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Damage to red blood cells

A typical active ingredient in moth flakes is naphthalene. The ingestion of the chemical substance causes poisoning and damage to your red blood cells and kidney. Although a rare occurrence, there are reports of children getting poisoned as a result of wearing clothes stored with moth flakes.

Once in the body, the ingredient plays a massive role in how your blood transports oxygen to other body organs, such as your brain.

According to the World Health Organization, there is a fear that exposure to the pesticide over a long period may also cause cancer of the nose in humans. Some studies done on rodents have supported that fear.

It may contaminate the outdoor environment

The use of mothballs outside is discouraged as they can pollute the soils, air, and water sources. Even airing out and washing fabrics exposed to the chemical outside will cause pollution of your environment. 

Highly flammable

Moth flakes are highly capable of causing fire because of the flammable chemicals it contains. Before using the solution, consider that you may be putting your home and belongings at risk of catching fire and burning.

Because using mothballs at home may not be safe, follow these tips to safeguard against the possibility of poisoning.

  1. Keep mothballs, including the boxes containing them, far away from the reach of children.
  2. Follow all directions of use. For example, you will see that the chemicals are not fit for use to kill fleas in your car, attics, or bedroom.
  3. Bedding and clothes that have come into contact with moth flakes deserve washing before using them. Since some experts believe that getting rid of the chemicals from fabrics is impossible, do not allow the exposure to happen.
  4. If there is swallowing of mothballs, get guidance from your doctor straight away.
  5. Do not expose mothballs to your food so that there is no contamination. For keeping pests away from your food, use approved sprays.
  6. Wash your pets frequently.
  7. Try using natural scents of mint and lemongrass oil.


There are numerous safe and effective alternatives to mothballs at home. Use dish soap, hot water, coconut oil, diatomaceous earth, salt, or vinegar. Wash surfaces, upholstery, and fabrics having fleas with hot water of 140° and above to kill the insects and their eggs. If the destruction of eggs is not successful, vacuum and steam cleaning your carpets should do the trick.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is another natural solution to try using. Various researchers have shown that sprinkling the home remedy on your carpet or the beddings of your pets will lead to the drying out and death of fleas and other pesky bugs. That is possible due to the absorption of the fatty layer in the insect’s outer cover.

But as per some veterinary physicians, DE may also harm your pets’ digestion and breathing system. Apply the treatment to sites that your dogs and cats cannot access.

Although vinegar cannot get rid of fleas, the bugs do not like how it tastes and smells. Thus, a mixture of vinegar and water or other essential oils may form the appropriate repellant solution made at home.

In conclusion, consult a pest control and elimination company if your flea infestation becomes an issue you cannot manage. A professional has the experience and proper training to do a fantastic job and eliminate your flea troubles. 


  • National Pesticide Information Center: Mothballs for repelling insects
  • Oregon State University: Dangers of Mothballs
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