Mothballs protect upholstered furniture against harm from pesky, fiber-loving moths, but they also usually leave behind a strong chemical odor. This disagreeable odor has a tendency to linger long after the mothballs are gone. Additionally, it may permeate an whole room if even one piece of furniture has been saved with mothballs.

Air It Out

Provide lots of ventilation and airflow to safely and naturally eliminate odors. If at all possible, place small pieces of furniture outside throughout the daytime for up to two weeks to allow the fumes dissipate. The sunlight will also speed the process. For large pieces of furniture, or when it’s not possible to place furniture outside, open a window and then run a fan to move the air. If the furniture has several pieces, like a dresser with a couch with cushions, then separate them so the air can flow around every part.

Heat It Up

Apply a little bit of heat. Until the mothball odor disappears, use a hair dryer on the piece of furniture once a day. This is used in conjunction with the process, and you should do it at a well-ventilated location. Be careful not to overheat delicate fabrics or harm the finish on woodwork by letting the hot atmosphere stay on one spot for a long time.

Absorb It

Baking soda, activated charcoal, coffee grounds and white vinegar absorb odors. Put a shallow bowlor several bowls, of any of these materials on and around the furniture. This method is especially effective for pieces of furniture which have little enclosed interior spaces, like the interiors of a dresser or desk. You might also stuff small spaces with crumpled-up paper to help absorb the odor.

Other Approaches

Use commercial products designed to remove strong odors which do not include added scents. You might also lightly sand wood surfaces which are not observable, like the interior of a cupboard with doors to eliminate the odor from the surface. Refinishing wood places by stripping the existing end and applying a new one can also remove the odor. Spray furniture which won’t be damaged by moisture, like patio furniture, using a mixture of 60 percent denatured alcohol and 40 percent water.

What Not to Do

Do not use water, detergent or other liquid cleaners on wood furniture. It makes the odor harder to remove and might harm the wood. Avoid using thermal fog or ozone generator remedies, as well as any products which use a fragrance to cover up odors. Additionally, avoid enzyme-based deodorizers.

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