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How to Use Mothballs With Pets to Keep Roaches Away

| Updated October 19, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Mothballs

  • Airtight bins

  • Small, airtight container


  • Do not breathe in any of the vapors released by a mothball. The vapors are poisonous.


  • Do not attempt to use mothballs to keep cockroaches out of food, food storage and food preparation areas. Opt for a spray that is approved by the USDA for use around food instead.

Just one mothball can prove fatal to your pet if your furry friend swallows it. The insecticide poison present in mothballs is extremely volatile and harms red blood cells. Mothballs are made with either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Naphthalene is twice as toxic as paradichlorobenzene and is being phased out. Mothballs repel cockroaches in addition to moths. Just like moths, cockroaches stay away from the smell, as they know it is poisonous. Pets who accidentally swallow a mothball may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, seizures, increased heart rate and pallor. Liver damage may occur within a few days after exposure. In rare cases, death follows if veterinary attention is not given immediately after ingestion. Proper use of mothballs is essential to protect the health of your pets.

Gather all of the items you want to protect from cockroaches. Include items such as winter sweaters, comforters, pillows and other fabric items, or items intended for storage or that you are packing in anticipation of a move. Separate them into organized piles of similar items. Do not include food, as mothballs are poisonous. You cannot use mothballs out in the open because the vapors are toxic to all living things. That includes you, your spouse, your children and your pets. Mothballs can only be used in air-tight spaces where their vapors are contained. This means that you can only protect a limited number of items that can be stored in air-tight containers. You cannot protect your whole house without adversely affecting yourself, your family and your pets.

Place each pile into its own airtight bin. Bins need to be large enough to hold all the items in your pile without bulging.

Drop one mothball into each of the storage bins. Put the airtight lid on the bins. Check that all edges are securely in place.

Store remaining mothballs in an airtight container in a locked cabinet. The container needs to be airtight to contain harmful vapors and preserve the mothballs.