Can Mothballs Repel Roaches?

Can Mothballs Repel Roaches?

“Can mothballs repel roaches?” Mothballs are small balls made of pungent powder with a heavy deodorant smell, usually naphthalene. In general, they are used to keep insects (clothes moths) away from stored garments. Now, to the question.

Can Mothballs Repel Roaches?

In this article we will explore how we can use mothballs to handle roaches or if we shouldn’t use them at all. 

Let’s first take a look at what roaches are before we decide whether or not mothballs can be used to rid them of roaches.

What are Roaches?

Roaches or cockroaches are tiny insects from prehistoric times that have inhabited this world. The adult’s average length varies from 0.25 inches to 2 inches while younger ones are about 2-5 mm long. They have flat, oval-shaped bodies, each with six legs and two antennae. While cockroaches do have wings, they don’t all use the wings to fly. Depending on the species a roach may be light tan or dark brown. It may also have stripes on its back or head, or a theme. 

What Draws Roaches To Your House?

In particular, roaches are drawn to warm, damp environments and attracted to; dirty dishes in sinks, crumbs of food on the floors or counters, leftover food that is not properly covered.

Do Mothballs Repel Roaches?

Yes. Mothballs indeed repels cockroaches, because of the chemical pesticides it contains. The use of mothballs is one of the simplest and most effective ways to repel  roaches. 

The scent is the main thing that wards off the roaches. However, scientific research has not been conducted on the reaction of roaches to mothballs. 

A paper from the Smithsonian Institution ascertains the fact that mothballs are sometimes used to repel common pests. The paper, however, warns that they should be used with care since they are poisonous.

Can I Use Mothballs to Repel Roaches?

Mothballs repel cockroaches, but you should avoid using them purely for anti-cockroach purposes. 

Oregon State University claims that mothballs are often wrongly used to repel pests. People have been found to, rather naively, put them in wall vacuums, garbage cans, bikes, crawl spaces and attic. Such balls must be used in containers that are sealed and airtight. 

Naphthalene can remain in the indoor atmosphere for several months, contributing to tension, headaches and difficulty breathing. However, we cannot disregard the risk mothballs pose to children and animals. When swallowed or even simply inhaled, the results are very fatal. 

The National Pesticide Information Center states clearly that you should use mothballs only as the labels identify.

Can Mothballs Eliminate Roaches Completely?

Actually, you can’t entirely eliminate roaches with mothballs alone. Indeed, they repel roaches, but they can’t be used everywhere and will only keep them away for a while. Mothballs are good repellents as described by Penn State but they are too dangerous for kids and pets. 

There are other less toxic options as well to use in place of mothballs. So, don’t be concerned with the dangerous home remedy.

Other Methods to Repel Roaches

Now that we’ve seen how toxic mothballs are (irrespective of how effective they might seem), let us look at some other less-toxic-but-as-effective methods of repelling these annoying pests.


Borax is one of the most popular home remedies that thousands of homeowners have been using to deal with roaches. Still, the U.S. National Medicine Library reports that borax and boric acid may be used as a means of containment of roaches. Borax tablets are pretty common for roach killing. 


Cedar is another thing that provides a natural repellent  to roaches.  Cedar balls, sticks and blocks are available that can be bought and put in some parts of the house, which not only repel roaches, but other insects too. Cedar has been a natural repellent to pests for many years. It can be seen in old dressers and closets filled with cedar.

Bay Leaves

Bay Leaves are another great option when it comes to repelling roaches. However, they are not as effective as mothballs at doing so. Sadly too, they have no real impact at completely clearing the roaches.

Sauce Spray

In my several experiments at what works in keeping away roaches, I’ve come to make a surprising discovery – Roaches hate hot sauce. Here are the steps to setting up a roach-killer sauce solution. 

  • Make a mixture of approximately two tablespoons of hot sauce with a quarter of water. 
  • Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. 

You can now spray it around cabinets and other areas where the cockroaches were sighted. When using this method, it’s a good idea to wear a mask while sprayin the infested areas. Essentially, you’re working with pepper spray so you might sneeze a bit.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil is one of the foremost essential oils used in repelling pests like roaches. You can easily repel roaches using peppermint oil. All you need is to prepare a solution and fill the spray bottle. 

Mixture of cayenne, garlic and onion powder

Roaches hate the smell of this mixture  and will avoid areas where it is sprayed.

Along with all these, you can also make use of some other devices, baits and traps. Delaware Health and Social Services has also shared some very good information on getting rid of roaches.

Why Get Rid Of Roaches; Are they Harmful to Human?

In addition to being creepy, roaches are a source of a myriad of health issues. Not only do they spread diseases, but they also can bite both human beings and livestock. For example, Salmonella typhi, a typhoid bacterium, is spread via roaches. 

They are also implicated in the spread of poliomyelitis, a polio-causing virus. Roaches can make you even more prone to dysentery, a disease that can cause a person to suffer from serious bleeding. Home items, like books, clothing and equipment, may also be affected.

How to Prevent Roaches from Entering Your House

You may take several steps to reduce the chance of cockroaches coming into your home. Let’s begin here with a few tips: 

Waste: Regularly dispose of waste. Whenever you put the remaining food in the wastebin, be sure to dispose of it by/before nightfall. Wastebins are the first port-of-call for roaches looking to find food.  

Clean: If you eat at a kitchen table, ensure you sweep the floor under it every night. You should clean the furniture every day when you eat in your living room. A cockroach can survive on only a small amount of food. So, removing all food particles is important. Your furniture must be vacuumed to reduce the chances of roaches living there.

Use a Fabric Softener – The strong fragrance can’t be tolerated by roaches, and it will suffocate them. Simply mix the fabric softener with water, and spray the mixture where you have a roach infestation. Do it every day, until you get rid of it. 

Use Freshly-ground Coffee – Roaches are attracted to them and will eat them. Caffeine, however, is toxic to the bugs and will kill them eventually. Replace the supply with fresh coffee every few days.

Wipe-off Your Cabinets: Make sure your cabinets are wiped off regularly. It involves the washing out of appliances like toasters and ovens. Roaches can eat almost anything. Including these little crumbs. 

Do the Dishes: Make sure to wash your plates after eating. Avoid letting them hang out overnight. 

Dispose of Residues: Ensure that your unused cooking materials and residues are kept in sealed containers. 

Wipeout Any Stagnant Water: Your home or apartment should never contain any form of standing water. Roaches are more on the lookout for a steady source of water than for food. So, this is extremely important to prevent an infestation of cockroaches.

The gaps around the home should be filled in. Caulk up all the holes in your wardrobes. Wrapping up the pipes and wires that are outside the house is also a smart idea.


Mothballs can repel roaches, but using them as a domestic remedy to get rid of roaches is quite dangerous. Although mothballs are highly efficient roach repellents, you should be careful when using them. Their smell is not safe for the home’s atmosphere. It is therefore critical that you take a little more care to keep them away from food storage or food preparation areas.

There are a bunch of safer natural methods of getting rid or repelling roaches.

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