We are thinking of buying a house but the home has an overwhelming mothball odor. We plan to remove the carpets and drapes and paint all of the walls and ceilings. Will this remove the smell? Do you have any suggestions for getting rid of the smell of mothballs?
After you remove all of the "soft" surfaces you mentioned, and paint, I would think that you will see, or smell, a significant difference.
For the "hard" surfaces that will not be changed, our recommendation would be to ventilate the house with fresh air as much as possible. Use fans to pull air in through open windows if there is not a breeze, and open windows on the opposite side of the house for cross-ventilation. Be sure to open doors to closets and rooms that are not opened frequently.
If opening windows is not an option in your location due to the weather, charcoal is a great odor absorber. You can place charcoal briquettes on a tray to protect the surface, and place those in the areas that do not get ventilated.
The other option is sunshine. It may be difficult to allow the sun to shine on every surface of your house, but even something as simple as opening the curtains will help.
Bobbi J. Hauptmann, Housing and Environmental Design Research Assistant, Department of Architectural Studies, University of Missouri-Columbia
Last update: Monday, May 18, 2009