Moth Repellent: Natural Homemade Solutions Without Stinky Chemicals

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Natural Homemade Moth Repellent

If you have moths and don’t like using chemical-based solutions like mothballs then you’ll love these tips on making natural moth repellents.

Moths may be cute, like the brilliant green Luna moth or the swift Hummingbird moth, but they can also do a lot of damage in your home. From getting into your pantry to chewing holes in your sweaters to eating your carpet, moths don’t belong in the house. Here are some natural solutions to help you avoid the chemicals people most often use.

Traditional Moth Repellent Chemicals

Moths are pests and the chemicals people most often use are pesticides. The most common is naphthalene which usually takes the form of mothballs or flakes. Concentrated naphthalene is formed into small balls or flakes, making them longer lasting and more weather resistant. The bad thing about these products is that they contain high amounts of VOCs and can be bad for the respiratory system. VOCs can cause shortness of breath, sneezing, coughing, and many other health problems.

Other chemicals include hexachloroethane and 1,4-dichlorobenzene. My Mom always says: if you can’t pronounce it, don’t use it. Except for quinoa. Everyone should eat quinoa.

Health Risks to These Chemicals

The US Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that 1,4-dichlorobenzene is a carcinogen and a neurotoxin. The naphthalene in mothballs is also considered carcinogenic. Also, exposure to naphthalene mothballs can cause acute hemolysis (anemia) in people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Finally, mothballs containing naphthalene have been banned within the EU since 2008.[1]

Natural Moth Repellent Plants

There are many natural alternatives that you can use safely and effectively.


Both red and white cedarwood will repel moths. This is why closets, drawer liners, and storage chests are made of cedar. Cedar can be expensive, but you can also use cedar chips and/or cedarwood essential oil.


Most mints, like peppermint and spearmint, are great at keeping moths away. Use dried leaves or the essential oil from either or both types of mint.


Like mints, moths don’t like the scent. Again you can use dried leaves or essential oils.


Another household herb that moths can’t stand.


Moths don’t like cloves. Cinnamon can also work to some extent, but not as well as cloves.


Eucalyptus also works well as a natural moth repellent. It will also help keep your house smelling fresh and clean.

Bay Leaves

Like roaches, moths don’t like bay leaves. Bay, like the herbs mentioned above, can be used as a cooking ingredient and a natural moth repellent. Tuck a few leaves here and there in your pantry. Be sure to replace them every six months or so.


Back in the day, ladies use to make a sachet from lavender. Not only did it keep their clothes from smelling stale, but it kept moths away too.

Note: you can find all of these dried herbs here and all of these essential oils here.

While some other herbs may help in keeping moths away, these are the most effective. You can use them either as a dried herb or as an essential oil.

Tip: after making this moth repellent, try making our homemade mosquito repellent!

Homemade Moth Repellent

It is simple to make your own natural moth repellent. Here are a few ways to do it.

Moth Repellent Sachet

Start with a bag of some sort. This can be a muslin bag, organza, or even a bag you’ve made on your own. In a bowl, mix up some lavender flowers, cedar chips, bay leaves, and cinnamon chips. If you don’t have chips, cinnamon sticks will work. When this is all mixed, spoon into the bags. This will stay fresh for several months in the pantry or closet. I change mine every time I change my smoke detector batteries, as six months seems about the time it starts to lose the scent.

Natural Mothballs

Use cotton balls, small or large. Drip a few drops of bay laurel essential oil, cedarwood essential oil, or lavender essential oil on them. Place them in a bag, like one of the ones described above, or on a ceramic dish. These won’t allow the essential oil to touch the paint or wood, possibly staining it. Refresh the mothballs every week or so. Essential oils are volatile and evaporate quickly.

Water Balls

Use water balls, such as Orbeez™ or something similar. Add distilled water to them and wait for them to grow. Once they reach full size, add 10-15 drops of one of the above essential oils, or a combination of a few oils. Mix well. Place in a glass or ceramic bowl and store in the area that you want to keep moths from. Remember that these balls are water-based and will lose moisture and shrink over time. To refresh them, add more water and essential oils and you’re set.

Humidifiers Don’t Seem To Work

Adding essential oils to a humidifier doesn’t seem to work as well because the oils dissipate too quickly. You may get some short-term effects, but for lasting protection, use one of the above methods.

Have you used one of these natural homemade moth repellents? Tell us what worked for you!



  1. Mothball. Wikipedia. Accessed Oct 2019.

About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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  1. Cindy Everett says

    Do you have any tips for deterrents for Mice? They keep getting in our barn and camper stored inside. We of course use traps, but looking for something to use inside the camper. Any ideas??

  2. James Page says

    I have a number of Navajo wool rugs hanging on my walls. What do you recommend for protecting them from moths, etc?

  3. Grace says

    Please explain to me what water balls are, what they are made of and alternatives to use in your recipe. I know I will not be able to buy them where I live.

    • Carol L says

      Just click on the link. I had no idea what they were either, but went to the link and read it all. Explained what they are. They are on Amazon, so you should be able to get them wherever you are…..
      PS: these posts are rarely monitored, so you should not expect a response from the writers… sorry.

  4. Carol L says

    Thanks for the article! Since I have several wool blankets and a wool vest, I needed this!
    I did purchase a ‘closet blend’ from an essential oil and natural online store, and used it. It was spendy, so I made my own version and it did contain cedar chips and several other ingredients mentioned here.
    I love that using these homemade solutions, we can be creative, thrifty and make our homes and selves smell wonderful!