Not that easy.
To give you an idea of the smell; it wasn’t just a little bit of mothball smell—it was overpowering! I sorted the clothes and decided what I would keep and what I would share with others. I did this outside! The clothes didn’t come in the house, they were too strong! Just the way my clothes smelled after sorting them was enough to make me wish I had a change with me (I was at my mother’s house). One of my nieces had never smelled really bad smells before, so she walked around holding her nose. We laughed at her and told her it wasn’t a bad smell, just really strong. Remember that the clothes didn’t come in the house- but the smell was so strong that it went all the way through the 3000 sq. ft. of the house. From being outside!
The best suggestion was time and open air. No one seemed to have a good idea for removing the smell NOW. So talking with my sister & mother, I decided that soda would be the first thing I tried. So I washed one batch of them with over 1 cup of soda. No luck.
The rest I hung out on the swing set/jungle gym to air out (wrong side out so they didn’t fade). They hung there for over 48 hours and the smell was almost as strong as it had been at first. Now what?
I brought them home and kept looking for ideas.
The reason that it was important for me to remove the smell is because our 5th grandchild is going to be born at any time and we are going to help with the 3 story house and 2 older boys so our sweet daughter-in-law can really recover. I needed these clothes and they could not smell of moth balls! Everything I read said that moth balls are toxic. That’s probably why I had such a headache after sorting them, washing some and hanging them all outside. I don’t want to take a toxic smell with me to take care of a new baby - whom I do plan on holding and snuggling!
One night, TK couldn’t go to sleep. I was blissfully snoring away, so he left the bedroom and did some work on the computer. For over 2 hours, he looked for moth ball smell removal solutions.
One thing he found was something called “Smelleze” that is only sold by distributors and not in any stores. I wasn’t going to wait to find a distributor and then pay for the product and the shipping. (Money is kinda tight right now). He also found vinegar as a solution.
Vinegar was next on my list. So I washed the already-washed-in-soda clothes with vinegar. I let them sit in the water for about an hour and then let the batch finish. That did help, but not enough. What now? It had been over a week and I hadn’t found a solution to the problem yet.
Yesterday, TK was doing a few things around the house and was getting out a horse shampoo we love. Now this horse shampoo is about 15 years old and was purchased when I was interning at the company that made it. It was called “Wonder Gold” and there is something gold that settles to the bottom after 15 years. It is not available any more. (good thing I bought 12 bottles of it)
Between the vinegar, soda and horse shampoo, the smell is reasonable. I plan to wear them and wash them a couple of times before we go take care of that sweet new baby, but there is hope now!
No, I haven't figured out the way to get the smell of moth balls out of clothes. I am just happy that what I have done has somehow helped. Each batch was washed at least 4 different times, with different things added each time. When the smell is "not too much" hanging them outside seems to do the rest. But it takes a lot to get them to the "not too much" stage!
DON'T USE MOTH BALLS!
Find something else.