Dear Mary: You are my last resort. Please help. I bought a lovely cedar-lined wood chest at an auction about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, I have not been able to use it for storage of anything due to the brutal smell of mothballs. Obviously, the former owner used them and I cannot rid the chest of this terrible smell. When we first purchased it we left it outside with the lid open for weeks and weeks. That didn’t help at all. Can you suggest anything? Joanne

Dear Joanne: I’d like to wring the neck of the guy who invented mothballs in the first place. To me, that odor is worse than moths. As for your problem, it’s a tough one for sure. The only thing I know for sure that will get rid of that odor is a product called Nok-Out, which has worked for me with a similar problem in a piece of antique furniture.

The trick is that you must completely cover ever square millimeter of the wood surface, as well as the areas in cracks and crevices, with Nok-Out. Then it must be allowed to sit for at least 10 minutes. Nok-Out must come in contact with the offending odor.

I would not be fearful at all of using Nok-Out liberally on and in this chest. It is not toxic, has no fragrance of its own and is clear like water. It doesn’t not need to be rinsed off or removed. I would set the piece outdoors and allow it to air dry. Hint: Use coupon code DPL at checkout for 10% off at

Another option is to sand down all of the cedar lining with fine grit sandpaper. Vacuum away all of the dust. This will renew the cedar fragrance that may be strong enough to overcome the smell of mothballs. Hang in there. I know you’ll find the solution. Just don’t give up.

Dear Mary: We just sold our house and will be moving. We are going to pay off all of our debts with the money we get and then we are going to rent for a while. After paying off cars, credit cards and the existing mortgage and putting a nest egg in savings, we will have $50,000 left. Given the market today and the uncertainty of it all, what would be the best thing to do with this money? Should we put it in a bank or buy gold? Everyone has a different suggestion for us. Sandra

Dear Sandra: If this is money you won’t need for 20 years, using it to buy a diversified stock portfolio could make you quite wealthy. And you may want to use some of it to buy precious metals like gold and silver.

On the other hand, if you will need this money in a few years to buy another home, you dare not put it at that kind of risk. Without plenty of time to recoup any losses, you could find yourselves with much less than the initial $50,000 you will need for a downpayment. In that case I suggest you park it in a Certificate of Deposit or savings vehicle where it will earn at least some amount of interest.

But honestly, you need to speak with a professional who can advise you appropriately. My best advice is that you meet with a reputable financial planner who, for a fee similar to the kind of hourly fee an attorney would charge, will create a unique investment plan (rather than a commission-based planner who will make recommendations and then earn a commission when you follow his or her advice). Ask your circle of friends, family and co-workers for a referral. Or, check out the National Association of Personal Financial Planners at

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