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Do Dryer Sheets Repel Pests?

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Do Dryer Sheets Repel Pests?
Photo by JR_Guillaumin

Do Dryer Sheets Repel Pests?

According to some university studies, the answer is Yes ... and No. That is, some dryer sheets do have characteristics that repel some insects.

Results of a study by researchers at the University of Illinois and Kansas State University showed that Bounce fabric softener dryer sheets, made by Procter & Gamble can repel fungus gnats.

According to the research:

  • The idea came from Master Gardener and trade magazine claims that "sheets of Bounce tucked into pockets of clothing repel mosquitoes."
  • A test chamber was set up in a lab. The chamber included two compartments; one with a moist growing media or one with moist media and a Bounce dryer sheet.
  • Adult fungus gnats were released into the chamber.
  • The test was to see how many of the gnats flew into each compartment.
  • The results: When the test was concluded, 45% of the adult gnats released into the test chamber were collected out of the compartment with moistened media; only 18% were present in the compartment with media and the dryer sheet.

Repel Insects

From these results, the testers took it a step further to determine just what was in the dryer sheets that could be causing this repellency. They identified a major volatile compound of the dryer sheets to be linalool. Volatile compounds, or volatiles, are those that rapidly evaporate and pass a vapor in doing so.

Linalool is a common floral-scented ingredient used in cosmetics and perfumes. It also occurs naturally in some plants, including lavender, marjoram, coriander, and basil.

Other studies have found that the linalool does indeed have repellent or even toxic effects on some insects including toxicity to spotted mites, sawtoothed grain beetle, German cockroach, Mexican bean weevil, English lesser grain borer, and rice weevil.

In fact, linalool is used in some mosquito repellent sprays. However, a 2007 EPA review of linalool states, "A preliminary screen of labels for products containing Linalool (as the sole active ingredient) indicates that efficacy data on file with the Agency may not support certain claims to repel mosquitos."

Keep Deer Away

You may also see dryer sheets hanging on stakes around gardens to repel deer. While these may indeed work, it is probably because the dryer sheets have been sprayed with a repellent, as advised by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The department also notes that deer can be repelled by:

  • Soap Sachet: Place a bar of soap made with tallow fatty acid in a nylon sock or cheesecloth and hang from targeted bushes and shrubs.
  • Hair Sachet: Place unwashed cut hair (from a local barber) in a nylon sock or cheesecloth and hang from bushes, trees, etc.

Keep Mosquitoes Away?

So to get back to the original claim on which the study was based ... Do sheets of Bounce tucked into pockets of clothing repel mosquitoes? We don't really know, the study only focused on fungus gnats!

Have you found that dryer sheets repel mosquitoes? Let us know!

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