Are Dryer Sheets Effective Bug Repellant?

Are Dryer Sheets Effective Bug Repellant?

Many Myths

The pest control world is riddled with myths of every kind. There are myths about pests themselves, such as the idea that cockroaches can survive nuclear blasts; there are myths about pest control practices indoors, such as the commonly believed trope of using cheese on mouse traps; and there are even myths about personal pest repellants to protect yourself. A very commonly recited “tip” for personal pest repellant involves the use of dryer sheets. It’s an easy, at home, DIY form of pest protection that doesn’t involve having to purchase other store-bought sprays or chemicals.

But, does it really work… or is it just another myth?

Tried and Tested

A study focusing on this old-wives tale was published in the scientific journal HortScience (short for Horticultural Science) in 2010. The study consisted of a series of experiments conducted with dryer sheets in plastic containers. Three containers were connected together in a linear fashion – one containing a dryer sheet while the middle container and other exterior container were empty. The subject of the study, fungus gnats, were then introduced to the center container, after which their movements were observed and recorded over several repeated trials.

The results were consistent – the gnats congregated in the two containers without the dryer sheet. So, while these findings were undoubtably in support of the time-weathered advice, it is important to note that only a select species of gnats were tested against the dryer sheets, and only one type of dryer sheet was utilized. However, many dyer sheets contain similar chemical makeups and the notable ingredients in their tested sheets included:

  • Linalool – while toxic to some insects, linalool is not particularly known for being a pest repellant. However, it is a naturally occurring substance in both lavender and basil, which are plants that have proven to be somewhat successful in warding off some types of pests.
  • Beta-citronellol – this compound is actually well known for repelling mosquitos and is often incorporated in candles specifically made for mosquito abatement.

So, while it’s currently uncertain whether dryer sheets are effective for various pests, especially mosquitos, the results of this study are promising.


Cloyd, R., Marley, K., Larson, R. and Arieli, B. (2010) “Bounce® Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets Repel Fungus Gnat, Bradysia sp. nr. coprophila (Diptera: Sciaridae), Adults,” HortScience, 45(12).

Zielinski, S. (2010) Dryer Sheets as Bug Repellant?The Smithsonian Magazine. The Smithsonian Institute. Available at: (Accessed: October 2020).