You may have heard someone say, “put a dryer sheet in your pocket, and you’ll keep the mosquitoes away.”
This claim has been around for years, and it would be a simple way to solve a mosquito problem, but is it true? Let’s find out a little more!
Can Dryer Sheets Ward Off Bugs Like Mosquitoes?
As far as I know, there hasn’t been any research into dryer sheets and mosquitoes. But there has been a study into Bounce dryer sheets repelling fungus gnats.
Adult fungus gnats don’t bite people or harm plants. They lay their eggs in rich, damp soil, and their larvae can damage plant roots.
The tests on adult fungus gnats were carried out in a laboratory with special containers to determine how many flew from a neutral central compartment into two smaller plastic containers. One of the smaller containers had a dryer sheet. For example, the smaller containers in one test contained a dryer sheet and moist growing medium versus moist growing medium only.
There were five tests using dryer sheets alone or with growing mediums and water. The results showed that the dryer sheets repelled the fungus gnats, with only 12-18% of gnats venturing into the containers with dryer sheets. This was even when the container contained a dryer sheet with a moist growing medium, which is highly attractive to fungus gnats.
How Do Dryer Sheets Repel Mosquitoes?
There was a second part to the experiment to examine the volatile content of dryer sheets. They found two components that might repel fungus gnats – linalool and citronellol.
Linalool is used as a scent in perfumed hygiene and cleaning products. It has a flower-like odor and is found naturally in several plants such as lavender, marjoram, and basil.
Linalool is toxic to several insects and is used as an insecticide against fleas, fruit flies, and cockroaches by some pest control companies. It is also used in sprays, powders, or foggers to repel fleas, mites, spiders, and ticks indoors. Outside it is used in scented candles or diffusers to repel mosquitoes.
Citronellol is found in many plants and is used in perfumes and mosquito repellents.
So there is some reason to believe dryer sheets may have some repellent action on mosquitoes with the presence of these two components. But this will be very limited and shouldn’t be relied upon for protection.
Does Rubbing Dryer Sheets On Skin Keep Mosquitoes Away?
The KFVS TV station in Missouri tested different mosquito repellents with a family of viewers. One of the “repellents” they tested was Bounce dryer sheets.
They didn’t use a dryer sheet in their pockets to repel mosquitoes, but they rubbed it on their arms. It left a flakey substance on the arms that looked like dandruff and left a soapy and grimy feeling.
However, they didn’t get any mosquito bites, so it looks like they could keep mosquitoes away. The product rubbed on the skin might cause irritation.
Perhaps dryer sheets do have some mosquito repellent qualities, but these will be very limited. If you’re in an area where mosquitoes are vectors of disease, it’s recommended to use an EPA-approved repellent.
If you prefer to use methods without putting repellents on your skin, you can wear loose-fitting clothes with long sleeves, trousers, and even a head net. You should still apply a repellent to any bare skin.
In the house, you can sleep under a mosquito net, which will provide a physical barrier. Make sure there are no gaps or holes that will allow a mosquito to pass.
Mosquitoes are not strong flyers, and they have a job to advance in a breeze. To profit from this fact, you could install an electric fan or even a few in areas you want to be mosquito-free. Sleeping with a strategically placed fan is my favorite method of keeping the mozzies at bay on a hot summer night.