Answer: Yes (Briefly)
Using Dryer Sheets as Mosquito Repellent: Does it Work?
Summary of Scientific Research
The University of Illinois ran a scientific test, hypothesizing that dryer sheets would be able to repel insects, specifically fungus gnats. While their hypothesis was successful(1), they did not test its effectiveness with mosquitoes, though, theoretically, the results should be similar with other insects.
And while dryer sheets contain chemicals that could theoretically repel mosquitoes, success isn’t guaranteed. The main chemical responsible for repelling insects is linalool a DEET-like ingredient. Heavy amounts of it are found in mosquito repellents and various pesticides.(2). However, dryer sheets only contain small traces while repellents contain large amounts, up to 95%! I don’t think it’s the linalool itself killing the mosquitoes, but the overdose they get from the linalool!
While there is no scientific research that proves a dryer sheet’s effectiveness at repelling mosquitoes, there are none disproving it either. However, there are a few forums with people claiming that dryer sheets are useful as a second-choice repellent or as a quick DIY project. And you can believe everything on the Internet, right?
With most homes having some form of dryer sheets, it won’t hurt to try it once or twice and see if those pesky mosquitoes will finally leave you alone. Hey, if one leaves you alone, it’s a success in my book.
Also, if you decide to buy dryer sheets for repelling, get scented ones, such as Bounce’s scented sheets. The strong(ish) scent of a dryer sheet increases the chance of repelling mosquitoes, but that’s only in theory.
Where to Get Dryer Sheets and How to Use Them
For the people who may not do their laundry or don’t do the shopping(I envy you), you can buy any type of dryer sheet at a grocery store. Walmart sells them, Kroger sells them, most stores do. All you need to do is keep an eye out for the scented dryer sheets. As mentioned earlier, Bounce is a good option for some scented dryer sheets, though they’re a bit on the pricier side.
When needing a repellent, all you need to do is grab the dryer sheet and keep it on you, preferably in your pocket(3). The scent should act as a sort-of aura around you. A smelly, repulsive aura to the mosquitoes.
You probably already own some dryer sheets, so why not run a test of your own? If you’re only going outside for an hour, keeping a small dryer sheet in your pocket won’t be too much of an issue. Plus, this method keeps you from having to worry about creating your own repellent in a spray bottle.
And while the dryer sheet method won’t work for long, you can always go and get another one or bring more with you. If you work outside all day, that’s a different story. But a meetup in someone’s backyard? Dryer sheets will (hopefully) have you covered.
1 – arrowtermiteandpestcontrol.com – “A study completed at the University of Illinois and Kansas State University found that when adult fungus gnats were released into a chamber, where one portion contained dryer sheets and the other was empty, 45 percent were found in the side of the chamber without dryer sheets.”
That means Bounce fabric softener dryer sheets do contain a natural insect repellent, but probably not enough to effectively repel insects in most situations.”
3 – smithsonianmag.com – “It’s a modern old-wives tale: put a Bounce dryer sheet in your pocket while gardening and it’ll keep away the mosquitoes or gnats. This may seem a bit far-fetched to those of us who have never tried it, but researchers have now found that there could be some truth in it, when it comes to gnats, anyway.”
Other Household Items as Mosquito Repellents
Checkout our analysis of other household items as natural mosquito repellents: