Do Dryer Sheets Repel Mosquitoes and Are They Effective?

Dryer sheets are often listed as a smart internet hack for repelling mosquitoes but how much truth is actually in it? Do dryer sheets repel mosquitoes or are they just one of the popular myths, and what does the science say about it? Many mosquitoes DIY solutions are incredibly helpful, but there are also plenty of those which will leave you with itchy bites all over and just aren’t worth the risk. Here I tried to look into all the facts and fiction and how to use dryer sheets to repel mosquitoes.

Do Dryer Sheets Keep Mosquitoes Away and Why?

Here is what dryer sheets can and cannot do:
  • because they have a strong scent they’re effective against different insects
  • they contain linalool, which is effective against mosquitoes like Fungus gnats
  • potentially they can give you short-term protection against insects
  • but they’re not a reliable long-term protection against mosquitoes

mosquito on a leaf

What are dryer sheets?

First, let’s look at what exactly are dryer sheets and what about them that can theoretically repel mosquitoes and insects. As with many aromatic oils and substances, the thing that theoretically can repel mosquitoes is the smell. This is where the old tale about putting a dryer sheet in your pocket comes from: many people who work outside in summer, like gardeners, have reportedly been doing this for years. But is this actually effective?

Research about dryer sheets used as mosquito repellent

Unlike other home repellants, there isn’t a lot of scientific research done to see if dryer sheets work. A HortScience journal conducted a simple experiment to see if they work. They took a plastic container that had a large central section and smaller side sections. In one of the smaller containers they put a dryer sheet, and in the central one – a type of mosquito called fungus gnats, which might be familiar to agricultural workers who work in the field. When they checked in a couple of days later, they saw that gnats were mainly staying in the containers that didn’t have dryer sheets in them.

Researchers actually say they’re likely to be more effective not against mosquitoes, but against other types of insects like mites and German cockroaches. After this, researchers tried to identify which of the components of dryer sheets was responsible for keeping the gnats away. A substance called linalool was identified as the main component, and what it does is produces a strong floral odor that some insects, including gnats, find repelling.

So, do dryer sheets repel mosquitoes? When they’re put in the cupboards or next to some plants, they can repel some kinds of mosquitoes, though we don’t know yet how effective they are in general.

businesswoman shrugs

How Do People Use Dryer Sheets to Repel Mosquitoes?

So, if you want to know what kind of dryer sheets repel mosquitoes, you should look for sheets that contain linalool and other aromatic substances. Conventional wisdom says you can use any kind of dryer sheet, as long as it has a scent. People put them in their pockets to keep the mosquitoes away from them, and you can also do the same to your plants and other surfaces. People place dryer sheets in places where mosquitoes tend to gather.

It will create a strong potent scent that mosquitoes don’t like, so they will, theoretically, stay away and try to avoid the area where the scent is discernible.

Are dryer sheets good at repelling mosquitoes?

How do dryer sheets keep mosquitoes away? Because this is not their intended use, there’s really no telling. It’s also not clear if they can provide long-term protection in outdoor settings.

If you only plan to get out of the house for a short time and you don’t have a mosquito-repellant spray on you, putting a dryer sheet in your pocket is a good safety precaution.

If, however, you’re planning to stay outside for extended periods of time, or if you’re looking for protection from potentially dangerous types of mosquitoes, like Anopheles, Aedes, and Culex, it’s better to stick to the more proven methods that give you lengthy protection.

mosquitoes on insect net

FAQ on Dryer Sheets

Everything we know about dryer sheets is told by word of mouth and the conventional experience of people. Some swear by it, even for the use in open farming fields, and some say it’s mostly a myth. I’ve tried to gather some of the most commonly asked questions about dryer sheets and find some answers to them.

Does rubbing dryer sheets keep mosquitoes away?

Will dryer sheets repel mosquitoes if you rub them on your skin? Well, if your dryer sheets contain scents and chemicals that repel mosquitoes, it makes no sense to rub them on your skin, because that way it will evaporate quicker. As a sheet, it absorbs the scent much better and is able to maintain it for longer, and this way – potentially keep the mosquitoes away.

Do dryer sheets repel bees and wasps?

There are some insects that dryer sheets can allegedly repel: German cockroaches, mites, fungus gnats, beetles, and even stink bugs and bed bugs.

The truth is, that people use dryer sheets to try to get rid of just about any bug. Bees and wasps are no exception because just like other insects, they dislike the strong scents that dryer sheets make. It doesn’t mean, though, they offer reliable protection, so you should only think of using dryer sheets against bees and wasps as an additional measure.

Can you put dryer sheets in your vents?

Research shows that dryer sheets are actually a source of air pollution, because of the chemicals that they contain. When put in air vents, the exposure to the fragrant chemicals is increased and is constantly irritating the eyes, nose, and airways. This can potentially cause an onset of allergies in susceptible individuals and other types of irritation. Additionally, they block the circulating systems and worsen the airflow, so no, you shouldn’t put the dryer sheets in your vents.

Do Dryer Sheets Repel Mosquitoes?

The answer is that we just don’t know for sure. It’s effective against Fungus gnats, and while that doesn’t definitively prove they can be used against all mosquitoes, people still use them. There is also a belief that because of the strong fragrance, they’re generally used against many insects. The truth about dryer sheets lies somewhere in the middle, they show some insect-repelling activity, but should by no means be your only or even first choice of strong mosquito protection, especially if you’re planning on being outside for a long time.

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Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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