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Do Dryer Sheets Repel Spiders?

Last Updated: 05.12.23


If you’re looking online for a crash course on how to repel spiders, you might have come upon some eyebrow-raising solutions. While spider repellents will more than likely get the job done, maybe you don’t want to use them because you have an infant in the house or you simply dislike pesticides.

That being said, some research into DIY homemade solutions has led you to the conclusion that dryer sheets will help you fight off the invaders. However, being a responsible adult, you want to do your homework before trying it and this is where we come in. Keep reading to find out more about this myth and possible ways to find a solution to your problem.


Things you should know

What you should know, first of all, is that it is strongly recommend to use licensed products when you want to get rid of something as annoying as spiders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises using repellents which contain active ingredients and have also been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as fit to be applied to skin and clothing.

EPA also has a list of the recognized active ingredients which are known to serve as repellents, out of which we can name catnip oil, oil of citronella, picaridin, and so on. Since none of the elements that make up a dryer sheet is on the list of these active repellents, we can assume that based solely on their chemical composition, these do not repel spiders or other insects.

However, the list provided by the EPA does not take into account the fragrance. If, for instance, the dryer sheet is scented with Citronella, then, of course, it will be a repellent due to this substance. So a dryer sheet may be used against insects or spiders if it has certain fragrances embedded into it.



It’s still hard to believe

“Home” science claims these sheets can be used against much more than just static cling. However, this information is not backed by any scientific research to prove it. Wiping dryer sheets along baseboards and even in the corners of your house may seem to work for a while because you are picking up dust and food debris, both of which attract pests.

In other words, you are not getting rid of spiders and other insects because you are using dryer sheets, you are getting rid of them because you are cleaning up around the house. Due to this, you are probably better-off choosing other products for your spring cleaning.

According to some university studies, dryer sheets do, and at the same time don’t repel pests. As we said, some of them have characteristics that help to fight off the invaders, even if this is not what they are made for. The ones that are theoretically most likely to run away from dryer sheets are not spiders, however, but rather mites, beetles, German cockroaches, and gnats.

They have not yet been accurately tested as a way of repelling mosquitoes, but there are studies that show some of these sheets contain a chemical that is marginally effective against the dangerous and annoying insects.

A “life-hack” that we picked up is that using them as a mosquito-repellent when camping seems to work wonders. Just take a dryer sheet and rub it on your exposed skin (arms, legs, etc.) while also putting one or two in your pocket for good measure. Thank us the next time you read our articles!


Testing for it

In 2011, a group of researchers set out to test whether Bounce fabric softener dryer sheets can repel fungus gnats. They set up a test chamber in a lab, which was separated into two compartments: one of them had a moist growing media and the other one a moist growing media with a Bounce dryer sheet.

The next step was releasing adult fungus gnats into the chamber, and observing how many of them flew into each compartment. When it was all set and done, it turned out 45 percent of the gnats chose to set up camp in the compartment with moistened media while only 18 percent settled in the one with media and the dryer sheet.

Judging from this, you’ll be wondering, as did the scientists, just what exactly was in those dryer sheets that caused the insects to be repelled. They managed to identify a major volatile compound called “linalool”. In plain English, volatile compounds are those that rapidly evaporate into the atmosphere.

They also managed to find another compound called “beta-citronellol” which is found in citronella and has repelling properties against mosquitoes. The distance over which the dryer sheets manage to fight off these gnats is yet to be known, but it is still very interesting to find out that at least part of the myth may be true.  

Turns out, linalool is an ingredient which is commonly used in cosmetics and perfumes. Does this mean you could be able to repel spiders and other gross things with your latest perfume? Apparently, it is quite possible since linalool does have toxic effects on some insects such as the Mexican bean weevil, mites, and so on.

Unfortunately, the test does not prove anything about repelling spiders or even mosquitoes if we’re perfectly honest. Since the researchers were merely observing the activity of fungus gnats, the fact that those dryer sheets also repelled some other insects does not mean it’ll be successful with the likes of spiders, so you might have to stick to other trustworthy methods.



So what do I do?

Here’s the main point of this article, if you haven’t read it top to bottom: while dryer sheets might sometimes act as repellents against spiders or bugs, this will usually be due to the influence of an external factor, not the sheets themselves. However, scientists have found that there may be some truth to them repelling gnats.

What can you do if you have a spider problem in this exact moment? You might want to go back to more trusted items since it’s always better to drive them away as quickly as possible.

Ladybugs are natural repellents which can basically act as bodyguards for your garden and house. Peppermint oil will most definitely get the job done since spiders completely hate it and all you have to do is combine it with water in a spray bottle, dilute it a bit and start spraying everywhere!

Another preventive tip that most certainly works is keeping your house clean. Spiders love clutter and if you have stuff like boxes or other things that are just sitting there, you’ll probably find them waving at you the next time you pick those up. Removing any vegetation close to the perimeter of your house is even more important to make sure they don’t creep on you.

Spiders are also big on a healthy lifestyle so they completely dislike the smell of tobacco. If you can get your hands on some tobacco leaves and spread them where your multiple-legged invaders tend to appear, they will work wonders.



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