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Bounce Dryer Sheets Repel Gnats, Mosquitoes


Although it may be too cold to worry about gnats and mosquitoes, here’s some information you may want to remember about how to keep away these pests come summer. A new report from researchers at Kansas State University states that Bounce® dryer sheets repel fungus gnats.

Dryer sheets contain compounds found in plants

Raymond Cloyd and colleagues conducted five replicated experiments to put to rest once and for all claims by gardeners that Bounce fabric sheets repel pests like mosquitoes and gnats. Specifically the researchers used the Outdoor Fresh Scent™ variety of Bounce to make their determination.

“In all five experiments, the mean proportion of fungus gnat adults collected in the sample compartments containing the dryer sheets were significantly fewer,” reported Cloyd, “ranging from 12% to 18%.” This compared with 33% to 48% of the gnats in the compartments without the dryer sheets.

Of special interest is what the researchers found when they analyzed the volatile compounds in the dryer sheets. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, they uncovered high levels of beta-citronellol, a compound found in citronella, lemon balm, and rose geranium, and known for its ability to repel mosquitoes.

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They also uncovered linalool, a compound present in basil, marjoram, and lavender and known to be toxic to various mites and insects.

In another recent study, a research team evaluated the amount of personal protection against mosquitoes provided by citronella, linalool, and geraniol in candles and diffusers. Indoors, the repellency rate of citronella diffusers was 68%, for geraniol diffusers 97%, and for linalool diffusers 93%.

Citronella has long been used as a mosquito repellent. A University of Guelph study evaluated 3% citronella candles and 5% citronella incense and found that volunteers near the candles had 42.3% less bites and those near the incense had 24.2% fewer bites.

The American Mosquito Control Association notes that mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism. More than one million people die each year from mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, and dengue. Mosquitoes also transmit diseases and parasites that affect dogs and horses, such as Eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus, and dog heartworm.

Warding off gnats and especially mosquitoes, because they can carry disease, is a challenge, and people are often looking for new, effective ways to do it. While this latest study offers a unique form of insect repellent in the form of Bounce dryer sheets, perhaps more importantly it, along with other studies, highlights some of the natural substances that may prove helpful and lead to new products to repel mosquitoes.

Cloyd RA et al. HortScience 2010; 45:1830-33
Lindsay L et al. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 1996; 12(2): 293-94
Muller GC et al. J Vector Ecology 2009 Jun; 34(1): 2-8