Will Dryer Sheets Kill Ants? 3 Things To Know

by Derrick | Last Updated: October 6, 2021

Ants aren’t the most challenging thing to get rid of in the world, but an infestation can quickly become a painful nuisance. Fortunately, there are several ways to deal with an ant infestation, but one method that seems a bit far-fetched is the use of dryer sheets. Does this method work?

Dryer sheets won’t kill ants because their active compounds, linalool and beta-citronellol, can only do as much as repel them. Although they’re a non-toxic form of bug control and are readily available, dryer sheets aren’t the best way to fight an ant infestation.

In the rest of this article, I’ll answer all your questions about dryer sheets and how they may help you get rid of ants. I’ll also discuss three key things to know about repelling and killing ants.

1. Dryer Sheets Won’t Kill Ants But May Repel Them

One of the most popularly cited off-label uses of dryer sheets is as a bug repellant. Some people even suggest folding dryer sheets in your pocket to keep bugs and insects away when you’re outdoors. 

Before we get into that, let’s examine the science behind dryer sheets.

Dryer Sheets and Pest Control

Although there’s little scientific research to back up these claims, some studies have shown that dryer sheets may effectively repel insects like ants.

In 2011, a group of scientists at the University of Illinois and Kansas State University researched the efficacy of dryer sheets against insects. The study aimed to verify Master Gardner and trade magazine claims that keeping Bounce dryer sheets in the pocket of clothing could repel mosquitoes.

The researchers used a setup that included a large test chamber with two compartments filled with moist growing media. They then added Bounce original dryer sheets to one of the compartments.

For the next step in their experiment, the researchers released adult fungus gnats into the test chamber with the setup complete and found that 45% of the insects flew into the compartment without the dryer sheets. 

Only 18% of the gnats were found in the compartment that contained dryer sheets.

Intrigued, the scientists further investigated the reasons for this result and found that the dryer sheets contained two volatile compounds – linalool and beta-citronellol – that repelled the insects.

Let’s take a look at these two compounds and their repelling powers.


Linalool is a component that occurs naturally in several plants, including marjoram, lavender, basil, rosemary, and mint. It is used in many commercial products like cosmetics and perfumes mainly because of its pleasant floral scent.

It is also toxic to some insects, so it is used in some pesticides and insecticides. Interestingly, there is some scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of linalool against some insects.

In a study published in the Journal of Vector Ecology, researchers found that linalool diffusers effectively repelled mosquitoes by 93%.

In another study, researchers found that linalool, one of the five active components in sweet wormwood, caused a 100% mortality on red imported fire ant minor workers after 48 hours. 

Also, a study performed by the American Society for Horticultural Science proved that dryer sheets could repel fungus gnats.


Like linalool, beta-citronellol, a chemical in citronella, is also used in perfumes, cosmetics, and insect repellents. 

In a study conducted by a group of scientists at the University of Florida, it was found that citronellol may be able to repel mosquitoes but only for a short period of about 20 minutes or less.

All these studies show that linalool and beta-citronellol have some insect-repelling power but may not necessarily kill them. 

2. Dryer Sheets Are a Non-Toxic Form of Bug Control

Dryer sheets may not be the most effective way of fighting ant infestations, but they are safer and non-toxic. 

Most manufacturers claim their pesticides are safe, but many of their products contain chemicals that are toxic to humans and pets. 

Some can cause short-term health effects, while others can cause serious long-term effects like cancer, blindness, ADHD, congenital disabilities, and even death.

And ant sprays that claim to be effective don’t ever solve the problem, only putting you at risk of these health conditions.

It doesn’t hurt to keep a few dryer sheets around your house. 

How To Use Dryer Sheets to Repel Ants

If you don’t have an infestation, but often find a few stray ants roaming near your kitchen or windows during the summer, dryer sheets are a great option to help keep them at bay.

Here’s how to use dryer sheets to repel ants:

  1. Cut out a few small pieces of unused dryer sheets.
  2. Stick some pieces under table and chair legs.
  3. Place sheets near cracks that serve as ants’ entry points.
  4. Pin some pieces to your window screens.
  5. Place more around ant pathways you’ve noticed in the past.

Be sure to keep your pets away from dryer sheets as they contain chemicals and ingredients that can be harmful to them. 

They may cause intestinal problems like gastrointestinal irritation (GI), ulcers, and irritation to the stomach lining. Ingestion of dryer sheets may also result in pulmonary edema, skin irritation, and kidney issues. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Types of Dryer Sheets

One great thing about dryer sheets is that they are readily available in your local supermarket or online on Amazon, Walmart, etc. 

There are also several options from which to choose. From disposable dryer sheets to compostable and reusable ones, you can select any for your laundry-softening and pest-control needs.

Bounce Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets from Amazon.com are some of the most popular and trusted dryer sheets on the market. They are sold in several sizes and are available in a variety of scents; there’s also an unscented version.

Another brand worth mentioning is the Downy Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets from Amazon.com. These softeners provide good static protection, softness, and scent. After using them in the dryer, you can keep a few around your home to repel ants.

You can also try Seventh Generation Dryer Sheets from Amazon.com if you’re looking for dryer sheets that are 100% free of fragrances, dyes, gluten, and phosphates.

3. Ant Repellent Ingredients Can Be Found in Lavender and Mint

Linalool is a naturally occurring compound found in lavender, coriander, mint, and sweet basil. 

Citronella plants are members of the geranium family and are typically found in the leaves of such plants and flowers. 

With that in mind, should you not want to have dryer sheets all over the house, you could try placing these plants and flowers near windows and doors to help repel ants naturally. 

Other options include:

  • Vinegar: Clean your window and door jams with a solution of vinegar and water.
  • Lemon juice: Spray a solution of lemon juice and water over affected areas to destroy ant scent trails.
  • Cayenne pepper: Sprinkle cayenne or black pepper under windows and doors.

Are Dryer Sheets the Best Way To Fight an Ant Infestation?

Dryer sheets are not the best way to fight an ant infestation because they will not destroy the colony. Instead, dryer sheets will only be effective against a few ants, repelling them from the area rather than destroying the infestation. 

The best way to get rid of them is to destroy their entire colony using pesticides or other natural methods. 

Here are some ways to deal with an ant infestation:

  • Borax: Probably one of the most effective solutions, mix equal parts of borax and syrup and place the mixture where you notice the ants. The ants will take it back to their colonies, and when they consume it, it will destroy their digestive systems and kill them.
  • Baking Soda: Another effective option is to mix baking soda and powdered sugar in equal proportions and place the mixture in ant pathways. It works similarly to borax as it acts on their stomachs and kills them.
  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE): Food-grade DE can kill ants and other bugs. Just sprinkle it along their trails and watch it kill them.

Other effective options are coffee grounds, vinegar, chalk, hand soap, pepper, and boiling water.

Final Thoughts

Although dryer sheets can’t kill ants, they’re a cheap and non-toxic way to repel them. They’ve also been scientifically proven to repel a few bugs and insects.

However, if you’re dealing with a large ant infestation, dryer sheets won’t cut it. You may need to try other more effective methods like borax, baking soda, diatomaceous earth, and vinegar.