If you are searching for quick, affordable and natural ways to keep bedbugs away from your home, you have probably seen the internet buzzing about dryer sheets.
The talk on many forums is that dryer sheets are an effective repellent of bed bugs.
While it may be true that dryer sheets can repel some insects, does the same hold true for bed bugs?
Do Dryer Sheets Repel Bed Bugs?
Studies have yet to prove that dryer sheets are efficient in repelling bed bugs because they do not contain heat or strong insecticides in controlling bed bug infestation.
While it may be true that dryer sheets can repel some insects, dryer sheets do not specifically repel bed bugs.
In extensive research conducted by National Center for Biotechnology Information, controlling and eliminating bed bugs involves more than one approach, with the most successful treatments involving insecticides and extreme heat.
Over the years, and with a lot that has been said and done in research about the sources, breeding, and infestation patterns of bedbugs, there has been no scientific finding that officially backs the use of dryer sheets as a bed bug repellant.
Dryer sheets are made for frequent household use.
Bed bugs are hitchhikers and attach themselves to clothes, bags, furniture, or any other item they come into contact with.
Bed bugs hide in dark areas like furniture crevices, the folded hems on clothes, mattresses, travel bags, etc.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs feed on human blood and can live in their hiding spots for months up to a year without food.
By size and physical appearance, you can quickly identify a bed bug from other types of bugs and insects when a bed bug has recently fed because its color changes from a dark brown to bright red.
A hungry bed bug has a flat body that doubles in size as soon as it has fully fed.
Which Insects Do Dryer Sheets Repel?
Given the many claims about the use of dryer sheets in repelling insects, it has been proven that some insects keep off from them.
In a study conducted on one brand of dryer sheets, only 18% of gnats placed in a compartment with a dryer sheet remained inside while others flew away.
Further investigations into the chemicals in these dryer sheets proved that they contained chemical compounds like linalool, which have high insect repellent properties.
Linalool is a type of terpenoid alcohol commonly used in most detergents and other household products.
Linalool has been used and proven effective as an insecticide in controlling ticks, fleas, German beetles, weevils, sawtoothed grain beetles, and other beetles.
This insecticide kills these insects by paralyzing their nervous systems.
Linalool also inhibits mosquitoes because it contains a uniquely strong and fragrant odor that mosquitoes avoid.
It is important to note that linalool has not been proven to control the development of eggs or larva into insects.
It is also not officially confirmed how long linalool’s fragrance or chemical property may last on a dryer sheet to make it an effective repellent for household insects.
What Are Dryer Sheets Used For?
Dryer sheets are small pieces of fabric that you can use in your dryer to prevent static clinging between different materials as they spin in the dryer and to scent your clothes after a wash.
As such, dryer sheets contain certain chemicals to reduce static cling and fragrances that lightly scent your clothes.
Some of the chemical compounds found in dryer sheets include:
- Dipalmitoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate: This is an FDA-approved chemical with high anti-static properties and can be used in household products like fabric softeners and as a detangling agent in hair conditioners.
- Fatty acids like stearic acid or quaternary ammonium salts
- Bentonite clay agglomerates: These are clusters of chemical compounds that help reduce the viscosity of the fabric softener in the dryer sheets.
- Fragrances: These are essential oils to scent your washing.
Most dryer sheet brands contain scents like lavender, cinnamon, citrus, basil, and mint that many people claim to repel bed bugs.
These scents are used on their own or in combination with other scents on dryer sheets to give your clothes a lasting fresh fragrance.
The chemicals and scents used in dryer sheets are not enough, on their own or combined in a dryer sheet, to repel, let alone kill bed bugs.
Bed bugs are known to hide in clean and dirty spaces alike, and as such, you may find them hiding in your dryer sheet box just as in the cracks and crevices of your furniture and walls.
While many people claim to use essential oils like lavender oil to repel bed bugs, this claim has no scientific foundation as bed bugs have been known to survive and breed even in highly scented areas.
How Bed Bugs Spread Into Homes
Bed bugs are opportunistic, clingy hitchhikers, and you may never know when or how they get into your home.
Sometimes you don’t even have to travel or buy new household items for them to find you.
A simple house visit by a friend or neighbor may be all it takes to bring bed bugs to your home.
1. Clothes And Luggage
As mentioned previously, one of the ways bed bugs can get into your home is if you travel to a hotel, home, or any such infested place, and they cling to your clothes or luggage.
If you unknowingly place your clothes or bags in an infested room, bed bugs can easily attach to them and hide under the helms and folds.
As there’s no particular way to check if your clothes have bed bugs on every hem or fold, it is advisable to store all the clothes you travel with in a sealed polythene bag after use.
This practice also applies to your travel bags, suitcases, and all luggage you travel with.
You can wash these clothes and bags on very high heat in your washing machine once you get home, without mixing them with other garments.
Washing your travel clothes and luggage bags in hot water helps to kill the bed bugs hiding in the folds and hems and any eggs they might have laid therein.
This method ensures that no eggs remain and breed into bed bugs later.
If you suspect or confirm that your travel luggage has a lot of bed bugs, you can choose to dispose of them together by burning them to avoid the chance of spreading by bringing them into your home.
2. Second-Hand Furniture
Bringing bed bugs into your home when buying second-hand furniture is possible.
You can clean any second-hand furniture you buy with either hot water or a vacuum cleaner.
Hot water can help kill the living bed bugs and their egg deposits, while a vacuum cleaner may help pull them off the furniture’s fabrics, hems, and cracks.
You may also need to use a pesticide or call in a pest control professional if you suspect the second-hand furniture you bought is heavily infested with bed bugs.
Remember to treat not only the second-hand furniture but every piece of furniture and corner of your house if you mistakenly bring it inside before treatment.
You also have the option of entirely disposing of any furniture that may be infested with bed bugs by burning them to avoid spreading these vicious bugs once and for all.
Helpful Ways In Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs
In addition to cleaning after your guests, it is essential to target-clean your house often to flush out any bed bugs that may have found their way in somehow.
You can achieve this by ensuring to clean corners, cracks, behind wall hangings, and any other places where bed bugs could be hiding.
Ensure to treat and, if possible, seal cracks and crevices on your beds, sofas, tables, and walls.
Treatment with an approved household pesticide helps kill any hiding bed bugs, while sealing cracks denies them a place to hide altogether.
Also, remove clutter in your rooms as these can be perfect hiding places for bed bugs.
Signs Of Bed Bug Infestation
You can know your house or room is infested with bed bugs if you notice the following:
- Rusty spots on furniture, linens, or clothes: These spots are bed bug excrements, and you will find these where the bed bugs hide.
- Blood stains on your pillows or bed linen: These blood stains or spots may be from the sites where the bed bugs bite your skin while you sleep.
- Egg shells, bed bug skins, or dead bed bugs on your linen or furniture: Bed bugs tend to lay their eggs on their hiding spots. These eggs look like tiny white spots stuck on the fabric, wooden, or wall surface where they were laid. Bed bugs also shed old skin and leave it in their hiding spots. You may also notice dead bed bugs in these areas.
- Musty odor on furniture, fabrics, and surfaces: Bed bugs produce this odor from the glands on the lower side of their bodies. This odor tends to concentrate in corners or surfaces where most bed bugs hide.
What Pesticides Can I Use To Control Bed Bug Infestation?
There are about 300 pesticide products that you can use to repel and eliminate bed bugs from your home or property completely.
You can use some of these as a targeted cleaning and control agent.
You must also consider consulting a professional to treat your home with some of these highly toxic pesticides to avoid endangering your life or health while administering them.
These bed bug control pesticides are classifieds as follows:
Desiccants work by dehydrating bed bugs to death.
These desiccants, which include Boric Acid and Diatomaceous Earth (DE), come in powder form, and you can apply them on cracks and surfaces where the bed bugs hide.
Once the desiccant powder comes into contact with the bed bug, it starts to dry out the protective wax coating on its body while also sucking out any moisture in its body.
Desiccants take longer to eliminate bed bugs than other methods but are also reliable work from the outside of the bed bug’s body, meaning bed bugs cannot develop resistance to them.
Desiccants can be harmful to your health if you inhale them.
As such, it is advisable to avoid applying them on your clothes or bed linen and wash them in hot water or use other treatment methods instead.
You can apply desiccants on hard-to-reach places like cracks and crevices on furniture where bed bugs could be hiding.
2. Pyrethrins And Pyrethroids
Pyrethrins are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in most chrysanthemum flowers.
Pyrethroids are man-made or synthetic chemical compounds that have the same insecticidal properties as pyrethrins.
You can use either of these compounds to eliminate bed bugs from your home.
Both pyrethrins and pyrethroids interfere with the nervous system of bed bugs, causing them to paralyze and die soon after contact.
A study on pyrethrin and pyrethroid use on some bed bug strains has shown that some pyrethroids killed the bed bugs and their nymphs.
Pyrethrins and pyrethroids work from inside the bed bug’s body to destroy it, and as such, some bed bug strains have over time exhibited resistance to the individual use of these chemical compounds.
In such instances, a professional can advise or recommend a combination of pyrethrins or pyrethroids with a synergist like a desiccant to improve its efficacy in bed bug elimination.
Like pyrethrins and pyrethroids, neonicotinoids also flare up the nervous system of bed bugs, causing them to paralyze and die on contact.
Neonicotinoids have the same chemical properties as nicotine.
Neonicotinoids can also be used alongside other bed bug control methods and pesticides to improve efficiency where resistance is proven.
Pyrroles are chemical compounds that you can use individually or in combination with other pesticides to eliminate bed bugs in your home or property.
These chemical compounds work by disrupting the bed bug’s ability to produce energy for its bodily functions.
This reaction inhibits the bug’s usual functionalities like feeding, causing it to die eventually.
Chlorfenapyr is the only pyrrole registered and recommended for use in bed bug control.
This pyrrole has proven effective in eliminating bed bug strains resistant to other types of pesticides like pyrethroids.
You can opt to use a biochemical like neem oil to eliminate bugs from your home.
Cold pressed neem oil is the biochemical that has been tested and proven to eliminate adult bed bugs and their nymphs and eggs.
However, it is essential to note that neem oil only works on bed bugs in its raw, cold-pressed form and at approved label rates.
6. Insect Growth Regulators
Insect growth regulators are insecticides or chemical compounds that disrupt the growth and reproduction processes of bed bugs and other insects.
These compounds alter the growth process by speeding it to an abnormal rate or slowing the growth process and eventually causing death.
It is important to note that insect growth regulators, or IGRs as they are commonly known, may not be an effective control method for adult bed bugs.
This bed bug elimination method only works to disrupt the development of the bed bug.
You can combine this pesticide with other pesticides or methods to eliminate adult bed bugs and their nymphs and eggs.