A new study suggests there may be some truth to claims by gardeners that tucking Bounce sheets in your pocket keep the insects away.

While some gardeners may have been using this antidote for years, experiments by researchers at Kansas State University and the University of Illinois revealed scientific evidence that Bounce fabric softener dryer sheets either directly or indirectly repel adult fungus gnats under laboratory conditions.

The study was conducted over the last two years and was designed to determine the repellant activity of Bounce fabric softener dryer sheets and to isolate and identify the volatile components of the sheets. Analyses showed a major component of the sheets to be linalool, which is found naturally in some plants. Though it is toxic to several mite and insect pests, little is known of its ability to repel insects.

Raymond Cloyd, professor, K-State’s Department of Entomology, decided to pursue the study after hearing claims by two gardeners and a colleague that Bounce sheets repel insects.

“Being a scientist, I didn’t just shrug it off,” he said. “I thought about it, cogitated on it and decided to test this out quantitatively.”

Cloyd said it is too early to foresee the effects this study may have on gardening or production practices since they still don’t know the longevity of the repellency or how far away insects can be repelled.

“We do plan on conducting another phase of the study,” he said. “We would like to do a greenhouse study with either the Bounce fabric softener or the oils we’ve been working with.”

The results of the study were published in early December in HortScience.