Do Fabric Softener Sheets Repel Ants?

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December 17, 2013

In the annals of philosophy, there exist certain eternal questions. These issues have been pondered and debated for centuries by the great thinkers.

What is the meaning of human existence? What is the ideal relationship between the individual and the state? Is there a universal truth, or is truth relative? And finally: do fabric softener sheets repel ants?

It’s the latter question we shall address today.

Some insist that DRYER SHEETS will send ants packing...

Some insist that DRYER SHEETS will send ants packing...

Over the course of our RV camping adventures, Kristy and I have met our fair share of ants.

For example, we camped in Malibu. Much like Thoreau at Walden Pond, we were besieged by ants. The Malibu campground appeared to be situated upon a normal hillside overlooking the Pacific. Indeed, it looked like a posh celebrity playground; Matthew McConaughey’s own famous travel trailer was parked just a few sites down.

But we soon discovered that we were parked upon the world’s largest ant mound. In Malibu we had ants in our kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bed. When I emptied the water tanks, ants were coming out the sewer hose! I kid you not.

It’s hard to be precise, but I’d estimate we had 23,472,822 ants inside our RV. To combat the Great California Ant Invasion, we employed a strategy so innovative, so groundbreaking, so…stupid? that it had to come from the Internet. Our solution: fabric softener sheets.

Sooner or later, every person on earth will receive a spam email containing a list of “alternative uses” for dryer sheets. If the entire list is true, then dryer sheets are the greatest human invention since the wheel. Dryer sheets, the email claims, make for a wonderful ant repellent.

So we bought a box of fabric softener sheets, and distributed them throughout our trailer.

After a couple of days, we could draw some conclusions. Did the fabric softener sheets repel ants?

My answer to this great philosophical question, is “Nah — not really.”

When we first laid out the sheets, I thought I detected a slight decrease in insect behavior. But I think the ants were merely taking a siesta.

After a few hours, I noticed some ants simply crawling right over the sheets. They just didn’t seem to be affected by them very much.

When we left Malibu, the ant problems ceased. And I was left generally unimpressed by the ant repellent properties of dryer sheets.

But I had to wonder: would unscented dryer sheets have worked better?

And thus, this great question remains essentially unanswered. Perhaps we shall try again next year…


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