Do Dryer Sheets Keep Cockroaches Away?

Although notoriously difficult to eradicate, dryer sheets are believed to keep cockroaches away. This simple home remedy for infestations involves putting dryer sheets into the favorite hiding places of cockroaches.

Dryer sheets contain linalool, a naturally occurring substance found in certain plants. While dryer sheets won’t kill cockroaches, linalool can be a roach repellent. Linalool and other oils extracted from plants have been used as pest repellents. The scent is repulsive to cockroaches, and direct contact can cause a toxic reaction.

Dryer sheets only contain a limited amount of linalool. Once the scent fades, the sheets will lose their effectiveness as a pest deterrent and need replacement. Also, dryer sheets won’t deter a full-scale infestation. Instead, you may wish to use this home remedy in conjunction with other pest-killing or deterrent methods.

do dryer sheets kill roaches?

What Are Dryer Sheets?

Dryer sheets are benign sheets of material that you put into the dryer with your wet laundry. This sheet prevents the build-up of static electricity, catches lint, and aids in stain prevention. Depending on the chemicals the sheet was treated with, it can also deter certain pests. Dryer sheets are divided into 3 main parts:


This is a nonwoven material that’s soft, stretchy, and easy to mix with other clothing. It helps to attract static electricity. This polyester makes up the bulk of the dryer sheet.

Softening Agent

A softening agent coats the actual polyester material. The ingredients used to make this agent will vary but usually include alcohol ethoxylates and fatty acids. That’s what softens your clothing and, depending on the components, may prevent stains.  


Certain brands of dryer sheets include bonus ingredients that enhance the smell it gives off. Linalool is a favorite since it produces a sweet odor that’s reminiscent of lavender and citrus. However, some people are allergic to linalool.

Can Dryer Sheets Repel Cockroaches?

In dryer sheets, linalool is what serves as the pest repellent. While some dryer sheets contain linalool, not all do.

That has led to the rumor that all dryer sheets can repel pests. This is untrue, though. Only products that contain linalool have proven to be somewhat effective.

How Do Linalool Dryer Sheets Affect Pests?

Linalool is naturally produced by many plants, including lavender, mint, and rosemary. It is used as an agent in many insect repellents because it wards off pests. Linalool is also a natural pesticide, as it is toxic to certain insects. Here’s some scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of Linalool against various insects:

Dryer sheets have been said to have a similar effect on cockroaches to other types of insects.

Are Dryer Sheets with Linalool The Best Cockroach Repellent?

Dryer sheets with linalool work well against repelling certain types of cockroaches. So, dryer sheets with linalool can repel German cockroaches with moderate efficiency. Unfortunately, American cockroaches seem to find it easier to resist the effects of linalool.

Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology notes that there is little known about the mechanisms of how natural insecticides work. Specifically, this refers to those derived from plant essential oils. If we don’t know how it works, we can’t determine how effective it might be in different forms.

So, do linalool dryer sheets work on cockroaches? Dryer sheets are a home remedy and not a scientific solution. If you have cockroaches in your home and want to keep roaches away from certain places, they could be an option.

Do Roaches Like Dryer Sheets?

Cockroaches like anything damp and smelly. Dryer sheets used to wipe down wet counters and then forgotten may attract cockroaches as they love moist environments. However, dryer sheets themselves will not attract cockroaches.

There is nothing about this product that cockroaches can eat, drink or nest in. A cockroach may temporarily hide inside whatever you store the dryer sheet in. However, it is unlikely that they will stick around unless there is a convenient food source nearby. Dryer sheets, with or without linalool, are not going to attract cockroaches.

Do Dryer Sheets Kill Roaches?

Dryer sheets are meant to be able to kill cockroaches. That is dryer sheets with linalool. As we said earlier, linalool is a toxic substance to some insects. Many plant oils, when concentrated, can be lethal to cockroaches within minutes. The Journal of Agricultural and Urban Etymology found that mint oil is one such substance with a high mortality rate.

Although the percentage of linalool in each dryer sheet is quite small, it can be enough to kill a cockroach. They will need to be exposed to it for a prolonged amount of time, though, so it’s unlikely to be a good cockroach killer.

Can Dryer Sheets Remove A Cockroach Infestation?

Cockroach infestations are difficult to curb. With dryer sheets, you’ll find the task impossible. That’s because:

  • Dryer sheets need prolonged contact with cockroaches.
  • Dryer sheets need regular replacement.
  • If one dryer sheet can kill one cockroach, you’ll need a large amount to kill an infestation. If you find a single roach, there’s likely to be more of them.

With that in mind, dryer sheets work as a mild deterrent. They can serve as temporary lines of defense while you enact more effective pest-killing remedies.

Can Other Linalool Products Repel Roaches?

Any linalool will displease roaches. In practice, the linalool in your shampoo won’t have much impact on cockroaches. As mentioned, you can find linalool in soaps, hair care products, and other items where smelling nice is an asset. However, aside from dryer sheets, linalool is often used in small concentrates.

Linalool is a naturally occurring terpene alcohol. Think of it as an essential oil. You never want to apply any essential oil directly to the skin. In hair or skin-care products, the solution must be heavily diluted to prevent bodily harm.

So, remember that cockroaches may dislike dryer sheets but won’t be wiped out by their presence. Using soaps or perfumes of lesser strength definitely won’t remove your infestation.

dryer sheets with linalool

Can Essential Oils with Linalool Deter Cockroaches?

If you’re battling an infestation, you want clever workarounds. You’re not allowed to put essential oils directly on your skin, but diffusers exist for a reason. Were you to place an essential oil with a high linalool concentration into your diffuser, would cockroaches run away? Diffusers work in two ways:

  • With the use of sticks placed directly in the oil. They wick up the scent and dispel it in the air.
  • With the use of a mechanical device. They mix water with the oil and ‘steam’ it into the air.

As you can see, both of these methods reduce the concentrate of the linalool (or the essential oil it’s in). The stick diffuser method will be far too subtle for a cockroach to notice. A machine-based diffuser will dilute the substance with water and spread it into the air. A roach won’t be deterred.

How To Use Dryer Sheets To Repel Cockroaches

Dryer sheets are a temporary measure for your cockroach problem. If you want to apply it in your home, start by:

  • Tucking or laying dryer sheets where you see cockroaches roam or hide.
  • Laying the dryer sheets flat exposes more of the surface area to cockroaches. This will increase the radius of effect that a single sheet can have.
  • Laying multiple sheets in a single area. This increases the strength of the linalool and broadens the radius.

Keeping Cockroaches from Escaping

Once you’ve laid down a line of defense, you’ll need to cut off any escape routes:

  • Scrunch up the sheets and jam them into the crevices. This can block cockroaches from being able to hide.
  • Balling up the sheets can also preserve the linalool, extending the lifespan of the sheet’s effectiveness.
  • Bundle up multiple sheets with a rubber band. This creates a stronger scent that can last longer.

Keeping Roaches from Nesting

If the cockroaches can’t escape, they’ll seek out other hiding holes. To prevent this, lay a few sheets in corners and behind appliances. This discourages cockroaches from nesting in warm, dark places. It also deters them from scavenging for any food crumbs.

Scenting Your House with Linalool

Dryer sheets have multiple uses beyond pest control and laundry. One of them is as a stand-in cloth for wiping down surfaces.

In dampening the sheet, you can leave traces of the linalool behind. These traces will not be strong enough to kill cockroaches. However, they can repel them for a short period of time.

How Often Should I Replace Dryer Sheets?

Dryer sheets are only effective so long as the linalool lasts. Once the scent (and thus the substance) has faded, the sheet becomes useless.

Dryer sheets can hold their scent for between a few weeks and a few months. With that said, be aware that dryer sheets can backfire over time. That’s because they also absorb moisture and surrounding odors, which roaches like. Check on the dryer sheets once a week. If they are damp, dirty, or have lost their scent, swap them for fresh ones.

Do Dryer Sheets Repel Other Pests?

Dryer sheets with linalool are effective at repelling nasty fungus gnats from settling into your plant pots. These dryer sheets can also be handy for keeping other annoying pests away from your home, such as:

  • Weevils
  • Mites
  • Beetles
  • Mosquitoes

The best way to deter cockroaches is by denying them food and shelter. Dryer sheets can be useful for repelling cockroaches and discouraging them from coming back, but their effectiveness is limited.

With or without linalool, they aren’t going to cull a full-blown cockroach infestation. Test out dryer sheets yourself by tucking them under and behind furniture, behind appliances, and in corners.

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Jack Andersen

Hi, I'm Jack. A close friend of mine went through a cockroach infestation about 5 years ago, so I'm here to share what I've learned with everyone. I hope that you find the information useful.

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