I think that everyone has a slightly different opinion of mice – as we’re all entitled to. Some folks keep these tiny rodents as family pets while other folks will absolutely let out a screech and jump onto the nearest chair if they see one of these creatures scurrying along a baseboard
The truth is though that if you didn’t bring the mice into your home yourself, then the mice you’re seeing are an unwanted and unwelcome group of pests. And with a mouse’s ability to hide in walls, cabinets, and other tiny spaces that can make them difficult to keep track of, you certainly don’t want to give them an open invitation. So, how do we keep these mice away?
You might be surprised to learn that rodents, including mice, have a very strong sense of smell. In fact, their sense of smell is what allows them to find their way to food sources that may have been left out -either intentionally or by accident.
Because of this strong sense of smell, using other strong scents – like one you might get from the dryer sheets in your laundry room – will help to deter mice from entering a particular area.
I know what you might be thinking: how can a dryer sheet possibly help keep mice out of my home? Well, with a few tips on the placement of your dryer sheets, a regular replacement schedule, and even some recommendations on the most effective brands, you might be surprised by what these little sheets can do!
Are Dryer Sheets Actually A Good Mouse Deterrent?
Don’t forget that we’re focusing on deterring mice as opposed to eliminating them. That means that we’re focusing on keeping mice away rather than getting rid of or removing them completely.
With this in mind, yes, there are a number of studies that suggest that the use of dryer sheets is a natural, effective, and humane way to help keep mice and other rodents at bay.
Research published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews affirms that mice use scent for a significant amount of direction cues. For instance certain odors from other mice can indicate social clues, while other odors can indicate nearby predators. Their research ultimately found that scent marking (how a mouse will deposit or leave a scent) is decreased when their is a nearby predator.
Now, dryer sheets aren’t a mouse predator (actually, COULD a dryer sheet take a mouse?) But, keep that thought around because it’ll tie back in later on.
While their research doesn’t directly indicate this, since mice rely on their sense of smell to help them find food sources, any new strong or potent scent that may interfere with the food scent trail can absolutely make these creatures think twice before coming around a particular area in your home. An unfamiliar scent will cause confusion to a mouse, causing them to be less active near your home.
So yes, while the thought of sticking a dryer sheet in your cabinet may seem a bit silly, this paper-thin addition will cause scent confusion in mice and, as a result, cause them to avoid the area where you’ve placed the sheet.
Of course, if one is determined enough, where there is a will there is a way, and while adding dryer sheets in your small spaces will help deter mice for a period of time, you will also want to explore effective long-term solutions as well. (More on that later!)
How To Use Dryer Sheets To Deter Mice
So, how exactly does one put these paper-thin squares to use to be an effective mouse deterrent?
There are a handful of tips and tricks on where to place your dryer sheets, when to replace them, and also the brands that may be the most effective in keeping these tiny creatures away!
Where Should You Place Dryer Sheets To Deter Mice?
Every home is different, so the place where mice may enter or even make their nest will differ depending on the age, accessibility, and other factors of your home. Once you’ve compiled a list of places in your home where mice may be likely to travel or nest, those should become your main areas of focus.
Once you have your list of areas to focus on, grab your box of dryer sheets and place one or two of them in each of these areas. If the scent seems to dissipate or doesn’t seem to be strong enough, consider adding additional sheets, if necessary.
Some common areas that you may want to stick a dryer sheet to repel mice include:
- under your furniture
- in closets
- in dressers and under cabinets
- under doors
- or anywhere else you may suspect these tiny rodents may try to show up
TIP: If placing an entire dryer sheet may not be the most practical option for one of the areas on your list, you might be able to rub a dryer sheet on the surface to provide a similar benefit! Whether it’s along your baseboards or around an entry door or wind, wiping down these surfaces with a dryer sheet or two will leave a lingering scent still detectable by mice to keep them away.
How Often Should You Replace Dryer Sheets So They Remain Effective?
Depending on the size of the room or area where the dryer sheet is placed, along with the scent of the dryer sheet itself, you may need to replace the dryer sheet before the week is up.
As a general rule, we recommend that you replace dryer sheets in these areas at least once a week, if not sooner.
Of course, leaving the dryer sheets out longer won’t have any negative impact, but it may provide an opportunity for mice to sneak in after the scent is no longer detected and they could potentially gain access.
So, in order to remain most effective, any dryer sheets you previously placed will need to be replaced on a consistent schedule in order to continually, and effectively, keep mice away.
What Are The Most Effective Dryer Sheet Brands And Scents?
If you take a walk to your local general store, there are probably at least ten different brands of dryer sheet products to choose from – and that’s not even including the number of different scents that each brand produces!
With all those options, how are you supposed to know which one will be the most effective for your mouse problem?
There is some good news. While some dryer sheets do give off a mild scent or are even unscented, even this “light” scent comes off as pungent and unbearable to these little creatures!
While you can’t really go wrong with a particular scent, don’t forget that sticking these dryer sheets around your home means that you’ll be smelling them too, so you’ll want to make sure that you can tolerate the smell yourself. Any brand should work, but you should try to focus on more natural scented dryer sheets.
What If I Use Homemade Dryer Sheets?
If you currently use homemade dryer sheets for your laundry needs, you could still use your homemade dryer sheets to keep mice away and have them be effective!
While everyone has their preferred method of making their own dryer sheets, one of the simplest ways to make your own dryer sheets is to fill a jar with a stack of lint-free cloths and then fill the container with white vinegar and a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
TIP: We recommend using a mint or lavender-scented essential oil, which we’ll give more information on later. Check out Gya Labs Pure Peppermint Oil if you’re looking to give making your own dryer sheets a try!
Of course, since these dryer sheets are wet as compared to store-bought brands, you may not want to go around stuffing these between your couch cushions. Don’t fear though, these homemade sheets can absolutely still be used to help deter mice by wiping down surface areas or hanging them in certain areas along a suspected mice traveling path.
Will Dryer Sheets Deter Mice For The Long Term?
See, we told you we’d get back to this one!
Depending on the type and level of mouse activity that you’re experiencing, it may not be a practical solution to continuously be changing out dryer sheets on a weekly basis, and, like many other creatures, if mice really want to find a way inside your home, they’ll find a way to do so.
So yes, while using dryer sheets can help keep mice away for short periods of time, you may want to look at additional options to keep them away for the long haul. We’ll give you a few additional suggestions on how to do this in just a bit.
Other Pests That Dryer Sheets May Deter
According to a study by the University of Missouri, dryer sheets may also be effective in keeping a number of pesky insects away as well!
One of the key components found in a number of different dryer sheet brands is linalool. You may have seen this term pop up in a few of our other posts about insects – especially the infamous summer painful pest: the mosquito.
Linalool is a naturally occurring terpene alcohol that occurs in many flowers and spice plants like lavender and basil.
With linalool being a common ingredient in many brands of dryer sheets, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your dryer sheets may also prove effective in deterring:
- Fungus gnats
- Bean weevils
- Grain borers
- German cockroaches
- and more!
Other Mice Deterrents
Whether you’re looking for a short-term solution while you build your plan to extract mice from your home or are looking for some best practices to avoid mice from the start, we’ve got you covered.
Use Other Scents As A Deterrent
A scent is a powerful tool, and in addition to dryer sheets, there are a number of other scents that are also effective in helping to deter mice. Two of these scents include vinegar and peppermint oil which is why these made the top of our list as ingredients for your homemade dryer sheets.
Other scents that mice will avoid include:
If you have any of these items around your home, check out our article on how to put these scents that mice hate to use!
Remove Potential Food Sources
We know that it can be a challenge to ensure that all the crumbs are cleaned up from your counters and those crumbs that may fall between the couch cushions during family movie night are a pest themselves, but any type of food crumbs or scraps that are left accessible can be an open invitation to mice.
Inside your home, try to wipe counters, mop floors, and vacuum carpets on a regular schedule to help remove any food items that may have fallen astray.
Outside, make sure any pet food is removed, as well as any fallen or damaged fruits and vegetables that could be a tempting snack to mice outdoors.
Seal Any Cracks Or Openings To Your Home
Mice are tiny and they have the creepy ability to squeeze through openings that are much smaller than themselves. There are 5 things that attract mice to your home, and our piece tells you how to fix them.
Check for any cracks, holes, or other openings that could serve as a potential entry point for these tiny creatures. Other than the obvious foundation cracks, you might be surprised to learn that these tiny rodents can also make their way inside your home through ventilation systems, cable wires, and possibly even your plumbing.
Ensuring that these exterior points are visible to any service teams that may need access, but securely closed off or sealed when not in use, can go a long way in keeping these tiny pests out of your home from the start.
There are even ways to keep mice out of your pool, and we have a list of 10 easy tips to help you out with this.
The Verdict: Are Dryer Sheets Really An Effective Mouse Deterrent?
Yes, dryer sheets can be an effective, natural, and humane way to help keep mice and other rodents out of your home.
By placing dryer sheets in areas that mice may nest or use during their travel – or rubbing dryer sheets along these paths, you’ll be able to reduce sightings of mice.
However, keep in mind that dryer sheets are meant to be used as a deterrent and not a permanent solution to get rid of any mice you may have in your home or on your property.
Using a combination of solutions, including utilizing scents that mice don’t like, keeping food cleaned up, and sealing off any entry points to your home will be a more effective solution in keeping mice away for the long term.
If with these solutions you feel as though your mice problem still hasn’t been rectified, reach out to your local pest professional who will schedule a time with you to explore your home or property and build a course of action to eliminate the mice infestation once and for all.
Choi, W. S., Park, B. S., Ku, S. K., & Lee, S. E. (2002). Repellent activities of essential oils and monoterpenes against Culex pipiens pallens. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 18(4), 348-351.
Cloyd, R. A., Marley, K. A., Larson, R. A., & Arieli, B. (2010). Bounce® fabric softener dryer sheets repel fungus gnat, Bradysia sp. nr. coprophila (Diptera: Sciaridae), adults. HortScience, 45(12), 1830-1833.
Deacon, R. (2012). Assessing burrowing, nest construction, and hoarding in mice. JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments), (59), e2607.
Kamatou, G. P., & Viljoen, A. M. (2008). Linalool–A review of a biologically active compound of commercial importance. Natural Product Communications, 3(7), 1934578X0800300727.
Kokocińska, A., Ensminger, J., & Jezierski, T. (2017). Effects of novel odours on the mating behaviour in mice. Anim. Sci. Pap. Rep, 35, 301-316.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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