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VERIFY: Do dryer sheets keep wasps out of your mailbox?

A viral Reddit post says postal workers might put dryer sheets in your mailbox to prevent stings. Experts say there's no evidence that would work.

WASHINGTON — As the weather gets better, some unfriendly visitors might make an appearance outside your home: Yellow jackets and other wasps. 

A Reddit post has gone viral about a tactic that some mail carriers might be using to prevent stings. User u/istrx13 says they're a mail carrier, and they've found that putting dryer sheets inside mailboxes prevents wasps from shacking up inside.

Social media users and some news outlets are spreading it around as a quick fix, so the Verify team took the claim to the experts.

THE QUESTION

Do dryer sheets repel yellow jackets and other wasps?

THE ANSWER

There is no evidence that dryer sheets repel wasps, because it has never been studied.

OUR SOURCES

  • David Mizejewski, Naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation
  • Entomological Society of America

WHAT WE FOUND

All of our experts told us that, while that mail carrier's dryer sheet endeavors are well-meaning, there's no evidence that it works. It has never been scientifically studied.

David Mizejewski told us via email that the idea itself raises some questions for him.

"There are many brands of dryer sheets and surely they’re not all made with the exact same ingredients," he explains. "What ingredients in a dryer sheet would have a repellent effect? Why haven’t pest control companies capitalized on this ingredient? Where would you put a dryer to repel wasps and how wide a range would it have? Even if they did work you’d likely have to cover your entire property with them to have any meaningful effect." 

A spokesperson for the Entomological Society of America told us they could not tell us whether this was true because they are unaware of it having ever been studied. 

However, they did direct us to a 2012 study which found that "essential oils from a combination of clove, geranium, lemongrass and rosemary was highly repellent to western yellow jackets." 

So we can verify that there is currently no evidence that dryer sheets can ward off yellow jackets and other wasps.