You May Want To Think Twice Before Using Dryer Sheets To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden

If deer have been making their way into — and potentially nibbling at or walking all over — your garden, then you might have heard that using dryer sheets in the area can keep them away. While this certainly sounds like a handy hack that uses something you may already have in your laundry room, there are various reasons why this might not be such a great idea. For instance, you may end up having to replace the sheets often in order for them to be effective, which can start to become seriously costly. On top of that, while deer may be repelled from your garden, dryer sheets can also discourage pollinators, which is never good. That's not to mention their toxic chemicals and how well they may (or may not) work in the first place.

Indeed, some gardening enthusiasts claim that dryer sheets and other forms of fabric softeners keep deer away because they can make the animal unsure of what it's smelling. On the other hand, there are those who don't believe that deer are deterred by this product at all. The truth may be somewhere between those two opinions, as there are various factors that come into play. You should consider these factors before you try this hack because they might make you think twice about using dryer sheets to protect your precious veggies, fruits, and flowers.

Dryer sheets aren't always effective deer deterrents

Even if some gardeners are been successful in warding off deer with dryer sheets, that doesn't mean that you will be as well. Granted, the reason for that has less to do with the actual fabric softener and more to do with what the animals in your neighborhood are facing. For instance, if there are plenty of food sources for deer in your area, then there will be no reason for them to raid your garden when they don't have to. Like many other animals, they would rather nab a meal that's easy, safe, tasty, and nutritious as opposed to taking the risk of stealing from your dryer-sheet-filled garden. 

However, when food is harder to find, they may be a bit more bold. This means that fabric softeners might seem to work better during the plentiful warmer months and not as well when food is scarcer in the winter. They might also be more effective if there are a lot of forested areas around you as opposed to a loss of habitat. 

Dryer sheets can be toxic and repel pollinators

When it comes to dryer sheets repelling deer, it's actually the scent that they find off-putting. That's why you can use other items or products with a strong smell in the same way. At the same time, you need to make sure that whatever you use is safe and won't end up seeping potential toxins — or any ingredients that were never meant to be around plants — into your garden. This is especially true if you intend to eat anything that you grow. Ingredients can also make their way into the soil and water around your area, which is definitely something that you want to avoid. That includes things like polyester substrate, alcohol ethoxylates, and (the somewhat hard to say) dipalmethyl hydroxyethylammoinum methosulfate, which makes your clothes soft but probably wouldn't make vegetables taste very good.

Beyond that, not only do deer not like the scent of dryer sheets very much, but other more beneficial critters dislike it as well. The strong scent could deter bees from your garden, which isn't ideal for pollination and may stunt the growth of your plants. This may be disappointing news if you've already stocked up on dryer sheets with the intention of using them to deal with deer. Fortunately, there are plenty of plants that will keep away deer in a safe and effective way.