Beyond the Dryer: The Truth About Bounce
Visiting my favorite computer sustain website, I didnt expect to find information about a shared household product like Bounce brand dryer sheets. However, as with many successful internet communities, the function sometimes exceeds its original ambitions. There was a post from September 12th that caught my eye, Bounce this around filed in The Doctors Lounge, (usually reserved for birthday announcements or other off-topic remarks). I was surprised to find the post was written like ad copy for Bounce brand dryer sheets:
The US Postal service sent out a message to all letter carriers to put a sheet of Bounce in their uniform pockets to keep yellow jackets [sic] away.
Use them all the time when playing baseball and soccer. It really works. The yellow jackets just turn slightly around you.
1. All this time youve just been putting Bounce in the dryer! It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them. It also repels mice.
2. Spread sheets around foundation areas, or in trailers, or cars that are sitting and it keeps mice from entering your means.
3. It takes the odor out of books and photo albums that dont get opened too often.
4. It repels mosquitoes. Tie a sheet of Bounce by a belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season.
The post went on to claim a total of 21 different uses for the product. I was astounded. Money couldnt buy advertising like this! My first thought was Whats in these dryer sheets anyway? Surely if they repelled insects they must be toxic. So I turned to the chief resource abut the dangers of any household consumable, the Material Safety Data Sheet. Hoping to find something carcinogenic (or at the minimum environmentally unfriendly); I was disappointed when the most serious health warning read: ingestion of used or unused sheet by a young child or household pet may rule to impaction of the gastrointestinal tract. A physician or veterinarian should be contacted. So they could potentially cause constipation but clearly the manufacturers werent worried about what might happen if you truly digested it.
Biodegradable fabric softening agents, at any rate those are, are the active chemicals on the sheets. According to the MSDS sheet, if you satisfy enough of it to rats (more than 1% of their body weight) it will kill them. That sounded like damning evidence to me, until I realized that if I ate 1% of my body weight of just about anything Id probably be pretty sick myself.
By now I was thinking the 21 claims were a bit more dubious. Surely there must be official claims at BounceEverywhere.com, the website for this product. While Procter and Gamble, the owner of the Bounce brand, makes no claim of extraordinary insect fighting ability, some of the posters on the Bounce message boards have. When in an outdoor area where wasps are a problem, just rub a fresh bounce sheet on your hair, clothing and exposed skin. It seems to ward off[sic] the pests and keeps you smelling fresh to boot, claims Margie M. from Salyersville, KY. Well its obvious that Bounce is not trying to deny that it may ward off insects, already if they are not directly promoting it for that cause. As I dug further into the posts I found a trend. They allegedly ward off mosquitoes, wasps, yellowjackets, moths, ticks, chiggers, ants, rats, mice, chipmunks, and already birds! Dissolve a sheet in water and use it to remove tough burned-on grease in pans, or already wallpaper from the walls! Yes, thats right, someone posting on BounceEverywhere.com claims to have used bounce to remove wallpaper. Bounces official stance on the postings is We do not edit your comments and consequently are not responsible for the content, or its accuracy. Having read enough of these outlandish claims, my research took a cynical turn. Surely there must be an objective resource for analyzing these claims. So I checked my favorite authority for confirming and debunking modern myths, snopes.com.
Snopes article, titled Bounce Back, addressed sixteen claims made about Bounce in a highly circulated email first proven in 2003. The article gave two of the sixteen claims a clear win for Bounce (both relating to its odor-fighting similarities) and four claims a definitely not, while the balance fell into a category where it was not particularly effective, ineffective, or assessable.
At this point I was lost. How could I possibly refute every claim Id found so far? I turned my research back to the original post that started my dilemma. I saw my comments had prompted a few more responses. Its also an elephant repellant. See any elephants? posted SpywareDr. My research had only managed to ask more questions than it answered, when another poster claimed:
*Cram one down the filler neck in your cars fuel tank and increase gas mileage by 430%.
*Tape ten sheets across both of your cars bumpers to prevent accidents–it repels other vehicles.
*Put a sheet in your dishwasher and your plates will be ridge-free.
*A sheet or two in the bottom of your computer case will prevent BSODs [windows errors] and corrupted files.
I havent seen a difference in gas mileage however, but I havent had an accident since 1985, none of my dishes have wrinkles and my computer works perfectly.
The internet is the most ubiquitous tool of the information age, however it seems to prosper on misinformation and disinformation. Realizing that after all this internet research I had however to keep up one of these mystical sheets in my hand, I went to the grocery store to buy a box for my own experiments. Staring down the aisles I worked my way to the place on the shelf where the original scent Bounce dryer sheets should have been. Outdoor Fresh Scent, Fresh Linen, and Spring Awakening, the boxes proclaimed. I resigned myself to smelling like a Summer Orchard and put one inside my jacket pocket. Two days later, I visited a friend with a small pet lovebird. As the bird hopped across the couch and into my lap I remembered the dryer sheet was nevertheless in my jacket, insignificant inches away from this adorable bird.
While my research revealed that Bounce may not be bird-repellent, I havent seen any mosquitoes, wasps, yellow jackets, moths, ticks, chiggers, ants, rats, mice, or chipmunks. Or elephants, for that matter. But the box containing the rest of my Bounce dryer sheets will be staying right where it belongs: in my laundry room, on the shelf above my dryer.
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