How to get rid of static cling without dryer sheets

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1. Water

Before perusing the internet, I turned to my mom to see what static cling remedies she recommended. She suggested flicking a little water on myself—a strategy that’s backed up by a bunch of sources online, and one that seems pretty obvious in hindsight. With mom wisdom in mind and hope in my heart, I set out to sprinkle water all over myself.

This strategy to get rid of static cling definitely worked. And as a bonus, it was totally free and didn’t require tracking down some bizarre piece of 1920s domestic life (safety pins—who has those?!). The only con here is that while water neutralizes the static pretty instantly, it can wear off pretty quickly. And if you’re as staticky as I am, this can mean a few too many trips to the sink.

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Ways to Prevent Static In Your Hair

You’ve probably noticed static on your hair when you’ve brushed it or after you’ve pulled off your winter hat. If the air is humid enough, static disappears fast. But on snowy or dry days, it sticks around, and it’s not a good look on anyone.

Condition your hair daily in winter. The conditioner does to your hair what fabric softener does to your clothes — it helps trap moisture to fight static. Hair oils or serums also help. In freezing temperatures, or if you have thick hair, you’ll want to use both.Use a metal comb or natural bristle brush. Plastic and synthetic materials cause static. Using a metal comb or boar-bristle brush helps discharge it. If you must use a plastic comb, spritz it with hairspray first.

Run a dryer sheet over it. Just as dryer sheets stop static cling in clothes, they’ll also control it in your hair. In the winter, keep a used one in your purse or pocket. You can reuse it dozens of times before it needs replacing.

As with most typical household issues, preventing a problem is easier than fixing it. So once the temperatures dip, start taking measures to keep your home’s humidity levels in check and switch soft furnishing fabrics and clothing as needed to get rid of and prevent static electricity buildup in your home. Where to Next? Uses for Used Dryer SheetsHow To Clean Wood FloorsHow to Control Pet Hair in Your HomeHow To Store Winter ClothingThe Best Way to Clean Your Airpods at Home

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A vivid childhood memory to the rescue

All the while I tried to use dryer sheets to get rid of static cling, I was remembering that field trip in third grade. I don’t remember much detail from that long ago, but this occasion is burned in my memory. The scientist we went to visit held a up a cloth and rubbed it with a big glass rod. It started to stick to his hand. Then, he picked up a big copper rod and rubbed the cloth again. It hung loose as it had before.

He must have repeated that sequence half a dozen times. Each time, the result appeared immediately. It was so dramatic that I haven’t ever forgotten it. And once I started having to deal with static cling on my clothes as an adult, I wondered more than once where I could find a bigcopper rod.

3. Dryer Sheets

Here’s something that might have immediately occurred to you upon reading this heading: Dryer sheets? Not super convenient, especially considering the going recommendation is to keep them in your pockets at all times. (I’m all for instant access, but I’m never going to stuff my skinny jeans with dryer sheets.)

These failed the home test and didn’t do much to alleviate The Cling. Thankfully, this meant I didn’t have to go full Bag Lady and carry them around everywhere with me. But also sort of unthankfully, because I did have to walk all the way to Rite Aid to buy dryer sheets for this static cling experiment.

Ah, well, at least I didn’t have to excuse myself from any conversations to casually rub myself down with a little sheet.

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What can you do to avoid static?

The best way to deal with static is to take steps to avoid an electrostatic charge building up in your clothing before it becomes a problem and leaves you standing in the street in an impossibly clingy skirt! Here’s how…

  • If you’re particularly susceptible to static, avoid synthetic clothing, as this tends to be the worst culprit. Instead, shop for natural fibres, which retain moisture better.
  • Use fabric conditioner in the wash, as it helps reduce friction and static as well as giving fabrics a soft, fluffy feel.
  • If you’re trying to cut down on chemicals, white vinegar works as a natural fabric softener and will help reduce static if added in place of fabric conditioner.
  • Don’t over dry clothes and try and dry synthetic fibres separately so they don’t charge up the rest of your clothes. If you can, line or air dry.
  • If you can’t avoid the tumble dryer, add a tumble dryer sheet to the load, this will help to reduce a build-up of static.
  • When removing clothes from the tumble dryer, give each item a quick shake to help prevent static from setting in.
  • Static can be problematic in very dry low humidity environments, so an air humidifier can help.
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Ways to Prevent Buildup of Static

The best way to get rid of static electricity in your home is by improving your indoor humidity levels. Keep your home’s relative humidity at least 30% during winter months — though 40-50% is ideal. In older or drafty homes, or if it’s so cold that your heater has to run non-stop, you may need some of the following measures, too.

1. Use a humidifier. Even a whole-house humidifier can struggle to keep moisture levels up in freezing temperatures. Room humidifiers let you improve the comfort in the rooms you use most. Cold mist humidifiers are safest. Many also diffuse essential oils to add fragrance too. Be sure to clean your humidifiers at least once a week so they don’t grow mildew inside.2. Leave liquids simmering on the stove. A simmering pot of soup is a classic sign of winter. The rising steam adds moisture to your home’s air and helps reduce static. It doesn’t have to be soup, though. A pot of water does the trick, too. Toss in some citrus peels or cinnamon sticks for fragrance if you like.

3. Take hot baths and showers. Let bathwater cool completely before draining the tub, even overnight if you don’t have small kids. As it cools, it will add moisture to your home’s air. A hot shower works the same way, so skip the bathroom fan during the winter and let steam help stop static in your home.4. Don’t wear rubber-soled shoes indoors. Rubber is an excellent insulator that allows the static charge to build on your body. When you touch something with a different ionic charge, like a door handle, you’ll get a static shock. Switch to shoes with leather soles or wear socks indoors. (Adopting a no-shoes rule will keep your carpet cleaner, too.)

5. Cover synthetic sofas with a sheet. Microfiber and polyester are popular sofa fabrics because they’re easy to clean. But they’re also synthetic, which means they’re more prone to static buildup. To stop getting shocked by static every time you get up from the sofa, run a dryer sheet over it daily or cover it with a sheet made from natural fibers. Or, use the homemade anti-static spray below.6. Carry a coin or other metal object. Since static shocks happen when opposite charges jump between you and metal objects, you can use a coin to transfer those charges painlessly. Keep a coin, key, or paperclip in your pocket and occasionally touch it to metal objects to discharge static that’s built up on your body. Voila, no more painful shocks.

Homemade Anti-Static Spray Combine 2 tablespoons of fabric softener or hair conditioner with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake well. Spray daily all winter on fabric furniture, bedding, and other linens, curtains, and carpets. Since it contains water, do not spray it on leather, silk, or other materials that should not get wet. Store any unused static spray away from heat and light, and keep it where kids and pets can’t reach it.

How Is Static Electricity Created?

Static electricity is made when two nonconductive objects come in contact with one another. It is not necessary to rub the objects to create a charge. Static is not created through friction. Rubbing increases the amount of adhesive contact of the the two surfaces, speeding up the exchange of electrons between the two objects. When the objects are separated, they retain their respective imbalance charges. The object with more electrons is now excessively negatively charged while the object with less electrons is now excessively positively charged. These objects will retain this charge until they are either neutralized through a quick discharge of the excess surface charge or the object is grounded and balance is restored.

How to Eliminate Static Cling Once It Strikes

But what do you do if static cling attacks while you're wearing clothes? We've all had that moment when our trousers cling to our socks or a dress sticks to hosiery. Try one of these solutions:

  • Use a static reducing spray. Static reducing sprays neutralize electrical charges by increasing hygroscopic (humidity-attracting) substances. Static Guard is a leading brand that comes in two scents and two sizes including a handy travel-size can.
  • Rub the clinging areas with a damp cloth or paper towel. Increasing humidity will offer temporary relief of electrostatic forces.
  • Run a wire clothes hanger or piece of aluminum foil between the clinging areas. The metal helps discharge the electricity, thereby removing the static.
  • Moisturize your skin. By rubbing lotion into your skin, you are increasing the surface humidity (moisture), and that will keep fabrics from clinging to your skin. 

The Spruce / Michele Lee

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