Eliminate static electricity

The Ultimate Guide to Eliminating Static Electricity

Static cling results from electrical charges building up in clothing from dryness and friction. You can use a few tricks to quickly get rid of this problem. However, you may need to change how you wash and dry your clothes if static is a big problem in your closet. To get rid of the electrical charge quickly, you could rub your clothes with something like a metal object. You can also rub lotion on your skin or spray hairspray on your clothes. For long-term solutions, change the way you do your laundry. Add vinegar or baking soda to the wash cycle and air dry your clothes to eliminate static altogether.

Use metal to remove static

Slide the affected clothing through a metal hanger.

After washing and drying your clothes, use a metal or wire hanger. Before you put on your clothes, carefully slide the metal hanger over your clothes. The metal discharges the electricity and eliminates the static charge. If you want to hang your clothes, use a metal hanger to hang clothes that stick and cling. You can also pass the metal hanger between your skin and clothing after you have put on your clothes. This works particularly well with delicate fabrics such as silk. However, metal wire hangers, such as heavy sweaters, can distort some garments. If you think a wire hanger might damage your clothing, simply run the hanger over the surface of the fabric before storing the garment elsewhere.

Hide a safety pin in your clothing to absorb static electricity.

Take a metal safety pin and turn your clothes inside out. Unlock the needle and push it through the hem of the garment so it is not visible from the outside. Turn your clothes the right way and put them on. The safety pin will absorb any static electricity. It doesn’t matter if you take your clothes out of the dryer, closet or dresser. The pin always works to remove static cling. Don’t place the needle in the front or near an exposed hem. Otherwise, it may be seen by others.

Run a thimble or metal brush over the fabric.

Static electricity discharges when you run a metal object over your clothing. After drying your clothes, put a metal thimble on your finger. Run your finger over the surface of each garment to reduce static electricity. You can also use a metal bristle brush instead of a thimble. But be careful, the fabric could get caught on the bristles. As with other metal-related tricks, the aim is to get rid of the electrical charge to prevent static. You can achieve the same thing by touching any metal object if you don’t have a metal thimble.

Tip: If you don’t want to walk around with a thimble on your thumb, you can stash it in your pocket and only pull it out when needed. This can also help reduce static on your clothes as you walk around.

Drag a metal object over the shirt to trap electrical charge.

If you don’t have a thimble, brush, hanger, or pin, you can successfully dissipate electrical charge with any other metal object. A fork, spoon, bowl, gear, screwdriver, or any other object will work as long as it’s metal. Make sure the metal object is clean before running it over your clothing.

Spray your clothes

Spritz your clothes with hairspray to remove static electricity.

Use any can of hairspray. Stand 12-24 inches away from your clothes and spray them with the hairspray for 3-4 seconds. This way, the clothes will be lightly covered with hairspray without getting soggy. Hairspray is specially formulated to fight static in your hair, and the same chemicals will also eliminate static on your clothes. Do this right before you put on your clothes so the hairspray doesn’t evaporate prematurely. Hairspray doesn’t usually stain fabrics, but it can leave a residue. If you’re concerned about staining or damaging your garment, turn it inside out before spraying the hairspray on the clothing.

Tip: The hairspray should be sprayed on from a certain distance so that it does not leave any visible marks on clothing. Focus on the areas of clothing that stick to you the most.

Spray fabric softener on your clothes to minimize sticking.

Mix 1 part liquid fabric softener with 30 parts water and fill an empty spray bottle with the mixture. Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients. Spray your clothes from a distance of 30 – 60 cm for four to five seconds. This will minimize the effect of static cling on your clothing. Do this right before putting on your clothes for the best results. Most fabric softeners won’t stain your clothes, especially when water dilutes. If you’re concerned about staining your clothes, turn the clothes inside out before spraying. Spot and wrinkle removers usually work just as well.

Lightly dampen your dried clothes with water.

Fill an empty spray bottle with lukewarm tap water. Spray your clothes 4-5 times at a distance of 30-60 cm. Clothing should be lightly misted without soaking or dampening. The water will neutralize the static charges that are causing the sticking. Do this right before you put on your garment for the best results.

Setting the wash cycle

Add 120ml of baking soda to the wash cycle.

Baking soda works just like a fabric softener to absorb the electrical charges from washing your clothes. Before you start your wash cycle, put 120 ml of baking soda in the drum of the washing machine. Add your standard detergent and wash your clothes as usual. If you choose to dry your clothes in the dryer, the clothes may recharge after the baking soda is washed out. This method works best in combination with another static removal method. If your air dries your clothes rather than machine dry, you may not need to use a different method. For smaller loads of less than 1.5-2kg of clothing, you can reduce the amount of baking soda to 60ml. Baking soda forms an effective barrier around each garment, preventing negative and positive charges from building up and causing the garments to stick together. Baking soda has the added benefit of neutralizing odors.

Spray 120ml of white vinegar into the rinse cycle.

After the washing machine has finished its first cycle, stop the machine and pour 120ml of distilled white vinegar over your clothes. Restart the machine and let it continue the rinse cycle. Vinegar softens fabrics and prevents them from becoming too stiff and dry. This also helps reduce the amount of static electricity. Do not use vinegar with bleach. Otherwise, these ingredients will produce toxic gas. Do not use this method with baking soda. But you can use them if you use aluminum foil and fabric softener. If you don’t want your clothes to smell like white vinegar, soak a washcloth in vinegar and add it to the rinse cycle instead. The smell shouldn’t be overpowering, even if you add the vinegar directly to the dishwater. If you have a fabric softener dispenser in your machine, you can pour the vinegar at the beginning of the entire wash cycle. Adding vinegar to clothing also results in lighter colors and cleaner whites. White vinegar works best, but you can use apple cider vinegar in a pinch. However, you should not use apple cider vinegar in white or light-colored clothing.

Toss a ball of aluminum foil with your clothes in the washing machine.

Take a sheet of aluminum foil and crumple it into a small ball by squeezing it between your two hands. Put the aluminum ball in the washing machine and run the normal cycle. The aluminum foil discharges positive and negative charges that the washing machine produces. You can use aluminum foil along with any other method. However, you should not mix baking soda and vinegar in the washing machine.

Warning: Only put your aluminum foil in the washing machine, not the dryer! If you dry the aluminum foil, it could cause a fire. Don’t forget to remove the aluminum ball when you transfer your clothes from the washing machine to the dryer.

Use fabric softener to prevent clothing from charging.

Liquid fabric softener eliminates static during the wash cycle. Add 10-15ml of liquid fabric softener to the standard wash cycle, according to the fabric softener instructions. When wet laundry is tumbled around in the washing machine, it builds up an electrical charge that causes it to stick together. Fabric softeners contain chemicals designed to prevent this electrical charge from building up. Fabric softener towels work the same way as fabric softeners. Get leaves if you want to avoid spills. However, fabric softener sheets are typically placed in the dryer. You can use fabric softener in addition to any of the other methods in this section.

Drying your clothes

Put what’s called a dryer ball in the dryer before you put your wet clothes inside.

Dryer balls work just like towels or fabric softeners. They are designed to soften clothing without the use of chemicals. Put 1-2 dryer balls in the machine when you put wet clothes in the dryer. Then run the dryer cycle as usual. The dryer balls also minimize contact between the fabrics in the machine. Electric charges build up in fabric when one part rubs against another. Less contact means less static electricity.

Add a damp washcloth in the last 10 minutes of the drying cycle.

If your drying cycle has 10 minutes left, pause it. Turn the dryer to its lowest setting and toss a clean, damp washcloth into the machine. Turn the cycle back on and end it. The water absorbs some electrical charges and softens the clothes, so they don’t stick. This is essentially the same as spraying water on your clothes after drying them.

Shake your clothes when you take them out of the dryer.

As you remove each garment from the dryer, give it a quick shake 2-3 times. This prevents static electricity when you place your clothes on another surface. This only works if you take out your clothes immediately after drying.

Air dry your clothes to eliminate static build-up.

Instead of running your clothes through the machine, dry them on a clothesline or closet rod. After each item is washed, remove it from the machine and hang it on the line or rod with a hanger or clothespin. Alternatively, you can run the dryer on just half a cycle to partially dry your clothes and then let them air dry for the rest of the time. Much of the electrical charge responsible for static cling is created when wet clothing is completely dried out by heat. Air drying prevents the clothes from becoming extremely dry, preventing them from developing too much electrical charge. Hang your clothes on metal hangers to air dry to make them even less sticky.

Make simple daily adjustments

Use a moisturizer on your skin to keep clothes from sticking.

Any type of moisturizer will work to remove static buildup. Before putting on your clothes, rub the moisturizer onto your legs, torso, and arms. Massage it into the skin until there are no visible traces of the lotion. The moisturizer eliminates static electricity as clothing absorbs it from the skin. By moisturizing, you remove dryness from the skin that would otherwise attract a highly charged fabric. You can also rub lotion on your hands before removing laundry from the dryer or folding clothes. This prevents excess electrical charge from transferring from the hands to the fabric.

Tip: If you don’t want to apply tons of lotion to your skin, rub a small amount onto your hands and run it lightly over your body to add a small amount of moisture.

Use a moisturizer to condition your hairstyle.

If clothing static makes your hair frizzy, get a moisturizer or hair product. If you shower, rub the conditioner through your hair after you wash your hair. If you’re using a moisturizing hair product, dry your hair and work the product into each section of hair before styling. Silicone-based conditioners help keep static at bay more effectively. Unfortunately, there is a lot of debate as to whether silicone is good for your hair or not. Moisturizing care in the hair prevents your hair from drying out. Dry hair attracts static electricity, which in turn causes static electricity.

Swap out your rubber-soled shoes for a leather pair.

Most shoes have rubber soles. This presents a problem because static electricity can build up in rubber. If you find that your clothing accumulates static electricity throughout the day, swap out your shoes for a pair of leather-soled shoes. Leather shoes also help keep you grounded since leather doesn’t pick up electricity as easily as rubber.

About the Author

Dylan Roberge

Dylan Roberge is a San Francisco-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience covering money saving and deal hunting. Before going freelance, he got his start as an editor at Yahoo Finance. These days he writes about mobile, tech gadgets, and lifestyle subjects for a variety of publications.