How to Remove Static From Your Home
Winter is traditionally the time of year when your clothes start sticking to you, your hair starts sticking up, and you are shocking just about everyone you touch.
Your clothes are probably crackling, your bed sheets are sticking and popping, and if you’re lucky enough to have animals, you can see the lightning bolts when you pet them and their fur gets caught anywhere and everywhere.
This crackling, popping, sticking up, and lightning you see in your clothes, in your sheets, and on your pets is called static. But what exactly is static? Great question!
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What is Static?
Static electricity is essentially when electric charges accumulate on an object’s surface. This typically happens when two objects or materials rub together and cause friction.
When your feet rub on the carpet, you tend to shock people or other objects with your fingers, like doorknobs, or even your lips when kissing a loved one.
Static occurs in your sheets because you’re rubbing the sheets with your body when you get into bed (especially with all of the electricity already in your body) and toss and turn throughout the night.
You create static when you rub your hands down your pet’s body, and your clothes can develop a great deal of static as they rub on each other being tossed around your dryer.
The friction passes electrons back and forth between the objects increasing the positive and negative energies between them.
This causes pops of electricity when you touch other objects and pass that electricity between you. With your clothes, this causes them to cling to one another and to you.
But friction is not the only cause of static electricity, otherwise we would experience a static problem all year round. It turns out, dry air and colder temperatures encourage static electricity as well.
The time of year we see these additional characteristics is traditionally during the wintertime. What happens is that these two increase the amount of static you are creating and make it much easier to create static in everyday situations, like in bed.
To truly understand how to combat static in your home though, first we must understand better what causes it and what your part is in it. Let’s look at some of those right now.
What Causes Static?
Materials are made of atoms that are normally electrically neutral because they contain equal numbers of positive charges and negative charges.
Static electricity is an imbalance of those electric charges within or on the surface of a material. The charge remains until it is able to move away by means of an electrical discharge or shock. (Wikipedia)
Static can be created by one or more of either a contact, pressure, heat, or even charge-induced charge separation.
Your feet on the carpet are a pressure-induced charge separation. Touching a doorknob or kissing a loved one is a contact-induced charge separation.
Drying your clothes in the dryer creates a heat induced charge separation, and your hair, having been charged with pressure (or friction) in your bed, creates a charge-induced charge separation as it is attracted to other objects around you.
Lightning is a dramatic natural example of static discharge. The initial charge separation is thought to be associated with contact-induced separation between ice particles within storm clouds. ()
As I mentioned dry air and cold weather also having a part in static electricity, it is necessary in this section to explain that the dry air found in dryer climates and in the wintertime, and the cold weather that comes around once a year, simply make it that much easier for charges to separate and static electricity to be created.
So now that we know what causes it, how can we possibly get rid of it once it has become a nuisance?
Some of the Suggested Fixes You’ll Find
There are tons of great ideas for handling static electricity available if you are only to look, research, or ask around.
I’ve taken the liberty of eliminating the ones that didn’t work for us, and adding a few extras that we have discovered at our house.
- Pot of Boiling Water – As dry air is one big reason static electricity becomes such a problem, it only makes sense to incorporate some water into the air to attack the static. I learned the hard way that unfortunately you cannot boil water in the same pot every day all day long without ruining both your stove and your pot, but boiling water for a few hours each day should be just fine and get you the desired results.
- Humidifier – This would work the same way as boiling a pot of water on the stove, except that with a humidifier, you really can run it all day and all night without running the risk of damaging either a pot or your stove.
- Lotion – Rubbing lotion all over your body right after your shower will not only protect your skin from getting too dry in the wintertime, but it also gets rid of a great deal of surface area that electricity can travel, therefore reducing the static in your clothes and from your hands throughout the day. I even accidentally discovered one afternoon that by putting lotion on my hands before folding and putting away the laundry, I was able to eliminate a great deal of static cling from our clothes.
- Wet Hands – Just as dryness and heat promote static cling, some nice cold water is just the trick for getting rid of it. For electrically charged hair, clothes, or anything else, run your hands through some water and gently glide your hands over the problem area and static be gone.
- Leave in Conditioner – Obviously, in an effort to avert dry hair and your hair standing on end due to static, you should use a conditioner in the shower to give your hair all the moisture you can. However, if this just isn’t enough to quell those flyaway locks, a little bit of leave-in conditioner can be an easy way to handle them.
- Fabric Softener – And just like what conditioner is for your hair, fabric softener is for your clothes. By adding a little bit of fabric softener to the clothes in your washing machine, you can give them the moisture that they need to make it through the drying stage without collecting any static electricity. While this may not completely solve all of your laundry static problems, it will sure go a long way towards helping.
- Dryer Sheets – The whole purpose of dryer sheets is to work on your laundry in the dryer like fabric softener works in the washing machine. They give your laundry some extra moisture, make it all smell wonderful, and even take some of the static electricity out of your clothing as it dries. But this isn’t the only area where they can be helpful. If your hair, your clothes, your comforter, or even your couches have static and/or are collecting animal hair like magnets, rub a fresh dryer sheet over them to get rid of it.
- Air Drying – As heat is a major creator of static electricity, especially in your clothing, tossing your clothes in the dryer or pulling out your blow dryer to dry your hair are the worst possible choices you could make if you are trying to avoid static. Consider instead air drying the clothing you have the most problems with static-wise. You could even do the same with your hair. Both of these options might take a bit of pre-planning on your part so that your clothes are dry when you need them and you aren’t going outside in the cold with wet hair. But if you can pull it off, you’ll have much less issues with static.
- Wet Rag – If air drying your clothes just isn’t an option, there is another way to keep the heat in your dryer from completely drying out your clothes and turning them into a staticy bundle of sparks. Of course you could always dry them to the point of damp and then take them out before they are completely dry and this would prevent static from developing. But who wants to have damp clothes that still need to air dry, and in the WINTER! Instead, at the end of your drying cycle, consider tossing in a damp washcloth to finish your clothes.
- Metal Hanger – This definitely doesn’t sound like it should work, and in fact sounds pretty foolish, however, it does in fact help. There’s something about running a piece of metal along your clothes to absorb the static in your clothes and return them to a balance in electrical charges. The outside of your clothes can be helped by simply running the hanger over the fabric. Feel free to fashion some sort of hanger shape that will fit through the inside of your clothes as well and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Hair Spray – As a last ditch effort to fix the static on your clothes, on your furniture, in your bed, and in your hair, hair spray might just do the trick. You’d think that hair spray would make everything sticky, but instead it kind of seals in the static so it isn’t a problem.
- Static Guard – And finally, why not try something professional if static is still a problem for you. So you’ve tried all of the above methods and nothing has worked? Spray Static Guard over the problem areas, and this should fix it for you. (A mixture of fabric softener and water in a spray bottle should do the same thing.)
What Do I Do to Get Rid of It?
Hands down, the best solution for getting rid of static in your clothes and in your bed that I have found, is adding a good dose of vinegar into the fabric softener area when washing your clothes, reducing the amount of laundry detergent you use by at least half, and adding safety pins to inconspicuous areas on the items you are washing.
Then toss a couple of dryer sheets into the dryer and lower the heat level you use when drying your clothes. I made an attempt not to over-dry my items once dry, but did make sure to dry everything completely.
The vinegar and safety pins are truly the key because this won’t work without these two crucial pieces.
I’m not sure why this works, but I was shocked when I saw my dog hair covered comforter come out of the dryer with NO DOG HAIR the first time!! It was awe-inspiring. I even saved it to show my husband when he came home.
The next time I washed the comforter, the same thing happened and my husband was there to witness it. I don’t even bother with the other fixes because this is so incredible!
Is There a Way to Prevent it in the First Place?
Absolutely! Live in the tropics where it is always warm and humid. Easy peasy, right? lol
For all of us normal people, living in areas that are perfect for the dry air and cold weather that static electricity needs to survive, even if for only a short bit of time throughout the year, we need real solutions.
The truth is, you cannot completely escape static electricity without drastically changing your life, but you can do your best to prevent it as much as possible.
When the wintertime comes around, consider keeping a humidifier handy to try to keep the air in your home as humid as possible to keep from developing an environment primed for static.
Make sure to keep lotion on hand. Not only will this help you to prevent eczema and other dry skin conditions prevalent this time of year, but it will also help you to diffuse any static that may be created in your clothes, on your furniture, and in your bed.
Make sure to keep your hair conditioned, stock up on vinegar and safety pins, and do your best to use the tips above and static will be a thing of the past in your home.
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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness
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