How to Remove Static Electricity From Your Home
Why Is There So Much Static in My House?
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. This is because you probably don't live in the tropics, meaning your wintertime is cold and dry—the perfect conditions for static buildup! To make things worse, people usually respond to the cold by cranking up the heat, further reducing the humidity in the air.
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 little "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—and it's no fun. Luckily, there are tons of great ideas for reducing and preventing static electricity. I’ve taken the liberty of eliminating the ones that didn’t work for us and adding a few extras that we have discovered.
How to Get Rid of Static Electricity in the House
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. Here are some great ways to do just that!
Tip #1: Use a Humidifier
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. Humidifiers are a great no-stress fix for static; they have proven effective at reducing random shocks, static cling, and static in hair. One of the benefits of humidifiers is that you can run them all day and all night, helping keep the humidity in your home constant.
Tip #2: Keep a Pot of Boiling Water on the Stove
If you don't want to invest in a humidifier, you can do the DIY version with a pot on the stove, though this fix can only be used for a few hours each day. I learned the hard way that you cannot boil water in the same pot every day all day long without ruining both your stove and your pot!
Note: If you add a little cinnamon or citrus peel, it'll double as an air freshener!
Tip #3: Invest in More House Plants
For a technique that will combat static cling and beautify your home, try incorporating more plants into your living space. Crazy as it might seem, house plants are actually very effective humidifiers. Here are the best plants for re-humidifying dry indoor air.
How Do I Know If the Air in My House Is Too Dry?
If you're looking for an easy way to keep track of your home's humidity, consider buying a hygrometer. If you see the humidity dip below 30%, it's time to start humidifying! The ideal home humidity level is 40–50%, though in winter, it may be best to keep it below 40% to avoid condensation on the windows.
Tip #4: Use Static Guard on Your Carpets
Carpets are a huge culprit behind static shocks, but using a static guard spray, either store-bought or homemade (a mix of two cups of water and two tablespoons each of fabric softener and vinegar in a spray bottle), can significantly reduce carpet-generated static. Just bear in mind that you don't need to soak your carpet for this fix to be effective. A misting is enough!
How to Get Rid of Static in Clothes
At some point or another, we've all felt that pesky shock when folding a fresh pile of laundry. But there are many ways to keep that from happening. Here are a few tried-and-true methods for reducing static in your laundry.
Tip #1: Use Vinegar, Less Detergent, and Safety Pins
Hands down, the best solution I have found for getting rid of static in your clothes and bedding is adding a 1/4 cup of white 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 before drying.
Then toss a couple of dryer sheets into the dryer, lower the heat level, and make sure not to over-dry your items.
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.
Note: Attaching a safety pin to your clothing discharges the electrical buildup in your clothes, reducing static cling and preventing shocks!
Tip #2: Use Fabric Softener
Fabric softener is to your clothes what conditioner is to your hair. 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 go a long way towards helping.
Tip #3: Use 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 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.
Tip #4: Use Wool Dryer Balls
These dryer balls absorb moisture from clothing in the dryer and help to maintain a more humid environment as the clothes are drying, thereby reducing static. If you're feeling crafty, you can make your own DIY wool dryer balls.
Bonus: On top of being more environmentally friendly than fabric softener or dryer sheets, wool dryer balls reduce drying time and wrinkles, fluff clothes, and keep large items like sheets from getting tangled. They're also pet-hair magnets!
Tip #5: Air Dry Your Clothes
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. Instead, consider air drying the clothing you have the most problems with static-wise (likely the ones made of synthetic materials).
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 fewer issues with static.
Tip #6: Toss a Damp Rag in the Dryer
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 staticky bundle of sparks. During the last 10–20 minutes of your drying cycle, toss in a damp washcloth. This will provide the necessary humidity to finish drying your clothes without loading them with static.
Of course, you could always dry them to the point of damp and then take them out before they are completely dry to prevent static from developing, but who wants to have damp clothes that still need to air dry in the WINTER?
Tip #7: Run a Metal Hanger Over Your Clothes
This definitely doesn’t sound like it should work (in fact, it sounds pretty foolish!), but it really does help. Running a piece of metal along your clothes will transfer the electrical charges in your clothes to the hanger, returning your clothes to a balanced electrical state.
Tip #8: Dry Synthetic Clothes Separately
Synthetic materials generate far more static than natural ones, so drying natural fabrics separately from synthetic ones can go a long way toward reducing static.
Tip #9: Pop a Ball of Aluminum Foil in the Dryer
Need a short-term fix for staticky clothes? Ball up a sheet of aluminum foil and toss it in the dryer. This will get rid of static, but it only works for several loads. If you like this method, you can simply replace the ball of foil when you find it's no longer working, though I recommend trying a longer-lasting fix.
Tip #10: Shake Out Your Clothes
Shaking out your clothes when they're fresh out of the dryer is a quick way to reduce static buildup and make the folding process more enjoyable.
Tip #11: Put on Lotion Prior to Folding Clothes
I 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. If you try this method, you should only use a small amount of lotion to avoid transferring it to your clothes.
Tip #12: Spray Troublesome Items With 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.
Tip #13: Spray 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 (either store-bought or homemade) over the problem areas, and this should fix it for you.
What have you tried to get rid of the static in your home?
How to Get Rid of Static in Your Hair
There's nothing like taking off your hat to reveal a staticky do. Here are some simple ways to keep your hair static free this winter.
Tip #1: Condition Regularly
Using a moisturizing conditioner is essential during winter, not only for the general health of your hair, but also to reduce static! In addition to regular conditioning, you should do a deep-conditioning hair mask once every two weeks throughout the season.
Tip #2: Use a Boar-Bristle Brush
Just like synthetic clothes generate more static, so do hairbrushes with synthetic bristles. Using a boar-bristle brush is a great natural alternative that can significantly reduce static (not to mention frizziness!).
Tip #3: Use Hairspray or Leave-In Conditioner
For an extra static-fighting boost, spray your brush's bristles with a light coat of hairspray or leave-in conditioner before brushing.
Tip 4: Use Serums and Oils
Conditioning in the shower just isn't enough, sometimes. If your hair is still feeling staticky after trying these other tips, consider using products like silicone-based serums and conditioning oils to add an extra barrier against static buildup.
Tip #5: Avoid Wool or Synthetic Hats
Both of these options generate much more friction (and therefore much more static) than cotton, cashmere, or silk alternatives.
How to Get Rid of Static in Your Pet's Coat
There's nothing worse than giving your poor pup a nasty shock when you go in for a pet. Luckily, there are a few tricks to help reduce the static electricity in your pet's coat.
Note: Do NOT use dryer sheets to remove static from your pet's coat. While this can be a great fix for car seats and flyaways, the chemicals in dryer sheets can be seriously harmful to your pet.
Pet #1: Replace Fleece Beds and Blankets With Natural Alternatives
Fleece generates static like crazy, so replacing fleece pet bedding with natural alternatives (at least in winter) can really help reduce the static buildup on their coats.
Note: The same thing goes for sweaters; if your pet wears a sweater, make sure that it's made of all-natural materials.
Pet #2: Bathe Your Pet With Moisturizing Conditioner
During the winter, moisturizing conditioner is just as important for pets as it is for humans! Aloe and oatmeal are two natural ingredients that are particularly good at moisturizing hair, so look for pet shampoos and conditioners with those ingredients.
Tip #3: Mist Your Pet's Fur With Animal-Safe Conditioner
If using conditioner when bathing your pet isn't enough, consider mixing a small amount of pet conditioner with water in a spray bottle (1 teaspoon conditioner to 2 cups water should do) and mist your pet's fur with it prior to brushing.
Note: It's essential that you only use pet conditioner (animal-safe) for this mixture. Using a conditioner intended for human use could result in a sick pet if they lick it off.
Tip #4: Supplement Your Pet's Diet With Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids promote coat health and can help reduce static, though seeing as these supplements can be pricey, you might want to try the other fixes on this list first and use this method as a last resort. (If you have the extra bucks, though, go for it! Your pet will thank you.)
General Ways to Prevent Static Shocks
Youch! That zip of electricity known as a static shock, however familiar it may be, is never fun.
Tip #1: Use Plenty of Lotion
Make sure to keep lotion on hand during the cold months. 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.
In addition to putting on hand lotion throughout the day, rubbing lotion all over your body right after your shower will help get rid of a great deal of surface area that electricity can travel, further reducing the static you will experience throughout the day.
Tip #2: Wear Leather-Soled Shoes and Cotton Socks
Leather-soled shoes can help reduce the static you experience from shoes rubbing against carpeted flooring throughout the day. If you normally wear rubber-soled shoes and experience bad static in the winter, consider making the switch to leather. You should also consider wearing cotton socks rather than wool ones.
Tip #3: Wear Natural Fibers in the Car
If possible, wear clothes made of cotton or other natural fibers when driving in winter. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or nylon, generate far more static electricity.
Tip #4: Keep Something Metal With You
Use your metal object (e.g., a coin, key, or even an anti-static keychain) to touch the grounded metal object (such as a doorknob or door handle) before touching it with your skin. That way, the static charges will transfer to the coin instead of to your fingers!
Tip #5: Run Wet Hands Over Staticky Items
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. Ta-da! The static will be gone.
What Is Static Electricity?
Materials are made of atoms that are normally electrically neutral because they contain equal numbers of positive charges and negative charges. Static electricity is essentially when imbalanced electric charges accumulate within an object or on its surface.
Static can be created by one or more of either a contact, pressure, heat, or even charge-induced charge separation. Here are a few examples:
- 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.
- 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.
Most of the time, static happens when two objects or materials rub together and cause friction. The charge remains until it is able to be discharged (e.g., on a doorknob or your loved one's lips).
Two Common Examples of When Static Occurs
- 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 in the examples above 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 passes 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 static problems all year round. This is because on top of friction, dry air and colder temperatures encourage static electricity as well.
We usually see these additional characteristics during the winter, when dry air and colder temperatures increase the amount of static you are creating and make it much easier to create static in everyday situations, like in bed.
Is There a Way to Prevent Static in the First Place?
Absolutely! Live in the tropics where it is always warm and humid. Easy peasy, right? 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. That's where the tips above come in handy.
Questions & Answers
Could a faulty electric water heater cause a static magnetic effect?
© 2013 Victoria Van Ness