A Laundry Experiment — 10 Ways to Reduce Static Cling

posted by Andrea | 02/14/2011

Over the past several weeks I’ve noticed our clothes seem to have lots of static cling. We’ve literally been “shocking” ourselves everytime we get dressed!

I didn’t know if it was the new house, the new furnace, the new washer and dryer, or just dry West Michigan winter weather…but I knew it needed to change.

So, I conducted a little laundry experiment…

What is Static Cling?

The following is a direct quote from WhatIsStaticCling.com:

“Static cling is a property of substances that make them cling to each other because of opposite electrical charges. When the conditions are dry and two different kinds of materials come in contact with each other, sometimes there is an exchange of electrons between the two substances. This exchange of electrons leaves one substance with a positive charge and the other with a negative charge. Basic laws of science state that unlike charges attract, thus the two substances will attract one another, which is termed as static cling.”

So to put it simply:

When conditions are very dry {like in a dryer} and two materials are are rubbed together {like in a dryer} electrons can cause those two materials to stick together — a.k.a. Static Cling.

How can you eliminate Static Cling?

Good Question! I asked about static cling on Facebook a week ago and got all kinds of great ideas to try.

So this past week I did about 347 loads of laundry in order to try out each of the suggested methods. I washed everything from rugs, towels, sheets, and blankets, to sweaters, dress pants, and even winter coats. I learned a ton about static cling and am fully caught up on all our laundry!

The following is a list of ideas given to me via Facebook. Some of them worked better than others, and many of them are FREE!

1. Humidifier: Using a humidifier can help reduce static cling by making your home “less dry” — but it’s not the most practical, especially for dry Michigan winters.

2. Lotion: rubbing lotion on your legs and arms before getting dressed really helps to reduce static cling. I also tried putting lotion on my hands right before folding the laundry, which seemed to help.

3. Hair Spray: If you’re wearing something with static cling, simply spray a bit of hairspray on that area. Problem fixed! I was a bit hesitant to try this because I thought it would make my clothes sticky, but it didn’t.

4. Dryer Sheet: Keep a few extra dryer sheets in your purse or car and rub them on areas of clingy clothing. I use this method whenever my skirt or dress clings to my tights. {I’ve been doing this forever and it’s always been a quick fix}

5. Damp Rag: Put a damp rag into the dryer at the end of the dryer cycle. I was surprised that this method did work pretty well, however our fleece items still were pretty staticy.

6. Hanging Clothes to Dry: This obviously doesn’t work as well in the winter…and I also don’t like the feeling of my clothes when they hang to dry, but it’s a great eco-option that DOES help to reduce static cling.

7. Dryer Balls: I tried these dryer balls but they really didn’t seem to help with our static cling issue. I gave them a really good effort, but they are now at the bottom of my Goodwill bag!

8. Tin Foil: I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous to try this method. Something about putting tinfoil in the dryer just doesn’t sound like a smart idea…but I tried it. And I it did help.

9. Safety Pins: Seriously, I had never heard of this before, but I gave it a shot, and it worked REALLY well. All I did was pin two safety pins on two different items in the dryer and everything came out static free!

10: Vinegar: I’ve actually been using vinegar for the last couple of weeks so I know it works well. Just pour about 1/4 c. of white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser on your washing machine. You should have no need for a dryer sheet — and NO, you can’t smell the vinegar. {if you’re interested, here are 9 other uses for vinegar.}

What worked the best?

Hands down, the best solution {in my opinion} is combining the vinegar and the safety pins. After about 286 loads of laundry, that combo seemed to work the best. Plus, it’s  eco-friendly — and practically free!

Another thing I learned is that using less detergent and washing your clothing less frequently also helps to reduce static cling.

Did I miss something?

What are your best static cling solutions?

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61 comments

  1. Tia

    10/08/2012

    I have an issue with dog hair sticking to our clothes that is the main reason I use dryer sheets they help the clothes come out of the dyer dog hair free do you think one of these tricks will work for that.

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  2. Whit

    11/10/2012

    Have you ever tried wool dryer balls?? I made mine own for a few dollars and they work great! I use two at a time for a load in my dryer. Not only does the wool absorb the static, it helps your clothes dry faster. I love them!

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  3. RD

    01/29/2013

    it also helps to use organic clothes like cotton and not man made ones like polyester.

    i’ve been using vinegar in my laundry for years, it works most of the times, like i said, organic materiaal is best any day of the year.

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  4. Monica

    02/20/2013

    Do you not worry about the safety pins rusting? I would be afraid I’d forget to put them on/or remove them afterwards.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Monica, I actually just pin the safety pins on an old rag and throw the rag in the drier with each load. Also, the safety pins shouldn’t rust because they aren’t wet — they only go in the dryer :)

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  5. Linda Phillips

    03/21/2013

    Do you find you have to switch out your safety pins after a certain number of loads. I had about 10 loads come out static free and now have a load that just came out with a lot of static.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well, I guess I don’t really know because I have a small dish of safety pins in our laundry room so I’m always just grabbing a couple at random. This would be very interesting to know though!
    I know that in our home, it’s much dryer in the winter time and our clothes get more staticy in the winter (especially this time of year) so that could be part of it too?

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  6. dee

    04/15/2013

    I usually use vinegar in the
    Rinse with
    a few drops of essential oils, but more important is the types of clothing materials that are dried together, don’t dry cotton with synthetics -sox and shirts I will be trying the safety pins next!

    [Reply]

  7. Leslie A

    06/28/2013

    Thanks for the idea! I felt the same way about the foil, but tried it anyway…with some success. Vinegar works…sort of. I am looking forward to trying the safety pins! I haven’t heard that one before :)

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  8. Joie

    09/07/2013

    I was using the vinegar and safety pins and it either great, then it seemed to stop working…..this seems like a silly question, but do I need to swap out pins after a while?

    [Reply]

    Joie Reply:

    I didn’t read the above comments before posting obviously wasn’t a silly question after all. Looks like ill go but a box and see if it helps to switch them.

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  9. Teresa

    01/04/2014

    Thanks for the ideas! I switched to wool dryerballs and vinegar and just recently with the cold started getting static. I will try the pins! Thanks!

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  10. Buffin

    01/12/2014

    I was told never to put vinegar into my high efficiency washer by the manufacturer. Were they just trying to get me to buy special laundry products?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Honestly, I don’t feel qualified to answer that for you. All I can say is that I’ve ALWAYS used vinegar in my front-loading HE washer and never had any issues.

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  11. Bets

    01/19/2014

    I am trying to reduce chemical expose so decided to try and do laundry without adding fabric softener to the wash load and dry sheets to the dryer. I purchased some wool dryer balls and their website indicated that they do not help with static cling. They are meant to help soften the clothes and reduce drying time. Their site suggested pinning 2 items together with 2 safety pins. I took 2 rags and pinned them together as I did not want to risk damaging the clothes. No luck. I then took and put the pins into the 3 dryer balls (so 6 very large pins in total) and added two balls of crumbled tin foil. No luck. The most success I have had was taking and separating the clothes after they came out of the wash – drying cottons only with cottons, and poly/nylon with poly/nylon. Its winter in Minnesota. I am going to try the vinegar as I have read that elsewhere.

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  12. Kathleen K

    01/29/2014

    Used 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 binder clips (couldn’t find safety pins!) on a load of 5 fleece blankets – not a snap, crackle or pop outta them when folding them! And yup, no vinegar smell on the blankets either!
    Thanks for doing the experiments! I’d been searching for a home remedy this dry winter!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    You’re welcome Kathleen — glad you found something that worked!

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  13. Linda Draper

    02/04/2014

    Thanks for the great ideas! I am off to the sewing room now to find the safety pins!

    [Reply]

  14. max

    02/13/2014

    I used computer hard drive anti-static bag and it worked! Just put in the dryer with my clothes. could not find any safety pins around the house!

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  15. Shannon

    02/26/2014

    Hi Andrea….found your blog via a post by How To Instructions on Facebook. Having a great time reading your posts.

    I have been using dryer balls for about 7 years now and the trick to not getting/reducing static cling is to not over dry the clothes. If, when the dry cycle is done, I feel that they need a bit more time I either put a bit of water in my dryer balls (there is a hole in the side….I just squeeze the ball and let it go under running water to fill it a little bit) or I put in a damp face cloth. I also use vinegar in my front loader (when I remember)

    Take care!

    [Reply]

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