Keeping Your Clothes Closets Static-Free

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Feb 22, 2011 | Linda Merrill

Rubbermaid via Flickr

Static cling can be anything from mildly embarrassing (think pants legs riding up) to downright mortifying (think clingy skirts or dresses slithering up to indecent heights). To learn how to get rid of this annoying situation, it’s important to first understand how it happens. 

Human beings continually generate static electricity on our bodies which is periodically grounded out, meaning we touch another static object and produce that familiar “zap.” Opposites attract and the positive energy conducted from our bodies will be very attracted to the negative energy that can be present in very dry clothing -- especially made of synthetic materials. When clothes are dried in the dryer, they pass electrons back and forth, increasing the positive and negative energies between objects, which causes them to cling to one another. When worn, they may continue to cling as in the case of a dress sticking to pantyhose or slacks with an overwhelming attachment to socks.

Reduce Surface Static

Over-drying clothes will increase the static charge, so it’s recommended that clothes be removed and stored when only about 95% dry. Tricia LeVangie, of California Closets in Massachusetts suggests the use of a humidifier to keep the air moist: “This is a real challenge during our cold New England winters. I can remember my mom putting a pan of water on the register in her bedroom to help with moisture.” Moist air is highly conductive, which reduces the ability of static to build up in clothing. A handy spray bottle of distilled water, to lightly spritz on clothes and body when you get dressed, will be helpful as well. LeVangie also recommends storing synthetic and natural fiber clothing separately as “synthetic fibers are really the culprits.”

Separate Synthetics

Professional organizer Ann Marie Williams of Atmosphere Consulting offers this tip: Don’t hang newly dry cleaned clothes back in your closets without first removing the plastic bags. “When it comes to static, if the elements are right, static is created while taking the bag off and before you even put it on the garment is already full of static.” Allowing the items to “breathe and ground” a bit may reduce the chance of overly charged clothing becoming clingy nuisances.

An Alternative to Dryer Sheets

An interesting trick picked up from Apartment Therapy is to throw a couple balls of tightly rolled up tin foil into the dryer. There's lots of debate as to why this would work -- since the metal of the dryer's drum should work as well as the tin foil itself -- but the prevailing view is that the ball itself is grounded by hitting the drum wall throughout the cycle, then jumps back into the fray to collect excess static as it’s forming between the clothes. It’s certainly worth a try.

Updated April 9, 2018.

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