The hair-raising feeling of static cling has to be right up there with nails on a chalkboard, ranking among the most unpleasant sensations known to man.
And it happens every. single. time you run the dryer. Dryer sheets claim to eliminate static, but don’t really get the job done—and your clothes end up covered in artificial fragrance, to boot.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution that really works, and it’s just as easy as—and even cheaper than—using dryer sheets. You could buy a set of "dryer balls," which are typically made of felted wool or rubber—or you could make your own with aluminum foil. Just crinkle a piece of aluminum foil into a ball 2 or 3 inches in diameter, then toss it into the dryer with wet laundry. When the cycle ends, you’ll have perfectly cling-free clothing. That’s it!
Here’s why it works: As clothes tumble dry, they rub against each other and exchange electrons. One shirt might be left with an extra electron—making it negatively charged—while another will be missing an electron—making it positively charged. Because opposites attract, the two garments will stick together once the cycle finishes—that’s what’s known as static cling. First and foremost, a foil ball helps keep the clothes separate. If any static energy does build up, aluminum (a conductor) quickly discharges it. (And since aluminum is an excellent thermal conductor, it loses heat quickly so there’s no risk of starting a fire.)
The other advantage of this DIY trick is that it doesn’t come with any of the artificial fragrances or softening chemicals found in store-bought dryer sheets. In fact, the Environmental Working Group gives most conventional brands failing grades for containing chemicals that can irritate the skin, exacerbate asthma, and disrupt the nervous system.
What’s great, too, is that you can reuse the foil ball over and over, as many times as you like. Win-win!
Illustration by Karley Koenig