To eliminate static shocks, maintain proper moisture levels, discharge buildup with common household items, and wear the right materials during dry winter months.
It happens every winter. Everything you touch in your home gives you a little shock, or you hear a crackling sound as you or your pets walk across the carpet. Maybe you see sparks at night when you adjust the sheets, or your hair stands on end when you brush it. You might even show up to work with a sock or other item of clothing stuck to your back and not even know it. It’s all thanks to static electricity.
You don’t have to put up with it, though. With these easy steps, you can reduce or eliminate static electricity in your home. You can make a homemade anti-static spray recipe for pennies, too.
What Causes Static Electricity?
Static electricity is the imbalance of positive and negative electrical charges. Some things have positive charges, and others have negative charges. When items with opposite charges get pulled apart, electrons jump from one to another. That jump gives you a shock which can be painful but isn’t usually dangerous.
Effective Ways to Prevent Static in Your Home
The best way to eliminate static electricity in your home is by improving indoor humidity levels. Keep your home’s relative humidity at least 30% during winter months — though 40-50% is ideal. In older or drafty homes, or if it’s so cold that your heater has to run non-stop, you may also need some of the following measures.
1. Use a humidifier.
Even a whole-house humidifier can struggle to maintain moisture levels in freezing temperatures when the heater must constantly run. Consider using room humidifiers to improve the comfort in the rooms you use the most. Cold mist humidifiers are the safest, but whatever type you choose, clean your humidifiers weekly so they don’t grow mildew inside.
2. Leave liquids simmering on the stove.
A simmering pot of soup is a classic sign of winter. The rising steam adds moisture to your home’s air and helps reduce static. It doesn’t have to be soup, though — a pot of water or an open crockpot of scented tea works, too. Toss in some citrus peels or cinnamon sticks for fragrance if you like.
3. Take hot baths and showers.
A hot bath is a wonderful way to warm up on a cold night. Once you’re done in the tub, let the water cool completely before you drain it. The water will add moisture to your home’s air as it cools. A hot shower works the same way, so skip the bathroom fan during the winter when bathroom mildew isn’t as much of a concern and let the steam help stop static in your home.
4. Don’t wear rubber-soled shoes indoors.
Rubber insulates your feet from the ground or floor, allowing the static charge to build on your body as you walk. You’ll get a static shock when you touch something with a different ionic charge, like a door knob. To prevent shocks, wear shoes with leather soles or go barefoot.
5. Cover synthetic sofas with a sheet.
Microfiber and polyester are popular sofa fabrics because they’re easy to clean. But they’re also synthetic, which means they’re more prone to static buildup. To stop getting shocked by static every time you get up from the sofa, run a dryer sheet over it daily or cover it with a blanket made from natural fibers. Or use the anti-static spray below.
6. Carry a coin or other metal object.
Since static shocks happen when opposite charges jump between you and metal objects, you can use a coin to transfer those charges painlessly. If you keep a coin, key, metal hair barrette, or paperclip in your pocket and occasionally touch it to other surfaces to discharge static, you’ll stop those painful shocks.
7. Use a homemade anti-static spray.
To make a homemade static guard spray, combine 2 tablespoons of fabric softener or hair conditioner with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake well. Spray daily on fabric furniture, blankets, linens, curtains, and carpets. Do not spray it on leather, silk, or other materials that should not get wet. Store any unused static spray away from heat and light, and keep it where kids and pets can’t reach it.
Ways to Stop Static Cling On Clothes
Static cling happens more often on synthetic clothes like polyester and nylon. These fabrics don’t hold onto moisture, so they develop an ion imbalance. But even some natural fibers like wool or silk can develop static, too. To eliminate static cling on clothing, use these methods to either create a barrier to prevent static buildup or discharge buildup that’s occurred.
Air-dry laundry to avoid static. When clothes tumble around during the drying cycle, they build up a static charge. Air-drying or line-drying your clothes prevents this. It also adds moisture to your home’s air, which can help reduce static, too.
Use dryer sheets or fabric softener. Dryer sheets and fabric softeners leave an invisible barrier on your clothes. This barrier consists of surfactants that prevent the buildup of static. Rubbing a dryer sheet over shock-prone surfaces can also help prevent buildup. If you’re out of dryer sheets, use a little fabric softener on a damp washcloth instead.
Use wool dryer balls. Try wool dryer balls if you’d rather not use synthetic fabric softeners. Since wool attracts static, the charge builds on them, not your clothes. Dryer balls are also reusable, making them more environmentally friendly and economical.
Add white vinegar to your rinse cycle. Vinegar is an excellent laundry additive that removes body oils and other buildup. It also softens natural clothing fibers so they retain more moisture, which makes them less prone to static cling.
Use a safety pin to stop static. Attach a metal pin to the hem of your shirt or pants to discharge the buildup of electrical ions on your clothes and prevent static shocks.
Rub a metal hanger over your clothes to discharge static. Even if you prefer plastic clothes hangers, keep a wire hanger handy to remove static cling on your clothes. Rubbing the hanger along the fabric’s surface transfers the static buildup without shocking you.
Keep your skin moisturized to prevent static. Dry skin is flaky and rough. When clothes slide over dry skin, it causes friction which leads to static buildup. Then, when you touch an item carrying the opposite charge, you’ll get shocked. Applying body lotion helps your skin retain moisture and prevents static buildup. Put more on your hands after washing them to prevent static shocks all day.
Ways to Prevent Static In Your Hair
You’ve probably noticed static on your hair when you’ve brushed it or pulled off your winter hat. If the air is humid enough, static disappears fast. But on snowy or dry days, it sticks around and is not a good look on anyone.
Condition your hair daily in winter. The conditioner does to your hair what fabric softener does to your clothes — it helps trap moisture to fight static. Hair oils or serums also help. In freezing temperatures, or if you have thick hair, you’ll want to use both.
Use a metal comb or natural bristle brush. Plastic and synthetic materials cause static. Using a metal comb or boar-bristle brush helps discharge it. If you must use a plastic comb, spritz it with hairspray first.
Run a dryer sheet over it. Just as dryer sheets stop static on clothes, they’ll also control it in your hair. In the winter, keep a used one in your purse or pocket. You can reuse it dozens of times before it needs replacing.
As with most common household issues, preventing a problem is easier than fixing it. So once the temperatures dip, start taking measures to keep your home’s humidity levels in check and switch soft furnishing fabrics and clothing as needed to get rid of and prevent static electricity buildup in your home.