A man with a shocked expression on his face and his hair on end from a static shock

Shock and Cling: How to Get Rid of Static Electricity in Your Home

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It happens every winter: everything you touch gives you a shock, your clothes cling together, or maybe you see sparks at night when you adjust the sheets, and not the good kind. You, my friend, need to know how to get rid of static electricity.

The thing about static electricity is that it goes wherever you do. Bear with me and I’ll explain, then I’ve got a few pointers to help you get rid of static in your home and on your clothes. Yep, even in your hair.

So, What Causes Static Electricity?

Think back to your school days when you learned that everything has charges, some positive and some negative. Static electricity happens when items with opposite charges get pulled apart. That causes electrons to jump from one thing to another—a phenomenon that gives us a shock.

Ways to Get Rid of Static in Your Home

1. Use a humidifier.

Improving your home’s humidity helps reduce static electricity by keeping it from building up on surfaces. If you don’t have a whole-house humidifier, use individual units in your bedrooms and living areas. Then be sure to clean your humidifiers weekly to prevent mold and mildew.

Pro Tip

Look for humidifiers that display the relative humidity, or pick up an inexpensive hygrometer so you can monitor it. You’re aiming to keep it between 30-60%.

2. Keep a pot Simmering.

The steam from a simmering pot of soup adds moisture to your home’s air and helps reduce static. It doesn’t have to be soup, though. Use a pot of water or a crockpot with the lid off.

3. Let bath water cool.

If you enjoy a nice hot bath on a cold night, go for it. But don’t drain the tub when you’re done. Leaving the hot water to cool will add moisture to your home’s air.

A hot shower works the same way, so skip the bathroom exhaust fan in the winter and let the steam help get rid of static electricity.

4. Choose the right footwear.

Ever notice that you get static shocks more often in some shoes than in others? Rubber-soled shoes are the culprit. Since rubber insulates your feet, static builds up on your body as you walk.

Then when you touch something with a different ionic charge, like a doorknob, you get zapped. So, trade your sneakers for slippers indoors and you’ll feel fewer shocks.

5. Cover synthetic sofas.

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 the static shocks every time you get off the sofa, cover it with a natural fiber sheet or blanket for the winter. Or use the anti-static spray below.

6. Carry a coin or other metal object.

Here’s simple way to discharge static electricity and spare yourself a shock: keep something metal in your pocket and use it to touch surfaces to discharge the static. A coin, key, or metal barrette all work. When you touch it to a surface, the static buildup on your body transfers painlessly so you don’t get shocked.

7. Use a homemade anti-static spray.

To make a homemade static spray, combine 2 tablespoons of fabric softener or hair conditioner with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake well. Spray this daily on fabric furniture and carpets, but keep it away from silk and other things that shouldn’t get wet. The surfactants in the softener create a barrier that reduces friction, and that helps prevent static buildup. Neat, right?

Ways to Stop Static Cling On Clothes

Air-dry laundry to reduce static. When clothes tumble around during the drying cycle, the friction creates a static charge. Air-drying or line-drying indoors avoids this and adds moisture to your home’s air which helps reduce static, too.

Use dryer sheets or fabric softener. Dryer sheets and fabric softeners leave an invisible barrier on your clothes that prevents static buildup. Try making your own!

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.

Rinse with white vinegar. Vinegar softens clothing fibers so they retain more moisture, and that 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. Keep a wire hanger handy and rub it on your clothing to stop static cling and transfer the static buildup off your clothes without shocking you.

Apply lotion. When clothing slides over dry, flaky skin it creates friction which leads to static buildup. This creates static cling on clothes and can lead to static buildup that produces shocks. Stay moisturized, my friends, and you’ll keep that static at bay.

Ways to Prevent Static In Your Hair

Condition daily. Conditioner does to your hair what fabric softener does to your clothes: it traps moisture that prevents static buildup.

Use a metal comb or natural bristle brush. Plastic and synthetic materials cause static, metal and natural boar bristles discharge it. That’s how those opposite electron charges work.

Run a dryer sheet over it. Just as dryer sheets stop static on clothes, they’ll also control it in your hair. Keep a used dryer sheet on hand and you can use it dozens of times to stop static.

Like most things around our homes, it’s easier to prevent than get rid of static electricity. So, once the temperatures dip, slip that coin in your pocket like I mentioned then get serious about maintaining your home’s humidity.

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9 Comments

  1. Thank you for these tips. This was very thorough. I tend to shock my cats when I go to pet them. If I have a cut on my finger or hand while petting, it’s a huge OUCH!! I’m now able to give this info to friends who have been wondering about this, too.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome!

  2. Fascinating! I remember experiences with static electricity as a kid and recently when i wanted to explain it to my daughter i just couldn’t give her an example. Turns out we do everything that prevents static electricity anyway! Thanks, now i know how to show it to my kiddo.

    1. Katie Berry, Cleaning Expert says:

      How fun! You could try inflating a balloon and rubbing it on hair — the static will make it stand up and dance. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the suggestions and the email linking to them!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome. 🙂

  4. I just thought of something. Sometimes when I go shopping, some of the (metal) shopping carts shock you the entire time you’re using them! They’re not ALL like that, so what’s wrong with the ones that do? I’m referring to a single shopping trip at one store, not different stores.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It’s probably due to the wheels. Rubber ones will build up static but plastic ones won’t.

  5. Thanks for the info for static electricity. It really helped.

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