What is static?

washing machine staticStatic electricity can be a real hassle when doing the laundry – clothes sticking to each other or your legs and refusing to behave themselves.  This can particularly be a problem in winter when it’s much easier to use the dryer instead of hanging clothes on the line.

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So what causes this odd behaviour?  The answer is static electricity – the same force that allows a balloon rubbed on clothing to magically make your hair stand on end when brought near.  Static electricity is the result of two clothes of different types, like cotton and polyester, coming into contact and rubbing against each other.  This can cause a flow of electrons – particles which transfer electricity – leaving the clothing with weak but opposing electrical charges.  Like magnets, opposite electrical charges attract, causing the clothes to stick together.  They can even retain this charge once pulled apart and end up attracted to your body.

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There are however some steps you can take to eliminate static cling.  The simplest is to dry your clothes on a line, this will almost completely eliminate static cling.  Another easy step if it’s too cold or wet outside is to only dry clothes of the same type together – natural fibres with natural fibres, and synthetics with synthetics.  Removing clothes when they’re still slightly damp, or at least not overly dry can also help.

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You can also buy products to help reduce static cling, such as fabric softeners, dryer sheets or dryer balls.  A low cost solution however, is to make a ball of aluminium foil and chuck that in the dryer.  Weird as it sounds, the foil helps to prevent static electricity build up and each ball should last several loads.

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