RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Winter is notorious for chapped lips, sore throats, the winter blues, and perhaps most annoyingly (and sometimes embarrassingly), static cling. This shocking phenomenon happens when the air is filled with invisible, electrically charged particles called positive ions. The low humidity levels and dry air of winter create perfect conditions for those ions to thrive, which is why static cling is more prevalent this time of year. To prevent skirts riding up their legs or hair from standing straight up or the occasional surprising electrostatic shock, many people reach for static-zappers in the form of aerosol treatments or laundry products found in the grocery store. But many store-bought static solutions contain chemicals that may contaminate your indoor air and could lead to breathing problems. Luckily, there are alternatives.
Kick static to the curb using these safer (and often cheaper) methods.
• Eliminate positive household charges. Synthetic clothing, toys, plastics, building materials like vinyl, and other modern materials are well-known for their susceptibility to electrostatic charges, explains green-living expert Annie Bond in her book, Home Enlightenment: Create a Nurturing, Healthy, and Toxin-Free Home (Rodale, 2008). A vinyl-sided home filled with plastic toys, synthetic carpeting, tons of electronics, and polyester clothing is sure to harbor more static electricity than a brick home with wooden floors scattered with natural-fiber accent rugs and closets filled with wool and cotton clothing. Replacing your siding is probably not an option. But whenever you're selecting clothing, bedding, or other materials for the home, choose wool, cotton, linen, or silk over rayon, acetate, acrylic, nylon, and polyester to reduce static cling.
• Ditch dryer sheets. Laundry-product companies have brainwashed us into believing we need to buy dryer sheets to get rid of static, but that just isn't the case. Even worse, research out of the University of Washington found the sheets spewed toxic chemicals and caused breathing problems and irritated skin. To save money and protect your health while knocking out static in your clothing, add ¼ cup of white vinegar to your wash's rinse cycle.
Read on for more ways to handle static cling.