Friday, October 29, 2010

Conquering Static Naturally

One of the most annoying things about doing laundry is the static. It is frustrating (and sometimes painful) to fold a load of laundry that is snapping and popping like some Rice Krispies cereal in milk! For years, my solution to this problem was fabric softener or dryer sheets. Even then, I still had some static.

The only time my clothes seemed to be static free was during the summer when I hung the clothes out on the line to dry. Wonderful! Not only did my family's clothes smell amazing, but there was no static at all. Sadly, the number of days I can hang my clothes to dry on the line are few here in the Pacific Northwest.

One day I read an article about the how many chemicals are in dryer sheets. Not only was I drying these chemicals into my family's clothes, but the chemicals are designed to stay on the clothes for a long period of time. Yuck! At that point, I switched over to a more natural dryer sheet to avoid the overload of chemicals. This seemed like at least a step in the right direction.

As I was going through my e-mail, I stumbled across one of those forwards warning about the dangers of dryer sheets. Only this email wasn't talking about the chemicals in dryer sheets, but the effect dryer sheets have on the dryer's lint filter. This email claimed that dryer sheets coat the lint filter, reducing air flow and can eventually clog the filter. We all know how important it is to remove the lint, but what if that isn't good enough? I don't want my dyer to catch fire! (This email was verified here.) It seems like dryer sheets and dryers are a bad combination.

So what could I do? How could I dry clothes and avoid the static?

After some more reading, I learned that vinegar is a natural fabric softener. I started dumping some vinegar into my washing machine's fabric softener dispenser. That didn't seem to help much all by itself.

Then I started to notice that the clothes producing the most static were my kids' footie pajamas. What were they made out of? 100% polyester! I thought, well, that would be easy to just hang those up to dry.

So I turned my shower curtain rod into an indoor clothes line. I started reading labels and noticing when clothes were made out of synthetic materials. If the clothes had 50% or more synthetic materials (polyester, acrylic, spandex or nylon) I hung them on my indoor line to dry.

Now, I use vinegar in every load. It is a natural fabric softener and a natural deodorizer. (The vinegar smell is always gone by the time the clothes are dry.) For our synthetics, I either hang them to dry or lay them flat to dry. The result? No more static in our clothes!

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