How can I Prevent Static Cling in my Laundry?

R. Kayne

Static cling in the laundry occurs when negative and positive charged electrons in fabrics become attracted through friction in the dryer. When you pull the clothes apart, you can hear the snap of electronic charges. There are several ways to prevent static cling in the laundry, including with dryer sheets, liquid fabric softeners, natural anti-static sheets, and dryer balls.

Laundry items fresh from the dryer make stick together due to static cling.
Laundry items fresh from the dryer make stick together due to static cling.

The traditional way to combat static has been to use dryer sheets, disposable fabric sheets that have been coated with chemicals. When they become hot in the dryer, the chemicals transfer from the sheets to the surface of the clothing, preventing static cling.

Using liquid fabric softener eliminates static cling.
Using liquid fabric softener eliminates static cling.

As convenient as dryer sheets are, they have their drawbacks. Many of the chemicals used in dryer sheets are toxic, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These chemicals were approved for use in dryer sheets because it wasn’t clear at the time that they could pass through the skin to be absorbed by the body.

Static Guard may be used to prevent static cling.
Static Guard may be used to prevent static cling.

Another problem is that chemical dryer sheets purportedly eliminate fire retardant treatment on clothing, and therefore should not be used on children’s pajamas. Due to the harsh chemicals, dryer sheets are also not recommended for baby clothes. They can cause problems with certain dryers and may void warranties.

Some liquid fabric softeners also eliminate static cling. These products usually have to be added to the final rinse cycle, and if your washer does not have an automatic dispenser, this may be inconvenient. Additionally, liquid fabric softeners also use toxic chemicals.

All-natural anti-static sheets eliminate static without chemicals. These sheets are reusable, lasting up to 500 loads before losing their ability to remove static. Just toss one or two in the dryer and leave them for one, two, or three years, depending on the brand and how frequently they are used.

Re-useable dryer sheets have many advantages. They do not expose the skin to toxic chemicals, they’re safe for all types of fabric including delicates, and they last a very long time. They also don’t remove flame retardant treatments from clothes and are safe even for baby clothes. All-natural anti-static sheets also won’t void dryer warranties.

Another option to reduce static cling is “dryer balls,” lightweight rubber balls, roughly the size of baseballs, that are sold in pairs. Surface nodules keep clothes fluffed while tumbling in the dryer. They reportedly soften clothes while causing them to dry faster. The balls are reusable, and according to manufacturers, they can last years. Dryer balls do not contain chemicals, but they are not recommended for silks or other delicate fabrics.

Dryer balls should not be used with delicate fabrics like silk.
Dryer balls should not be used with delicate fabrics like silk.

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Discussion Comments


Has anyone tried a magnet? I heard it eliminates static.


@fify-- Yes, aluminum foil balls in the dryer definitely work. I've been using them with the last three loads and I'm impressed. It's absolutely safe. I'm sure you can find aluminum foil where you are.

You can probably order the ecological static balls online as well. I haven't used one but my sister-in-law does and she speaks highly of it.

You could always hang clothes on a clothes line to dry too.


@anon142449-- Is aluminum foil safe to put in the dryer? For some reason, the warnings against putting aluminum foil in the microwave came to mind.

I'm in Indonesia and I cannot find any static cling sheets in supermarkets here. I need something that is easy to find and also effective.


Vinegar helps. Just use a cup in your washing machine's fabric dispenser.


Adding a ball or two of aluminum foil to the dryer also helps a lot. In fact, except in the middle of winter when static in the dryer is at it's worst, the aluminum foil ball will completely eliminate the static cling.

We start with a hand crunched ball the size of a baseball.

Over time, the ball gets compressed to the size of a ping-pong ball. We replace it if the ball of foil starts to fracture and come apart. The only down side is that it can be a little noisy if the load is small.


I've used dryer balls because they're cheaper than the sheets (that's my prime concern: reusable over disposable). Unfortunately, they don't do jack for static: towels, socks, shirts crackle like Rice Krispies.


My husband has severe allergies so I cannot use fabric softener or dryer sheets. I throw a damp washcloth with a drop of hair conditioner into every dryer load and weekly wipe down the interior of dryer with same solution. Helps a lot!


i wonder if there are any natural fabric softeners you can make from things you may have around the house?

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