8 Natural Ways to Reduce Static Cling in The Laundry

How To Get Rid of Static Cling

Are you trying to “green” your laundry routine, but still wondering how to get rid of static cling without using dryer sheets?

This is a common issue among our readers, and I can empathize. Dryer sheets used to be one of my favorite things and were hard to give up when I couldn’t find anything else that worked. But as I learned more about the dangerous bouquet of chemicals used to make dryer sheets, I was determined to find alternatives that worked just as well.

That combination of chemicals used in dryer sheets is eventually rubbed all over clean laundry, and is transferred to our skin when we use our clean towels or wear our clean clothes. Studies have been done showing the numerous toxic ingredients used in scented laundry products like dryer sheets, including many known carcinogens. (source)

Static can be an absolute non-issue in your natural laundry routine if you follow some of our following tips!

How to Get Rid of Static Cling Naturally

1. Hang Dry

When people ask me how to get rid of static cling, I always tell them that the BEST natural way to completely eliminate static in your laundry is to hang dry everything.  Obviously it’s easier to dry clothes outdoors or in front of an open window, but even hanging them out in the cold seasons is beneficial. When hung to dry, clothes are no longer rubbing together to create static electricity.

Whether hanging it outdoors or indoors, you have several options. You can build your own outdoor clothesline, use a compact outdoor model that folds up (and can be taken out of the ground) when not in use, or dry indoors using a large rack or a smaller model.

When hang drying isn’t an option, and a dryer must be used, there are still several natural methods for how to get rid of static cling.

2. Dry Synthetic Fabrics Separately

Synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester are one of the main culprits of static cling. When dried separately, garments made from synthetic fabrics aren’t given the opportunity to charge up all your other clothing. Consider pulling synthetic fabrics out of the wash and hanging them on an indoor or outdoor rack instead of throwing them in the dryer with everything else.

3. Reduce Drying Time

Another common cause of static in the laundry is over-drying. When items are completely dry and no moisture remains, this invites static electricity into the mix. Allow clothes to dry only until they’re not wet anymore – tumbling around for excessive amounts of time in the dry heat increases static and increases your energy costs.

4. Vinegar Fabric Softener

Our homemade fabric softener is made with vinegar. It actually serves double duty as fabric softener AND static reducer in the laundry. When used in the rinse cycle of the wash, most people will see a reduction in static cling after clothes go through the dryer. Even if you plan to hang dry items, you won’t need to worry about them smelling like vinegar. When items are completely dry the vinegar smell will completely vanish. Read more about using vinegar as fabric softener/static reducer here.

5. Wool Dryer Balls

If you haven’t yet looked into wool dryer balls as an alternative to fabric softeners and dryer sheets, you really should. These little wool balls absorb moisture from clothing in the dryer, maintaining a more humid environment, therefore cutting down on static.

In addition to reducing static, they also reduce drying time and fluff clothes. We recommend using 6 or more in the dryer for best results. You can follow our simple tutorial to make your own, or purchase them here.

6. Vinegar in the Dryer

Using white vinegar in the dryer is another great trick for eliminating static. You can simply spray a clean washcloth, sock, pre-cut piece of cloth, or any other garment with vinegar. This item is then tossed into the dryer with everything else. The vinegar in the dryer will keep static down – and remember, the vinegar smell will be gone once things are dry.

7. Soap Nuts

Soap nuts can be used as a green alternative to commercial laundry detergents. They’re actually a type of berry, and can be put in a muslin bag and tossed directly into the wash. (They can also be boiled down to make a liquid laundry soap.) They already possess anti-static properties, so laundry that’s washed with soap nuts doesn’t require any other anti-static remedy. Don’t know what soap nuts are? Read all about them here.

8. Aluminum Foil Ball

I saved this one for last because I’m still not sure how natural this method is. That said, I had great success with it before I found all these other natural methods for reducing static. (We can all agree on the fact that tin foil doesn’t contain chemical fragrances like dryer sheets, but could it be releasing other harmful things as it is heated up and tossed around with our laundry???) I recommend using this method as a last resort just in case. To use, tear off a sheet of aluminum foil, roll it into a ball, and add it to the dryer. The same ball will last several loads and will become a nice, smooth ball after 1-2 loads. Replace when you notice it’s no longer working.

Do you know how to get rid of static cling in your laundry? What natural methods have you found work well?

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Comments

  1. I recently started using epsom salts (with some essesntial oils mixed in), in the wash cycle.

  2. The vinegar fabric softener works very well, I was still smelling the vinegar after the clothes were dry, but only very faintly. . . I mix it with whichever essential oil smells good at the time, and don’t have that problem anymore.

  3. I’m new at this stuff. I kept reading about felting. I gave up reading and reading the long list of comments trying to find out what felting really is. I can only guess it has something to do with keeping the ball together.

    • You got it Rachel! Felting is basically when the fibers fuse together because the wool dryer balls have been put in very hot water.

  4. I’ve used the same aluminum dryer ball all winter and still using it with great success. My thinking is that aluminum foil is used in cooking, so nothing harmful comes off. Aluminum is an element so it is as basic as you can get. I find wool dryer balls pricey. Instead, I use tennis balls. The original commercial dryer balls have now dropped in price so 2 cost about $2.50. Tennis balls start out noisy in the dryer and quiet down as they get caught up with the clothes. Wool balls I bet would be a lot quieter, but again pricy.

      • Good point. Another way might be to wrap wool around a tennis ball and drop that in a nylon until it if felted. There are also different kinds of wool. Some are better for felting than others. I forget the name of the wool.

    • Hi Joe, The reason we don’t recommend using tennis balls is that some have been found to have lead in them. The plastic dryer balls also give off some nasty chemicals when heated. 100% wool is very safe and natural, but we always tell our readers to use whatever they are comfortable with!

    • I’ve used the same aluminum foil ball for literally 8 – 10 Years! I add more to it as it compacts and becomes smaller. I recycle washed foil I used to cover whatever in the oven. Aluminum foil is pure elemental aluminum ore. Food safe oil is use during the milling process to roll the aluminum ingots thin enough that oil is burnt off during the annealing (heating to soften the metal) stage. Dryers’s don’t get hot enough to release anything from the metal and that said just how “natural” is our electric dryer with paints, enamels, rubber components, plastics and even some aluminum parts!

      https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-elements-aluminum-foil-105095

    • Aluminium is actually linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other brain degeneration. I don’t recommend using it in cooking or any other product that it commonly comes in such as baking powder and deodorant. You can get both products aluminium free. I found the best natural deodorant to be Native Deodorant. As far as using it in the dryer, I don’t know if any of it would absorb into your skin from your clothing but personally I would not use it unless I had evidence that it does not.

  5. I’ve combined the vinegar recipe in the rinse cycle, (double duty-reduces static and removes soap residue) and the felted wool dryer balls. I’m adding several drops of essential oils to one of the dryer balls and the clothes come out smelling wonderful. I like the lemongrass oil. It’s not too perfumey for the men in my family and it smells so fresh!
    I followed the recipe for the vinegar rinse and the instructions for the the dryer balls from DIY Natural. I have no problem with static at all now.

  6. Vinegar doesnt help me with static at all :( I use aluminum balls or attach couple of safety pins to whatever I am drying. Pins work better, imo, I have no idea, why! :) or sometimes I wet my hands just a little bit right before I take clothes out of the dryer.

  7. Hi Matt and Betsy!
    Loved this post!!
    I have to say after reading them all, the vinegar fabric softener along with your recipe for DIY laundry soap is all we use and it takes care of everything! I love your site and it’s my “go-to” for all things DIY!
    I am switching to hang dry and have wanted to for some time…..this just convinced me it’s time.
    Be blessed and thanks for the wonderful posts!!!

    • I hang dry in my utility room all year around. I use the space above my double stationary tubs. I suspend a broom stick by electrical ties because a broom stick does not sag. I then place wet closet items on a plastic hanger and hang them from the broom stick. When dry, I gather all on another broom stick and sling them over my shoulder and up the stairs I go to hang them in the closet. No double handling. By using plastic hangers and a broomstick, I can hang about 20 items.

    • We’re so happy to hear you enjoy our site Kathleen! And congrats on your decision to hang dry. :) I really enjoy doing it…it becomes a ritual that is relaxing and fun.

  8. Hi!! When I was a kid we often got our hair washed with soap nut liquid when the shampoo ran out,it made our hair soft, silky and shiny. I remember my aunt boiling some of the berries, letting it cool down and then straining the liquid and using it as a shampoo, of course it is not as sudsy as a commercial shampoo is but it does a great job of cleaning hair. Can’t get any greener than that!!!

    • That’s such a cool childhood memory, Daniella. I’ve found that if you shake the soap nuts liquid in a bottle before squirting it on your hair it creates a really thick foam, and really can be almost as sudsy as commercial shampoos. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

  9. We got the wool dryer balls about 8 months ago and they worked great. BUT after about 8 months they started to get smaller and there was more lint in the dryer screen. It seemed to be coming from the wool balls and the balls were showing some bare spots on the surface. SO, I found cotton dryer balls on the web and decided to try them by…..

    Crocheting, using the single crochet stitch, all around the balls, covering each one completely. Not only did that return the balls to their original size, but they actually work better. For some reason, the clothes are fluffier and the drying time seems to be the same or a little less. Could be the increase in size or maybe the cotton absorbs the moisture better. Not sure, but wanted to pass this on.

    I would use either organic undyed cotton, or regular knitting cotton, 4 ply. I used (non-organic) in purple, white and yellows, which is what I had on hand. The colors did not bleed onto the clothes at all. I use a medium heat. Have not tried them on the hot dryer setting.

  10. HI — I have used the vinegar in the rinse cycle off and on for years –if the washer has a built in fabric softener it is ideal — one thing I noticed here lately on some “old” clothes when using the vinegar in the rinse cycle ?? it brightens colors !! some faded pale colors came out brighter !! I was totally delighted == even the dark colors seemed to have better colors – I imagine it’s bec the vinegar stripped out other dryer sheet residue or even maybe some residue from the detergent used. I am disabled so I can’t always go all natural if you’re wondering. so others would like to know this too I’m sure.

    • I save my back by using a Niffy Grabber on eBay. I can pick up a brick with it. I throw my dirty clothes on the floor and sort using the grabber.

    • That’s fabulous Fredericka! Sometimes people use white vinegar to “set” the color on brand new garments, so I’m not surprised at the improvement in colors you’re finding while using vinegar. I always say white vinegar is some pretty magical stuff. :)

  11. I wash my clothes in equal quantities of washing soda and Borax. I used to use a liquid I made myself but whites were getting discoloured and hand towels never looked clean. After soaking them in this 50/50 mix, I decided to try it as a washing powder. Everything comes out clean first time and there is no stale smell. I don’t bother making my liquid wash any more. I use about 1/3 cup per machine load.

    I use vinegar and epsom salts as my fabric softener (2l white vinegar and 1 cup epsom salts) and line dried towels have lost their hardness. This also seems to reduce static when I have to use the dryer.

    Last year I made dryer balls, using the males old socks. No they are not wool, but they work fine. I tied a knot, then folded and twisted the sox into a ball, then sewed it shut. Anything that actually causes big air spaces in the dryer and aids tumbling, works fine. I used foil balls before doing this for years, but these sock balls work great.

      • Yes 2 litres. I buy it in 2l bottles. Usually pour about a cup full into my spray bottle and just add a cup of Epsom salts to what is left. Doesn’t have to be that precise.

  12. to combat static I sprinkle a few drops of Essential Oil on an old cotton towel, t-shirt, socks, etc., this I throw in the dryer and I’ve eliminated static and everything smells wonderful :)

    • Interesting, I do the same thing, but just for the smell, doesnt help me with static. I guess, it just depends on the dryer and washer, etc. …

  13. I’ve been reading and re-reading your posts on using less chemicals in your laundry and have a question about the wool dryer balls. I have a sensitivity to wool, makes me breakout and sneeze! Do you know if the balls might have the same effect since I wouldn’t be wearing them? Do you know if anyone else has had an issue with them if they have wool allergies? BTW, I love homemade laundry soap, a five gallon bucket lasts for months as I only use about an eighth of cup for each laundry, and the itchy skin and rashes have disappeared! I have been using the vinegar in the wash cycle with great results, and will have to go back to trying the aluminum foil with the other suggestions everyone made for static reduction.

    • Hi Ruth,
      If you are allergic to wool then you can use alpaca to make dryer balls. We have heard from many readers who have wool allergies that the alpaca worked wonderfully for their dryer balls and they didn’t have a reaction to it.
      Also, we love hearing success stories about the recipes on our site! Thanks for letting us know how the laundry soap & vinegar are working for you. :)

      • Thanks! Will try sock balls out of cotton and see if that works. Tennis balls are just too loud (besides the chemical problems)! I think the foil balls worked okay, but still had some static, our climate tend towards the dry side here in Eastern Washington. I can remove the nylon items and dry them separately, but many of our clothes are half and half so they will be staticy a little.

  14. Hi
    You might try this for the allergy to wool. Tapas Fleming developed a self applied technique for allergies (and other things). It is easy to do and does not take too much time at all. The free manual is at tatlife.com. Just a thought. It works well for seasonal allergies also.

    For the dryer balls, many have suggested making them out of cotton socks. One could also make a sock ball and crochet around it to give it more sturdiness.

  15. I use soap nuts to wash, with a vinegar rinse, and I still have plenty of static in my laundry, so, I will be trying these other remedies regardless.

  16. Awesome ideas. I actually, for the first time yesterday, used aluminum foil balls. 2. Let me tell you, I’ve known about this idea for a couple few years. I only yesterday, remembered to try it. Im absolutely sold. I had three loads of laundry and not one single piece of clothing was wrinkled or had static cling! The best in my opinion!

  17. Aluminum may be very recyclable, but they process to make new aluminum is very dirty to the planet. If you are planet conscious you should read up on it before finding new uses in your life for it. I switched to the wool dryer balls over a year ago and will never go back to dryer sheets. I even got some for my 83 year old mom.

  18. Wow! Hard Core Censoring! If it doesn’t fit your agenda out it goes eh? My comments were polite and informative correcting the Alzheimer’s/Aluminum myth as well as making use of used foil. There shouldn’t have been a problem! Educational information is multi-directional, not just your version or none. Unsubbing!

    • Aurora,

      We appreciate your comments. They were waiting for (manual) approval, and we just now got around to looking at them. You should see your comments here now. We’d really hate to see you go!

  19. Its probably obvious this is real safe if you have a formula for an all purpose cleaner using soap nuts. My only question before I try it would be is it safe for dogs and cats?

  20. I have a question I hopeit is ok. I own an all in one washer/dryer. So it hard to get rid of static. I have to stop the machine before it goes to drying and throw in the dryer sheets. I have used many different types fabric softer without much luck I rather use the wool balls. Can I throw the wool balls in wash at the begin then to the dryer ?

    • I don’t know for sure but I have store bought ones that I have gotten wet to add moisture to the dryer and get out wrinkles from cloths left in there too long. I don’t think washing them would hurt them. They might just wear down and need replaced faster. Maybe try one to start with and see how that goes.

  21. I’ve been considering using fabric softener in the washing machine as a last resort. Though after reading a couple of blogs this evening, I might reconsider. I have some [rather large] things that get wildly static-y in the dryer. I just dumped a half dozen wool balls into the trash a couple of days ago. I’d had them for a number of months, but whenever I used them, each one would tuck itself into the corner of an item and stay there, leaving everything else to go round and round and gather electricity. I’ve had pretty much the same experience with dryer sheets, which I’ve used sparingly. I’m not in a position to line dry things. I’d be reluctant to use anything high-acid such as vinegar in my old trusty washing. machine. One idea I haven’t tried — not overdrying things. I’ll give it a try before I try the fabric softener. Thanks.