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Controlling Static Cling

by Ron Kurtus (updated 30 May 2023)

An annoying effect from static electricity is called static cling, where clothes cling together after being removed from the dryer. It also occurs when some clothes stick to the skin when they are worn.

It is usually caused from drying or wearing synthetic materials that collect electrical charges. This problem can be reduced by treating the materials or eliminating the static electricity that causes it.

(Also see Overcoming Flyaway Hair for information on that subject.)

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. Useful tool: Units Conversion

Causes of static cling

The cause of static cling is that the materials involved become charged with static electricity.

When clothes made of certain fibers—typically, synthetic materials like polyester—rub against each other or against dry skin to create static electricity. Such clothes will cling together when taken out of the dryer. Besides rubbing together, the water is removed from the material, as well as the surrounding air. Static electricity is more active in dry conditions.

With these materials, some take on a positive (+) charge and same have a negative (−) electrical charge, thus causing them to attract or cling. Clothing with similar charges repel each other, but that is not noticeable as is the clinging effect.

Some clothes made of these materials will also start to cling to your legs as you walk, especially on days were the humidity is low or the air is dry. The skin becomes positive (+) in charge and the polyester clothes gain a negative (−) charge, thus causing them to attract.

(See Materials that Cause Static Electricity for more information.)

Stopping static cling when drying clothes

One common method to reduce or eliminate static cling on clothes is to use fabric softener in the washer, use dryer sheets in the clothes dryer or to use an anti-static spray on the clothes. Unfortunately, these are chemical solutions that may harm the environment and cause allergic reaction in some people.

Methods to reduce potential static cling include:

Put one-half cup of borax or one-half cup of vinegar in the washing machine during the wash and rinse cycle. These substances are said to naturally reduce static electricity on clothes.

Wash and dry cottons and synthetic fabrics separately.

Try not using the dryer at all for nylon and other synthetic fabrics.

Do not dry the clothes completely and let them air dry the last amount.

Spray the clothes with a light mist of water.

Stopping static cling when wearing clothes

Methods to reduce clothes clinging to your skin include:

Run a metal hanger over the skirt, nylon stockings or slacks before you wear them to remove the static electricity from the material.

Use a skin moisturizer to reduce charges from building up when your skin rubs against your clothes.

Hanger can reduce static cling

Hanger can reduce static cling


Static cling is an annoying effect from static electricity. Static cling is when clothes cling together after being removed from the dryer. It is caused by rubbing the various materials together when they are very dry. This problems can be reduced by treating the materials or eliminating the static electricity that causes them.

Understand how to take care of things

Experiment ideas

Ideas of experiments to try concerning static cling and flyaway hair include:

Resources and references

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Static Electricity Resources


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