Can I Put Aluminum Foil Balls in the Dryer to Reduce Static?

Use aluminum foil for more than wrapping up leftovers. Put crumpled aluminum foil in the dryer to eliminate static!

Laundry isn’t all that fun.For most of us though, it’s routine housework that can turn sour rather quickly if things go wrong. I’m talking food stains that refuse to come out, color run accidents, a dryer that isn’t drying, shrinking—all that fun stuff. And in cold months, we all get to experience the joy of static in our clothes.

The clingy sleeves and hems can be avoided with the help of a kitchen essential: aluminum foil. Put tightly crumpled aluminum foil balls in the dryer cycles to eliminate static and separate your clothes safely.

For squeaky-clean silverware, you can also put aluminum foil in your dishwasher. Who knew?

What Does the Aluminum Foil Do?

For static-free loads of laundry, two or three inch-thick balls of aluminum foil should do the trick. Rip off a few sheets of foil, crumple them up tightly and toss them in your dryer. Your clothes will come out sans static, all due to an exchange of electrons.

Here’s how it works. When your clothes are tumbling around in the dryer, they’re forced to create friction between the fabrics. Friction prompts an exchange in electrons between the two objects, says the BBC, resulting in one negatively-charged clothing item (the piece with more electrons) and one positively-charged item (the piece with fewer electrons). When your clothes pile up in the bottom of the dryer at the end of the cycle, negatively-charged socks will stick to the positively-charged socks, and so on. And unfortunately, this static electricity only gets worse with the cold, dry air that comes with winter.

Foil balls step in during the electron exchange and neutralize any static buildup. Pretty neat, right? They also cost less than dryer sheets, and are reusable, making them easy on the budget.

But They Can’t Do Everything

While they’re a cheap and efficient alternative to dryer sheets, aluminum foil balls aren’t perfect. As far as I know, scented foil isn’t on the market, so these DIY static fighters won’t leave your laundry smelling like spring or flowers—you’ll want to stick with homemade dryer sheets for that. And, if you’re used to a quiet dryer, tossing a few balls of aluminum foil in with the cycle may change that. It’s definitely a trick to try out, though!

Don’t miss this list of things that should never end up in your dryer.

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Hannah Twietmeyer
Hannah is a writer and content creator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a passion for all things food, health, community and lifestyle. She is a journalism graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a previous dining and drink contributor for Madison Magazine.