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It’s the Most Shocking Time of the Year

Have you ever walked across the room to shake someone’s hand only to deliver a shock along with the handshake? Not a great way to make a good impression! It’s hard to avoid, though, considering this is the season for static electricity, which is in the running for the award of Biggest Nuisance of the Year.

As the temperatures drop outside and heaters warm up the house, the air inside starts to dry out, causing electric charges to build up on surfaces. They sit there waiting to strike. The chief offenders are wool carpets, sweaters and socks, rubber-soled shoes and other non-natural fibers. So this holiday season, Aunt Betty better be on guard if you get up off the chenille couch, walk across the carpet in your socks and greet her with a kiss on the cheek.

To battle static in the house, invest in a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Or a simpler, more budget-friendly approach would be to simmer water in a pot on your stove. Turn it into potpourri by adding cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange peels. Indoor plants may also contribute moisture to the air in your home.

When you’re doing laundry, the air in the dryer gets very hot and dry. Once all the clothes are dry, there is no humidity left. Try tossing in a damp towel near the end of the drying cycle to add moisture and discharge any charges that were building up.

Another solution for the laundry is to keep items that are most likely to be supercharged and shocking in the same load instead of mixing them in with not-so-shocking fabrics made from cotton or other natural sources like bamboo.

One last tip is to watch out for static in the car, especially if you have a cloth interior. As you leave the car, touch the metal handle or frame to break up any charges and prevent the buildup of static electricity. 

Want to learn more about the science behind static electricity? Science Made Simpler has a great explanation.

Good luck staying shock-free this winter!

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