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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Appliances

Use a ball of aluminum foil to eliminate static in the dryer

Dryer sheets are an obvious way to combat static buildup in the dryer. But there's another solution: aluminum foil.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Static cling is not only a death sentence for sock pairs, it's annoying to constantly have to peel your clothes apart as you fold and hang them.

It's even worse to show up at school or work and have to pull a sock out from the inside of your pant leg and shove it in your bag before anyone sees. (Yes, that happened. Twice.)

Dryer sheets are an obvious answer to combat static buildup in the dryer. But is there another solution? Of course there is. Aluminum foil.

How to make aluminum dryer balls

As you would imagine, making a ball out of aluminum isn't difficult, but there are some general specifications and things to know or keep in mind.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Depending on the size of the load, you will need two or three foil balls. Use approximately three or four square feet (0.279 to 0.377 square meters) of aluminum foil for each ball, compressing it as tightly as you can with your hands and making sure to press down any pieces that may snag on clothing or undo the ball.

Each ball should be between two and three inches (5.08 and 7.62 centimeters) in diameter. Make a few of these and toss them in the dryer with your wet clothes.

Why it works

As clothes tumble around and rub against one another in the dryer, they exchange electrons. One piece becomes positively charged while the other comes away with a negative charge.

When the dryer stops, all the clothes fall to the bottom of the drum and some of the negatively charged clothes will stick to the positively charged clothes. This is the dreaded static cling. And it only gets worse with cooler, drier air (e.g., winter).

Throwing a few balls of aluminum in the dryer will fight this. The foil balls both discharge any static buildup that the clothes may experience and help keep the clothes separated, which should speed up the drying process.

Pros

  • Aluminum dryer balls are insanely cheap -- about 15 cents for all three balls.
  • They are extremely efficient at eliminating static while drying.
  • You can continue using the same dryer balls for months. If they ever begin to fall apart, toss them and crumple up some more foil.
  • If you care about what chemicals dryer sheets are putting in your clothes, aluminum foil balls are an entirely chemical-free option.

Cons

  • Unscented. Aluminum dryer balls will not provide your clothes with the floral scents you're used to with dryer sheets.
  • Aluminum foil will also fail to soften the clothes like a dryer sheet would. Some people prefer to add vinegar to the rinse cycle in the washing machine as a fabric softener.
  • Aluminum foil will also make your otherwise low-hum dry cycle noisy.