The bed is supposed to be a place where we can relax. You’ll feel apprehensive if your blankets cause sparks when you touch them. These sparks are a consequence of static electricity.
As explained by Scientific American, static charges are officially known as triboelectric charges.
The shock arises when two items come into friction and are separated in short order. This creates an atomic imbalance, creating an electrical charge that reaches the skin.
Avoiding static in blankets involves preventing friction. Dry, cold conditions magnify the likelihood of static building on blankets, especially those constructed from wool, as it’s an efficient conductor.
There are other ways to minimize the impact of static shocks, including adjusting your clothing, home layout, and laundry cycles.
Increasing humidity in a room and reducing dryness in the air remains the most effective solution.
Why are My Blankets Static?
Everything is made up of atoms, including the blankets in your home. Atoms, in turn, are made up of three separate components:
- Protons: These carry a positive electrical charge.
- Electrons: These carry a negative electric charge.
- Neutrons: These carry no electrical charge at all.
If the number of protons and electrons found in an atom is balanced, the item made up of atoms will hold no static charge.
Unfortunately, electrons jump around, leaping from one entity to another. This leads to imbalance, with an object or individual carrying more electrons than protons or vice versa.
This becomes increasingly likely when two items are rubbed against each other.
In the case of fleece blankets, imagine that your pajamas carry an even number of protons, electrons, and neutrons. Sit on the blanket, and the friction can imbalance the atoms within as electrons jump from the clothing to the sheet.
When this imbalance arises, the fleece blanket becomes an electrical conductor. Rather than a live voltage that travels through a wire, it lies in wait anticipating a new conductor – hence why this is called ‘static’ electricity.
Is Static in Bed Sheets Dangerous?
The shock from touching an object charged with static electricity is uncomfortable but not dangerous in any traditional sense. Static electricity will not burn the skin, damage electrical appliances, or rewire the brain chemistry.
A rare exception is in industrial locations, such as a warehouse that could see dust ignited by a static shock. A manufacturing plant or factor that houses chemicals or gases risks an explosion when static electricity builds.
So, unless you’re conducting experiments in your bedroom or your cleaning is extremely lax, you don’t need to fear for your safety when static electricity builds.
All the same, you may wish to reduce the pain and surprise provoked by a static shock.
How to Eliminate Static Electricity in Blankets
Minimizing friction and avoiding contact with conductors is at the heart of eliminating electrical static from blankets. Unfortunately, this isn’t always realistic.
Changes can be made that reduce the risk of static electricity shocks. While it’s impossible to eradicate the risk of static completely, a handful of basic adjustments will drastically reduce the likelihood of receiving a shock.
Physically Discharge Static
As static electricity lingers in blankets waiting for a conductor, you can use an external tool to fulfill this service. A wire coat hanger is best. Unfold the hanger and brush it along your blanket. This will absorb the static charge and spare you a shock.
As metal is a great conductor, you can use it periodically to discharge static from your body. Carry a nickel or dime in your pocket, touching it periodically.
This will immediately and painlessly transfer any static you’re holding in your body to the coin.
Create Anti-Static Spray
If you’re still dubious about touching sheets and blankets loaded with static, you can reduce exposure from a safe distance. Create an anti-static spray from everyday items in your home.
Take a spray bottle and apply two tablespoons of fabric softener (if you don’t use this, hair conditioner works just as well), diluted with two cups of tap water. Firmly shake the bottle and spray the contents on anything that holds static (assuming it can tolerate water.)
If this sounds like too much work, you can also purchase static spray. This is needless, though – the effect will be no greater than a solution you make yourself.
This spray will only dampen static for so long, so you’ll need to apply it at least once a day – if not more. To be safe, use the bottle a few minutes before you need to touch your bedsheets, such as when retiring for the night or preparing laundry.
Invest in an Anti-Static Mat
Another solution is to pick up an anti-static mat and leave this at your door.
You may build up static within the body whenever you spend time outdoors. If you have a static mat, wipe your feet on it, and you’ll discharge this static before encountering any sheets or blankets.
Increase Ambient Humidity
You may have noticed that static shocks are more frequent during the winter than in summer. This is because the air is dry and lacking in moisture. Greater humidity encourages the electrons held in our body to move, creating less friction.
This means that purchasing a humidifier for your bedroom, and utilizing it during the winter, makes you likelier to avoid static shocks. As per the European Respiratory Journal, humidifiers also improve breathing overnight and lead to superior sleep.
Amend Washing and Drying
If you don’t already use fabric softener in your laundry cycle, change this as quickly as possible. Softening your blankets in the wash will make them less likely to carry static charge once dried.
White vinegar will perform the same task if you do not like to utilize products like fabric softener. Half a cup will do the trick. If you mix the white vinegar with baking soda, it will be even more effective.
In addition, resist the urge to tumble dry bedsheets and blankets where possible. Air drying will allow static to build on the sheets as they will not be so arid. If you must use a dryer, add a damp blanket for the last 20 minutes of the cycle.
Change Your Nightwear
As static shocks are caused by friction, you’ll need to be careful about what nightwear touches your blankets and sheets. Some materials are likelier to react this way, especially silk, polyester, and wool.
Consider changing to different pajamas or even sleeping naked. Remember that leaving your clothes on your blankets will allow the static to build. Expect a sharp pop and shock when you pick up any clothing constructed from manmade fibers.
Slippers need to be chosen carefully, too. Avoid footwear with rubber soles, as this material is a superconductor. It absorbs all manner of static and spreads it around the body.
Use Lotion on Your Body
As we have discussed, dry air will magnify the likelihood of static shocks. The same applies to your body. If your skin is dry and lacking moisture, shocks become much likelier.
Taking a shower before touching your bedsheets can help with this to an extent – as well as helping you fall asleep in general – but lotion is the most impactful solution. Applying a moisturizing hand cream will stop an immediate shock.
Of course, if you prefer to sleep naked, applying lotion all over your body is best. You can purchase this from a drugstore or create your own using natural oils.
The Global Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences confirms that shea butter, in particular, has relaxing and destressing qualities that may aid sleep. Assuming you have no allergies, consider adding a soothing essential oil such as lavender.
Pick Up New Bedsheets and Blankets
The final solution may feel extreme, but if nothing else works, it’s the way forward. Consider changing your bedsheets and blankets for a different material, which is less of a natural conductor.
Pure cotton is ideal, as this will not generate any static. Wool and polyester are the biggest culprits, so if the opportunity arises, make the change and enjoy shock-free interaction with your blankets and sheets.
Static electricity on a fleece blanket will not kill you, but it can come as an unwelcome shock. Make the necessary adjustments that reduce the likelihood of static building up, and you will find retiring to bed a considerably more enjoyable experience.