How to Reduce Laundry Static

Today’s blog post is by Mike and Ryan Dyer, Laundry and Dietary Specialists at Ferguson Facilities Supply, HP Products Division.

“Why do I get shocked by the linen coming out of my dryer?”

We get this question a lot from our customers. The simple solution that many laundry and chemical specialists recommend is to add more softener at the end of the wash cycle. However, we believe that adding more softener is the last thing that needs to be done in most cases.

There are many good articles written about the chemistry of commercial softeners and how they affect the linen. Laundry softener is made up of various conditioning agents and surfactants. These chemicals coat and lubricate the linen fibers, to prevent static and make the linen feel “soft.” Problems can arise when the wrong amounts and procedures are used.

First, adding more softener may lead to graying of the linen and yellow spots. Over-drying the linen compounds this problem. After only 2 minutes of over-drying, softener has completely lost its effectiveness, and the residual oils and conditioning agents get “cooked” into the linen. This causes discoloration and quality issues with the finished linen.

Second, there are many types of linen to which softener should never be added. Softener coats the linen fibers and prevents them from absorbing liquid, effectively “waterproofing” the linen. Wash items like incontinent pads, table linen, mops and rags without softener so they continue to absorb liquids.

“So, if adding more softener is not the answer, how do you reduce the amount of static?”

Static can be reduced by using any of the procedures listed below.

Limit the amount of time your clothes spend in the dryer.

When linen comes out of the dryer, it should feel cool and moist to the touch. We are aiming for the linen to be 90-95% dry at the end of the cycle, and it will finish drying the last 5-10% after being removed and folded.

Drying times may need adjusted due to changes in the weather and environment. During the winter months, drying times may need reduced due to low humidity in the air. During the humid spring months, drying times may need extended.

Also, a long cool-down cycle is essential for proper drying. It will allow the linen to gradually cool, which can extend linen life, and makes it much more comfortable for employees to handle.

Wash same types of linen together.

Some linen types will dry much faster than others. Synthetic materials will dry at a different rate than natural fabrics. Sheets and towels should be separated because of their dry times. Because sheets are so thin, they will dry significantly faster than a thick terry cloth towel. If both are in the dryer at the same time, the sheet will be over-dried for many minutes before the towels finish.

Use a sour in the final rinse.

A sour will remove alkalinity from the detergents that are used in the wash cycles. Excessive alkalinity that is left in the linen can cause static and irritation to the skin.

The final pH of the linen should 7 or below. Human skin pH ranges from around 4 to 7. The closer the final pH is to this range, the more comfortable it is on skin.

Load your dryers properly.

Overloading or underloading your dryers can cause static and wrinkling. When the dryer is in motion linen should fall between 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock, or a forty-five-degree angle for optimal drying. In an overloaded dryer, linen may not fall, and in an underloaded dryer, linen may fall before 10 o’clock.

Correct procedures are the most important part of any laundry operation. A formulated chemical program, along with proper training and maintenance is essential in today’s on-premise laundry environment. Contact your Ferguson Facilities Supply, HP Products Division representative for information on a complete laundry, training and maintenance solution to suit your needs.

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