- Created on Friday, 03 November 2000 00:54
- Written by Rich Fitzmorris
The summer months offer relief from the monster called static electricity. But the coming of winter will bring the “shocking” return of static to our laundries. If we understand the cause and some possible solutions, a laundry operation can eliminate most, if not all, the sparks that fly with linen static.
During the winter months most of the country experiences low moisture and relative humidity. It is under these conditions that the highest degree of static electricity in laundries is experienced.
Static electricity is simply the accumulation of electrical charges on a limited area. These charges are atoms having a concentration of positive charges in the center and an equal amount of rotating negatively charged particles. When two different materials come into contact and then become separated, one will contain more electrons than the other – this is how static electricity is generated.
It’s during the drying operation that static electricity develops. When the linens become dry, there is no moisture to bleed the charge away from the linens. That’s when we experience fabrics sticking, or the clingingof the dried items, and of course static shock. Remember that natural fibers such as cotton are generally not as bad as synthetic materials for generating static shock. This is because of their ability to hold enough moisture, and therefore, bleed off the charge before it develops.
First, don’t over-dry the fabrics. This Is the simplest way to reduce the static attack on the laundry personnel. By having the polyester and synthetic linens come out of the dryer slightly damp on the hems, moisture can be afriend.
Second, the use of an anti-static compound can, in most cases, help to reduce static because they cause the static to discharge during the drying process. These compounds are generally cationic detergents, which equalize the negative charges. There is one drawback to using anti-static products or even softeners on polyester and synthetic goods, and that is that they can lock in many types of stains and make their removal very difficult.
Third, and in my opinion the most effective way of combating static, is the best neutralizer of electricity known – the earth! The earth provides a ground for every charge, negative or positive. By grounding the drying equipment properly, the static is simply discharged into the ground. A properly installed copper wire from the dryer frame to a copper rod driven deep into the ground does the trick!
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