What Causes Static Cling on Suits? And How Do I Prevent It

Static cling is something that everyone will experience sooner or later. For example, you may recall sliding your feet across hardwood floors while searing socks as a kid and shocking your finger afterwards when you touch a metallic doorknob. This is due to the fact that your body becomes electrostatically charged from the friction created by rubbing your feet on the floor. Well, the same phenomenon can occur to your suit. If you discover that your suit is attracting and accumulating lint, hair, dust and other fine particles, there’s a good chance that it’s elecstrostatically charged. The good news is that it typically doesn’t cause any permanent damage, but the bad news is that it can leave your suit looking messy and dirty. So, what causes static cling on suits, and what can you do to prevent it?

The Science Behind Static Cling

To better protect your suit from static cling, but you must first understand the science behind this phenomenon. Static cling is the result of an object, such as your body or a suit, becoming electrostatically charged. It occurs when an object comes into contact object, and the two objects perform an exchange of positive and negative  electrons. As the two objects exchange electrons in an attempt to balance themselves out, it creates static cling.

Scientific jargon aside, static cling — when speaking about suits and other garments — occurs in dry environments when two fabrics rub against each other. Just like sliding your feet across hardwood floors, this creates friction. And when this friction occurs, the two fabrics exchange electrons, thereby creating the phenomenon that’s known as static cling. You can see if your suit is suffering from static cling by plastic a thin, lightweight piece of fabric up to it. If your suit moves towards the fabric, and the fabric moves to your suit, it’s electrostatically charged.

Choose the Right Fabric

If you’re worried about static cling affecting the appearance of your suit, you should check to see what fabric it’s made of. Some fabrics are more likely to cause static cling than others. Static cling is more common in wool suits, for example, than cotton and linen suits. Wool is a preferred suit fabric among many men, partly because of its superior warmth and softness. A downside to wool suits that’s often unnoticed, however, is an increased risk of static cling. To protect against static cling, avoid wearing a wool suit. Instead, choose a suit made of an alternative fabric, such as cotton, linen, tweed or corduroy.

Beware of Dry Air

Although static cling can occur in just about any environment, it’s far more likely to occur in environments with dry air. Granted, you can control the outdoor humidity level, or even the humidity level inside your workplace, but you can control the humidity level inside your home. If you store your suit in your bedroom closet, keep an eye on the humidity level. You can purchase a cheap indoor climate monitor that displays the temperature and relative humidity level of your home. When the relative humidity level drops below 50%, use a humidifier to increase it. Humidifiers are designed to raise the indoor humidity level by releasing moisture vapor into the air. As moisture is released, indoor humidity increases to a more appropriate level that’s less likely to cause static cling with your suit.

Of course, dry air is commonly associated with the winter season. During winter, the relative humidity level is generally lower than it is during spring, summer and even the first half of fall. Therefore, your suit and other garments are more likely to experience static cling during this time of year. You can’t control the season, but you can take the necessary measures to protect your clothes from static cling during the winter, such as monitoring the relative humidity level and using a humidifier in your home to raise it.

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Rub It With a Dryer Sheet

If you’re wearing a suit and discover that it’s electrostatically charged, try rubbing a dryer sheet across it. Dryer sheets do more than just soften fabrics; they also neutralize static cling. You don’t have to necessarily place your suit in the dryer with a dryer sheet. On the contrary, this is a bad idea, as it can damage your suit. Instead, simply rub a dryer sheet across the surface of your suit jacket and trousers. Within seconds, this should neutralize the static cling so that your suit no longer attracts lint and fine particles.

Spray With Water

Something as simple as good old fashioned H2O can neutralize static cling on your suit. Simply fill a spray bottle with water, preferably distilled water instead of tap, and spray a light mist over the surface of your suit jacket and trousers. Water helps by reducing and preventing friction. And when your suit doesn’t create friction, it won’t produce static cling. It’s just that simple. When using this method, however, you should only spray a very light mist of water on your suit. Saturating your suit with excess moisture may cause mildew — and that’s something you probably want to avoid.

Anti-Static Products

The next time you go shopping for groceries, check the cleaning aisle to see what type of anti-static products the store sells. While some anti-static products are used when washing and drying clothes, others are applied directly to garments. There are anti-static sprays, for example, that contain special chemicals for neutralizing static cling. You spray it over your suit, at which point it will no longer be electrostatically charged.

Don’t let static cling prevent you from looking your best. Follow the tips outlined here to protect your suit from static cling. By choosing a suit in the right fabric, controlling the humidity level in your home and performing the other steps listed here, you can protect your suit from static cling.