*Yawn!* You shouldn't have stayed up so late last night, but you just had to finish watching your favorite show. Now you're paying the price. The alarm rang early and it's time to get up and get going.
Instead of jumping in the shower right away, you decide that you can skip the shower, wear a hat, and score yourself 10 more minutes of sleep. When the snooze alarm goes off again, you roll out of bed and get dressed in the dark, putting off the glare of the lights for just a few more minutes.
Before heading out to the bus, you make a quick stop by the bathroom mirror to check out your reflection. And it's a good thing you did, too! Plastered to the middle of your shirt you find a random sock just hanging out, thanks to the magical properties of static cling.
When all your clothes go tumbling around together in the dryer, it's like a big party in there. They hang out while they dry out, but static electricity builds up, too. All those clothes would probably come out in a clingy, tangled mess if it weren't for those little clothing referees that keep the static cling away. What are we talking about? Dryer sheets, of course!
But just how do dryer sheets keep static cling away? Are they made of metal that zaps the charges as they build up? Or do they rub invisible fairy dust over your clothes to protect them as they dry? Actually, it's all explained by science!
When your clothes tumble around inside the dryer, they rub against each other over and over again. This rubbing action can knock loose electrons and transfer them from one piece of fabric to another. The result might be a sweater with too many electrons (and thus a negative charge) and a sock with too few electrons (and thus a positive charge).
When it comes to static electricity, opposites attract. That's why you end up with a sock attached to a sweater. Because fabrics aren't good conductors of electricity, it can take a while for static charges to dissipate. As a result, you might end up with a bunch of clothes stuck together via static cling at the end of a laundry cycle.
In the 1960s, however, a scientist named Conrad J. Gaiser figured out how to treat small sheets of material with fabric softener and dryer sheets were born! When dryer sheets bounce around with your clothes in the dryer, they spread tiny amounts of fabric softener over your clothing. This makes your clothes softer and also prevents static cling by balancing out loose electrons with the positively-charged ions found in fabric softener.
Dryer sheets also usually contain scents that help your clothes smell fresh when they've finished drying. If you check out the dryer sheet selection in your local store, you'll find that you can get dryer sheets in a wide variety of scents, including flower and citrus fruit scents.
In addition to making your clothes static-free, soft, and fresh, dryer sheets have also found a multitude of other uses around the home. Some people use them to clean window blinds and other surfaces that tend to accumulate dust. The dryer sheets transfer a positive charge that helps surfaces to repel dust particles.
Others use dryer sheets to clean dead bugs off their car bumper, since the fabric softener in the dryer sheet can assist in cleaning. The fragrances in dryer sheets have also been found to repel ants, bees, and mice, so some people use dryer sheets to keep household pests at bay!