The Weird Reason Some People Are Putting Aluminum Foil in Their Dryers

updated Aug 29, 2019
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Credit: Amelia Lawrence

Here at Kitchn, we’re always on the lookout for clever ways to make life better. So when I saw a “hack” going around the internet about a cheap and easy way to help with static electricity when you dry your clothes, I was all ears.

This tip promises a natural way (that costs next to nothing) to stop that annoying thing where your clothes snap, crackle, pop, and stick to each other in the dryer. If you’ve ever tried to peel apart a pair of socks stuck together only to get a little zap, you know why this is so appealing — especially if you are trying to get off the fabric softener train.

What’s the trick?

Put wadded-up balls of aluminum foil in with a load of clothes when you’re drying them. I kid you not. We all know about those wool dryer balls (I use them, although I’m not convinced they do anything but give me something to chase when they fall out every single time I open the dryer door). But this is a whole other ballgame. According to people on the internet, the aluminum somehow — through science — eliminates static. Sounds fishy, right? But also just weird enough to maybe be true?

Look, I’m game to try almost anything for the sake of a good tip to share with readers. But I run two full-time Airbnbs and, if my dryer went out of service because of some weird experiment, or my sheets ended up with bits of sharp foil in them, well, let’s just say that would be a Very Big Problem. So I was too chicken to test it on my own dryer — especially after reaching out to a couple appliance pros who declined to comment on this technique.

Luckily, our friends over at the Good Housekeeping Institute (now that’s a place I’d like to check out!) came to the rescue.

Carolyn Forte, the Home Appliances/Cleaning Products/Textiles Director for Good Housekeeping chose to accept the mission. She and her team ran several test loads in the lab to test out this foil trick. They did identical loads, both with and without the aluminum foil balls.

The results? Another internet hack bites the dust.

The loads “exhibited equal amount of static electricity,” Forte says.

“From what I’ve read, in theory, the aluminum foil is supposed to pull the static charges away from the fabrics rubbing up against each other in the dryer,” she says. “In our test, it didn’t work. Dryer sheets are the best way we’ve found to minimize static and also to remove items before they are completely or overly dry. The drier they are and the more they rub up against each other the more static they produce.”

So there you have it. If you want to get rid of that annoying static, it’s either dryer sheets after all, or get your things out before they over dry. If you have any other laundry tips that you’ve tried, though, I’m all ears!