Static electricity: its impact on daily life

5 June, 2024

Static electricity is an intriguing phenomenon that we experience on a daily basis, even without being aware of it. Although it often goes unnoticed, its impact on our daily lives is significant and diverse. From the sizzle of the clothes we take out of the dryer to the slight shock we feel when touching a doorknob, static electricity manifests itself in various aspects of our environment.

In this article we share with you some interesting facts about this phenomenon, tips to avoid uncomfortable moments and even recommendations to prevent one of these small discharges from posing a danger.

What is static electricity?

Static electricity is generated when there is an imbalance of electrons between two objects, caused by direct contact or friction between them. During contact, some electrons may be transferred, leaving one object positively charged and the other negatively charged. This creates an electric field between the objects, manifesting itself in sparks, discharges or attraction of nearby objects. This is a temporary phenomenon, as the electrons tend to redistribute to restore electrical equilibrium.

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How does it impact daily life?

Sometimes, when greeting a person, it is common to feel a small electric shock. It can also be perceived when a person has had contact with a synthetic material such as an armchair, a carpet or a sweater. But in what other elements of our environment does static electricity manifest itself?

  • In clothing and fabrics.
    When clothes are rubbed in the dryer or removed, electrons can transfer between fibers, creating an electrical charge on the garment. Not only can this phenomenon be surprising when we touch another person, but it can also attract dust and small particles, affecting cleanliness and comfort.
  • On electronic devices.
    Electronic devices, such as cell phones and computers, can be affected by static electricity. Larger-scale electrical discharges can damage sensitive internal components, so it is crucial to take precautions, such as using anti-static devices when handling hardware.
  • In the work environment.
    In industrial environments, static electricity can pose a significant risk, especially in areas where flammable substances are handled. The accumulation of electrical charges can cause sparks which, in the presence of flammable gases or liquids, could trigger fires.
  • In everyday life.
    From the buzzing sound we hear when combing our hair to the fact that our hair stands on end in dry environments, static electricity plays a role in various aspects of our daily routine. Understanding how it is generated and how it affects our environment can help us minimize its unwanted effects.

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How to mitigate static electricity?

  • Immediately. The most effective way to eliminate static electricity from your body is to allow it to discharge to the ground. To accomplish this, simply touch a conductive material that is connected to the ground, such as a screw in a light switch or a metal lamppost. Another option is to remove your shoes and stand barefoot on the ground, if you are at home.
  • Humidity. Increasing humidity in the environment can reduce the buildup of static electricity. Using humidifiers or keeping plants indoors are effective ways to do this.
  • Clothes and fabrics. Adding fabric softener to the wash, using anti-static balls in the dryer, or wearing natural fabrics such as cotton can minimize static electricity in clothing.
  • Controlled discharges. In sensitive environments, such as laboratories or factories, measures are implemented to control and safely dissipate static electricity, such as the use of special footwear and discharge devices.


Although we often overlook static electricity in our daily lives, its presence is undeniable. Understanding its mechanisms and potential impacts allows us to take steps to minimize its negative effects. Whether in clothing care, handling electronic devices or in industrial environments, static electricity is a phenomenon full of surprises that we can learn to control to improve our quality of life.


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