Try this little experiment. Take an old, unpolished piece of wood and rub it vigorously with a woolen (or cotton) cloth. Then bring the piece near your hand. Did you get a small electric shock?
Static Electricity and Dust
When you rub a surface with cotton or woolen cloth, (as when mom makes you dust furniture) static charges are created. A ‘static’ charge is nothing but an electric charge that doesn’t move. Moving charges are known to us as electricity!
Anything that has static charges on it will attract dust. This is because particles of dust have their own static charge. They will settle on anything that has an opposite electric charge, which includes, among other things, your own body!
Why Furniture Polish keeps dust away
Furniture polishes contain an ‘antistatic’ material, such as silicon oil or lemon oil. An antistatic material does not develop a charge when rubbed. When this is applied on your tables and chairs, the antistatic does not allow dust to settle on it, and the surface remains clean.
What’s more, regular polishing helps keep your furniture shiny and looking new. Most polishes contain waxy substances that leave a shiny coat, and also cleaning agents that remove old stains.
It’s best to use a wax or oil-based polish that you apply manually. Avoid polishes that come in spray cans. The aerosols used in such cans can damage the environments by releasing harmful CFCs.
Furniture polishes contain an ‘antistatic’ material, which repels charged dust particles away.
Making your own polish
Try this out at home. Rub an old piece of furniture with a cotton or woolen cloth. You know what will happen - you’ll get a shock.
But now, make a mixture of four parts vegetable oil and one part vinegar. Put it in a spray bottle and spray over the furniture*. Then rub with a piece of cotton, till the surface is shiny. Now you won’t get a shock. And by the way, you’ll have ended up polishing the furniture too. That’s because the vinegar removes dirt, while the oil forms the antistatic layer.
*If you don’t want to make a mess, you might want to ask mom or dad to help.