In an effort to reduce synthetic chemicals in our home, we’ve been using wool dryer balls in place of dryer sheets. Having used them for a while now, we have a good grasp on how they function – so here are some pros and cons.
WOOL DRYER BALL CLAIMS: These are the benefits I’ve read about. Did they measure up for us? Read on!
1) Reduced Drying Time: To be honest, I haven’t noticed a big difference in drying time. If there was, it was minimal.
2) Softer Clothes: This surprised me. We’re not really concerned with softer clothes but when I pulled my scratchy apron out of the dryer, it was noticeably softer. In fact, our clothes were softer than when using synthetic dryer sheets.
3) Oder Absorption: Our laundry definitely had a subtle fresh scent even though my dryer balls and detergent aren’t scented. Nice surprise!
4) Save Money: This is supposedly because drying time is reduced (see #1) and the product is reusable. I’ve read they should last 2-5 years depending on the quality and how much laundry you do. So far, we haven’t observed any deterioration yet.
5) Natural Static Elimination: Wool dryer balls do a great job in eliminating static from our clothes. However, see Tip # 4 below for more information on this.
6) Other Uses: When the dryer balls are finally spent, some people throw them in their compost bins or add essential oils to be used as clothing fresheners in their drawers.
WOOL DRYER BALL TIPS: This is what I’ve learned to get the most out of our wool dryer balls.
1) More Is Better: Dryer balls work by increasing air flow between clothes. They prevent wet clothes from sticking together so your dryer can work more efficiently. Personally, we don’t use less than six but I’ve read others swear by eight or more.
2) Go Big: Larger dryer balls will have more longevity. With repeated use, dryer balls shrink in size and lose their effectiveness. This is why I chose the XL sizes.
3) Don’t Overstuff Your Dryer: This one is hard for our family. Because we (my husband) overloads the washer, we (my husband) then overstuff the dryer. When you do this, dryer balls don’t work as well at reducing drying time.
4) Don’t Over dry: Natural wool can get a little staticky if you over dry it. I’m sometimes guilty of this so one trick that works for me is to spritz some water on the wool balls before throwing them into the dryer.
5) Look for Quality: A lot of the dryer balls on Amazon that got poor reviews seem to be made in China. Many brands (like the kind I bought) source wool from New Zealand and are assembled in Nepal. You can also find independent sellers online who raise their own animals and make their products for direct shipment.
6) Care: From what I’ve researched, wool dryer balls are washable. However, check your particular brand’s washing instructions for guidance.
WOOL DRYER BALL CRITICISMS: I’ve read a few negative reviews on some brands of wool dryer balls. Here are my responses.
1) They Collect Lint: So far, we really haven’t had any lint accumulation. There was one exception with a linty red blanket that left some fuzz on the dryer balls (below), but I blame the blanket. It didn’t affect the dryer ball performance and I was able to easily remove the lint.
2) They Smell Bad: I was a little nervous about this. Being that these products are from animals, one would expect a smell; thankfully, though, the brand we bought had no odor and actually made our clothes smell good. For those who had oder issues, it’s likely they bought something produced to lower standards.
3) They Fall Apart: After dozens and dozens of uses, this hasn’t happened yet. I’ve seen pictures of wool dryer balls cut open and some are tightly packed while others are almost hollow. Again, this likely depends on the brand you choose.
4) They Don’t Work: Some people swear they have static and no reduction in drying time. I can only go by personal experience here. While we really didn’t see a reduction in drying time, it could be some folks are overstuffing their dryers or drying their clothes too long. To reduce static, I’ve read that you can attach a large safety pin to each dryer ball but we have not tried this, so I can’t verify if it works.
CONCLUSION: Wool Dryer balls are definitely worth looking into if you want a reusable natural product and are concerned about dryer sheet chemicals. For our family, they work!