Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wool Dryer Balls - Helpful or Hippie Hype?

Smart Sheep Brand Dryer balls 
Years ago dryer balls were being hocked on television as the greatest thing to improve dryer performance since God made wind. These hard plastic balls had nubs all over them and the claim was that they would help dry your clothes and make them soft while helping control static cling, all without the use of chemicals. It was supposed to save you money as well. I and millions of others ordered these gems, threw them in the dryer, and got as annoyed as hell as we listened to them thump around like three pairs of tennis shoes were in there as well as the load to dry. I couldn't stand it. I put the dryer balls on a shelf and never use them. They are just too loud and I worried about damage to my dryer and clothing.

Recently I have been hearing about an all natural dryer ball option made of wool. Wool would certainly be quieter than hard plastic and, I assume, gentler on clothing. They supposedly will help control static as well. Now I have always found wool to be a static-ridden material, so I am not thinking it will really control the static thing, but I don't really worry too much about static. I just use a tightly wadded ball of aluminum foil in the dryer to take care of that issue. So, the real issue is two-fold: 1) do the dryer balls actually help shorten the drying time of the load and 2) do they really help reduce wrinkling too.

I ordered two 6 packs of dryer balls from Smart Sheep via Amazon. The balls are a little bit larger than tennis balls. They are solid and felted, so the fibers will not shed onto clothing. The description on the Amazon site describes them as:

  • Wool
  • Set of 6 100% New Zealand Wool Dryer Balls
  • Softens Laundry Naturally--- No Chemicals or Synthetics Used (great for those with sensitive skin & babies)
  • Shortens Drying Time (use 3 balls for small/med load, 5-6 for large)
  • Large, Handmade, Eco-friendly, Saves Energy
  • Lasts for a Thousand-Plus Loads, Replaces Dryer Sheets & Liquid Fabric Softeners, Saves Money

If you like a scent in your dried clothing, you may want to consider adding a drop or two of your favorite essential oil to each ball. I use lavender. I like the clean fresh smell. Just a drop goes a long way, so start out with a single drop and then build up as your see fit.

I am going to test the dryer balls with two loads of laundry. They will be the exact same clothes just to keep the test samples equal. I will dry each the same and see which, at the end of the assigned time, is dryer and less wrinkled. Following the instructions, I will add 5-6 balls for any large loads and 3-4 for smaller loads. Since I only do large loads, I will be adding all 6 to the dryer. I will drop one drop of lavender oil onto 3 of the balls for scent. Here we go!

Test 1: Towels and a mattress pad cover:   I chose to wash a mattress pad cover and set it in the dryer until the towels were washed. This way I would save energy and dry them together. Plus, this mattress pad has a high poly content which makes for lots of static.

Results:  Drying time didn't seem to be any shorter, but static was non-existent! Whoot! The towels were nice and soft and there was no static cling of the mattress pad to the towels.

Test 2: Clothes:  I washed and dried one load of darks and one load of whites.

Results: No sign of static cling. Drying time didn't seem to be any shorter, but the clothes smelled wonderful since I had added a drop of Lavender oil to three of the six balls.

Smart Sheep Dryer Balls
My opinion:  I am pleased with the dryer balls. I am certain my dryer is slowly dying and the dry times could be different in a newer machine. I will know for sure in about a month once my new washer and dryer are installed. I will do an update on the dry time once I have them up and running.

Want a set of your own? I found the best price on Amazon here: Smart Sheep 6 Pack These are sold in a pack of six for $16.95 at the time I purchased them. I bought 2 packs since they were such a great price. The information from the company says they will last for over 1,000 washes. I figure I won't need to replace these for almost 5 years.

I love anything that helps me to cut chemicals out of the equation as well as helping me save money. What do you think? Do you use dryer balls?