How to Use Wool Dryer Balls and Why You Should

A recent post, Fabric Softener Products are the Problem Not the Solution, struck a chord with thousands of readers. I know because you send me messages and letters, which I love—even those of you who are not 100% satisfied making the switch from problematic laundry softeners to what I find are amazing wool dryer balls. But first, let’s review the problem:

The trouble with fabric softeners. The medical website, WebMD.com, reports that the perfumes and additives in laundry products may cause skin problems. Fabric softeners are very allergenic and can cause eczema, which appears as dry, itchy skin.

Dryer sheets contain volatile organic compounds like acetaldehyde and butane, which can cause respiratory irritation. Fabric softener chemicals known as quaternary ammonium compounds, have been linked to asthma. Acetone, also used in dryer sheets, can cause nervous system effects like headaches or dizziness.

Why wool dryer balls. These things look like overgrown tennis balls, made of 100% wool yarn, that overtime becomes “felted,” making them especially durable and not at all prone to unraveling. One set of wool dryer balls will last what seems like forever, softening thousands of loads of laundry—no batteries, refills, repairs or reconditioning required. It’s one [purchase] and done!

How wool dryer balls work. Imagine now a big load of wet bath towels going into the dryer. You hit “start” and that massive wad of wet fabric will flop around and stick together for quite awhile before the layers become dry enough to separate and allow warm air to circulate. That slows the drying time, wasting time and energy.

Now imagine six wool dryer balls bouncing around (I use my entire set of six in every load), working their way between the layers of fabric, separating them so the warm air can circulate efficiently from the very start of the cycle. I’ve tested drying times with and without wool dryer balls, and the results are quite amazing. Wool dryer balls cut at least 25 percent off the time to dry a load of laundry, saving time and energy. I have also found these balls stuck tightly in the long sleeve of a tee-shirt and the pocket of a pair of jeans! They work their way into tight spaces and that’s what makes them so awesome.

Because dryer balls also agitate against the fibers in clothes and linens, everything feels softer coming out of the dryer. And used properly (coming up), they also take care of static cling.

How to use wool dryer balls: Because they room to bounce and play with wet clothes and linens, dryer balls do their best and fastest work when the dryer is not crammed full. You’ll find that two medium-size loads will dry faster and more efficiently than one gigantic load. Dryer balls need room to work.

Adding fragrance to dryer load. Some of you wrote saying you really miss the lovely fragrance you had when using dryer sheets. If this is important to you, here’s a much healthier and better alternative: Add a few drops of essential oil to each of the dryer balls. Give them time to absorb the oil deep into the fibers—a few hours is advisable. The more the oils are absorbed into the dryer balls before use the more slowly the fragrance will be dispersed in the dryer. You’ll begin to notice a subtle, non-toxic fragrance in your clean, soft laundry.

Static electricity. The biggest complaint I have received from readers is that while dryer sheets would eliminate static cling, the wool dryer balls do not. In fact, reported several (thousand) people, static cling makes these folks want to throw the balls out and go back to the old dry sheets. Don’t do that! Really … there is an explanation and simple solution.

Much of the reason static occurs is due to over-drying clothes. You are definitely going to notice static if the dryer is allowed to run too long, with or without wool dryer balls. Over-drying wastes gas or electricity, wears out your clothes prematurely as evidenced by all that lint, and as you are learning causes static cling—especially on a low-humidity, dry winter days.

Another cause of static is synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, rayon and acrylic. Try to separate synthetics to keep the rest of your laundry static-free. Then either dry the synthetics by hanging them on a line or in the dryer, making sure you end the drying cycle before they are totally dry.

Here’s what I do because I do not have the time to stand in the laundry room watching and waiting for things to not become over-dryed: I spray my wool dryer balls with water, getting them quite wet. Now the laundry dries faster than the wool dryer balls because they are so dense, elevating the humidity level up in the dryer. Works like a charm and does not harm the dryer balls in any way—and does not increase the drying time either.

Another tip: Try pinning a small safety pin on one ball to diffuse static.

 

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Helen

    I’ve had my wool dryer balls for quite a while…..I use lavender oil, but thank you for the advise…..applying the oil a while before using. A good time would be when I toss the clothes in the washer. Have been annoyed with the static, but now you’ve told us how to take care of that problem.

  • Beck

    I have been using them a couple of months and love them. My clothing has far less wrinkles is the biggest thing I noticed. Sometimes if I dry something known for static I go ahead and add a dryer sheet as well. I use my dryer sheets several times. For the most part it did speed up the drying time for clothing but didn’t seem to help dry towels any faster so I will be also putting in a dry towel to help them dry faster.

  • Sally Dennis Davison

    Mary, since I am allergic to wool I am hesitant to try the wool dryer balls. Years ago I started using the hard blue dryer balls and they work well. They are noisy however so I am thinking about trying the wool ones. Should I stick with what I have due to my allergy?

    • Brenda Can

      Yes, if you have a wool allergy I would say don’t switch. As the wool dryer balls rub against the clothes they can leave fibers behind.

      • Sally Dennis Davison

        Thanks Brenda! A confirmation is what I needed. Merry Christmas!

    • Emily

      Another option you could try is to find out if alpaca fibre bothers you. Alpacas don’t produce lanolin and often it’s the lanolin that people are reacting to when they’re allergic to sheep’s wool. That way you could look for alpaca dryer balls. 🙂

  • Connie Pyburn Lancaster

    Funny story-I love my dryer balls but took them out when I put some throw rugs in to air fluff. Left them on top of dryer, with 2 cats in the house – they decided the balls were good toys- have found 2, still looking for #3!

    • maxhalberg

      @conniepyburnlancaster:disqus that is too funny! Luckily my Laundry room has a door on it, though the kitties do try to break in all the time!

  • Cally

    I would have thought the Lanolin in the wool would eliminate static?
    I learned to separate synthetic fabrics, and air dry them, when i switched to home-made detergent and did away with all fabric softeners. I didn’t need it with the home-made detergent, except static in synthetics. I also plan on trying the diluted-hair-conditioner-sprayed-in-the-dryer-suggestion.

  • Emy Young

    I would suggest adding one more ball to the dryer, this one made of aluminum foil. Simply wad up a sheet of heavy duty foil into a nice round ball and toss it in the dryer. I haven’t tried the wool dryer balls, but I haven’t had a problem with static.

  • Pat

    Love the cat story. It would happen in my house too. My cat loves socks for some reason and they are all over the house. When I lived alone she would have the dirty laundry from the front door all the way to the laundry room for some reason. Now that my house is never empty so she is never alone not so much but still a sock or two goes missing.
    I don’t use the dryer much (still have dryer sheets I bought several years ago (free after coupon) lying around. Not sure if they still work. I usually hang the clothes outside on the line unless it is raining or cold outside. It was between 70 and 60 last weekend so we are still hanging them outside right now. I’ll look into the dryer balls after I finish my dryer sheets.

  • Kim

    Mary I love my dryer balls. I did notice static when drying polyester and had read an article that said to add a ball of aluminum foil waded up to the dryer with the wool balls and that solved the problem too. I usually do around 7 loads a week so I stick a new aluminum ball in about every 2 weeks.

  • Judy Juhl

    I recently purchased and started using the dryer balls and am so glad to be rid of the dryer sheets. I am doing my best at moving to more “natural” ways of life and eating so I was all in when I read about the balls. Thank you for the information!!

  • Angela

    I just bought a set and they work wonderful. My cat thinks they are toys and one has disappeared with the socks. But other than that, they work great and I would highly recommend them.

  • T Marie

    I love mine! I also throw in a small ball of crumpled up tin foil – no more static cling!

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  • Realfunky

    Great, just ordered a few.