How to Use Dryer Balls

The world of laundry marketing has produced quite an array of solutions to help your clothes be fluffier out of the dryer. These have included dryer sheets, dryer bars, and the newest addition: dryer balls. How do these mysterious products work? Are they better than the alternatives? Here’s what you need to know about using dryer balls to make your laundry routine more effective and environmentally-friendly.

Types of Dryer Balls

There are currently two main types of dryer balls on the market. One is a ball made with plastic or rubber materials that has bumpy spines all over it. These dryer balls resemble a dog toy at first glance! The second is usually made of natural, fibrous material – such as felt from wool. This is very smooth and round and resembles the outside of a tennis ball or even a ball of yarn.

What’s the difference? They both do essentially the same thing in that they get tossed into your just-washed laundry as you are putting the clothes into the dryer, but wool balls perform slightly better and are compostable. The more eco-friendly choice is the wool option. 

What Do They Do?

Tossing a couple of the dryer balls in with the load helps in a couple of ways:

  1. They tumble around with the clothes, preventing those wadded up knots that can happen with larger pieces of clothing, such as sheets and towels. Since these knots can prevent the clothes from drying evenly (and cause wrinkles), using the dryer balls can reduce drying time that would be needed to finish drying these wadded-up balls of clothes.
  2. They “bump” into your fabrics, naturally softening up your clothes. Unlike chemical softener products, they don’t coat the fibers with anything sticky or smooth, and dryer balls in no way decrease the absorbency of your towels. (It isn’t recommended that you use most chemical fabric softener products on towels, for this reason!)
  3. The felt or wool dryer balls have an added advantage of absorbing a bit of the moisture from the clothes, as well. It’s not drastic, but it can help knock some time off your dryer cycle and keep those “wadded-up” laundry knots we talked about from retaining water and increasing your drying time.

Why Dryer Balls Are a Good Thing

So, to recap, dryer balls soften by naturally fluffing up your clothes, and they reduce wrinkles and knots. They can be part of an eco-friendly laundry routine when you consider that they are chemical-free, add nothing toxic to the air emitted from the dryer, and don’t cause any residue or build-up on your clothing. Since they have the potential to decrease drying time (no more knotted sheets), they help keep your electric or gas bill lower and reduce wear and tear on your dryer.

Remember, dryer balls are meant to bounce around in your laundry, so don’t be alarmed if they cause a bit of a “bump, bump” sound to come from inside your machine. That’s what they are meant to do. Because they are small in size and made from softer materials, they won’t cause damage to your machine with their harmless bumping about.