I bought 200 wool dryer balls. And they were not returnable.
You should have seen my husband’s face when I told him how many hundreds of dollars we spent on dryer balls. It wasn’t woolly great, my friends.
On the positive side, I now know more than I EVER wanted to know about using and caring for wool dryer balls.
After skirting, handwashing (several times) and drying our wool from our four Babydoll Southdown Sheep, we brought it to a local mill.
Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to process the wool right away and it became too brittle in storage to use for yarn. But they assured me it would be perfect for dryer balls. So, having no clue as to how many wool dryer balls four sheep can produce, I said, Great idea!
A week later I got an email saying my 200 dryer balls were ready for pick up and payment. At first, I thought there was a mistake. 200? I questioned. She assured me that yes, each of my four little sheep grew 50 dryer balls in one year.
Thankfully, many of my amazing local friends, family, neighbours and subscribers (I SINCERELY LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOU ALL SO, SO, SO MUCH!!!) purchased dryer balls.
If you are interested in a set of 3 wool dryer balls from our sheep ($25 Canadian), please message me on Facebook or Instagram. I have 16 sets left. You can also find lots of wool dryer balls online or make your own (a post coming soon!).
In the meantime, as you can imagine, I have quickly learned more than I (and likely you) EVER wanted to know about using and caring for wool dryer balls.
So, without further ado, here is….
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO USING AND CARING FOR WOOL DRYER BALLS
- What are wool dryer balls?
- What are wool dryer balls made of?
- How do wool dryer balls work?
- How do I use wool dryer balls?
- Do wool dryer balls reduce drying times?
- What are the benefits of using and caring for wool dryer balls?
- Can I add essential oils to wool dryer balls?
- How are wool dryer balls different from plastic dryer balls or tennis balls?
- What is the difference between wool dryer balls and dryer sheets?
- How do wool dryer balls soften clothes?
- How do I store and care for wool dryer balls?
- How many dryer balls should I use?
- Should I only use the dark brown balls with dark coloured loads and light, cream balls with light coloured loads?
- Will wool dryer balls lint on dark clothes?
- Do wool dryer balls leave lint?
- Can I use wool dryer balls with baby clothes or cloth diapers?
- Can they help remove pet hair?
- What do I do if I have static cling?
- Help! My wool dryer balls are pilling!
- Do wool dryer balls smell like sheep?
- Can I use wool dryer balls if I’m allergic to wool?
- Can wool dryer balls cause itching?
- How long will my wool dryer balls last?
- How do I know when my dryer balls need to be replaced?
- It’s time to replace my wool dryer balls. What should I do with the old ones?
What are wool dryer balls?
They are “amaze” balls. At least that is what my friend, who bought a set from me this summer, nicknamed them. She was genuinely surprised by how much they actually reduced her drying time.
For example, if it normally takes you an hour to dry a load of towels, it will only take about 45 to 50 minutes with the addition of dryer balls. Test it for yourself! You will be baaaffled and amazed.
As the name suggests, they are made of 100% wool and are shaped like tennis balls. They are extremely durable and the felted wool will not unravel for many years. In fact, they can work their magic on thousands of loads of laundry. Best of all, using and caring for wool dryer balls is a breeze.
What are wool dryer balls made of?
Wool dryer balls are completely natural and eco-friendly. They are made of 100% wool and will not only reduce your energy use but help eliminate static cling and pet hair. Wouldn’t ewe know it?
How do wool dryer balls work?
If you throw a pile of wet clothes in your dryer, you will notice everything clumps together until the items are dry enough to allow warm air to circulate between them. But if you add a few dryer balls to your laundry, they will happily bounce between and separate the pieces of clothing so warm air can immediately travel evenly amongst the layers of clothing and dry them 20% to 25% faster. The balls also retain the heat they receive from the dryer and therefore quicken the drying process.
BONUS: Because wool dryer balls are made of wool, they also absorb water (some sources claim up to 30% of their weight).
Do not cram your dryer full of clothes. Leave some room for the dryer balls to do their magic.
How do I use wool dryer balls?
It’s so simple that all you have to do is open your dryer and add three or more dryer balls in with your laundry. Now turn on your dryer and let those amaze balls save you energy. It is recommended to use at least 3 balls. Personally, I use 6 or more especially for extra large loads.
If your dryer doesn’t have a sensor that automatically turns off the machine when your clothes are dry, keep an eye on your load to ensure you don’t over-dry your clothes. This can not only wear out your clothes faster but it can cause static cling.
Do wool dryer balls reduce drying time?
Yes! If it normally takes you an hour to dry a load of towels, it will only take about 45 to 50 minutes with the addition of dryer balls. Test it for yourself. Do an equal load of towels with and without dryer balls and time the difference.
What are the benefits of using and caring for wool dryer balls?
Before buying 200 dryer balls and spending hours researching and putting together this guide on using and caring for wool dryer balls, I thought the main benefit of dryer balls was that they reduced your energy costs, but there is so much more to these woolly balls:
DRYER BALLS ARE WOOLY GREAT BECAUSE:
You will save money $
Not only will you reduce your energy costs (about .10 per load, which works out to $36.5 per year if you do a load a day), but you will also save money on dryer sheets. A dryer sheet costs about 0.12. If you use one per day, you would spend $43.8 per year. Switch to dryer balls and you can save a total of $80.3 per year. Admittedly, that may not sound like a lot (you may want to save even more money by making your own laundry soap), but there are many more reasons to choose dryer balls.
You will cut your energy use
If you save just 10 minutes on every load of laundry you dry and you do one load every day, you would save 550 watts (depending on the electricity use of your dryer). That’s a savings of more than 200 KW of electicity each year. Now imagine if every person in North America switched to dryer balls. Since there are over 126 million households in the US alone, we’d save millions and millions of KW of energy. Let’s hear it for dryer balls and the little sheep who grow them!
Shrink your drying time by 20% or more
When you are waiting impatiently for your favourite pair of jeans to dry, you’ll appreciate those extra 10 or 15 minutes you’ll save by using dryer balls.
Eliminate static cling
You would think all that bouncing around would contribute to static cling, but by preventing your clothes from rubbing together, you also prevent static from building up.
Wool also absorbs and holds onto moisture, which means they actually elevate the humidity levels in your dryer and limit the chance of static.
WARNING: Whatever you do, do not over dry your clothing! If the air becomes too dry, it will cause static.
If you have problems with static, try spraying your wool dryer balls with water before starting your next load to ensure the humidity remains high.
One surprise benefit of using wool dryer balls is they help reduce wrinkles. This is most likely because of how they keep clothing from clumping together.
100% natural, eco-friendly and non-toxic
Made of 100% wool, dryer balls are environmentally friendly unlike disposable products such as plastic dryer balls, dryer sheets and fabric softeners and conditioners.
Since we wear our clothes all day and then sleep all night in our sheets, what we choose to wash and dry them with affects our health. For example, dryer sheets are covered in harmful chemicals, which can get absorbed into your clothes and hence your skin. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s review of Bounce Dryer Sheets, which scores a D for high concern to our health and the environment. Wool dryer balls are a great non-toxic alternative that will also save you energy.
Reusable (1000 loads or more!)
I’ve had the same dryer balls for years and their drying magic has not worn off. Some say after 1,000 loads you may need to replace them. Still, this is much better than dryer sheets.
I couldn’t find an exact number as to how many dryer sheets end up in the landfill, but the global fabric softeners and conditioners market size in 2018 was estimated at 16.53 billion USD. If one dryer sheet costs 0.12, that’s billions of dryer sheets that end up in our landfills every year.
Big deal, you may think. It’s just a dryer sheet. But it’s not. In addition to the chemicals and the artificial fragrances used in these products, dryer sheets are coated with other environmentally harmful chemicals. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s review of Bounce Dryer Sheets, which scores a D for high concern to our health and the environment.
Don’t throw those wool dryer balls in the garbage. Use them in your compost. Plants love the water retention abilities of wool.
Can be naturally scented with essential oils
Most laundry products smell nice, but are synthetic perfumes good for our health? The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) lists 3,059 materials that are reported as being used in fragrance compounds. Of these 3,059 ingredients, some have evidence linking them to health effects including cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities. Is any of this true? I really don’t know. But if you want your clothes to smell nice, why not try essential oils instead.
Can I add essential oils to wool dryer balls?
Yes, but with caution. Only use a few drops per dryer ball and let dry (you don’t want any oil stains on your fabrics) before using in your laundry.
You should also use caution when choosing which essentials oils to use in your dryer. In some cases, heating essential oils to a high temperature in a clothes dryer has caused fires. Yes, you read that right. But don’t freak out. I have been using essential oils in my laundry for more than 10 years and have never started a fire. But, I wanted you to be aware that it is possible. Please read this article from Emma Loewe, Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen, which says:
“Different essential oils have different flash points. The flash point is the temperature at which enough of that oil has vaporized into the air that it could ignite. Once oils are exposed to temperatures that exceed this flash point, they become a potential fire hazard. This is why it’s important to check on the flash point of any oil before popping it directly into a hot machine.”https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/essential-oils-in-dryer-safety-guide
So, which essential oils do I use? Sandalwood, geranium and cedarwood are all safe for the dryer. Emma recommends avoiding oils that have low flash points (closer to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) such as the mint family, citrus family and eucalyptus.
How are wool dryer balls different from plastic dryer balls or tennis balls?
Plastic dryer balls and tennis balls are both made of plastic which, once heated, can release harmful chemicals. Wool dryer balls, which are made of 100% wool, are completely natural. They are also much gentler on clothing and make less noise bouncing around the washing machine than plastic balls.
What is the difference between wool dryer balls and dryer sheets?
Dryer sheets are coated with artificial fragrances and other environmentally harmful chemicals. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s review of Bounce Dryer Sheets, which scores a D for high concern to our health and the environment.
Dryer sheets are also not reusable and billions of them end up in our landfills every year.
Wool dryer balls, on the other hand, are made of 100% wool and are completely natural. Wool dryer balls also have the added benefit of speeding up your drying time and reducing energy usage in the process. They are also reusable and compostable.
How do wool dryer balls soften clothes?
I’m not sure they do. I couldn’t detect a noticeable difference in the softness of my clothing with or without dryer balls.
How do I store and care for wool dryer balls?
Caring for wool dryer balls is easy. I simply leave mine in the dryer. But you can also keep them in any well-ventilated area. Wool needs to breathe so don’t store them in plastic.
How many wool dryer balls should I use?
It really depends on your dryer and the size of the load. Never use less than 3 balls. I prefer to use 6, especially for large loads. But you can use more than that especially if you do a lot of extra-large loads. The more balls you use, the less time your laundry takes to dry. Isn’t that woolly awesome?
Should I only use the dark brown dryer balls with dark coloured loads and light, cream dryer balls with light coloured loads?
We have one black sheep in the family and she produces beautiful, chocolate brown dryer balls, which you can use in any coloured laundry load. There is no risk of the colour transferring to your favourite white t-shirt.
Will wool dryer balls lint on dark clothes?
This is similar to the question above. No, they will not. I’ve been using and caring for wool dryer balls for years and have never had any such problems. They can be used with any coloured load.
Do wool dryer balls leave lint?
No, they should not leave any lint on your clothing although I have read that this can happen with new dryer balls. This hasn’t happened with my own, but if it did occur, it should stop after a few loads or you should try a different brand of dryer balls.
Can I use wool dryer balls with baby clothes or cloth diapers?
I would argue that wool dryer balls are the best choice. Made of 100% pure wool, they are completely safe and non-toxic.
Can wool dryer balls help remove pet hair?
Yes! Wool dryer balls separate the items in your laundry so air can circulate evenly between them, which helps loosen pet hair. At least that is what I’ve read. Here is an article from USA Today, which confirms that wool dryer balls remove pet hair and offers some other suggestions to help remedy this problem.
What do I do if I have static cling?
Make sure you are not over-drying your clothing, which can cause more static and wear out your clothing prematurely. Synthetic materials such as polyester can also cause static. Try hanging them to dry or stopping the dryer prematurely and letting them air dry. You can also try spraying your wool dryer balls with water (this will not increase drying time) before starting your next load to ensure the humidity remains high.
In some cases, the balls can become so dry that they can’t absorb humidity. You can restore them by placing each ball in the bottom of a clean sock and washing them in hot water on a gentle cycle. Dry them on high heat. This will regenerate the wool.
Help! My wool dryer balls are pilling!
Your wool dryer balls may start to pill over time (bits of lint attaching to them). You can remove the pills or leave them. It won’t affect their effectiveness.
Do wool dryer balls smell like sheep?
Thankfully, no. The wool used to make dryer balls has been thoroughly washed and cleaned. Wool dryer balls smell just like any other wool product such as a 100% wool yarn or a 100% wool sweater.
Can I use wool dryer balls if I’m allergic to wool?
Yes, the dryer balls will not shed or pill onto your clothing. If you have an allergy to lanolin, it has already been washed away during the cleaning of the wool itself. If it is the bristly fibres that cause an allergic reaction, don’t touch the dryer balls directly. Use gloves or a cloth instead.
Can wool dryer balls cause itching?
No, they will not cause itching as they do not shed or pill onto your clothing. However, if you are sensitive to the bristly fibres of the wool, you may want to wear gloves while handling the dryer balls themselves.
Can I clean my wool dryer balls?
I have never cleaned my wool dryer balls, but if you need to, you can simply wash them with a load of laundry. Place each ball in the bottom of a clean sock and wash them in hot water on a gentle cycle. Dry them on high heat.
How long will my wool dryer balls last?
I have been using my wool dryer balls for more than five years and they still get the job done. However, I have read that after 1,000 dryer loads, they may start to look scraggly and unravel.
How do I know when my wool dryer balls need to be replaced?
Eventually, your wool dryer balls may start to unravel. Time wool tell. Mine haven’t yet – even after using them for five years. But when they do, it is time to replace them. But don’t throw them in the garbage. Use them in your compost!
It’s time to replace my wool dryer balls, what should I do with the old ones?
Use them in your compost. Plants love the water retention abilities of wool.
I hope this guide to using and caring for wool dryer balls has encouraged you to make or get your hands on some wool dryer balls (just maybe not 200 of them). If there is something I missed, please leave your question in the comments below and I will be happy to answer you.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
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