What’s the deal with wool dryer balls?
I confess, this is not a question I (Miss “eco-friendly-know-it-all”) could answer a couple of weeks ago. That’s why, when Maple Hill Naturals offered to send me a set of their 100% Wool Dryer Balls to review, I was not sheepish about saying yes. (Get it?!)
When my dryer balls arrived, I started using them right away, but I had no preconceived notions of what impact they might have on my laundry.
The first thing I noticed was the heavenly smell that permeated throughout our whole apartment: I’d chosen vanilla lavender. I am extremely opposed to artificial fragrance in my cleaning and beauty products, but I’m a huge fan of essential oils. When I temporarily tried out scented Tide powder on Cub’s diapers, the scent was overpowering and sickening. Not so with the dryer balls: when I open the door to the laundry room, I love the gentle scent that hangs in the air!
So, my wool dryer balls had resolved one of my long-standing laundry issues: how to have delightful smelling clothes and cloth diapers without turning to harshly perfumed dryer sheets or laundry additives. (Although I’ve tried naturally scented laundry soaps, they only smell nice in the package: the smell doesn’t stay on the clothes.) When I grab a fresh diaper for Cub, there’s still a hint of vanilla lavender scent on it. When we climb into bed, our sheets have just a touch of perfume and it’s very cozy. I just pulled on my favourite hoodie, and even after wearing it for three days, it still has a gentle touch of fragrance.
If you turn to dryer products like Bounce or Downy because you want beautiful smelling laundry, I urge you to swap those chemical-laden (including known carcinogens) sheets for scented wool dryer balls. Our towels, our sheets, our clothes and Cub’s diapers smell amazing, and I notice the scent even a couple days after things have been laundered. (I realize there are products that claim to keep your clothing scented for months: I am very wary of what kind of chemicals are soaking into our clothing and touching our skin when the scent stays around for so long.)
The next thing I noticed after leaving the dryer balls in the dryer for a couple of loads was a reduction in dryer time. For our clothing, sheets and towels—dried on high—I have to run over an hour for them to be adequately dry. But with the dryer balls in, I’m noticing the laundry is dry enough about 10-20 minutes faster. For cloth diapers—dried on low—there is also a reduction in drying time. Less time in the dryer means energy saved and a few more cents in my pocket.
What about their fabric softening effects? Honestly, I’ve never used fabric softener and have never felt that our clothes, towels and sheets needed it. But sometimes I hang our cloth diapers to dry (mostly because I like the process more than for any other reason), and the hemp inserts are stiff as boards when I take them off the rack. With the wool dryer balls, if I toss just the inserts into the dryer for 10 minutes, they come out soft enough to use (and, of course, yummy smelling).
Cats and Balls of Yarn
The only downside of using wool dryer balls? They sound like, well, a bunch of balls, tumbling around in the dryer. Actually, for me, they sound exactly like what it sounded like when my cat was in the dryer. Let’s just say that the first time my husband heard them, he immediately asked me “Have you seen the cats?”
So, as long as you do a cat head count before starting up your dryer, you’ll get used to the extra bumping in the barrel. If you have a large load in the dryer, the sound of the dryer balls is muffled and almost unnoticeable. (Hence why I was grateful that my cat jumped in the dryer with a small load of clothes…)
I had wondered if the white wool dryer balls would leave fuzz on my clothes: not a trace. My yoga pants (the worst for picking up fluff) come out fuzz-free.
The scent won’t stick around forever, but when it fades, wool dryer balls can be re-scented (Maple Hill Naturals sells a re-scenting kit). Other than that, this quartet of wonder woollies will be living in my dryer for many years to come!
Find out more about wool dryer balls and the harmful effects of dryer sheets: