Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dryer Balls win over Dryer Sheets

Dryer balls are becoming the latest rage.  Even families who aren't cloth diapering are making the switch from dryer sheets to dryer balls.

  • Why avoid dryer sheets? In addition to being strongly scented, dryer sheets contain chemicals.  Fatty acids, fatty alcohols, or alcohol ethoxylates are utilized to transfer oils onto clothing. The oil lubricates clothes and makes them feel soft. Other chemicals are needed to help release the fabric softener from the dryer sheet at the appropriate time/temperature, encapsulate fragrance molecules, and to keep the product fresh. When heated, the sheets release these chemicals into your clothing and into the environment.  Most importantly, dryer sheets and fabric softener should never be used with cloth diaper laundry because they can cause diapers to repel liquid.  Dryer sheets are also a disposable product that causes unnecessary waste and expense.
  • What are dryer balls? Dryer balls are balls made of wool, or spiny balls made of PVC plastic.  I recommend wool dryer balls because PVC plastic balls generate more pollution in their manufacturing. Dryer balls are intended to help agitate laundry in the dryer, allowing for maximum air-flow and a quicker dry time.  There have been some studies to support the idea of a reduced drying time with use of dryer balls, and some websites claim dry time can be reduced by 25-40%.  In my personal experience, dry time can be reduced by using dryer balls.  Dryer balls are also intended to soften fabrics by keeping them well agitated during drying.

  • DIY Dryer balls or professionally made? DIY dryer balls can be an easy and fun activity.  I've made my own dryer balls using a modified version of these instructions.  Dryer ball users recommend having at least 5 balls per full load of laundry to agitate and separate clothing.  Purchasing wool to make dryer balls can be expensive if you can't find supplies on a good sale, so I also recommend price comparing professionally made dryer balls.  You need to use care to ensure your DIY dryer balls are not wrapped too tightly: this can make them dense, noisy and potentially damaging to your dryer.
  • Help!  My laundry has static after using dryer balls. If your laundry is becoming full of static, you need to reduce the amount of time you're drying clothing (you are over-drying clothing and giving it an electric charge). This change is necessary even on dryers that have "moisture sensors" (they aren't perfect).  You might also consider line-drying clothing that tends to be most affected by static: for example, fleece baby sleepers, or sport shirts made from "stay dry" synthetic fabrics.
  • Can I use tennis balls instead of dryer balls? Unfortunately tennis balls are not a good choice to substitute for wool or PVC dryer balls.  Tennis balls contain glues and other materials that are not intended to be heated in a dryer.  Heavy and dense balls can also damage the temperature sensors in your dryer.


  1. To get rid of static just put an old fashion metal diaper pin in the wool balls. I have no static on my clothes or diapers!

  2. I can't wait to make the full time switch to dryer balls. We still have a bunch of dryer sheets so we are using them up before baby gets here in December because we don't believe in wasting them. But I will only be using dryer balls when washing baby's things!