What does a travel writer do during a travel-inhibiting pandemic? Well, lots of things can be done at home… solo! All of a sudden, I found myself looking forward to such mundane tasks as folding laundry. But my laundry came out of the dryer with sheets of Kleenex sticking to jeans and dog hair decorating my boring grey sweatpants. Folding laundry wasn’t as satisfying as I hoped it would be.
Over the years I heard that you should put tennis balls in the dryer to keep wrinkles down. I ignored that and tried dryer sheets. While dryer sheets were great to reduce static, it was recommended that you not use them for man-made fabrics, and, thanks to their low cost and easy care, I had plenty of these synthetic wonders. And, besides, the scents were overwhelming. (I can smell my neighbors’ dryer sheets when I sit outside on my patio and they live two houses away!)
And then I started hearing more and more about wool dryer balls. The claims were endless. They:
- Cut drying time by a third
- Clothing came out with less wrinkles
- Things like Kleenex and dog hair wouldn’t stick to the fabrics
- Laundry doesn’t stick together
- They were inexpensive and could be used for about 1,000 loads before needing to be replaced
- They are not harmful to the environment or your skin
So how do they work and why didn’t I try them before? Dryer balls tumble between the layers of your washing and separate the fabrics. This action allows warm air to circulate better which can even help reduce drying time. This bouncing around in the dryer also helps fight wrinkles, prevents static and softens clothes.
So, since I wasn’t traveling, I decided to add a bag of wool dryer balls to my Amazon order. After all, if they didn’t work, I could return them. Amazon has been good about that. Since I am an Amazon Prime member, they arrived the next day.
Into the washer went jeans, t-shirts, towels, cloth napkins and socks. The cute cotton bag the balls came in directed that I should use 5-6 balls for large loads. I opted for 4, as a test. It took me a few minutes to get used to the soft sound of the balls bouncing around but when I checked the load…. It was already dry!
I pulled out each item and noticed that Kleenex sheets fell away from the jeans (I have a life-long problem remembering to check pockets before I do laundry), there was very little dog hair, all fabrics were less wrinkled and the static was pretty much gone. I was sold!
The Down Side of Dryer Balls
In an attempt to continue as an ethical journalist, I have to share both sides of the dryer ball story. There are a few things to know:
- You will want to order new dryer balls after about 1,000 loads and if they start fraying.
- Be super careful adding essential oils to the balls for a scent. One drop is OK and you will be instructed to use the oils when the load is on low heat, and almost done. If you douse your dryer balls with essential oils, you may just start a dryer fire!
Buy quality wool balls that are tightly made. Mine are made with wool from New Zealand and constructed in Nepal. I’m linking to my Amazon find and, yes, I get a teeny percentage if you purchase them through my page here (Thank you!).