Wool Dryer Balls: A Cleaner Way To Do Laundry!
Making the switch!
For years I was a huge fan of dryer sheets. After all, they smell great, soften clothes and reduce static! However, the amount of waste they created always gnawed at me and then I was educated about the harmful chemicals that dryer sheets contained. In fact, chemicals associated with dryer sheets and laundry detergents can cause contact dermatitis, which appears through rashes, itching, swelling, bumps and blisters, more on this later on. As a result, I made a conscious decision that dryer sheets had to go. But that left me with a void in my laundry routine that I needed to fill: Enter wool dryer balls!
A friend once told me, “I just use good old tennis balls!” Okay, that’s very resourceful, but at the end of its life cycle, a tennis ball, made from rubber, will end up in the landfill and take approximately 50 years to decompose. In comparison, good quality wool dryer balls are made from 100% Merino wool, which is a natural fibre, are undyed and can be composted or upcycled when all worn out.
Benefits of using wool dryer balls.
Simply put, wool dryer balls can reduce drying time by 20% by promoting better air circulation as they bounce around along with your clothes, towels or linen. Here are some more reasons to add wool dryer balls to your laundry routine:
- Replace dryer sheets and fabric softener, preventing toxic residue buildup on clothes and are safe for washing baby clothes as well as those with sensitive skin.
- Effective, hypoallergenic, and reusable – helping you save money.
- Typically come in a set of three.
- Reduce wrinkles and static.
- Naturally soften your clothes.
- Simple to use: Place three dryer balls into your dryer, add your clothes and press start!
- Protect the environment.
- Lower your energy bill by reducing drying time.
Why ditch fabric softeners and dryer sheets?
Fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain the most toxic chemicals out of all the products we might find in our home. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, neurotoxins, and respiratory irritants. Fabric softeners are designed to be absorbed into our clothes for an extended period of time. It stands to reason that whatever is in our clothes, bedsheets or towels will be absorbed into our skin, especially when we wear clothes all day and sleep in our sheets at night. Our skin, body and organs are not the only things being harmed when we use softeners and dryer sheets. Toxic chemicals are also released into our environment – affecting wildlife, bodies of water, our land and our neighbours.
How long do they last?
On average, wool dryer balls last for 1,000 loads or more. Each manufacturer will note their products life cycle, but I used my first set of dryer balls for over 3 years with great results. I figured it was time to get a new set when the benefits mentioned above were lacking in my laundry life and I had tried revitalizing the dryer balls a few times. I just purchased a new set and plan to compost or re-purpose my old set of dryer balls. Right now, my children enjoy playing with them – from juggling to target practice!
What to Look for when shopping for wool dryer balls:
When shopping around for your first set of dryer balls here are a few things to look for:
- Made from 100% undyed Merino wool.
- Quantity: Medium loads need 2-3 dryer balls and heavy loads need 5-6 for best results
- Look for eco-friendly packaging such as a cotton bag, a paper box or sold in bulk.
- Try to support local, small batch and handmade artisans.
Love the smell of dryer sheets and fabric softeners?
Wool dryer balls can be scented with a couple drops of your favourite essential oil. The result will be a nice and light scent when you put your clothes on. High heat combined with essential oils can be a fire hazard. Here are some tips to safely add essential oils to your dryer balls:
- Place desired number of drops of your favourite essential oil onto your dryer balls.
- Let the essential oil dry for 5-10 minutes.
- While the oils are drying, start your dryer load, after the high heat cycle is done add your wool dryer balls with the essential oils to the cool cycle.
- You can use the scented wool balls for a few cycles before needing to add more essential oil or switch your chosen scent.
- Some great scents to try are: lavender, lemongrass, lemon, orange, clary sage and bergamot.
Wool Dryer Ball Tips and Care:
There are many articles, blogs, and resources to find a best practice that works for you. Here are a few tips I have picked up since adopting dryer balls into my routine.
- Layer your dryer balls with your laundry, placing your first one on the bottom, second one in the middle and last one on the top. This helps ensure that the balls do their job through the entire load and not just float on the outer edge.
- If you only want to purchase one set of dryer balls, keep your loads to a medium or small size to get the best results.
- You can store your wool dryer balls in the dryer between loads or collect them and place them in a basket in your laundry room. Avoid storing them in a plastic bag as wool needs to breathe.
- When you feel like your wool dryer balls need a “revitalization” wash them in hot water on a gentle cycle and dry on a high heat cycle – refreshed and recharged!