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If you’re looking to get your laundry next-level soft and fluffy while steering clear of chemicals, wool dryer balls might be on your radar. These compact orbs, made from sheep’s wool, are meant to be a natural, reusable alternative to conventional fabric softener sheets or plastic dryer balls.
Only thing is… are they as incredible as some people claim?
The truth is there’s not a ton of evidence out there to say for certain whether wool dryer balls work and if they’ll for sure do as good a job as fabric softeners.
But we can take a dive into how they’re meant to improve your laundry, what the general consensus seems to be on how well they get the job done, plus some product picks to try. So let’s get to it.
Dryer balls, in general, work by “disrupting” your laundry load.
Basically, they bounce around between clothes to keep fabrics from bunching or balling up. That’s supposed to speed up drying time, stop static from forming, boost softness and fluffiness, and reduce wrinkles. Some people say they get pet hair off of clothes too, but that’s kinda TBD.
So why wool in particular? Turns out the stuff is crazy absorbent, to the point where it could cut your load’s drying time by as much as half. It’s a sustainable, renewable material that’s good for the planet. It’s also a smart option for people with sensitive skin, since wool is hypoallergenic.
OK, so which of the claims about wool dryer balls actually pan out?
Again, scientists haven’t been studying these products rigorously (hopefully they have more important things to research). But there’s some solid info we can pull from independent tests to help you figure out whether WDBs are really worth the money.
Probably. Any kind of ball-like object — from a wool dryer ball to a tennis ball — will likely help separate clothes so they don’t ball up, which could encourage them to dry quicker.
One source says wool dryer balls could potentially cut drying time by 50 percent, but other folks say it’s more like 10 to 25 percent. Regardless, the consensus seems to be that WDBs will get your wet jeans or towel out of the dryer a little quicker.
Making your laundry smell nice?
Probably. If you like the idea of scented laundry but don’t wanna deal with artificial fragrances, WDBs could help you out.
Some people like to pour a few drops of essential oil directly onto the balls before tossing them in the dryer, infusing the scent of the oils into the laundry.
This works pretty well, though it might take some trial and error to figure out exactly how many drops of EO to use to get the scent level you’re looking for. Here’s how to shop for the best quality essential oils.
Getting pet hair off clothes?
Maybe. While the balls bounce around your dryer, they could potentially grab onto pet hair, lint, or other fibers that are sticking to your clothes. And a sponsored study of one dryer ball brand (made of microfiber, not wool) found that the balls captured a decent amount of rogue fibers.
Probably not. Dryer sheets are coated with positively charged ions that transfer to clothes in the dryer and keep them from sticking together. Dryer balls are not, and at least one independent test found that they don’t seem to do much good for static. (Note: This experiment tested plastic dryer balls, not wool—so the jury is still out on wool’s effectiveness on static).
Also worth keeping in mind: The drier your clothes get, the more likely they are to stick to each other. And since WDBs are tops at speeding up drying, well, you know where this is probably going.
If you want to try adding wool dryer balls to your laundry, you’ve got loads to choose from. (Heh, sorry.) Most of the options are billed as extra large, meaning they’re a little larger than a tennis ball, and come in packs of six, which manufacturers say is enough for a very big load of laundry.
Fan favorite: Smart Sheep
More than 28,000 satisfied Amazon shoppers agree that these WDBs do great things for their laundry. Made from 100 percent premium New Zealand wool, they’ve actually won awards for their greatness.
Each extra large ball is a little bigger than a tennis ball and designed to last for 2 to 4 years, depending on how often you do laundry. And if you like to support socially responsible businesses, this brand is for you. Smart Sheep’s balls are crafted by women in Nepal who are paid a living wage.
Cons: They’ve gotten some complaints of creating more static.
Organic option: SnugPad
Earth-conscious shoppers will appreciate that these WDBs are made from 100 percent organic New Zealand wool that’ll perform for up to 4 years.
The brand claims the balls will help your clothes dry 25 percent faster, and they’ve earned nearly 7,000 positive reviews on Amazon. They come in a standard 6-pack, but if you don’t do a ton of laundry, you can also get a 4-pack.
Cons: They’re on the pricier side.
Pack that gives back: Wise Wool
Here’s another pick made from 100 percent organic New Zealand wool. This one claims to speed up drying time by up to 30 percent while helping fabric avoid wrinkling, tangling, and twisting so you don’t have to spend time ironing.
But the thing that really makes them stand out? The fact that your purchase helps the brand buy sheep for families in need via the Heifer International program. Plus, they offer a 90-day, money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the results.
Pick that makes laundry day more fun: Wooly Heroes
Snap these up if you ever do laundry with a kid… or you’re just a kid at heart. These — you guessed it — 100 percent organic New Zealand wool balls boast cute animal faces, but still get the job done. They claim to slash drying time by up to 40 percent and last up to 1,000 dry cycles.
Cons: Some users complain that the balls shed fibers.
Best storage option: East Cobb Products
More New Zealand wool at work here! These claim to cut your drying time anywhere from 25 to 40 percent and are meant to last for 2 to 4 years. But their best feature is the felt container that comes with your purchase. It’s a neat, easy way to store the WDBs right on the shelf in between loads.
Cons: Some reviewers say the balls aren’t super helpful for wrinkles or static cling.
Budget pick: Handy Laundry
These balls claim to cut drying time while nixing wrinkles and lint. And nearly 10,000 Amazon reviewers agree that the balls get the job done. Also nice: The balls come in a convenient canvas storage bag, and if you do a ton of laundry, they’re also available in a 12-pack.
Cons: A few reviewers say the balls don’t do a great job at removing pet hair.
Wool dryer balls can probably help your clothes dry faster, and if you add a few drops of essential oils, they’ll help your clothes smell a little nicer without dryer sheets or fabric softeners.
But there’s not much proof that they’ll keep static at bay, and they could actually make the static worse. The upside? Since they’re pretty inexpensive, there’s not much to lose if you want to give them a try.