Wool dryer balls are an environmentally friendly alternative to single-use dryer sheets and fabric softeners. Dryer balls are typically made of tightly wound wool, but come in other materials, like rubber and plastic. Like any fabric softening solution, they prevent your laundry from sticking together in the dryer and eliminate wrinkles and static. Read on to learn more about the different types of dryer balls and what they do.

What Do Dryer Balls Do?

Dryer balls function by separating the layers of fabric in your laundry and allowing hot air to circulate better throughout the clothing in your dryer. As the wool dryer balls tumble between the layers of clothing in the dryer, warm air can travel throughout the fabric and dry individual articles of clothing faster. This can help reduce drying time and help you save on energy costs when taking on large loads of laundry– another way dryer balls are more environmentally friendly than other fabric softeners.

Aside from stopping your clothes from sticking together, dryer balls eliminate static, ward off wrinkles, and soften clothes without relying on fabric softeners that may contain allergens and other irritants. Many fabric softeners contain harsh fragrances and additives that can cause skin irritation and eczema. Single-use dryer sheets also contain harmful compounds, such as butane and acetaldehyde, which are known to cause respiratory problems.

Types of Dryer Balls

Dryer balls are typically wool; however, they are also available in plastic and rubber options for those allergic to lanolin, a substance commonly found in wool products. Each type of dryer ball functions the same and helps prevent your laundry from sticking together without the use of perfumes, additives, and harmful organic compounds. Learn more about the different types of dryer balls below.

Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls are the most popular type of dryer balls available. This type of dryer ball is popular because it features non-toxic, natural materials, unlike other fabric softener solutions. Wool dryer balls make the least amount of noise in the dryer because they are softer than their plastic and rubber counterparts. These dryer balls also help protect the environment because they are compostable and help nourish the Earth.

Rubber And Plastic Dryer Balls

Rubber and plastic dryer balls function the same as their wool counterparts, but feature little round nodes to help separate clothing when it is in the dryer. While rubber and plastic dryer balls are not as eco-friendly as wool dryer balls, they also come with their fair share of benefits. People who are allergic to lanolin, a naturally occurring substance found in wool, can still enjoy the benefits of reusable dryer balls without worrying about irritating their skin.

Plastic and rubber dryer balls are more durable and will not break down over time like wool balls. As you continue using wool dryer balls, they begin to break down and leave wool fibers on your clothing. In many cases, you will likely never have to replace your rubber or plastic dryer balls as long as you follow their provided care instructions.

How to Use Dryer Balls

Use Two Separate Sets for Lights and Darks

Wool dryer balls often come in packs of three. For larger loads of laundry, many will recommend using all three while drying your laundry. To ensure they are as effective as possible, always use the recommended amount of dryer balls according to the instructions on the packaging. Be sure to use two separate sets of dryer balls for your lights and darks; using two different sets of dryer balls will prevent dark lint from getting on your light clothing and vice versa.

Don’t Overload Your Dryer

Once you have separated your light and dark clothing, simply load up the dryer with your clothes and the recommended number of dryer balls. Although dryer balls can help large laundry loads dry faster, it’s important not to overload your dryer. Overloading your dryer can cause your clothing to dry unevenly and clump together, regardless of how many wool dryer balls you use.

Additionally, it’s essential to ensure you’re not over-drying your clothes. Drying your clothes for too long can cause static cling. If you’re using your dryer balls as instructed and still dealing with static cling after doing your laundry, try drying your clothing using a shorter cycle. If that doesn’t work, try to spray your wool dryer balls with a bit of water before throwing them into the dryer.

Use With Essential Oils

There is an easy solution for those who miss the fragrances of single-use dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners. All you have to do is add your favorite essential oils to your wool dryer balls and let them go to work. Some popular essential oil scents include orange, lavender, and eucalyptus. Be sure to use pure essential oils, as most of them do not stain clothing. Essential oils that stain clothing due to their dark or yellowish color include:

  • Patchouli
  • Vetiver
  • Myrrh
  • Tangerine
  • Blue Tansy
  • Jasmine
  • German Chamomile

To apply essential oils to your wool dryer balls, wait until your clothes are completely dry, and then add one or two drops to each ball. Next, run your dryer for a few more minutes, and your clothes will smell fresh and clean without any harmful chemical residue.

After the initial oiling, repeat this process occasionally as necessary since the scent will remain on the dryer balls for quite some time, meaning you will be able to use them during a regular drying cycle moving forward. Just be sure not to use too many drops of essential oils because it can cause a fire.

When Should You Replace Your Wool Dryer Balls?

Every dryer ball is a little different depending on brand and size, but most wool dryer balls are good for 1,000 uses. If your dryer balls are beginning to come apart or appear scraggly after doing your laundry, then it’s probably time to change them. When it’s time to replace your wool dryer balls, you’ll notice pieces of wool falling off and sticking to your clothing. Thankfully, wool dryer balls are completely compostable and can naturally decompose without causing any harmful waste to the environment.

To get the most out of your wool dryer balls, you should refresh them every 8 to 12 months by placing them individually into a sock or pillow case and tying them up. Wash them in their cases in hot water and thoroughly dry them in your dryer. Refreshing your dryer balls helps the wool fibers recompact and increases their longevity.

How ZIPS Can Help

Whether it’s in your laundry room or at your local ZIPS, we are committed to helping you get the most out of your clothing. If you’re interested in learning more about how to help your laundry go further, check out ZIPS tips for exceptional garment care advice.

At ZIPS, we treat your garments right to maximize their longevity and keep you looking your best. Head over to your local ZIPS today!