Wool Dryer Balls vs. Dryer Sheets
Wool dryer balls and dryer sheets are used to accomplish similar goals: they soften clothes and reduce static cling during the laundry drying process. Dryer balls and sheets have different benefits and drawbacks, so let’s discuss wool dryer balls vs. dryer sheets.
Wool Dryer Balls vs Dryer Sheets: Differences
Wool dryer balls are small, round balls made of felted wool. To use, you simply toss them into the dryer with your clothes. In the dryer, wool dryer balls will help wet fabrics separate from one another, which can reduce drying time by as much as 30% to 50%, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.
Dryer sheets are sheets of fabric that are coated with a synthetic chemical mixture. When added to the dryer they help to reduce static, soften fabrics, and can add a scent to clothes.
There are key differences between the two that may make one a better choice for you depending on your needs and preferences.
How Dryer Sheets Work
Dryer sheets work by transferring chemicals onto the clothes as they dry. This creates a thin coating on fabrics, making them feel softer, reducing static, and transferring a synthetic fragrance.
Dryer sheets are intended for single use, making them a disposable product. They are generally less expensive than wool dryer balls, but they can contain synthetic fragrances, which may contain phthalates.
How Wool Dryer Balls Work
Felted wool is an ancient product that has been used since 300 AD (Source: Common Good). They work by separating and fluffing up the clothes as they tumble in your dryer, which helps to reduce static cling.
They reduce static because they absorb the humidity at the start of your drying cycle, releasing the humidity at the end. Over-drying clothing is one cause of static cling and humidity is the key to eliminating it (Source: Parachute Blog).
When dryer balls are added to the dryer, the wool balls bounce around and separate the clothes, which helps to reduce drying time. Less drying time also saves precious energy. As a bonus, wool dryer balls can also help to soften fabrics.
RELATED: Dryer Sheet Alternatives
Which Should You Choose: Dryer Balls or Dryer Sheets?
Both dryer balls and dryer sheets can be effective at reducing drying time and static cling in your laundry. The choice between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference and what works best for your needs. Here are some things to consider when weighing dryer balls vs dryer sheets.
Dryer balls tend to be more cost-effective in the long run, as they can be used for many loads of laundry. And with proper care, they won’t need to be replaced nearly as often as dryer sheets. Dryer sheets are generally less expensive to purchase upfront.
Dryer sheets are typically infused with a synthetic fragrance that can add a fresh scent to your laundry. Dryer balls can also be scented by adding a few drops of essential oil before tossing them into the dryer, but the scent may not be as strong.
RELATED: Use Dryer Sheets to Refresh Smelly Trash Cans
With that said, essential oil-scented laundry is a healthier, natural alternative to the synthetic fragrances in dryer sheets. However, you can change the scent as often as you like with dryer balls, whereas you can’t with dryer sheets.
Dryer sheets contain chemicals that can transfer onto your clothes and come into contact with your skin. In some cases, this can cause skin and sometimes respiratory irritation and cause irritation. Wool dryer balls are made of natural materials and do not contain any chemicals.
It’s recommended to wash dryer balls every few months, or as needed. If you use products like fabric softener with your laundry, you may need to wash the dryer balls more frequently to remove build-up.
To do this, simply fill a bowl or bucket with lukewarm water and gently agitate them with your hands. Rinse the dryer balls thoroughly with clean water to remove any residue, and then lay them out on a clean, dry towel to allow them to air dry completely.
Dryer balls can develop mold if they are not properly cared for. Dryer balls are made of materials that can absorb moisture, which can create an ideal environment for mold growth. To prevent this, it’s important to allow them to air dry completely after each use and to store them in a dry place.
Wool dryer balls can be used for many loads of laundry without needing to be replaced. To extend the life of your wool dryer balls, wash them and wash your tumble dryer periodically.
The number of times you can reuse wool dryer balls will depend on how you care for them and how frequently you use them. With proper care, they should last for many loads. Always store them in a dry place and allow them to air dry completely after each use.
The number of dryer balls you should use per load depends on the size of your dryer and the size of your load of laundry. It’s recommended to use at least three dryer balls per load, but you can use more if you have a large dryer or a large load of laundry.
Ultimately, the choice between dryer balls and dryer sheets comes down to your personal preferences and what works best for you. Both options can be effective at reducing drying time and static cling in your laundry. Wool dryer balls are a more natural, environmentally-friendly choice with fewer potential irritants.
Charlotte is a climate change and sustainability professional with a degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management and a member of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA). She believes a clean and organized home is a happy, healthy and more sustainable home. Cleaning and organizing helps bring a sense of calm and tranquility to an oftentimes fast-paced life. In her free time, she enjoys getting her hands dirty at her allotment or spending time with her partner and their two cats.