How We Tested
I’m Cailey Lindberg, a Reviewed staff writer, and lifelong New Englander who has a four-month-old basset hound puppy. Because he sheds on everything, I was interested in products that would eliminate pet hair without obsessively running a lint roller over my black clothing. I currently test, edit, and write about products for Reviewed, as well as dive deep into the inner workings of the restaurant industry over at Boston-based software company, Toast.
We brought Sandor home two months ago and quickly learned just how much basset hounds shed, especially with the mild and bizarre winter we’ve had this year in Boston. No matter how many dryer sheets I used, nothing would get the puppy hair off my laundry. In an effort to help other pet parents and reduce drying times for people who simply avoid doing laundry until Sunday evening, we decided to test a bunch of dryer balls to see which ones are most effective on your laundry.
The testing for dryer balls was intensive and our lab team spent weeks laundering towels, t-shirts, and a queen-size comforter over and over again in a Maytag washing machine and LG dryer. Each load was weighed before and after each wash and dried for exactly 40 minutes on a normal cycle. For every set of dryer balls, we dried each of the three loads on a timed dry cycle and measured its post-dry weight. A tennis ball was also included in each load for comparison.
In addition to the more extensive lab testing, I brought the dryer balls home and used them in my day-to-day laundry life using my GE dryer. My testing load included multiple Tool band t-shirts, along with a few pairs of black yoga leggings covered in puppy hair. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pet hair was greatly reduced once I removed my load and that the once stiff band tees felt soft to the touch.
What You Should Know About Dryer Balls
We found that dryer balls can produce quite a bit of static electricity when used in your laundry. Through this mishap, we discovered that when using dryer balls, it is wise to reduce your normal drying time by 10 minutes to prevent this. If you’ve already over-dried your load, wetting the wool dryer balls and running your dryer for a few minutes should eliminate any residual static.
Dryer balls are capable of reducing lint and pet hair, which I found to be accurate during testing. My black leggings, always completely covered in basset hound puppy hair, were completely shed free after using wool dryer balls. If you have sensitive skin, dryer balls are a much better alternative to dryer sheets.
Some dryer balls can have essential oils added to them to make your laundry smell better, simply put a few drops directly onto the wool and put in the dryer on fluff for 10 minutes. Lower temperatures can also be used with dryer balls as opposed to dryer sheets, which prevents damage to your clothes. Wool dryer balls also have significantly fewer chemicals than traditional dryer sheets and will minimize waste since they are reusable, effectively lowering your energy bill.
Can Tennis Balls Dry Your Laundry?
Tennis balls were traditionally used to speed up drying time and to add some extra fluff to your laundry. During testing, we found that tennis balls are most useful for heavier items, such as comforters and towels, but fell short in terms of making your laundry soft. Extra-large dryer balls may also work well for bulkier items, but during our testing, we found tennis balls are a better way to go.
While some manufacturers recommend new tennis balls to prevent your comforter’s down from lumping together, according to Lifehacker, the Soap and Detergent Association is not in support of this practice. Using a new tennis ball can stain your comforter if the dye melts from the heat, so if you are trying to prevent the down in your comforter from clumping you should just remove it from the dryer periodically and shake it.
How to Use Dryer Balls
Using dryer balls is simple. You just pop them into the machine and let them work their magic. Adding dryer balls to your washing machine will effectively separate your laundry, which allows more heat in. For large loads, you should use six or more dryer balls in order to dry your laundry effectively and make sure to remove one article at a time once it is done so as not to lose them. For small loads, 3 or fewer dryer balls should suffice.
Keep in mind that dryer balls are not as effective on large loads because they need space to work properly. Unfortunately, dryer balls will make quite a bit of noise in your dryer unless they are made of lightweight plastic. Replace your wool dryer balls every 1,000 loads (or 2-3 years time) to keep them working and looking their best.
Do Wool Dryer Balls Reduce Drying Time?
When it comes to wool dryer balls versus dryer sheets, wool dryer balls win out overall. According to RealSimple, wool dryer balls are the most effective at reducing drying time. They also minimize wrinkles and static when used properly, as well as reducing your drying time by 10 to 25 percent.
What Is The Difference Between Wool and Plastic Dryer Balls?
Wool dryer balls are heavier and separate your clothes better, which leads to shorter drying times. Plastic dryer balls may make less noise in your dryer and last longer than wool dryer balls, but did not perform as well during our tests. Overall, we found that the plastic dryer balls we tested left clothes damp, even when put on longer dry times.
Other Dryer Balls We Tested
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Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.