How Do I Choose the Best Dryer Balls?

Rebecca Mecomber

Touted as a "green," or environmentally friendly, tool, dryer balls are plastic balls that are tossed into a clothes dryer with wet laundry. While studies have been inconclusive in both positive and negative results on the effectiveness of the product, these unique balls have been shown to slightly reduce drying time with some loads, and they do prevent down-filled articles from balling up. When choosing the best dryer balls for your laundry, look for a reusable, hard plastic, hypoallergenic product. Tennis balls and other smooth-surfaced balls are less effective, but tend to batter the clothing fibers less than the harder balls. Select brightly colored balls for easy detection in the laundry load, but avoid balls with added perfumes, coatings or other ingredients that can break down under the extreme heat of the clothes dryer.

Inside a clothes dryer.
Inside a clothes dryer.

Some people love them and others think dryer balls are a hyped up hoax. Dryer balls are one of the latest laundry accessories, designed to shorten dryer time and eliminate static cling from clothing. They are typically 3 inches (7.6 cm) in diameter, with small nubs that surround the ball. Some people have attempted to use tennis balls as an economical replacement. While tennis balls certainly mix light clothing in the drying machine, they lack the tiny nubs that provide more airflow and beat the laundry.

Tennis balls can be an economical replacement for dryer balls.
Tennis balls can be an economical replacement for dryer balls.

Dryer balls are renowned for their noise. These hard plastic balls tend to batter the inside of the dryer drum, producing hammering sounds as the dryer tumbles. More lightweight balls are quieter, but may be less effective than their noisy counterparts.

Dryer balls reduce static electricity, but don't release any perfumes.
Dryer balls reduce static electricity, but don't release any perfumes.

Hypoallergenic balls contain no chemicals, perfumes or topical colors or coatings. These balls are extremely durable and will not shed, peel or exude noxious vapors during the heat cycle. Most are reusable, but some may be more durable than others. Over time, the sinewy rubber from tennis balls will crack and leach an unpleasant burned rubber smell. Plastic dryer balls will not leak odors, but will eventually soften and lose their ability to tousle laundry.

Avoid products that claim to replace fabric softener liquids or dryer sheets. Some studies have shown that these claims are exaggerated. While dryer balls do reduce static electricity in the dryer load, they do not release any additional perfumes. Some scientists suggest that the dryer balls may reduce the life of clothing, as the hard nubs abrade the fibers and could break them down too quickly.

Dryer balls do not replace fabric softener liquids.
Dryer balls do not replace fabric softener liquids.

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Discussion Comments


@anon309355 -- There are dryer balls made out of pure wool, but there are also rubber ones. I'm not really sure what the difference is between them; I think they work mostly in the same way once you get the balls in the dryer.

I do see a lot of only instructions for making wool laundry dryer balls online though, so maybe they're cheaper than the rubber ones? I would also imagine that they're a little more environmentally friendly than the rubber or plastic ones too.


I thought dryer balls were made of pure wool, not rubber?

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