I have a confession to make: Although my job is to write about wellness and green living, some of my choices are… less than good and a questionable shade of green. When it comes to my hair, for example, I’ll use whatever chemical creation makes it look and smell better. Light bulbs? I am addicted to the soft glow of environmentally friendly incandescents. never a long life LED will cross my threshold. And a washing machine? My dryer sheet of choice is a popular supermarket brand, loaded with chemicals and “disposable” – as in landfill – not to mention expensive. The cost of these cards really adds up. So when I heard about a set of six natural wool dryer balls for only $19 on Amazon, I had to give them a whirl.
As someone who is obsessed with NOT washing and drying my clothes a lot (it wears out so quickly and I don’t particularly like washing clothes), I found this very appealing. Shorter drying time is not only easier on fabrics, but saves energy, which means lower energy bills. And less time for laundry!
There are plenty of less expensive options that have great reviews, but the brand I’ve been hearing about, Smart Sheep, is handmade in Nepal from pure New Zealand wool. It’s a lot to travel already for something that’s meant to save the earth, but still, I was excited to try them out. I put away all my clothes (as in, I used this as an excuse to ignore the piles of clothes, sheets and towels). Here, dear reader, is how it went.
I meet my new dryer balls
Smart Sheep Dryer Balls come six to a pack, with a small instruction card. They look organic — like something you’d see in a decorative basket at a high-end home furnishings store. And my cat really, really liked them.
Placing them in use
I threw my cat out of the basement and followed the simple instructions: “Place wool dryer balls in the dryer with your clothes. Turn on the dryer.” Simple enough.
The promise was that by bouncing between my clothes, the balls would “lift and separate the fabrics,” increasing airflow, thereby drying the clothes faster — and making them softer.
I threw in five dryer balls with a heavy load of workout clothes and jeans, saving one in case I decided to gift it to my cat. I noted the time.
Instead of waiting for the dryer to beep angrily, I returned to the basement 15 minutes before the usual 30 minute drying time. Not only were my clothes completely dry and static-free, but they were SO soft — like they had spent an hour in there with fabric softener and my favorite dryer sheet (with chemicals).
Enjoying the tactile pleasure (no moisture, plus silky smoothness) as I felt through the basket, I removed the balls and then repeated the experiment with a load of towels and pillowcases. Perfection.
Slipping into my favorite t-shirt, I thought I might miss the scent my dryer sheets provided — but I didn’t. My clothes just smelled…clean. If you like a little scent, Smart Sheep recommends adding a drop of essential oils like lavender or lemon to a dryer ball.
These dryer balls have eliminated chemicals from my life painlessly. This is the kind of green movement I love. No sacrifice, no hassle, and a huge financial savings – because at $18 for six, these balls cost more than a big box of my favorite (now ex) dryer sheets. But where this box gets me through 244 loads, my wool dryer balls promise more than 1,000 loads each — that’s washing for more than five years! And because they cut drying time by two-thirds, I save a bundle on my energy bill.
And they don’t add trash to the planet – because if and when they lose their magical powers, my cat will use them a lot forever and ever.
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The reviews listed above reflect the latest versions at the time of publication.
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