What Is a Dryer Ball and How Do They Work?

Person placing a white wool dryer ball inside dryer

Helin Loik-Tomson / Getty Images

If you are looking for ways to reduce single-use products in your everyday routine and around your home, dryer balls are a great option when it comes to laundry. They come in various sizes and materials, but are most commonly made from wool and are an eco-friendly, sustainable alternative to single-use dryer sheets and fabric softener. Their main purpose is to help prevent clothing from clumping and wrinkling in the dryer, as well as reduce drying time.

Keep reading to learn more about how dryer balls work and what the benefits of using them are.

What Is a Dryer Ball?

A dryer ball is a spherical object usually made from wool, sometimes from rubber, used as an alternative to single-use dryer sheets to help prevent clumping and wrinkling and to reduce drying time.

How Do Dryer Balls Work?

Most dryer balls are made from wool, but you may also see some made from rubber and even plastic. Whatever material they are made from, they are an excellent way to avoid using single-use dryer sheets and produce less waste and save money at the same time. Dryer balls made from wool are eco-friendly—the way that they work is they absorb heat from the dryer and moisture from washed clothing to help garments separate better and faster, allowing for a better flow of warm air. This prevents clumping and therefore also wrinkling, speeding up drying time, and what could be better than a faster way to do laundry?

To use them, throw one or more dryer balls in the dryer with your clothing as you would a dryer sheet. If you miss that fresh laundry scent that you get from dryer sheets, you can easily give wool dryer balls a pleasant fragrance using a couple of drops of essential oils, such as lavender, citrus, or eucalyptus. They will retain the scent and transfer it onto the contents of the dryer through heat and air circulation.

Benefits of Using Dryer Balls

Reduce Waste

Unlike dryer sheets that need to be tossed after only one use, wool dryer balls can be used hundreds, even thousands, of times, which makes them much more environmentally friendly. Once you are ready to replace them because they are not filled with any chemicals or artificial materials, they are biodegradable and can actually be composted.

Prevent Clumping and Wrinkling

Dryer balls absorb heat from the dryer and as they are tossed around with clothing, towels, or bedding, they help items separately and prevent clumping. As garments clump together, it causes wrinkling that can be hard to iron out, but with this drying method, there is better circulation of warm air that ensures faster and better garment separation.

Save Money

Because a set of dryer balls can be used over and over again, it will save you the amount of money you would be spending on constantly replenishing dryer sheets. Dryer balls also help extend the life of your clothing because they don't contain any harsh chemicals that can break down and damage fabric over time. The fact that they reduce drying time also helps, as your clothes aren't exposed to high heat for prolonged periods of time, which helps them to stay in better shape, saving you money in the long run.

Reduce Drying Time

One of the main benefits of using dryer balls is that they help reduce drying time, sometimes as dramatically as cutting it in half. As they move around inside the dryer, they separate items so instead of them moving around in one giant clump of wet material, warm air flows around each item, drying it faster.

Soften Clothing

Instead of using fabric softener while doing laundry, use dryer balls for the same effect. They don't contain any of the chemicals, artificial softeners, or heavy scents that a fabric softener might, which means that they are more gentle on your clothing. As the dryer balls bounce around, they help fluff and soften each garment. The wool balls work best with small to medium loads, which is a better way to dry your clothing anyway, as overloading the dryer leads to excessive friction which reduces the softness of materials and creates wrinkles.

How to Know When to Replace Dryer Balls?

Most dryer balls can be used hundreds of times and therefore last for well over a year. After that, if they're looking a little bit worse for wear and aren't working as well anymore, gently hand wash in warm soapy water, but never put them in the washer as it will damage the wool. If they have collected a lot of lint, dirt, or pet hair, use a lint roller or fabric shaver to remove it, and continue using them. You will know it's time to replace the dryer balls once they begin to heavily shed and disintegrate, or if they are too loose and even break apart.