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“Top-quality wool dryer balls made by working women in Nepal and the United States.”
“Save money, energy, and time with this affordably-priced option.”
“These dryer balls are made in the United States with wool from carbon-conscious California farmers.”
“Dragonfly dryer balls use sustainable, animal-free materials with comparable quality and price.”
“Essential Wool’s product is designed specifically for the gradual, even distribution of your favorite scented essential oil.”
“Cruelty-free, effective, and adorable, all in one set.”
Non-toxic dryer balls significantly reduce the chemicals in your clothes and linens compared to fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Most are reusable—claiming to last up to 1,000 loads or two to four years depending on your laundry volume. Because of this longevity, dryer balls are also less expensive than fabric softener or dryer sheets.
In general, most brands can help reduce drying time by 30 to 50 percent, reducing your energy consumption and work time. Dryer balls work by fluffing your laundry, keeping it in the stream of warm air while softening the fabric naturally. They also improve air circulation, absorb up to ten times their weight in water and prevent static cling and wrinkles. They are sold in packs of three to six. Most manufacturers recommend at least three for a medium sized load.
Here are a few of the best dryer balls on the market today:
Smart Sheep Wool Dryer Balls
Although many dryer balls on the market are made of 100 percent premium New Zealand sheep’s wool, Smart Sheep earned the Best Overall spot for quality, longevity and performance while remaining comparably priced compared to their competitors. Smart Sheep has also won multiple awards for their quality and customer service.
Smart Sheep differs from other dryer balls because they use sustainably-grown New Zealand sheep’s wool, and are hand felted in Nepal and packaged in the United States, providing over 250 women and members of minority communities with a living wage. Then the dryer balls are inspected and packaged by work-at-home moms in Utah.
You can feel good saving energy and reducing the chemicals that touch your skin while also knowing that you’re supporting workers and their families.
Snugpad Wool Dryer Balls
It is likely that many of the 100 percent premium New Zealand wool dryer balls are manufactured in the same place and then just packaged by different sellers. Snugpad’s 100 percent wool dryer balls are handmade from New Zealand wool and are less expensive or comparable in price to other versions. The business, Beastron, is owned and operated in California.
One downside is that the product claims to be organic, but we couldn’t evidence of a third-party certification. However, a pack of six costs about $10, whereas consumers often spend about $15 to $50 per year on dryer sheets or $50 to $100 per year for fabric softener. Those savings don’t include the 25 to 50 percent you’ll save in dryer energy use and decreased wear and tear on your dryer.
Coyuchi Climate Beneficial Wool Dryer Balls
Unlike most of the dryer balls on the market, the wool in Coyuchi Climate Beneficial Wool dryer balls is sourced from two ranches in Bodega Bay, Northern California. Climate Beneficial refers to the fact that these ranches have adopted a Carbon Farm Plan approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that includes a mixture actions to reduce their carbon footprint. For example, Coyuchi has purchased and planted trees, and funded solar-powered water distribution that supports rotational grazing and protects natural soils.
Coyuchi also participates in 1% for the Planet, which means 1 percent of their profits are donated to a nonprofit that funds environmental organizations. Your purchase will also benefit Fibershed, a nonprofit focused on developing regional textile fiber systems that build soil and reduce dependence on foreign low-wage markets.
Dragonfly Dryer Balls
It’s easy to find a wide variety of wool dryer balls, but it’s relatively difficult to find vegan ones. Several brands claim to be vegan in their advertising, yet they are made from sheep or alpaca wool. Dragonfly Vegan Dryer Balls are truly vegan and made from 100 percent bamboo fiber infused with charcoal. An added bonus, charcoal is a natural odor eliminator while being antibacterial and antimicrobial. This brand is handmade, soft and durable.
Not only are no animals involved in bamboo production, it is considered a more sustainable crop than many other fibers. Because demand is high, some outlets are frequently sold out. When you can’t wait for them to restock, look for hemp dryer balls. They can also be tough to find, but that will hopefully change once consumers discover they have vegan options.
Best for Essential Oils:
Essential Wool Essential Oil Dryer Ball Set
Essential Wool’s Organic Natural Aromatherapy dryer balls are made with an essential oil receptacle inside the ball. The unique but simple design allows you to add more oil in the center of the ball, rather than on the outer surface. That means the oil should diffuse out more slowly and evenly into your laundry and need to be replenished less often.
They use 100 percent wool from New Zealand and your purchase comes with a small dropper for transferring your own oil. You add the oil to just one of the dryer balls in the six-pack, colored gray, so you can find it easily. The rest are white. They recommend buying one set of six for each different essential oil and provide a cloth bag for easy storage. The company does say this product is organic, but we couldn’t find a third-party certification.
Some people use dryer sheets or fabric softener because they like the scent they add to our clothing, towels and linens. Without them, laundry can have no smell at all or just a faint “cloth” smell. Many dryer balls are made of 100 percent wool and come naturally unscented.
If you want that “clean fresh scent,” you can add a couple drops of your own favorite essential oils to one unscented dryer ball and let it dry for 20 minutes. Then toss them in the dryer as directed for several loads until the scent begins to fade. You can also try different oils to get the one you like most. Lemon, orange and lavender are popular for fresh smelling laundry.
Friendsheep Wool Dryer Balls
Friendsheep Eco Organic Dryer Balls have all the best features of the other top-rated options on the market. They’re made from 100 percent premium New Zealand wool, are hand-felted, cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny certified. Perhaps the best part is that they come in a wide range of cute styles. Maybe you’re a fan of stately solid earth tones, bright, bold colors, or adorable animal faces like pigs, sloths, pandas, koalas and penguins. Whichever you choose, these creative options can add fun to your laundry day and make eco-friendly gifts.
These balls can also be used as natural non-toxic dog toys or beautiful home décor in a decorative glass bowl. You’ll pay a little more for the style points as they cost about twice as much as the Best Budget Snugpad brand, but adding some color and variety to your life may be worth it. Perhaps the toughest part will be choosing which design to buy.
If you’re choosing 100 percent New Zealand wool, your best bet is the Best Overall award-winning fair trade Smart Sheep dryer balls (view at Walmart). But if budget is a concern, opt for the simple, affordable Snugpad Wool dryer balls (view at Walmart).
No matter which ones you choose, you should save more time, energy and money than with dryer sheets or fabric softener.
What to Look for in a Dryer Ball
What they are made of varies, but don’t be fooled. Many plastic dryer balls claim to be non-toxic while being made of petroleum-based plastics like polyvinylchloride (PVC). They can assert this because these claims are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and they are referring to the fact that dryer balls replace the chemicals softeners and dryer sheets.
So when choosing a dryer ball, hold out for non-plastic materials. Many, many on the market are made from organic or non-organic sheep’s wool from New Zealand, with the occasional wool ball made in the United States. It’s worth noting that New Zealand wool may have traveled a long way, the country holds wool producers to high environmental and animal welfare standards. You’ll also find alpaca wool, and rarely vegan bamboo or hemp. No matter the material, most claim similar energy savings, durability, and ability to fluff and soften laundry.
More Ways to Green Your Laundry
If you’re looking for ways to save more time and energy around your home, the laundry room is an excellent place to start. You can evaluate what you wear and how you handle soiled items. There are a number of small changes you can make to cut water use and increase efficiency. Some people also use vinegar to reduce the chemicals you use and release into our water systems. Another option to consider is giving dryer balls a try.
Why Trust Treehugger
Lorraine Wilde tries to learn as much as she can about the cutting edge of environmental technology. She’s proud to help consumers make healthy, informed and environmentally-conscious choices to protect their families and our planet. She also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science and uses that education to frame her consumer choices one product at a time.