There are two major types of dryer balls, those made from wool and those made from plastic or rubber. Plastic or rubber Dryer Balls are formed from a hard material with many small nodules on the outside to massage the fabric and soften it as the dryer spins.
Dryer balls typically last for 1,000+ dryer cycles or 2-5 years. The exact life expectancy of dryer balls will depend largely on what material is used to make them and how many loads of laundry you do.
Dryer balls are an easy addition to your laundry routine that give numerous benefits such as reducing static cling, preventing wrinkles, decreasing drying time, and being hypoallergenic and eco-friendly. With all those details to cover, let’s get into the action.
Table of Contents
How Long Do Wool Dryer Balls Last?
Wool dryer balls are made from felted wool formed into a ball. They absorb moisture and soften the fabric during the drying process. Even so, the wool will very slowly start to fray and unravel.
But, wool dryer balls will last for at least 1000 loads of laundry. How many years they last will depend on how many loads of laundry you do in a week, in a typical household they will last 3-5 years.
If they start to wear out, there is a way to recharge them, we’ll talk about that in one of the next sections
How Long Do Plastic Dryer Balls Last?
Plastic dryer balls do not last quite as long as wool dryer balls, the nodules on plastic or rubber models will slowly wear away or break off.
Plastic dryer balls can last about 3 years but this will vary depending on how many loads of laundry you do a week.
Plastic dryer balls can also begin to dry out, but they are still a great option for people who are allergic to wool.
When to Replace Your Dryer Balls
You should replace plastic or rubber dryer balls when you begin to notice they are no longer as effective as when they were new. This is usually every three to five years.
Depending on how often you do laundry, wool dryer balls should be replaced every four-to-five years.
A good indication for replacing your wool dryer balls is when they become larger, softer, and start to unravel. They will start to look pretty scruffy and pieces of the wool will tear off or the wool fibers will adhere to your clothes, making them look as if they are covered in pet hair.
How to Care for Your Dryer Balls
For the plastic or rubber dryer balls, you can leave them in the dryer until the next time you do laundry.
If you use wool dryer balls, it is best to take them out of the machine and let them dry completely before the next laundry session.
You might also want to think about washing just your Dryer Balls by themselves occasionally. This will remove any buildup of laundry soap on the surface and improve the performance of the Dryer Balls, regardless of whether they are made of wool, plastic, or rubber.
How to Recharge Wool Dryer Balls
As we just discussed, because they collect lint and pet hair, they will eventually begin to look “fuzzy”.
To revive them you can shave them or pull the fuzz off of them and make them as good as new.
To recharge your wool dryer balls, throw them in the washing machine with high heat on the gentle cycle. Dry them on high, this will fluff the wool and give your dryer balls a new life.
Now they’re ready to go for more loads.
Can You Recycle Dryer Balls?
When it’s time to retire your old dryer balls, there are a few things you can consider:
- For the plastic or rubber type, your only real option is to throw them in the recycling bin. Do not let children or pets chew on them because they may have been treated with chemicals.
- For wool—you have several options:
- Turn them into a sachet: Add a few drops of your favorite scent and put them in dresser drawers or hang them in the closet.
- Add them to the compost pile.
- Turn it into a cat toy: Tie a long string to the ball and thumbtack it to the ceiling. Your cat will bat it around for a very long time.
- Turn it into a dog toy: Toss it to play catch with your dog.
- Have your own indoor bowling alley: Set up ten empty bathroom tissue rolls and let your toddler have their own bowling alley.
The Benefits of Using Dryer Balls in Your Laundry
Adding dryer balls to your clothes dryer can give you several benefits that not even dryer sheets can’t give.
With all these benefits ou may be wondering if dryer sheets are necessary, we have a post that digs into that topic, check it out here.
The benefits of wool dryer balls are they reduce static cling, prevent wrinkles, decrease dry time, are hypoallergenic, and it’s more eco-friendly.
1. Reduce Static Cling
No one likes to have crazy static electricity in their laundry, dryer balls can help reduce static build-up.
Static cling can be reduced by drying a lot of different types of fabrics together. Cotton, wool, and synthetic materials all dried together helps decrease static.
Wool dryer balls are made out of wool, obviously, so they help prevent static cling by being a different type of material.
If you want to reduce your static cling even more, you can pin a safety pin to one of your dryer balls.
Metal is conductive so it will gather the static electricity and then discharge it into the dryer when it comes in contact with the wall of the dryer. Pretty cool huh?
2. Prevent Wrinkles
Wool dryer balls help prevent wrinkles by adding steam to your laundry. They do this by absorbing some of the water off your wet clothes during the drying cycle and then releasing it as they heat up.
This steam helps prevent wrinkles in the laundry. If you have a dry shirt that’s gotten wrinkly, you can spritz your dryer balls with water and then add the shirt to the dryer. Run a load with these damp dryer balls and the shirt will come out wrinkle-free.
3. Decrease Dry Time
Probably the biggest reason most people switch to wool dryer balls is that it can decrease drying time. They can reduce dry times by around 25%. That’s amazing!
Dryer balls do this by bouncing around in your dryer and creating pockets of air between the clothes. This creates better air circulation around the clothes which makes them dry faster.
This decrease in dry time means that your dryer will use less energy which means your energy bill will decrease. Decreasing your energy consumption and energy bill is something everyone loves.
If you want to further decrease your energy bill, you can air dry your clothes in the warmer months.
People with sensitive skin, babies, or young children can sometimes form allergies to the harmful chemicals found in dryer sheets.
Wool is hypoallergenic because it doesn’t have any of these chemicals present and they have many of the same benefits as dryer sheets.
However, some people have a wool allergy, if you’re one of those people, don’t worry, you can use plastic dryer balls instead and still get some of the same benefits as wool dryer balls.
Last but not least, dryer balls are more eco-friendly than single-use dryer sheets.
Dryer sheets are a single-use product and dryer balls can be used for several years with proper care.
Also, wool balls are made with natural materials which are eco-friendly and more sustainable than synthetic dryer balls which decreases their environmental impact.
You can even use old sweaters to make wool dryer balls to be even more eco-conscious which is something we’ll talk about in one of the sections below.
How to Add Scents to Your Dryer Balls
One of the biggest reasons people prefer dryer sheets over dryer balls is the fresh scent you get from dryer sheets.
But, you can add scents to your dryer balls by using your favorite essential oils. To do this, add a couple of drops of essential oils to each dryer ball.
Before you get essential oil crazy, you’ll want to make sure the essential oil you use doesn’t irritate your skin. Take a drop of the oil and rub it on the inside of your wrist, if you have no irritation then you’re good to go.
There are a few types of essential oils that are known to be more of a skin irritant than others. They are citrus oils, cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, oregano, peppermint, and jasmine. Steer clear of these unless you know they don’t cause you any skin irritation.
Ouroilyhouse.com recommends using a mix of lavender and chamomile to get a fresh laundry scent.
How to Make Wool Dryer Balls
Yes. You can make your own wool dryer balls. And once you learn how to make them, they also make very nice gifts. They’re very thoughtful and useful, especially for anyone who does not like to iron wrinkled shirts!
Several videos teach how to felt your own wool dryer balls. Here’s a video that shows you how to make dryer balls out of 100% wool yarn.
And, here’s a video that shows you how to make wool dryer balls out of old wool garments. You can go to a thrift shop for some cheap upcycling of old wool items.
Can You Use Tennis Balls as Dryer Balls?
You should not use tennis balls as dryer balls because they can make your clothes smell like rubber. They also may transfer the neon yellow color from the tennis balls to your clothes. Tennis balls will start to come apart and break down after just about a year of use and they are much louder in the dryer than wool dryer balls.