If you talk a walk down the detergent aisle of your local store, you’ll be confronted with a myriad of laundry products for cleaning, stain removal, fabric softening, deodorizing, and static prevention. It can be equally as overwhelming when it comes to drying solutions for your clothes, especially when you have to choose between dryer balls vs dryer sheets.
If you’re wondering what’s right for your family as well as the environment, read on to understand the differences between wool balls vs dryer sheets and which one is best suited for green laundry.
What Are Dryer Sheets?
Conventional dryer sheets are a laundry staple in many homes. They are pieces of non-woven fabric coated in fabric softeners. When the laundry heats up, the softeners transfer onto the fabrics. This effectively coats clothes, softening them and reducing static.
Are Dryer Sheets Bad?
While store-bought dryer sheets may leave your clothes feeling soft and smelling like a field of lavender, they may actually cause more harm than good.
To begin with, dryer sheets don’t actually make your clothes softer. The fibers of the sheets are coated with a softening agent - fatty acids, fatty alcohols, or alcohol ethoxylates. While in the dryer, the heat melts the softening agent and coats the fabrics, giving them a slippery feel which people interpret as softness.
This coating collects in your dryer over time and creates a sticky film that can clog the screen of your machine’s lint filter. When the clothes are rewashed, that film can introduce chemicals into the waterways – potentially affecting aquatic plants and animals.
The fragrances used in dryer sheets and other laundry products may be harmful to your health. During a 2016 study on fragranced consumer products, up to 12.5 percent of adults reported adverse health effects such as asthma attacks, skin problems, and migraine attacks from the fragrance of laundry products coming from a dryer vent.
The polyester material that dryer sheets are made from makes them particularly bad for the environment. They are generally not compostable and can’t be recycled, making them destined for landfill sites unless diverted temporarily by using them for other household cleaning tasks.
Dryer sheets can also reduce the efficiency of your dryer, making them even less green.
Dryer Sheets Alternative
From an environmental standpoint, dryer sheets aren’t needed to keep clothes clean. As single-use products, they produce needless amounts of waste and emit potentially harmful chemicals into the air.
So what does someone use when they want soft, static-free clothes straight from the dryer without harming the environment?
Try dryer balls. Wool dryer balls, to be precise.
Do Dryer Balls Work?
Dryer balls are an environmentally responsible alternative to single-use dryer sheets. They’re small wool or plastic balls that you add to your dryer to help dry your laundry. The balls create space and air between your clothes. This helps your laundry dry faster, reduces static, and helps keep your clothes soft.
Plastic dryer balls are hardy and last for a very long time. They often include spikes that increase airflow. And if you want to add a fragrance to them, you can utilize an essential oil spray. This allows you to customize your scent and change it as needed.
Wool dryer balls also last for a long time. However, many people prefer wool dryer balls over the plastic version because they are a more natural option. It’s also easy to add essential oils to them for fragranced laundry.
What Do Dryer Balls Do?
Wool dryer balls can help prevent laundry from clumping in the dryer. The balls also retain the heat they receive from the dryer and therefore boost the drying process. This way, laundry dries more efficiently and faster, thus reducing drying times in your load of laundry, and potentially saving you money in the long run.
Additionally, wool dryer balls help to soften fabrics when used in the dryer. The balls continually agitate against the fibers in clothes and linens. So, after a (shorter) drying cycle, your clothes would also be soft to the touch.
Dryer Balls vs Dryer Sheets: Key Differences
Let’s look at three distinctions when it comes to wool dryer balls vs dryer sheets.
Dryer sheets stop static cling by balancing the electric charge of the different fabrics, thus preventing the build-up of static electricity that creates static cling.
On their own, wool dryer balls don’t do much to reduce static cling. However, attaching a safety pin to 2 or 3 of your balls has proven to be very effective. As they tumble around the dryer and contact the drum, the pins help to discharge the electrical charges causing the static.
Dryer sheets have softening compounds that coat fabrics in a layer that makes your clothes feel softer.
Wool dryer balls help to soften clothes in the dryer by continually agitating against the fibers in the clothes and linen.
As a disposable single-use product, dryer sheets contribute to environmental waste and have been found to emit volatile organic compounds into the air from dryer vents. This could potentially affect both air quality and human health.
Dryer balls made from 100% wool are natural, chemical-free, and biodegradable. They are reusable and can last up to 1,000 loads. Wool dryer balls cut at least 25% off the time to dry a load of laundry, saving time and reducing energy consumption.