9 Best Dryer Balls to Reduce Drying Time

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It's a win-win with dryer balls, which save on drying time and help the environment.

If there’s one thing most Americans can agree on it’s that doing laundry is a chore. That’s why we search out products like the best-smelling laundry detergents—they make the process a little more enjoyable (or at least a little fresher smelling). But while the best laundry detergent may keep your clothes looking new, it won’t make laundry day go any faster. That’s where dryer balls come in.

These reusable balls are a chemical-free alternative to single-use dryer sheets. In a nutshell, using dryer balls means a shorter drying time, which translates into less energy production. Since the average family does about 300 loads of laundry per year, that’s good news for the planet and for your wallet. Plus, your favorite jeans and tees will last longer too. Here’s what you need to know about dryer balls, including how they stack up against the best dryer sheets and the nine best dryer balls to use.

What are dryer balls, and what do they do?

Dryer balls are toss-ins for the dryer that claim to reduce drying times, fluff clothes, and zap static. It’s the reduction in drying time that really excites, especially if manufacturers’ estimations are right and the little balls can shave up to 25 minutes from your drying time.

They do this by separating laundry in the dryer drum, which allows them to get more air, according to Energy Saver, the U.S. Department of Energy’s consumer resource. Still skeptical? Doug Smith, PhD, a professor of applied physics at the University of California San Diego, suggests doing some trial and error—especially if you have never used dryer balls before. Start with a lower heat setting at first, which will prevent over-drying and clothes shrinkage. You can always adjust your dryer settings (to add more heat or alter the drying time) and load size as you go along.

When it comes to which products to use, you have options. They’re traditionally made from wool, but you can also buy them in a combination of plastic and rubber polymers. While most are round, you’ll also find them in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, including some cute designs.

  • Wool dryer balls: Smith explains that because of its absorbent nature, wool is most effective at absorbing moisture compared with plastic or rubber. They’re also quiet and environmentally friendly.
  • Plastic and rubber dryer balls: These are good if you want to avoid the possibility of wool fibers shedding or pilling on clothes.

You can even go the DIY route. Grab some wool yarn from your local hobby store (just don’t get the “superwash” or “machine washable” varieties since they won’t felt) and fashion your own balls. But don’t try the tennis ball hack; the balls’ dyes can leak out onto your fabrics at higher temperatures. “Tennis balls were not meant to be exposed to that kind of heat,” says Smith.

Dryer balls vs. dryer sheets

Some people doubt the effectiveness of dryer balls, unsure of how they compare to dryer sheets. Drying time is a big difference—dryer sheets don’t separate laundry like these balls do, which means they don’t cut down on drying time—but there are other ways the two differ.

If you have skin sensitivities or allergies, you probably search out the best detergents for sensitive skin. You’ll want to put the same thought into your drying products. Smith notes that dryer balls are unlikely to transfer chemicals to clothes, which is not the case with dryer sheets. The balls are chemical-free, and 100 percent wool products are all-natural and hypoallergenic, making them one of the best cleaning products for people with allergies. The Environmental Working Group endorses them as safe for babies and those with sensitive skin.

When it comes to static cling, Smith thinks dryer sheets would be more effective. What do dryer sheets do? They include ingredients that are specifically intended to reduce static cling. Wool, as a type of hair, might actually make the static cling worse, he says. Just think of how static electricity increases when you rub a cloth on top of your head.

How long do dryer balls last?

Product quality can vary depending on the manufacturer, so make sure to read the reviews. Smart Sheep, the leading seller of wool dryer balls on Amazon (with over 50,000 positive reviews), claims each ball lasts for at least 1,000 loads. That means approximately three years of laundry, depending on the size of your family. You’ll know it’s time to replace when the wool starts to unravel.

If you begin to see cracks or loose spikes on your plastic or rubber dryer balls, that’s your clue that it’s time to get new ones. You might think a denser plastic or rubber dryer ball would hold up longer, but according to Smith, longevity has more to do with the quality of the polymer. So make sure you’re comparing the same ingredients side by side when picking yours. “If the two have the exact same compounds, then the denser one would probably last longer,” he adds.

How to use dryer balls

Place a few balls into the dryer with your damp fabrics. The number of balls you use is based on the size of each load.

  • Small to medium loads: two to three balls
  • Large loads: four to six balls

Many companies now sell extra-large dryer balls, which are more effective at separating laundry, so you can use fewer per load.

While some dryer balls are louder than others, they should not harm your dryer—as long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Finally, be sure you practice the correct post-laundry care. No, we’re not talking about whether you should use a steamer vs. iron on your clothes. We’re talking about properly caring for your dryer balls. For instance, if you used a low-heat setting with wool balls, you’ll want to set them out to air-dry after each load to ensure optimal performance.

The 9 best dryer balls

While traditional wool dryer balls tend to be the most popular, some people prefer the fun colors and cute designs that the plastic versions offer. And if you’re allergic to wool, plastic will help you avoid any kind of skin sensitivity, though wool dryer balls don’t typically cause problems. To be safe, you can sample them on a small load.

Here are the top nine dryer balls for your laundry.

Best overall: Smart Sheep XL Wool Dryer Balls

Smart Sheep Xl Wool Dryer BallsviaVia Amazon.com

With more than 40,000 five-star reviews, Smart Sheep’s wool dryer balls get the overall win. The six-pack of extra-large balls costs just over $16. Made from 100 percent premium New Zealand wool, they’re organic and made without any fillers. As a feel-good bonus, these dryer balls are felted by women and minorities in Nepal, providing them with a strong living wage. “My husband purchased these without my knowledge as I was skeptical,” writers reviewer Samantha Kinman. “I have definitely noticed a difference in the level of static and the drying time. I use all six balls for all loads because I usually only do large loads. These little balls have really made a difference in our laundry routine.”

Why we love them:

  • 100 percent wool
  • Long lasting
  • Supports Nepalese women and minorities

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Best for small loads: Everspring 100 Percent New Zealand Wool Dryer Balls

Everspring 100 Percent New Zealand Wool Dryer BallsVia Target.com

Not everyone needs a ton of dryer balls or the largest ones out there. Everspring offers a three-pack made of organic New Zealand wool for less than $10. Sold in eco-friendly packaging, this makes the perfect gift-topper for college students learning how to do laundry for the first time. Bonus: This product has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, so you can return them with no questions asked if you’re not happy with the results. Linda, a happy Target reviewer writes, “Omg, have I been living under a rock?! These are literally the best inventions ever. My first time trying a load of laundry and wow! They made my clothes so soft.”

Why we love them:

  • 100 percent wool
  • Environmentally-friendly packaging
  • Satisfaction guarantee

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Best plastic version: Whitmor Dryer Balls

Whitmor Dryer BallsVia Amazon.com

With more than 3,500 five-star reviews and selling for less than $10, you can’t go wrong with Whitmor’s four-pack of blue dryer balls. They are spiky, which helps soften and fluff fabrics naturally, which means you may not need to use fabric softener. Stephen, an Amazon reviewer, notes there is very little noise with these. And a dubious Amazon reviewer named Kristin says, “I had no intention of them actually helping. Well, I was wrong! These are amazing! I am not sure how they do it, but somehow they actually help dry the clothes. We can now put a normal load of clothes into the dryer, and we don’t have to divide them or run the dryer three to four times to dry.”

Why we love them:

  • Soft spikes help fluff fabric
  • Made from non-toxic materials

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Most relaxing: Plant Therapy Wool Dryer Balls and Laundry Essential Oil Blend

Plant Therapy Wool Dryer Balls And Laundry Essential Oil BlendVia Walmart.com

Plant Therapy offers a six-pack of wool dryer balls for around $17—slightly pricier than the competition, but it comes with an essential oil blend to scent your clothes as they dry. You can pick from among three different scents: grapefruit, lavender, or peppermint. Next time you’re trying to get the smell out of clothes, toss a few of these into the dryer. Plant Therapy’s oils are 100 percent pure and formulated specifically for laundry, so you don’t have to do any guessing. Jen, a Walmart.com reviewer, writes, “I wasn’t a believer in the wool balls until I tried them myself. They do soften clothes just like dryer sheets! The grapefruit scent is pleasant, and the scent lasts after the clothes are folded and put away.”

Why we love them:

  • 100 percent wool
  • Included essential oil gives laundry a fresh scent

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Best organic: SnugPad XL Wool Dryer Balls

Snugpad Xl Wool Dryer BallsVia Amazon.com

SnugPad’s six-pack of extra-large organic wool dryer balls costs less than $10, making them a low-cost alternative to dryer sheets. The size makes them ideal for large loads, like if you’re washing a down comforter. With more than 18,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, these are a fantastic option if you’re looking for organic dryer balls. Plus, they’re American-owned and operated. Kendra, a satisfied Amazon reviewer, writes, “Dryer balls really do make my clothes feel softer. I’ve especially found this to be true with jeans, sheets, towels, and basic tees.” She’s also happy about how these reusable balls will save her money over single-use dryer sheets.

Why we love them:

  • 100 percent wool
  • Lower cost than similar organic wool versions

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Best do-gooder: Three Main 100 Percent Organic New Zealand Wool Dryer Balls

Three Main 100 Percent Organic New Zealand Wool Dryer BallsVia Threemain.com

Three Main does a lot of good for the earth, giving back 3 percent from every sale to programs that protect our oceans. On top of that, the company became carbon neutral at the beginning of 2020, which is important when thinking about the big picture. As Smith points out, to really impact the environment, dryer balls need to be manufactured responsibly as well. These organic New Zealand wool dryer balls, which are sold in a pack of three and cost just under $20, meet the mark. Reviewer Dawn K. writes, “I am so glad that I ordered these. I will never go back to dryer sheets.” As an added bonus, the three-pack comes with a canvas tote.

Why we love them:

  • 100 percent wool
  • Carbon-neutral company
  • A portion of every sale goes toward ocean conservation

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Best eco-friendly packaging: Woolzies Wool Dryer Balls

Woolzies Wool Dryer BallsVia Bedbathandbeyond.com

Woolzies dryer balls stand out because of their eco-friendly packaging, which consists of an earth-toned cardboard box and a few round openings that let you sample the soft wool. A three-pack of the extra-large balls is ideal for large loads, so if you’re wondering how to wash towels and dry them together without spending hours waiting for the machine to finish, this is your answer. The pack costs about $17—pricier than other options, though they have staying power. “I have been using wool dryer balls for a few years now,” writes reviewer Jessica. “I have been through many balls, and a lot of them have been cheaper ones. I have been pleased with them, but these are by far better. I have only used them for a few weeks, and they are holding up great! By now my cheaper ones would be piling and fluffing. These are not.”

Why we love them:

  • 100 percent wool
  • Long lasting
  • Eco-friendly packaging

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Most adorable: Moonbrook Wool Dryer Balls

Moonbrook Wool Dryer BallsVia Amazon.com

With two options—a little white lamb on a gray dryer ball or a green dinosaur on a white dryer ball—Moonbrook hits a home run. For less than $15 (price varies based on design), you will get a six-pack of organic, handmade New Zealand wool dryer balls. These come inside a cotton bag and make a perfect gift option for a baby shower or housewarming party. Bonus: If a few roll onto the floor as you’re folding laundry, your little one will stay entertained. Amazon reviewer Robin D. says, “I live in very dry, arid West Texas, and in the winter, the static in our home is crazy. After trying three other sets of dryer balls, I was ready to throw up my hands and return to dryer sheets, then these adorable balls caught my eye. Other dryer ball makers claim static-free dryer loads, but these balls deliver.”

Why we love them:

  • 100 percent wool
  • Cute design

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Best new arrival: Blueland Dryer Ball Starter Set

Blueland Dryer Ball Starter SetVia Blueland.com

Eco-friendly and sustainable cleaning brand Blueland has just launched 100 percent New Zealand wool dryer balls that are reusable up to 1,000 times. They’re designed to help reduce static, wrinkles, and drying time. Since its launch on Earth Day in 2019, Blueland has amassed an impressive roster of celebrity fans, garnered a Shark Tank investment deal, and diverted nearly 2 billion single-use plastic bottles from our landfills and oceans. When you use this three-pack of wool dryer balls, you’ll not only save 3,000 single-use dryer sheets from ending up in landfills, but you’ll also save over $100—and enjoy clothes that are fluffed, soft, and ready for wear. This is an easy eco-friendly clean product swap to make.

Why we love them:

  • 100 percent wool
  • Carbon-neutral shipping
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • Company is Climate Neutral Certified

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Dianne Bright
Dianne Bright is a southern California-based writer and a regular contributor with RD.com, where she writes about the environment, nutrition, finance, pets, and books. She also contributes to TheHealthy.com. Her work has appeared in Scholastic's Parent & Child magazine and blog, I Love Cats magazine, and Christianity Today, among other publications. Bright's book of parenting reflections: MOMS KICK BUTT, comes out in February, 2021. Her M.A. is in Spanish American Literature. Follow Dianne on Twitter @dibright, Facebook @AuthorDianneBright, and Instagram @authordiannebright.