I Tried the Wool Dryer Balls With 54,000+ Amazon Reviews and Will Never Go Back to Fabric Softener

Updated: May 30, 2024

These wool dryer balls saved my sensitive skin! Plus they're chemical-free, cut drying time in half and cost less than $20.

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Laundry is one of those chores that never goes away. There’s always something that needs washing, something that needs folding, and a new stain remover, best-smelling laundry detergent or fabric softener to buy. As an eco-conscious type, I’m always trying to reduce my burden on the planet by using less plastic and products made with fewer chemicals. This means I spend a lot of time seeking out items made with clean ingredients, or recycled materials.

There’s nothing I love more than finding an environmentally-friendly product: Bonus points if it saves me money! Extra bonus points if it’s not just better for me or the Earth, but is actually a more effective product than the alternative. The final hurdle? My super sensitive skin that reacts to many of the standard ingredients in laundry detergents, softeners and dryer sheets. To do my laundry, I need something eco-friendly and gentle. Enter my new best household chore friend: Smart Sheep wool dryer balls. They tick every single box!

What are wool dryer balls?

The Smart Sheep dryer balls are made from premium New Zealand wool that absorbs some of the moisture of wet fabric. The movement of the dryer balls also helps to cut down on drying time, as the wool bounces between the wet clothes, separating them and allowing warm air to flow between the layers. The wool fluffs towels and comforters, and because there are no chemicals, the company promises no skin irritation. Even better: Of the many glowing reviews, several buyers noted that the wool dryer balls picked up lint and pet hair from their clothes, meaning their clothes were cleaner than before.

“What they actually do is they keep the clothes moving in the dryer so they don’t clump up. So it makes them dry faster,” says Patric Richardson, host of The Laundry Guy on Discovery+. “What they technically do is maintain the centrifugal force of your dryer. They basically keep your clothes from lumping up and not drying in the middle.”

Wool Dryer Ballsvia amazon.com via merchant

Smart Sheep Wool Dryer Balls

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Shortens dry time
  • Softens clothes with no chemicals
  • Lasts for 1,500+ loads
  • Reduces wrinkles, traps pet hair

Cons:

  • Not the best with reducing static
  • Some reviewers report an odd smell (goes away when washed)

How we tested it

When I came across these wool dryer balls on Amazon, I was wearing a shirt that was making me itch. I knew it was because of the dryer sheets I had recently started using to try and combat the static cling that had been gluing my clothes together when I took them out of the dryer. The Smart Sheep wool dryer balls promised to reduce that cling, chemical-free. They also promised to last for more than 1,500 loads of laundry (more than two years’ worth!) and save me money by shortening the drying time. I read the reviews: enthusiastic. I checked out the price: $19.95 for six grapefruit-sized dryer balls. Sounded great to me! I hit Buy Now.

That was six months ago, and ever since that first purchase I have enjoyed calm, non-irritated skin and clean, cling-free clothes that dry in half the time (as long as I don’t overload the dryer). Additionally, the wool dryer balls haven’t degraded at all; they look and work exactly the same as they did when I first bought them. They do make a bit of noise bouncing around in the dryer, but nothing too intrusive, and they’re no more difficult to untangle from a sheet than a traditional dryer sheet. In fact, they’re easier to find because I can just feel for the shape. Recently, I’ve experimented with adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to the dryer balls, which lasts for several washes and makes my clothes and linens smell delicious. I’m looking forward to buying them again in about two and a half years!

FAQ

How many wool dryer balls should you use in your dryer?

Richardson recommends adding at least two wool dryer balls to each load of laundry. If you have a larger load or a load with heavy items, you can add more. Toss the balls in your dryer and leave them in there, even when you’re not doing laundry. That way, you’ll never forget to add them.

Do wool dryer balls help with pet hair?

Yes, dryer balls will catch or remove loose pet hair from your clothes. To help keep your washer and dryer running smoothly, you should remove as much pet hair as possible before cleaning your clothes.

Will wool dryer balls leave white lint on my clothes?

If you’re using high-quality wool dryer balls, they will not leave lint on your clothes. They work to remove lint from your clothes as they dry in the dryer.

What other reviews had to say

I’m not the only dryer ball convert! Many other laundry-doing people found similar benefits, and several of them raved about the product on Amazon.

Danielle: “I did a load of towels comparison to test these. I have a high-capacity washer and when I fill it full of towels I have to run it through the dryer for 180 mins. When I checked them with the balls they were dryer at 40 minutes than they used to be at 90, so I put them in for another 40 minutes. For towels at least… it literally cut my drying time in a little less than HALF.”

C. Knighton: “An added and unexpected bonus is that these wool balls attract dog hair away from my clothing! On any given day, I have a minimum of four Samoyeds (very hairy white dogs) and two white-ish cats who are all dead set on depositing as much fur on my clothing as possible. So I know about hairy clothes! They don’t leave my laundry fur-free but there is a noticeable reduction since I started using them.”

Tamera: “These are amazing! I do about two to three loads of laundry a day. I love these! Back in 12/18, I bought a 6-pack of Smart Sheep Dryer Balls and a 6-pack of dryer balls from another brand. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I’m amazed. They are all used together for drying my laundry. After eight months of use, I still have all six Smart Sheep Dryer balls (they are holding up, no unraveling like the other brand, smell pleasant, are keeping their shape, etc).”

Why you should trust us

I’ve been covering lifestyle topics for Reader’s Digest since 2020. With my own sensitive skin, I was the perfect candidate to test these wool dryer balls. I combined extensive review data with my own personal experience to write this article.

For this piece, I also consulted Patric Richardson, a long-time laundry expert known as The Laundry Evangelist. He’s the host of The Laundry Guy on Discovery+ and the author of House Love and Laundry Love.

Final verdict

Even if you don’t have sensitive skin like me, using a sustainable and chemical-free laundry solution like wool dryer balls is incredibly important for your long-term health. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets may accomplish the same thing, but many of the chemicals in these products are known to be toxic. Some are carcinogens that are known to cause cancer with sustained exposure (like a daily or weekly laundry load). Some of these harmful ingredients include chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen), limonene (a carcinogen), benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer), benzyl alcohol (which irritates the respiratory tract), ethanol (linked to disorders of the central nervous system) and more.

The chemicals are released into the air and absorbed into your clothes when the sheets heat up in the dryer. They could be inhaled or absorbed through your skin, and pose risks to your respiratory and long-term health. Sounds scary, right?! Fortunately, using a sustainable product like the Smart Sheep wool dryer balls is an easy and affordable way to protect yourself and your family (and prevent that static cling) without sacrificing your clothes or bank balance.

Where to buy Smart Sheep Wool Dryer Balls

These amazing wool dryer balls are available on Amazon for less than $20, a true bargain when you weigh it against the fact that they last for two to four years! They come with six dryer balls, and the company recommends you use three or four for smaller loads, and five or six for those giant weekend laundry loads.

Smart Sheep also notes that although they source their wool from New Zealand and inspect and package them in the United States, the balls themselves are felted in Nepal by women and minority groups paid a strong living wage. Sustainable product and responsible business practice? I might just be a customer for life, and I’m buying them as housewarming gifts for all my friends, too.

Wool Dryer Ballsvia amazon.com via merchant

Smart Sheep Wool Dryer Balls

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