Wool Dryer Balls: Cruelty Free or an Eco Disaster? It Depends.
Wool dryer balls are a natural and non-static solution for reducing energy and lowering CO2 emissions.
But, despite the unquestionable benefits of lowering carbon emissions, these little home savers are part of a larger debate: Whether or not the wool used to make them is harvested using cruelty-free practices.
Understanding the way dryer balls work, how they are made, and the benefits they offer is the first step in learning whether they are able to do all they promise… and help the environment while working to save animals.
At first glance, it looks like a bleached tennis ball, but these fluffy balls can play an integral role in restoring environmental balance. They are an excellent option for reducing your carbon footprint… but you need to be able to discriminate between ones that will help the planet and those that won’t.
An Eco-Friendly, Organic, and Hypoallergenic Fabric Softener
Eco-friendly dryer balls deliver an organic, hypoallergenic fabric softener. In fact, their comfort and health benefits are more famous among parents than ever. On average, they can last 2 to 4 years, which means no more buying chemical-soaked dryer sheets, and no more unnecessary waste.1
For drying clothes faster, the wool balls bounce around inside the machine, agitating the laundry while in the barrel. This layered separation of clothes makes plenty of room for the warm air to circulate, drying clothes more efficiently (which reduces the amount of energy needed). They also absorb the moisture from your clothes, speeding up drying time. Plus, this combines for an excellent way to eliminate static.2
Wool-Use Cruelty Concerns
Some groups and individuals have been concerned that the wool comes from sheep, which opens up room for potential animal cruelty, but this can be avoided with a little diligence.
Sheep need to be sheared in order to keep them healthy and comfortable, and it is usually an enjoyable experience for them, once they don’t have to carry around all of that heavy wool. They are unable to shed wool on their own, so if left without shearing, they could get overheated and die, their wool could get infested with flies and maggots, or they could be so weighed down that they could not escape from predators.3 So, as long as you make sure you are buying wool from a cruelty-free source, it’s actually a good thing for sheep.
Using Wool Dryer Balls to Save Money And Save Animals
Not only do certain dryer balls save you money, some have the ability to save animals too.
When proceeds are used to help fund and operate wildlife rehabilitation centers, the purchase actually helps heal endangered animals around the world, especially in the rainforests where habitats have been destroyed.
Decrease Drying Time & Lengthen Your Clothes’ Lifespan
Because these tools help speed up the drying time, this also means less wear and tear to your clothes, and less shrinkage. With less time in the dryer, clothes will keep their original shape and quality for far longer.
When you first start using dryer balls, it can be easy to miscalculate how much drying time you need. Because of this, keep an eye on your laundry and make sure your clothes don’t over-dry the first few times, until you get a feel for how much they aid the drying process.
Another quick and proven trick you can try is to spritz your dryer balls with a water bottle before tossing them into the dryer. If they are slightly damp, your clothes will dry even faster due to the high humidity and density in the dryer.
Fluff and Soften Your Clothes
The best thing about wool dryer balls is how they turn your clothes soft and fluffy without relying on water-based chemicals that end up in the water supply. By consistently brushing their fibers against the fabric of your laundry, it creates a natural, soft touch when they come out of the dryer. So even if your drying period is relatively shorter, you can still enjoy the softness and fluffiness of your clothes.
Significantly Decrease Static Cling & Safer than Dryer Sheets
Contrary to misguided perception, dryer balls work better than dryer sheets to reduce static cling. And, you can add safety pins into each dryer ball to discharge static even faster. Extensive current research has proven that dryer sheets can create serious health hazards for people.4,5 However, when used as an alternative to dryer sheets, wool dryer balls are completely hypoallergenic, preventing the chemicals from transferring and irritating sensitive skin.
Another great thing about these laundry tools is that you can drop a small amount of essential oil onto them to scent your laundry. People have been adding oil into their regular dryer sheets for years. So, don’t hesitate to add essential oil to them to create a delightful aroma or to benefit from aromatherapy. Just drop a few drops of your favorite oil directly onto the ball, and toss them in. For help sleeping at night, add some lavender essential oil when you dry your sheets! Just make sure to soak the balls in water for about 10-20 minutes beforehand to reduce the oil’s potency.
Best Wool Dryer Balls You Can Get in 2021: Dryer Sheets Alternatives
When choosing a wool dryer ball, it’s important to choose one that is cruelty-free, to ensure the wool was harvested sustainably and without any harm to the animal. Sheep should never need to be harmed for their wool, and it helps to know that the wool in your dryer balls came from a happy, healthy sheep. Some other considerations include:
- Long lasting options: Of course, the reduced amount of waste by replacing dryer sheets with balls is an immediate benefit, and the wool itself is biodegradable, but choose a product that will have lasting power to get the most for your money.
- Completely Compostable: When your dryer balls have reached their limit with laundry, they can achieve another stage of life if they are completely compostable. Place them in your garden to deliver a strong water retention solution.
Lower Your Ecological Footprint
Switching to wool dryer balls means you will be doing your part for the planet. It’s an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint, because they are such an energy saver. In fact, studies show that dryers generate over a ton of emissions every year!6 But, the less energy that is used to do your laundry, the less carbon is emitted because of it.
If you want your descendants to live on a green and sustainable planet, start using them instead of dryer sheets.1 To determine what your specific carbon footprint and how much of an impact lowering it will have, use our carbon footprint calculator.
Using this drying option has the power to do a lot, but you can do even more to help the environment. Reducing your carbon footprint by supporting tree planting efforts not only helps reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, but provides crucial habitats for endangered species. Therefore, by choosing the right product, you have the power to not only help your power bill, but animals, forests, and the earth as a whole!
Most people who learn about the basic benefits of dryer balls never use dryer sheets again. Here are the essential carbon-positive benefits of using them:
- They reduce energy consumption by shortening the drying process by 20-30%2
- They’re natural, organic, and composed of non-toxic materials
- They’re more cost-effective than dryer sheets
- You can reuse them for more than 1,000 laundry loads
- They decrease the static build-up during drying
So Are These Dryer Balls an Eco-Disaster?
Once the pros and cons are weighed, there is no doubt that wool dryer balls are a fantastic option for your laundry room and for the planet. As long as you choose the right ones, they are even nice to the sheep that help produce them.
This eco-friendly laundry solution comes with no downsides or negative effects, and eliminates so many issues that come with drying laundry. Just by switching over to using dryer balls instead of dryer sheets, you can not only protect your health, but save time, money, and the environment.
1Henner, P. (2019, August 17). 1 Going Green with Dryer Balls. Retrieved June 4, 2021, from umaine.edu: https://umaine.edu/pagefarm/event/going-green-with-dryer-balls/
2United States Department of Energy. (n.d.). 2 16 Ways to Save Money in the Laundry Room. Retrieved June 04, 2021, from Energy.gov: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/16-ways-save-money-laundry-room
3American Society of Animal Science. (n.d.). There is no such thing as humane wool when it is left on the sheep: Why sheep shearing is absolutely necessary for sheep welfare. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from asas.org: https://www.asas.org/taking-stock/blog-post/taking-stock/2014/07/14/there-is-no-such-thing-as-humane-wool-when-it-is-left-on-the-sheep-why-sheep-shearing-is-absolutely-necessary-for-sheep-welfare.
4Steinemann, A. C., MacGregor, I. C., Gordon, S. M., Gallagher, L. G., Davis, A. L., Ribeiro, D. S., & Wallace, L. A. (2011). Fragranced consumer products: Chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 31(3), 328–333. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eiar.2010.08.002
5Goldschmidt, V. (2020, November 17). Stop Clinging To Toxic Dryer Sheets And Use These Instead. Save Our Bones. Retrieved June 14, 2021, from saveourbones.com: https://saveourbones.com/stop-clinging-to-toxic-dryer-sheets-and-use-these-instead/.
6Leverette, M. M. (2021, March 09). Top 10 Reasons to Line Dry Laundry. Retrieved from The Spruce: https://www.thespruce.com/reasons-to-line-dry-laundry-2145997