Fabric softener sheets cause a buildup on your clothes. For those with sensitive skin, this residue can cause rashes and/or dry itchy skin. In the case of cloth diapers, this buildup can cause repelling issues and then your diapers will leak. Even using the fabric softener sheets with your regular laundry can cause enough buildup in the dryer to cause problems with diapers. (Liquid fabric softener in your washer causes the same problem.) So, when we made the decision to cloth diaper, that also meant no more fabric softener for us!
Wool dryer balls are a great eco-friendly alternative to fabric softener. They work by fluffing and separating your clothes as they bounce around the dryer. While many say this can reduce drying time, and therefore save on electricity, I haven’t bothered to pay significant attention to know. I prefer to walk away from the dryer and ignore it until after it has beeped at me several times!
They can be a bit pricey, so I procrastinated in trying them for as long as possible. Part of what made me decide to go for it was finding Dreamswept Alpacas on Etsy. I feel like their prices are much more reasonable than some other companies I’ve seen. You can buy 4 balls for $18, 6 for $27, or 8 for $36.
I also really love that alpaca wool does not have lanolin like other wool, which makes them safe for use by those with allergies. I had a ton of allergies and sensitive skin growing up, so I’m very particular about what our little one’s skin will come in contact with. Another thing that I appreciate about Dreamswept Alpaca’s wool dryer balls in particular is that they are sold in their natural colors – no dyes are used in making them. (Another great example of less being more!)
Here is some info from Dreamswept Alpaca’s Etsy page:
Each large ball is approximately eight inches around and 1.5 ounces. I take the natural alpaca fiber and shape it into balls using a wet felted process. Then they are needle felted to keep the fibers as tight as possible. Please note they are not made from balls of yarn.
Just toss the dryer balls in each load. They will dramatically reduce your drying time by fluffing and separating the clothes. 2-4 dryer balls work well in small loads. Use 6 dryer balls or more for medium to large loads or those with heavy towels, jeans, etc. to reduce your drying time and save even more energy!
I’ve been using 6 balls for a few months now, and so far so good! In my opinion, the clothes do have more static than when we used the fabric softener sheets. But, it isn’t such a problem that it bothers me at all. And I think the static could be reduced or gotten rid of by adding more balls to each dryer load. I admit, I feel like I do laundry non-stop so I try to maximize my washer and dryer space. I would classify all of my wash loads as large. I was a little worried that my clothes would stink if I wasn’t using fabric softener. (That might sound funny, but when you teach yoga all day…) I have not noticed any stink issues at all. Everything smells fresh and clean when I pull it out of the dryer. I also wondered if the dryer balls would leave fuzzies all over my clothes. This hasn’t been a problem either! Occasionally, I’ll get a few threads from the balls on dark clothing. But, it is only a few and I can easily pick them off without even using a lint brush.
Overall, I highly recommend these dryer balls. If the initial cost makes you unsure, just consider it to be an investment. You’ll end up saving in the long run when you aren’t purchasing fabric softener anymore. Interested in trying them now? You can buy them from Dreamswept Alpaca’s Etsy page. Michele has generously offered you a 15% discount on dryer ball orders. Use code DryerBalls2011 before 12/31/11 to save!