The amazing Dryer Balls?

Dryer Balls After seeing the adverts on TV for the, “amazing dryer balls” I decided to buy a pair and try them out. They claim to soften fabrics, reduce creases & wrinkles, cut down on lint and save up to 25% on tumble dryer running costs.

These are big claims for something costing only around £10. The hard plastic balls with knobbly bits are designed to “physically break down the stiffness created by water drying in fabric”. You simply place both dryer balls in with the laundry and use the dryer as normal.

Dryer Balls Review

Noisy : The first thing I noticed during the test which wasn’t too unexpected was how noisy the balls are.

They make quite a racket bouncing around in the drum. So much so that I decided to open the door and make sure they weren’t causing damage to it.

The noise does die down a little after a while as they heat up and soften a little but they are likely to be quite annoying if you have your tumble dryer in the kitchen.

Listen to dryer balls in the tumble dryer (mp3) – The first several seconds is the dryer without dryer balls inside, then there’s a pause followed by the sound of the dryer with the dryer balls inside. The whole clip is only about 30 seconds.

Softening clothes

Fabric-conditioner The makers claim that there is no longer any need to add a softening dryer sheet or use fabric softener in your wash. However, I’ve been advising this for a while.

There’s no real need to use fabric softener if tumble drying because the tumble drying process softens laundry (Environmental tip: Save on fabric conditioner). It could be that these balls enhance this effect though, although I didn’t notice a difference in the following test I did.

My experiment is in no way scientific, I simply did the following –

Towels I put a load of towels on a 30 minute cool wash with full spin. I then put them in the dryer without any Dryer Balls. I found that they were dry after 165 minutes.

Step 2: I removed one of the towels for later comparison, and left the drier door open to cool down. I placed the rest back in the washing machine on the 30 minute cool wash.

Step 3: Then I put the remaining towels in the tumble drier, and this time added the two Dryer Balls on top.

Result? This load appeared to dry in 150 minutes, about 15 minutes quicker. This is nowhere near 25% but it wasn’t far off 10% quicker. When comparing the towel dried previously without the balls I couldn’t notice any difference in softness or fluffiness. I tried a blind test on my wife and she could feel no difference either.

Summary: I am naturally sceptical about how such a simple idea of a couple of knobbly balls thrown in the tumble drier can offer so many benefits but a rough test did appear to show a reduction in drying time.

This would clearly save some money. However, as Peter Lea pointed out in the comments below, removing the one towel could account for the difference in drying time.

And as I can’t be sure if I replaced the towel in the dryer ball test or not my test is not sound enough to draw proper conclusions. Have you used them? What have you found?

The other claims such as making laundry softer weren’t confirmed, and as previously stated tumble drying does this naturally any way (Save on fabric softener when tumble drying).

UPDATE: I just noticed that Which? have tested some dryer balls too and weren’t too impressed. They carry out many tests and reviews and are a great resource for all consumer related product research. (Why be a Which Member?)

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7 thoughts on “The amazing Dryer Balls?”

  1. Andy,
    in my opinion the load dried quicker because you had a smaller load. You took a towel out! What percentage of the initial load did this towel represent? To have a real comparison you should have dried exactly the same amount again!

    P.S. I can see your website is improving considerably. Well done. I keep coming back to it when I need advice regarding repairing washing machines!
    Contacted you a year or so ago, when I pointed out some links were not working. Keep up the good work!!!

  2. Hello Peter: Many thanks for your contribution. I’m fairly sure I did. I didn’t mention that in my article though and frankly, now you have mentioned it I can’t be 100% certain that I did indeed replace the towel. I would need to do the test again ideally.

  3. I fell for the hype and the promised reduction in drying times. What a waste of money, they do not reduce drying time at all nor make the clothes softer without conditioner. Useless

  4. I bought some dryer balls last year. I live in a bungalow and found the noise was absolutely unbearable! in addition I didn’t find they made any difference to time or softness. When you have a long drying load such as towels, which take two hours, it is a nightmare to have the crashing and thumping going on. I tried to make sure that they were inside the towels but they didn’t stay there.
    In the end I contacted the supplier who gave me a credit to choose something else from their range which was better than nothing

  5. I’ve been using these balls for about three years now and I’ve definitely found they reduce drying time. I haven’t noticed any difference in softness though, and I only use them on items such as towels and sheets and they seem to crease clothes (many of which I just tumble dry and put on hangers with no ironing).

  6. I bought two dryer balls in the pound shop, and always use them.

    They make a real racket for a minute or two, and then seem to calm down.

    I really cannot say if they actually do anything- only use them in hope that they do as tumble drying is SO expensive.

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