Do Wool Dryer Balls Cut Down on Drying Time?

One of the things that concerns me the most about cloth diapering is how much I am spending on washing/drying. It is still less than what it costs to use disposables, but this frugal mama is all about trying to cut down on costs everywhere she can. So I was thrilled when LooHoo (formerly Woolly Rounds) offered to provide me with a batch of their Wool Dryer Balls so that I could carry out my experiment to see if they really cut down on drying time.

 

And BOY was it an experiment. I tried different methods for over EIGHT months. I will give you a detailed description of my methods below these results:

 

 

 

 

 

Vertical Axis is average dryer time in minutes

 

FINDINGS:

 

Based on my methods (discussed below), I found that the drying time of wool dryer balls appeared random and that there was thereforeno significant difference in drying time with the dryer balls.

 

However, I did find that the amount of static on my diapers did diminish significantly (and went away almost completely when I added a ball of aluminum foil). I also found that I could use the dryer balls to add an extra fragrance to my diapers (I will show you that soon) that made them smell good.

 

Will I keep using them? Yes. I was impressed with the lessened amount of static and the fragrance.

 

METHODS

I tested the dryer balls using a Whirlpool HE Dryer.

Dryer Balls measured approximately 3 inches in diameter.

My initial goal was to have 20 tests of each dryer ball quantity (so 20 clothing loads of 2 dryer balls, 20 of 4 dryer balls, 20 of 6, etc). I also wanted to do that same amount for cloth diaper loads. Unfortunately this came to a bit of a halt when I just had to move unexpectedly (and therefore the conditions for experimentation changed), so the quantity of observations isn’t as high as I had hoped.

 

I initially used my hands to determine if a load was done drying. I simply set a timer and reached my hand in every 5 minutes. However, I decided that it may be more accurate to rely on the “feel” of my machine. So I used the automatic setting and checked the time of the load when the buzzer went off and disposed of all data associated with the “hand feel” method.

 

I tried to make all loads as equal as possible. I felt it a little wasteful to do loads JUST to determine dryer time (i.e. washing a certain number of towels a certain number of times). I figured it was a little ironic to waste doing extra loads when I am trying to figure out what cuts energy costs.

 

I did a minimum of 10 loads for each number of dryer balls (therefore 20 total for clothes and diapers).

 

If I washed towels, jeans, pillows, sheets, or any other items that I felt threw off the dryer time, I did not include those times.

 

When collecting the data, I removed all possible outliers (i.e. any loads that had a significantly low or significantly high drying time).

 

My attitude in this is that I understand that the more ideal situation would be to have more controlled conditions. However, if I want to consider the energy cuts of the dryer balls, I want the results to be visible and dramatic. Therefore, I am not as concerned that all loads have been weighed equally (although I tried to keep it similar).

 

FUTURE STUDIES

 

Wooly Rounds is hiring a scientist to perform some more controlled experiments to truly see if there is a difference. It is my hope that more people conduct these experiments to see what they find. I am of course limited by my own circumstances and results may certainly vary. I have heard some people say 20 dryer balls makes a difference. Some say 8. It would be interesting if we could all collaborate to revise the methods for testing and develop more controlled conditions for testing these.


Related Links

 

Have You Tried This Product?

If you have tried this cloth diaper accessory (or any other accessory!) please head on over to our Cloth Diaper Accessories Survey page and take a quick, 2-minute survey on how this product worked for you. Survey results can be viewed on the Cloth Diaper Accessories Statistics page and are also used to write detailed statistical reviews (a complete list of which can be found on our Cloth Diaper and Product Reviews page).

 

Tara Porter

Tara Porter began using cloth diapers in 2011 when she felt that using disposable diapers was costing too much money. The problem was, a lot of the highly recommended diapers weren’t working for her baby. What she finally discovered was that her baby was skinny and a heavy wetter, and that diapers worked differently for those baby types. Because of her professional work with survey design and statistics, she designed Padded Tush Stats as a way to determine how different cloth diapers worked on different babies.

Tara moved on to other career endeavors in 2014 but can still be found online blogging about health and fitness at Fit Baby Steps.
  • http://www.makingitworkblog.com Carolyn

    I’m super surprised by your results! And are all dryer balls the same circumference? Because maybe that info should be included, too (maybe having 3 really huge dryer balls would yield different results than 6 smaller ones?)

  • Trisha W.

    I’ve been using wool dryer balls (mostly from Buddha Bunz) for about a year and a half. I’m not sure that they really shorten the drying time, but at least I can feel good about eliminating dryer sheets from all of our laundry. I didn’t realize how bad they were for people. That fragrance that I enjoyed outside apparently puts harmful chemicals out into the air everyone breathes.

    I use 1

    • Trisha W.

      Gah. My computer burped and entered before I was done.

      Continuing on…

      I use 10 dryer balls per load for both diapers (washed every other day) and regular laundry (this is never ending at our house). I have a Kenmore HE washer and matching dryer and use the standard high spin for the washer. All of my laundry tends to finish on the low setting in about 35 minutes. Sometimes a large load of jeans will take a bit longer or require a medium heat setting. It seems like our dry times prior to using wool dryer balls was about the same. I look forward to reading the scientific information from the study you mentioned.

  • http://blog.secondchancefit.com Heather

    A clothesline or some drying racks would be the most frugal, no?

  • http://www.WoolDryerBalls.com Mandy

    I bought my wool dryer balls years and years ago from a Mom at http://www.WoolDryerBalls.com and WE LOVE THEM! Hers are made bigger than others and dye free, she also does not make them with raveled up yarn because those types DO unravel after a months use! Ours are going strong in the dryer and will do so for many many more years (use them with diapers, and all laundry/towels)- LOVE THEM!!

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  • Laura P

    Thanks for this – I’ve been reading the claims that wool dryer balls reduce drying time, so it’s great to see someone actually test it out. I wonder if you would get different results with a different type of dryer ball?

    It’s good to see that the static was significantly reduced, and that to me is worth the cost of the wool balls (and not using disposable dryer sheets). I’d never heard of putting a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer…

  • Brandy Hauser

    Just tried wool dryer balls for the first time last night- cut down my time by a third! Amazing results for three little balls…

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      There seem to be a lot of people who find that they do or don’t work, so that’s great that they work for you!

  • Sheridan

    Helpful review, Thanks!

  • Carly T

    I use dryer balls mainly for fabric softening and reducing static, but it’s interesting to see that they may not actually cut down drying time for everyone. My dryer takes forever, so I had little hope that much of anything would help. I’d love to hear more about using a ball of aluminum foil. This is the first I’ve heard about this. Can I reuse the same one every time?

    • Tara at Padded Tush Stats

      yup, you can use them several times (or at least I have). The ball gets smaller and smaller though.

  • artangel

    Really interested in trying wool dryer balls now!

  • Allure Wool

    Hello and thank you for great review! I like to making wool dryer balls myself so I made a short video tutorial on how to make wool dryer balls simple & easy way. You can check the video on youtube http://youtu.be/ItkQVV4Y-34

  • Samantha Yoder

    I’m so glad I read this, I’ve heard about how awesome wool dryer balls are and it really made me want some. But when I looked in to buying some I realized they are kinda pricey, especially since I read that you should use 4-6 for the best results. Now that I’ve seen this experiment I’m glad I didn’t go ahead and get any yet. Thanks :)

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  • Laura Bier

    We have 6 that live in our dryer…I’m not sure they do any good with any laundry other than pillows. i find that pillows really need the beating the balls give them to get the water out of the middle