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In April 2012 Tara posted her article, “Do Wool Dryer Balls Cut Down On Drying Time?” and in it she says that she hopes more people will attempt experiments on the effects of using wool dryer balls. While I’m sure she was hoping for more controlled scientific studies, I was excited to have the opportunity to run my own experiment using the Norwex Fluff and Tumble Dryer Balls. In this review I will walk you through the features of the product, explain my methods for testing and subsequent results, and show you how I would fill out a Padded Tush Stats Cloth Diaper Accessories Survey.
For those who aren’t familiar with them, dryer balls are used in place of fabric softener or dryer sheets to soften clothes naturally and reduce static and drying time. The balls are placed in the dryer with the wet clothes and when the dryer is turned on, the balls bounce around the inside of the machine and help lift and separate the items so that they are more thoroughly exposed to the hot air.
Some dryer balls are made of plastic, but the Norwex Fluff and Tumble dryer balls are made entirely of 100% New Zealand wool and are chemical free. Wool dryer balls are softer (and therefore quieter) than their plastic counterparts, and can be used and left in the dryer without fear of melting. Norwex Fluff and Tumble dryer balls are sold in packs of 3 – 3 balls are recommended for small loads, and 6 balls are recommended for large loads.
The Fluff and Tumble dryer balls also allow you to naturally scent your laundry using essential oils – once the clothing is dry, you remove 2 of the 3 balls, apply the desired amount of essential oil, and then return the balls to the dryer for a 10 minute “Air Fluff” cycle (using heat will damage the oil).
Norwex Fluff and Tumble dryer balls are advertised to last for at least 1,000 laundry loads, and are said to reduce drying time by up to 25%.
29.99 for 3 balls
- For this experiment I used my HE Whirlpool Duet electric dryer (model WED9150WW1) which was purchased approximately 3 years ago. I used the automatic sensing feature to determine when the laundry was dry, and used the “Eco Normal” dryer setting (medium heat, normal dryness) for all test loads.
(Note: I wanted to be able to include the interior cubic feet of the dryer, because I believe that to be an important factor. Unfortunately, this information was not noted on my dryer, in the dryer manual, or in any documentation I could find online. Current Whirlpool Duet electric dryers have an internal capacity of 7.4 cubic feet, though that may or may not be the same size as the one I purchased 3 years ago).
- It was important to me that each load was composed of like items (since a load with flat and fitted diapers in it will usually be determined to be done before the fitted diapers are completely dry) so I chose to use only large (Diaper Rite and Cloth-eeze) birdseye cotton flat diapers. It was also important to me that I not have to run additional and unnecessary loads of laundry for this experiment (as that is both costly and wasteful!) Therefore I based the number of flat diapers in each load on how many were typically in my usual diaper laundry (so that I could simply remove those from the rest of the freshly washed diapers, dry them separately, and then dry the rest of the clean diapers). This ended up being 10-15 flats per load (with an average load size of 14.5 for the trials run with dryer balls, and 14.25 flats for the trials run without the dryer balls). This looked to be a “small load” (which is the load size recommended for the number of dryer balls I had).
- Ideally each load would have been timed to determine exactly how long it took to dry. However, our dryer is located in the garage and the chime is not audible from the house (and sitting in the garage watching laundry dry wasn’t feasible!) My compromise was to remain inside the house but set a timer for 5 minute intervals. At the end of each interval I would go to the garage to see if the dryer was still on. I ended after the interval when the dryer had determined that the load was dry and turned off. I chose 5 minute intervals because this was a feasible length of time for me to be going in and out of the garage, and also an interval that I felt would be meaningful for people (would most people be interested in purchasing dryer balls if they reduced drying time by 2-3 minutes? Probably not. Would they be more impressed with a decrease in drying time of more than 5 minutes? Quite possibly!) I did 4 loads of laundry with the laundry balls, and 4 loads of laundry without the balls.
- To test the ability of the balls to scent the laundry I used eucalyptus oil (approximately 2-3 drops on each ball, though it came out too quickly to be precise) and followed the instructions as noted above.
- The presence of the Norwex Fluff and Tumble wool dryer balls in a load of 10-15 large flat diapers did decrease average drying time, but not by an amount that I would have noticed – it took 28.75 minutes for loads without the balls and 26.25 minutes for loads with the balls, for a total decrease in drying time of 2.5 minutes, or 8.7%.
- The dryer balls did scent the laundry (and the garage, which was a pleasant and unexpected bonus!) The scent lasted for about a day before it dissipated entirely, so would be best for short term scent effects (such as immediately before you plan to wear an outfit, or if you simply want to make your home smell nice for the day).
Note: I did not evaluate the ability of the balls to decrease static because I live in a coastal environment (where the air is relatively warm and moist) and we therefore do not usually have much (if any) static.
Here is how I would fill out a Padded Tush Stats Cloth Diaper Accessories survey.
Notes on my responses:
- My personal experiment did not yield impressive results. At approximately $30 for the number of balls needed for a small load of laundry and $60 for enough balls for a large load of laundry, I would be hesitant to recommend the product to someone based on the 2.5 minute decrease in drying time that I experienced. However, there are NUMEROUS variables that affected these results (e.g., the model and interior size of my clothes dryer, the size and composition of the loads I dried, the power source for my dryer, the sensitivity of the sensor that determined when the load was dry, the number of balls used, etc.) and as there are many people who use wool dryer balls are pleased with them, it’s possible that different testing conditions would yield dramatically different results. For those who already see benefits of using other brands of wool dryer balls, scores for “worth the price” and “would recommend to a friend” would likely be higher.
- The product was easy to use (you put them in the dryer and that is it!) When removing the laundry from the dryer you do have to look for the balls as they sometimes end up mixed in with the clean laundry on accident. With diaper laundry this was fairly easy to do as long as you remained on the lookout for them. (If you intend to use the balls with normal laundry loads, it should be noted that the balls tend to end up inside items or stuck in sleeves, and therefore require a bit more effort to find and replace them in the dryer. However, if they accidentally end up inside the house in the clean laundry, it isn’t difficult to return them back to the dryer). With a large number of balls I could see this becoming tedious, but with only 3 it was a negligible amount of work.
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).
When not blogging about cloth diapers, Carolyn can be found blogging about health and wellness at Simply Sisters Health & Wellness and her life as a SAHM at Making It Work. She is also an Independent Health Coach for Take Shape For Life.
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