Dryer balls, plastic spiky spheres that bounce and rub against the surfaces of clothing, can also be an economical option to liquid fabric softeners or dryer sheets. In addition to being chemical and irritant-free, reusable dryer balls can be used for up to 1,000 loads of laundry. But do they really work to soften clothes and reduce static?
We found individual product reviews covering Dryer Max Dryer Balls (*Est. $10 for two). Erin Huffstetler, About.com's guide to frugal living, says Dryer Max Dryer Balls really do reduce drying time. On the downside, she says static cling can be a problem, since these dryer balls tend to get stuck in the arms and legs of clothing. She also notes that the Dryer Max Dryer Balls are made of that contains PVC, a group of chemicals known to release volatile organic compounds that can be harmful to health, according to The Campaign for Safe, Healthy Consumer Products.
Nearly 70 reviewers on Amazon.com contribute to an average rating of 3 stars out of 5 for the Dryer Max Dryer Balls; reviewers consistently say these dryer balls do work, but only if you use six to eight balls per load (at a total cost of $30 or $40). Echoing Huffstetler's review, we found many consumer complaints on Amazon.com that the Dryer Max balls aren't effective in reducing static. We also found several comments about the balls breaking into pieces after only about a month of use -- far short of the rated 1,000-load lifetime. They do, however, carry a two-year, money-back guarantee.
Like Dryer Max Dryer Balls, Nellie's Dryerballs (*Est. $20 for two) are made of PVC plastic, although Nellie's PVC Free Dryerballs (*Est. $23 for two) are now available. We weren't able to find any reviews of this new product, however. The Budget Ecoist, a website geared towards finding environmentally friendly products, reviews the original Nellie's Dryerballs. The author tests them by using first just one ball and then two in a load of clothing and then in a load of towels; she does note that the instructions are to use both balls in each load. She found that one ball was effective for regular clothing, but not for towels. Using two balls in a load of towels not only reduced drying time, but static as well. The author also notes that the FAQ section on the Nellie's website claims that these dryer balls won't reduce static that is already on your clothing, but will help prevent it from building up on clothing after laundering; she feels that they outperform expectations in this regard.
Twenty-five owners contribute to an average rating of 4 stars at Amazon.com, where feedback is similar to that of Dryer Max Dryer Balls. Opinions are split on how well they work to soften clothes and reduce drying time and static, but there are many complaints that the balls split in half or broke into pieces after about a month of use. The Nellie's website claims the Dryerballs should last for up to 1,000 loads, and they also offer a two-year, money-back guarantee.