It has taken me 4 years of cloth diapering to finally try wool dryer balls and publish a review. If you are me and run Dirty Diaper Laundry then it is go big or go home. That is how I ended up reviewing the Tumblewool brand of WAHM made dryer balls. As the title and image suggest, they’re big, yo. I’ve seen wool dryer balls in stores and online but never have I seen such huge balls (that’s what she said.) I was sent 4 dryer balls to test out and see for myself if they really worked or if they would just create music in my dryer.
Amber is the WAHM behind Tumblewool. She used to practically be my neighbor back when I lived in Syracuse but we never really met. Now she makes wool dryer balls as well as felted soap and other fun woolly items. And for those of you who think wool dryer balls are easy to make, I caution you! I consider myself crafty but in my attempt to make my own several years ago it was a miserable failure and a messy one. The balls unraveled, even after following directions and using nylon hosiery around them, and I was pulling felted yarn out of my washer for a long time. That was my first and last attempt to make or try wool dryer balls until now.
First, here is some basic information about wool dryer balls. They are meant to replace dryer sheets, which contain softeners and other ingredients that can leave nasties behind on your clothes and dryer drum. Like dryer sheets, wool dryer balls are intended to cut down on static and soften clothing by beating the crap out of them while they tumble. In addition, they can also cut down on drying time by, again, beating the crap out of your clothes and moving them around more and absorbing moisture. Unlike PVC or rubber dryer balls you may have seen in grocery stores, wool dryer balls won’t build up yucky germs due to the antimicrobial properties of wool. And unlike dryer sheets, these are safe to use with cloth diapers.
Do they reduce drying time?
Using four of the Tumblewool balls in my cloth diaper loads did cut down drying time noticeably. Before adding them it took longer than one cycle for everything to be completely dry, I would say probably 80 minutes total. With the wool dryer balls they definitely took less than one 60 minute cycle, probably more around 45-50 minutes to be completely dry. For me that saves 30-35 minutes per cloth diaper load. I do about 2 loads of cloth diaper load each week bring my total dryer time savings to 300-350 minutes per month. When you add it up it is significant!
When it came to larger loads of clothes, which is my norm, I didn’t see much, if any improvement. I just wait too darn long to wash clothes to have a small or even medium sized load. I’m always testing the limits on both my washer and dryer and stuff as much as I can. I realize this isn’t the best way to wash clothes but I am also working and raising 2 kids, even trying to fit in some fun somewhere in there! I emailed with Amber from Tumblewool about this and she said that the more dryer balls in the load, the more it would help in larger loads. I declined getting more in the mail because I didn’t want to rob her blind of dryer balls, since with my loads I would need probably 6-8, but I get the physics behind this. I can’t say if they would work in mega loads but as long as you dry smaller loads or add more balls you would see a change.
I do feel that my cloth diaper linings on my microfleece pockets were softer when dried using the dryer balls and even my prefolds and flats were slightly softer. I can’t say that I saw a difference in clothing, but again, probably due to my load size.
When only washing and drying a set of sheets I was hoping to see that the wool dryer balls made a difference in what is normally a static-y situation. I didn’t really notice a reduction of static and it was definitely still there. My cloth diapers did seem to have less static since before using them my microfiber inserts would stick together and that wasn’t happening.
Does size matter?
Since I haven’t tried the smaller wool dryer balls on the market I can’t give you a comparison of those to Tumblewool brand. These are big and have some give to them when you press down. I feel like because of this they aren’t as loud in the dryer as the smaller and denser balls would be.
How loud are they?
My biggest hesitation about using any dryer balls was the noise. I never used them when I lived in an apartment because I didn’t want the sound to echo through our laundry chute and back upstairs. Then we lived in a duplex. Now that we don’t have anyone around I don’t care! It is quieter than drying shoes (if you have ever done so) but you can definitely tell they are in there. It isn’t obnoxious though. I prefer it to the sound of snaps and zippers.
I have seen the claims made by the users and makers of dryer balls. Sometimes those claims were pretty incredible. I definitely did see results and I can see that if I were careful and calculating I could save money on electricity when it comes to drying my cloth diapers and smaller loads. If I bought more I might also cut down drying time on larger loads of clothes. The other benefits/claims weren’t as easy to notice a difference in. It was a little hit and miss. The Tumblewool balls also have size going for them…. my kids kept stealing them to play with them. The biggest annoyance of it all was keeping track… they would sneak into pockets in sheets and hoods, get tossed in the basket in the clothes, and be lost for a
day week waiting for be folded. Then, when I caught up with laundry, all four balls would be reunited. Currently, while gathering them to take photos for this post, I could only find two. The third popped up minutes after the photo. The fourth is still MIA… send a search party!
I do feel they can be worth the investment if you are cloth diapering! As often as we wash these smaller loads, and with there being a very visible reduction in dry time, it saves time and money.
Where to Buy: You can find Tumblewool dryer balls on their website for $24.00 for a pack of 4 or through various retailers.
Win a set of Tumblewool Dryer Balls!
You can enter this giveaway for a 4 pack of Tumblewool dryer balls using the Rafflecopter form below. They come in pretty and gift ready packaging too! Ends 4/10/13 and open to US residents only.
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