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Thinking about buying wool dryer balls? These wildly popular doodads are down to $3 a pop

I have a confession to make: Though my job is writing about wellness and green living, some of my choices are … less than well, and a questionable shade of green. When, for example, it comes to my hair, I will use whatever chemical creation makes it look best and smell best. Light bulbs? I’m addicted to the soft glow of eco-unfriendly incandescents; never shall a long-lasting LED cross my threshold. And laundry? My dryer sheet of choice is a popular supermarket brand, chemical-laden and “disposable” — as in, destined for the landfill — not to mention that the cost of those sheets really does add up. So when I heard about a set of six natural wool dryer balls for only $16 on Amazon with an on-page coupon, I had to give them a whirl.

These doodads promise to make clothes soft in a planet-friendly way.

$20 at Amazon

As someone who is obsessed with not washing and drying my clothes too much (it wears them out quickly and I don’t particularly enjoy doing laundry), I really appreciate that these balls shorten drying time as well — that's not only easier on fabrics but also saves energy, which means lower energy bills. (Even more eco-friendly than I thought.) Plus, less time doing laundry!

There are plenty of less expensive options that have great reviews, but the brand I’d been hearing about, Smart Sheep, is handmade in Nepal with pure New Zealand wool. That’s a lot of traveling already for something meant to save the earth, but still, I was excited to test them out. They do, after all, have over 52,000 five-star ratings on Amazon! Here, dear reader, is how it went.

Meeting my new dryer balls

Smart Sheep Dryer Balls come six to a package with a small instruction card. They look organic — like something you’d see in a decorative basket at a high-end home furnishings store — and my cat really, really wanted them.

Wool balls and laundry in dryer
They're made of 100% New Zealand sheep's wool. You know that can't be baaah-d. (Photo: Amazon)

Putting them to use

I shooed my cat out of the basement and followed the simple instructions: “Place wool dryer balls in the dryer with your laundry. Turn on dryer.” Easy enough.

The promise was that by bouncing among my clothes, the balls would “lift and separate fabrics,” increasing air flow, thus drying clothes faster — and making them softer.

I tossed in five dryer balls with a large load of workout clothes and jeans, reserving one in case I decided to gift it to my cat. I noted the time.

The results

Instead of waiting for the dryer’s angry beep, I returned to the basement 15 minutes shy of the usual 30-minute dry time. Not only were my clothes completely dry and static-free, but they were so soft — as if they’d spent an hour in there with fabric softener and my favorite (chemical-laden) dryer sheet.

Reveling in tactile enjoyment (no moisture, plus silky softness) as I felt through the basket, I retrieved the balls, then repeated the experiment with a load of towels and pillowcases. Perfection.

Slipping on my favorite T-shirt, I thought I might miss the fragrance my dryer sheets provided — but I didn’t. My clothes just smelled ... clean. If you like a little fragrance, Smart Sheep recommends adding a drop of essential oils to a dryer ball.

Bottom line

These dryer balls have eradicated chemicals from my life painlessly. That’s the kind of eco-move I love. No sacrifice, no discomfort and huge financial savings. At $15 for six, these balls do cost more than a large box of my (now former) favorite dryer sheets. But where that box gets me through 244 loads, my wool dryer balls promise more than a thousand loads each — that’s more than five years’ worth of laundry! And because they cut drying time by two-thirds, I’m saving a bundle on my energy bill.

Best of all, they don’t add garbage to the planet — because if and when they lose their magic powers, my cat will make great use of them forever and ever.

For a bit more, you can get a pack featuring these adorable pups — and there are even penguin and sheep designs, too!

$21 at Amazon

Want to make your laundry smell heavenly? These top-selling Pure Aroma Essential Oils should do the trick:

Just add a drop to your dryer balls — this popular and affordable set comes with lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass and sweet orange scents.

$9 at Amazon

If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

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