Why You Should Never Use Dryer Sheets (and How to Reduce Drying Time by 25%!)

fluff and tumble 100% new zealand wool dryer balls sitting on ultra absorbent microfibre towels | SustainableSuburbia.net

Do you use a cloths dryer sometimes (or always!)?

Do you ever use dryer sheets with it, or fabric softener? If so, I suggest you stop! And here’s why:

Did you know that dryer sheets coat your clothes with chemicals? That’s how they leave them scented! Unfortunately, not only can those chemicals be toxic to you, gradually building up in your body as they are absorbed through your skin (or being an immediate skin irritant for some people), fabric softeners and dryer sheets also cause wax buildup on the lint catcher so hot moisture cannot escape the dryer, which could burn out the heater.

So what chemicals are we talking about? Well, for starters if they are fragranced they most likely contain phthalates, which are endocrin disruptors. Other nasties can include Ethyl Acetate, which is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list, Chloroform (!), Alpha-Terpineol and others. Because these chemicals are heated and then pushed out of the dryer as vapours, as well as embedded in your clothes, you can get a double dose of the nasties.

Luckily, there is something else you can use instead, that will do the same job, while reducing your drying time (and therefore power use & cost) by 25%!  Use wool dryer balls! Wool dryer balls lift and separate your washing in the dryer, and negate the need for dryer sheets or fabric softener and often even ironing, leaving your clothes soft and less wrinkled. You can even use them with essential oils, for whichever fresh scent you love.

They also help reduce static, will last for *ages* if made well, and are biodegradable.

But are you wondering what they even are? 🙂

These are large, felted wool balls that you put in your clothes dryer to reduce the time it takes to dry your clothes or towels, and to reduce the wrinkles. You need 3-6 dryer balls for good effect, and they will separate out your washing and soften it.  When the load is dry, take out one or two dryer balls and sprinkle on a few drops of your favourite essential oil, then put the dryer back on cool for a few minutes, to scent your cloths. (Adding the essential oils at the end on a cool cycle prevents damage to the delicate oils, so they can have the most beneficial effect).

Where do you get them from? Well, you can make them yourself (see video below) or you can buy 100% New Zealand wool dryer balls from me! Yes, Norwex make these lovely dryer balls, which they sell in sets of three. They call them “Fluff and Tumble dryer balls” and they are guaranteed for 2 years or 1000 uses. I don’t know about you, but I think it would take me about 20 years to use them that many times, but then Canberra gets a lot of good sun, and I mostly use the cloths line. I suspect the 1000 uses is based on countries where drying in the sun is less common.

The Norwex dryer balls are awesome, and quite large. I made some myself once but they weren’t nearly as big and solid – which I realise now is why they didn’t seem to make as much difference to my drying as I expected. I also didn’t realise you needed so many. Three is good for a normal load, or six for a large load (I only made two).

However, you CAN also make them yourself, and here is a video from my lovely (and funny) friend Renee to show you how:

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

In summary, if you use a clothes dryer, you should be using wool dryer balls as well! You can either  make them or buy them, or get them free in your spending spree when you host a Norwex party! (If you want to buy them and you’re not in Australia just go to Norwex.com to find your closest consultant).

So tell me, have you used wool dryer balls? Did you make them yourself? Do you notice a difference?

  17 comments for “Why You Should Never Use Dryer Sheets (and How to Reduce Drying Time by 25%!)

  1. Bec
    April 8, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I’ve not heard of dryer sheets but I have heard of the wool dryer balls before. I think when I was washing MCNs regularly and needed the dryer every now and then. I did think about making some then but I think I never got around to getting the wool. Maybe with winter coming up I should look into it again!

    • Kirsten
      April 8, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      That’s the story of my life Bec – “I did think about making some…” LOL. They are pretty easy to make though, if you have some wool yarn lying around 🙂

  2. Kate
    April 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Ah another Norwex product !

    • Kirsten
      April 9, 2014 at 10:01 pm


  3. April 8, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I’ve never used dryer sheets – I have a lot of problems with allergies to scented products so that is why. If I want to dry something in a hurry, I chuck it in the dryer with a dry towel and that helps to absorb the extra moisture a lot more quickly!

    • Kirsten
      April 9, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      Janet, that’s such a good tip, thanks! I have put damp cloth wipes in with some eucalyptus oil on for the smell before (before dryer balls!), but I had never thought of doing that!

      • Grace
        October 26, 2016 at 9:02 am

        What are damp cloth wipes?

  4. April 8, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    This sounds like a great idea! To be very honest I had never heard of these drying balls before reading this post, thanks for the share and the info xx Josefa #teamIBOT

    • Kirsten
      April 9, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      No worries Josefa, thanks for commenting 🙂 Will you give them a try (they are really very easy to make!).

  5. ann
    April 8, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I used to love dryer sheets but have not seen them to buy in the shops for years. I know they are big in America.
    Great idea for the balls, makes sense really.

    • Kirsten
      April 9, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      Yes, I think they are much more common in America Ann.

  6. April 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Ha ha, I had to laugh when I read this…and then show it to my husband who promptly rolled his eyes. He is from the US and automatically uses the dryer and LOVES dryer sheets. It has been a long process of educating him over the past 8 years we’ve been back in Australia to put clothes on the line and forgo the dryer sheets when we do use the dryer. Thanks for the extra ammo. I have quite a shopping list for my party later in the month 🙂

    • Kirsten
      April 9, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      You’re welcome Kate 🙂
      In the meantime, as I was just saying in a prevoius comment, I used to put a cloth wipe (or just a facewasher) in the dryer with some eucalyptus oil on it sometimes if I wanted to make the house smell good 🙂 So you could always get him to try that, if it’s the smell he likes – if you’re using the dryer at all. (We have been using it a bit for towels etc lately, it has been so wet down here!).

  7. Cara
    April 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I’ve recently bought some wool dryer balls from New Age Nappies when I purchased some new MCNs. I’ve only used them a couple of times so far but love them. Clothes definitely dry MUCH faster and are left SUPER soft. I’ve never actually heard of dryer sheets.

    In addition I also bought some Soap Nuts for washing – I don’t think you mentioned these in your laundry powder post. Do you have an opinion on them? So far I find them great and REALLY cheap to use.

    • Kirsten
      April 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      That’s great Cara!

      No, I haven’t mentioned soap nuts. I have had lots of readers recommend them, but TBH when I tried them years ago, i wasn’t that impressed. So I’ve been meaning to try them again, just so I can have a proper opinion, but I just haven’t gotten around to it!

  8. April 11, 2014 at 12:02 am

    Thanks Kirsten,
    Great idea. I use plastic and rubber dryer balls. I dislike plastic, so a wool ball will be a great substitute!

    • Kirsten
      April 19, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Hi Tania,
      It’s funny you should mention that, because I’ve heard of people saying these are better than plastic balls (more natural, quieter etc), but I have never heard of anyone *using* plastic dryer balls – I don’t think they’re even available in Australia.

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