You know how bad dryer sheets and stinky detergent are, but luckily there is a solution… dryer balls! I like to put essential oils on mine to make them smell better. Here are my best tips and ideas for using dryer balls as part of your natural living routine.
I am seriously allergic to everything, dust, trees, food and all kind of other things. My husband on the other hand is really only allergic to one thing, smelly laundry soap. Ack!
This makes me seriously sad because I grew up in the 70s and 80s when Tide was a THING and smelling like chemicals was a way to be hip and cool.
I LOVE the smell of Tide and dryer sheets, but I KNOW that there is nothing good that can come of putting more and more chemicals right next to my and my kids skin, all day and night!
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Why are smells in laundry soap and dryer sheets so bad?
Okay, let's start at the top of my addiction, Tide laundry soap (Gain has “good” smells too!) and Bounce dryer sheets. Now don't get me wrong, I still use Tide, just not the super good smelling, stinky kind, ours is the boring plain kind with no smell.
The University of Washington did a study on Toxic chemicals found in common scented laundry products, air fresheners and found that there were many different chemicals that are harmful to humans that were not listed on the labels… sigh.
“I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found,” Steinemann said. Chemicals included acetone, the active ingredient in paint thinner and nail-polish remover; limonene, a molecule with a citrus scent; as well as acetaldehyde, chloromethane and 1,4-dioxane.
That smell I love? It is the smell of chemicals!
Why are dryer sheets so bad?
For me, the chemicals in the wash are bad, but at least they rinse out a bit in the water. The dryer sheets are MADE to leave chemicals on your clothes. They deposit fabric softener on the cloth that changes the charge of ions in the clothing and makes them less attractive to each other (no I didn't come up with this, the nice people over at ScienceNetLinks.com told me!)
So the softness and non-staticy-ness are chemical based… sigh. I don't need more chemicals!
The perfect solution?!?! Dryer balls!!
How do dryer balls work?
Okay, I have used dryer balls for a while now and am super happy with how they work! Functionally they bang around in your dryer with your clothes and make them soft and stop the ions from sticking to each other naturally!
There are both wool and plastic dryer balls (I have only used wool ones because I like to put essential oils on mine and I am a bit of a tree hugger, but I hear the plastic ones accomplish the same thing!)
How many drops of essential oils should you use on your dryer balls?
I put 2-3 drops of lavender, lemongrass or lemon essential oils on each dryer ball (I use two dryer balls). That is a LIE! I just made this fancy picture and put the usual amount on and it was like 5-6 drops on one and at least 4 drops on the other one.
Some people suggest putting 6 dryer balls into the dryer at once, I am too lazy for that. Managing two dryer balls, keeping track of them and making sure they stay smelly is easy with two.
Do you put the essential oils right on the balls?
Yes! I put the drops right on the wool dryer balls. For the ones that have the dropper bottles I just hang it over them and drip, drip. For the big bottles I have an eyedropper that I use and just put the drops on the balls.
Does the smell build up over time?
I like mine SMELLY so I refresh my dryer balls each time. My kids are not as concerned with smelly clothes (they didn't grow up loving smelly chemicals) so they just throw in whatever ones they can find and I can still detect a little fragrance on their clothes.
What if you want to change smells?
If you want to change smells, like from orange to sandalwood, you can just wash your dryer balls in the washing machine and then dry them on high by themselves. This also serves to help the wool regain its anti-staticy charge. This is also called “recharging your dryer balls“.
Don't they get oil on your clothes?
I have never had any clothes get an “oil stain” from the essential oils. Hmmm I guess if you put the oil on the dryer balls and then threw them in and didn't start the dryer right away it might transfer to your clothes, but that has never happened to me!
General Dryer Ball Questions
I wanted to address some of the other questions that I have gotten about dryer balls and essential oils!
Can dryer balls hurt your clothes?
Okay, I am in a cleaning group with a lady who was SUPER anti dryer balls. She said she had some butterfly, eyelash sweater that she put in with dryer balls and it crushed the fibers and ruined her sweater. Then she bought ANOTHER sweater just like it and dried it without the balls and it was fine.
Um, first off, I don't have fancy clothes. I have denim and cotton and some polyester blends (yoga pants, hey yo!) No fancy eyelash sweaters.
What I do have is clothes that I don't dry all the way which I pull out early. I also have some delicates that I don't dry at all.
If you are drying your grandmother's priceless heirloom tablecloth, maybe don't put it in with dryer balls.
For normal clothes, you will be fine!
Where can you get dryer balls?
I got mine at Homegoods on super sale the first time when I just trying them out to see if I would like them! Now I like to get them on Amazon.
These Friendsheep ones are what I have my eye on right now… I think that if they are cute I have more of a chance that kids will toss them in than the bumpy boring ones I use!
Do dryer balls make too much noise?
If you have ever washed a pair of tennis shoes and put them in the dryer, the sound is less than that! It is more of a muffled tumble sound.
We have a special washer room in our house and if need be I could close the door, but we never have. I guess if we were watching a movie we might, but it is sort of a white noise, consistent rumble rather than a hurricane style bang, bang, bang.
Will dryer balls catch your dryer on fire?
Oh, I didn't even know this was a thing, but some people say that essential oils on dryer balls will catch your dryer on fire…. whoa! Well, there are some reports of piles of cloth soaked in essential oils (like at a massage parlor) catching fire, but no dryer related ones that I can find.
What can catch your dryer on fire is excess lint in your lint trap or not having your dryer vent cleaned periodically (crap, add that to the list!)
Do dryer balls hurt your dryer?
Come to find out this was a much more “researchy” post than I anticipated for fun little dryer balls! For this question I went to the source… Google! I searched for about 15 minutes and I found some great videos about sheep and dryer balls, but no info about dryer balls hurting dryers.
That makes sense since dryers are made to have “stuff” in them that bangs around.
That said, they said not to put toys, metal or other things that I promise my children HAVE put in the washer at least (we usually catch them there!)
Do dryer balls make your clothes dry faster?
Okay, one thing that I learned while researching was that people have claimed that dryer balls make your clothes dry faster. There have been a number of studies that test this, but my favorite was the student who did 40 loads of laundry and tested the mean drying times!
He found that dryer balls do not reduce drying time! Okay by me, I use them to make my clothes smell nice and to avoid dryer sheets!
Essential Oils Scents and Dryer Balls
Okay, here we are at the main part of the post… what smells should you use in your laundry? This is super personal, but I wanted to give you some ideas of what I like and what I have found to be acceptable for my family (who DO NOT CARE about smelling nice, they just don't want to smell weird).
Fresh Dryer Smells
Orange – Orange is a super fresh smell that works great in the spring and summer.
Lemongrass – This is the one that my family likes the most. It is pretty neutral but still smells fresh and clean.
Load of Fun – Oh… I am so going to try this one! It is fresh citrus and mint smelling!
For Your Sheets
Manly Dryer Ball Scents
Okay, I have a good old Wisconsin man who doesn't care that he smells fresh, but my son absolutely refuses to smell “girly”. Lavender is fine for bed, but his lacrosse uniform sure better not smell like flowers.
Lemongrass – I KNOW this is a repeat, but it works for all of us!
Vanilla – Vanilla is not a natural scent, but Balsam of Peru Essential Oil is a close cousin!
Vetiver – This is one you might not have heard of but it is deep, woodsy and great for men.
Essential Oils For Dryer Balls Wrapup
Okay, there you have it! All my best tips and ideas for making your clothes smell nice using essential oils and dryer balls. This has been a super fun post to write, I had to do a bit of research and busted some myths and overall came to the conclusion that I am much happier without all the chemicals from smelly laundry detergent and toxic dryer sheets!
I have been super happy with my dryer balls and hope they work for you!