Let's talk dryer balls. My meat and potatoes. My first foray into felt. My firstborn fiber child, who pays the bills while the little ideas work up steam.
When I set up at a market I get a lot of questions about dryer balls. And sometimes, I have it together and I can effectively and properly explain why I LOVE THEM. And why I will never go back to laundry without them. And why everyone I know should be using them, too. And why they're worth every penny. But I'm human, and most of the time, I'm tapped from setting up an entire 10x10 by myself within 45 minutes. Or I was up twice with the baby in the night and I left my Contigo on the kitchen counter because I'm a sleep deprived space cadet. Or I have 3 people in the booth and I'm trying not to ignore them all at the same time. Or I'm just plain nervous. So here we are. I'm going to lay this all out...Buckle up.
When I started using dryer balls a decade ago, no one knew what I was talking about (outside certain circles), and for every curious look I got, I'd get more than a few eye rolls. Now it seems like they're everywhere. White ones. Blue ones. Balls with sheepies on them. Plastic ones. Wool ones. Yarn wrapped ones. Big ones, little ones. I saw a set the other day shaped like frogs. Really. Frogs. Adorable. Norwex has them. Doterra has them. I even saw them in the Dollar General last month when I popped in for diapers. If you're not using them, chances are you at least know what they are.
Debates (some quite vicious) abound online about whether they really work, and for every eco-savvy green blogger swearing by them, you have an equally savvy mainstream blogger tearing down the hype, declaring them snake oil. In my scouring of the internet, I've been able to find scores of anecdotal evidence on both sides, but no reputable impartial study to show that these things don't save you money, or energy. As the mother to a little boy with allergies, a woman suffering from hyperhydrosis (sorry, I know...TMI), and the wife of a chronic migraine sufferer, I'll say right now: whether they save you money or energy or not is a secondary concern. (I've got customers who swear they do, but whatever. Let's err on the side of restraint here for arguments sake.)
I've compiled a bullet point of all my favorite reasons why you should #ditchthesheet. Some of these reflect my own experiences, and some are borrowed from others research. But they raise some thought provoking questions about whether we should still using fabric sheets and fabric softeners.
What we know:
That innocuous "clean laundry" smell contains 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - 2 of which are EPA classified carcinogens.
Commercial fragrances can include tens to hundreds of different chemicals. Some of them are no big deal, while some of them are toxic, and many of which are known allergens, like limonene and linalool. Fragrance compounds are proprietary, so there is zero accountability or obligatory disclosure. This does not make for a happy consumer situation. For instance, acetone is used in dryer sheets, and can cause nervous system effects like headaches or seizures. Acetaldehyde and butane, in particular, are linked to respiratory irritation. #doireallyneedtobreathethat #mysonhasallergies #canyousaychronicmigraine
Your skin is your body's largest organ, and absorbs everything you put on it. We use that softener/frangrance at the end of the laundry cycle. Let that sink in (pun intended). #bigfatnope
Unless you're buying eco-friendly compostable sheets made of paper (and if you are: stop! Invest in wool!), your dryer sheet is made of polyester. Plastic. And it's non recyclable. #youdontreallyneedthem #reducereuserecycle #givethelandfillabreak
Replacing your fabric softener sheet with a set of laundry balls actually reduces the amount of lint produced by your dryer. #ihatecleaningthatdamnfilter #superflammable #memoryofagnat #pleasedontcatchonfire
It’s not just about the sheet
Adding dryer balls to your laundry arsenal actually eliminates the need for liquid fabric softener. This means less frequent cleaning cycles #barenakedlaundry #nomoregunk #nomorefunk #goodcleanwool #washersarepricey
Using dryer balls helps regulate the humidity in your dryer, because of the way it absorbs moisture, helping your clothes to not overdry, which is a big reason for shrinkage #naturesmiraclefiber #makethoseclotheslast #smartchoices
Dryer balls helps protect your clothes. Wool gently exfoliates your clothes, if you will, by bouncing around inside your drum. It NATURALLY softens your clothes' fibers, rather than coating the fibers with a softening agent. No buildup, no odor, no unexpected reaction with your body's natural sweat. Your clothes last longer and stay fresh smelling longer. Missing scent? Me too. That's why I use essential oils to make my own scents. My favorite at the mo is lemon. #doityourself #nomoregunkygoo #reallytrulyclean
So, there you have it. As far as I'm concerned, from a mom perspective, #2 alone clinches it for me. But there are so many reasons why dryer balls make sense. And with what we're learning about environmental pollution and our collective lifestyle's impact on our world, I feel very strongly that we should all be using them, or nothing at all.
That having been said, few things call to mind an aura of drudgery as constant, unending laundry. I'm a mom of 4. Let that sink in. FOUR. That's a lot of laundry.
If you do have to use something every day, and especially if it's connected to something so mindnumbingly constant, it should make you smile. I am a big believer in elevating the mundane. Which is why I make pretty dryer balls. And I make them out of small sourced, ethically produced, American wool, because that's how I roll. I believe in knowing where the things I use come from, and goods with integrity. My balls are never mass produced from karmically debt-ridden wool shipped in on ginormous shipping pallets from across the world at shockingly low wholesale pricing and then sold at exorbitant markup to target consumer groups, or lowest possible price point at a big box. They are always small sourced, handmade, conscientious, and I am proud of every single one. So, yes. I use these dryer balls that I make with my own two hands. And I think you should too.