Facts about wool dryer balls - How they work in the tumble dryer

Posted by Rikke Macijowski Nielsen on

Drying laundry in the open air is the most environmentally friendly and economical way to dry clothes. But it is not always possible or practical in everyday life. So on days when we have to dry in the dryer, we always use our wool dryer balls.

Dryer balls for the tumble dryer have become more and more popular and there are several different types on the market. But how do dryer balls work? And what are the ups and downs in terms of how the different types work?

In this post, we review different types of dryer balls and we compare tennis balls with wool dryer balls to illustrate the difference.

wool drying balls made of wool from care by nature in white lying in a pile in front of a beige background while a hand reaches down for a drying ball

What is a dryer ball?

A dryer ball is a round ball about the size of a tennis ball that you put in the dryer with the wet laundry, quilts or other items to help knock more air into the clothes and increase the circulation of air in the dryer. This means that the clothes both become softer without the use of fabric softener and clump together less, which can reduce the drying time.

Typically, dryer balls come in packs of 2-6 balls, all of which must be put into the machine together with the clothes before it is started.

What types of dryer balls are there?

Dryer balls are available in several different materials such as plastic, rubber, tennis balls or wool.

The different materials of the dryer balls can have an effect on the effect they give during drying, where dryer balls made of wool help to absorb moisture from the clothes and the plastic balls should retain the heat and release it.

We personally love our wool dryer balls because (in addition to helping absorb moisture) they don't come in a synthetic plastic material, but are made only from 100% pure natural wool. It provides gentle and efficient drying without leaving microplastics, and soft wool dryer balls do not make as much noise as plastic balls or tennis balls, which can really knock around in the dryer and make a lot of noise.

How do wool dryer balls work?

Wool dryer balls from care by nature held in hand towards the camera in one hand where the other hand drips a natural washing scent onto the wool dryer ball Our wool dryer balls from Care by Nature work by putting the 4 wool balls into the dryer together with the freshly washed clothes you want to dry. Then switch on the dryer as usual. The balls must not be washed beforehand, as they will be ruined by getting soaked. They must also not be included in the washing program if you have a combi machine.

While the dryer is running, the wool dryer balls will knock around inside the machine and help lift the clothes and circulate the warm air, while the balls knock the clothes softly without the use of fabric softener. Because the air circulates better and the wool balls help absorb moisture as well as help reduce laundry tangling, drying time is reduced. Wool can actually absorb up to 30% of its own weight without feeling wet.

How much the drying time is reduced depends on your dryer, the type of clothes being dried and how much clothes you put in the machine. Dryer balls must have some space to bounce around. Our average calculation is approx. 25% saving in drying time per drying. We have previously collaborated with a Danish service company that washes and dries a lot of clothes. And they have experimented with using our wool drying balls and write: "On an annual basis, it is approx. DKK 10,000 on the gas bill and 11 dryings extra saved per week. So it's really good.”

Wool dryer balls also eliminate static electricity, as the high content of lanolin in wool fibers makes wool naturally antistatic. So if you experience a lot of electrical laundry after tumble drying, wool dryer balls are clearly a better choice than plastic dryer balls or tennis balls.

Wool dryer balls are particularly brilliant for drying duvets and pillows, as the filling tends to clump together rather than spread out evenly and airily. But when you use drying balls, they help distribute the filling in a gentle way, and thus it becomes more airy and dries faster. And the same applies to down jackets and other similar outerwear.

Wool dryer balls are the natural alternative to fabric softener

Who doesn't love the feeling of perfectly soft and clean laundry? Many people use fabric softener in their washing machine to achieve this very result. The problem with fabric softener is just that it contains a lot of chemicals and perfumes that are neither healthy for the skin, the environment nor for your washing machine.

Fortunately, it is possible to get soft clothes without using fabric softener with scratchy chemicals and allergenic ingredients. If we air dry the clothes, we even use homemade fabric softener in our washing machine, because it does not contain a lot of unnecessary and allergenic chemicals. You can find our super easy recipe for homemade fabric softener here .

But if we have to dry laundry in the tumble dryer, we always use wool dryer balls to make the clothes soft completely naturally. You thus save the environment and yourself from chemicals that you would otherwise use in your fabric softener. And that's why wool drying balls are super hypoallergenic and gentle on delicate skin.

What is the difference between tennis balls and wool dryer balls?

Many people use tennis balls in the tumble dryer as a form of drying ball, for example. to dry duvets and airy laundry. And we often get questions about whether it has the same effect. So below we have created a chart that shows the differences between tennis balls and wool dryer balls from Care by Nature.

Tennis balls vs. wool drying balls from Care by Nature

The product

Tennis balls - Developed for tennis.

Wool dryer balls from Care by Nature - Developed for drying clothes.


Two-piece rubber shell filled with compressed air and covered with neon-colored nylon felt. Plasticizers are used in production.

100% pure Fair Trade and mulesing free wool from Nepal and New Zealand.


Plastic tube with 3-4 pcs.

Cotton bag with bottom of recycled cardboard with 4 pcs.


60 g

60 g

Produced in



Method of production

Machine made


Working conditions and certifications

Rubber is mainly sourced from rubber plantations in Indonesia, where it is well known that migrant workers work in slave-like conditions.

Fair Trade

Ability to absorb moisture

Low, as tennis balls should preferably not absorb moisture.

Very high. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight without feeling wet.

Static electricity

Nylon is a synthetic fiber and easily generates static electricity.

The high content of lanolin in wool fibers makes wool naturally antistatic. Absorption of moisture further reduces static electricity in wool.

(You must never wash woolen clothes or wool dryer balls in detergents that contain enzymes or very harsh chemical ingredients, as this will remove the lanolin from the fibres).

Color bleed

It may happen that tennis balls give off color to clothes.


Effect on heating

Heating increases degassing from rubber and nylon and from the chemical softeners used, and can give a slightly burnt smell.

Heating also expands the gas molecules inside the ball, and makes the tennis balls more "bouncy".

This could possibly be an advantage if you e.g. must dry duvets, where air must be forced into the duvet. On the other hand, tennis balls also make more noise than wool dryer balls when used in a tumble dryer.


What are the benefits of using wool dryer balls?

As you can see here in the chart, there are big differences between tennis balls and our wool dryer balls - both in terms of climate/environment/working conditions, as well as the effect of the two types of balls.

But the clear advantages of dryer balls over plastic balls and tennis balls are that dryer balls made of wool make significantly less noise and bounce more gently, which suits clothes better. They help to absorb moisture from the clothes rather than just helping to fluff the clothes. And then they make the clothes less static electricity due to the lanolin in the wool. We also love to choose a product that is completely free of plastic and handmade under Fair Trade conditions. And that's why we always choose dryer balls made of wool rather than plastic or tennis balls.

You can find our delicious wool drying balls from Care by Nature on our website HERE and in several Danish supermarkets such as Bilka, Føtex, Kvickly, Superbrugsen and Irma, where you can find the list HERE .

Wool drying balls for the tumble dryer made of wool from care by nature

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