Image of white wool dryer ball in a basket of white linen laundry

Wool dryer balls vs. dryer sheets: Which is better?

Last Updated: July 19, 2021

Made from wool, dryer balls are an environmentally friendly alternative to dryer sheets — but are they right for your family, and will they really dry and soften your clothes?

If you've ever rushed out the door only to have someone politely tap you on the shoulder to let you know there's a pair of undies stuck to the back of your sweater, you probably already appreciate the benefits of dryer sheets.

Dryer sheets get rid of static cling and leave clothes feeling oh-so-soft, but are they doing more harm than good? If you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact — not to mention your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals found in conventional dryer sheets — natural wool dryer balls may be the sustainable alternative you’ve been seeking.

Learn more about the benefits of wool dryer balls, how to find the best wool dryer balls for your drying machine, plus tips on how to incorporate them into your laundry routine.

Dryer sheets vs. wool dryer balls

Image of person holding sheet in front of laundry machine opening

What do dryer sheets do, exactly?

In a nutshell, a conventional dryer sheet helps reduce static cling, softens fabrics, and makes clothes smell delightfully fresh. Conventional dryer sheets contain a thin layer of fabric softener that targets electrostatic charges and can even help guard against lint. But dryer sheets are a nicety, not a necessity.

Are dryer sheets safe?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require manufacturers to disclose the ingredients used in dryer sheets, so you never really know what you're getting. Many contain harsh chemicals and added fragrances that adhere to fabrics, vent into the air, and ultimately rub off on your skin, potentially triggering asthma and skin reactions.

Image of Grove Laundry vessel net to folded waffle towels with 2 wool dryer balls next to towels

Are dryer sheets bad for the environment?

From an environmental standpoint, they are a single-use product that could potentially be emitting harmful toxins into the air and onto your clothes — if you need proof, just look at some of the ingredients in dryer sheets noted on the EPA's hazardous waste list.

And while these lovely little sheets may not be as toxic as some claim, more research is needed to determine whether fragrances used in dryer sheets are harmful to your health.

Are wool dryer balls better than dryer sheets?

Deemed a safer choice by many experts, wool dryer balls are an environmentally responsible alternative to a traditional dryer sheet. Natural and chemical-free, 100 percent wool dryer balls are hypoallergenic, too, making them a smart choice that's gentle enough for even those with sensitive skin and even itty-bitty baby clothes.

Wool dryer ball basics

Image of woman folding clothes from laundry basket with Grove laundry vessel and one wool dryer ball out front on table

Do wool dryer balls work?

Yes! Working their softening magic by bouncing off clothes, wool dryer balls work best with small and medium loads, so they have room to roam around.

Not only do they retain heat, but they also help clothes stay separated in the dryer so air can flow more freely, reducing drying time by 25 percent, per load.

How long do wool dryer balls last?

Because they're eco-friendly, you know they are reusable and must last pretty long. Well, in fact, they average lasting up to an impressive 1,000 loads.

Grove tip: Replace them when the wool starts to unravel.

3 reasons to switch to wool dryer balls

How to use wool dryer balls

How many dryer balls per load?

The number of dryer balls you use can be determined by the size of the laundry load you are drying.

  • For small to medium-sized loads, 3 balls should get the job done.
  • For larger loads, you can use 5-7 balls.
  • For extra-large loads, you may want to go as high as 8-12 balls.

These are just general guidelines; the more balls you use, the shorter time it will take to dry your laundry.

Can you add scent to dryer balls?

Yes, you can use your favorite essential oils; just dab 2-3 drops on each ball and let dry for about an hour before use.

Although a scented oil may slightly discolor the surface of the dryer ball, the ball should still work perfectly. Re-scent the ball(s) every 4-5 loads or as needed.

For an all-in-one set, try Grove's Wool Dryer Balls & Purify Essential Oil Blend Set to make it easy on yourself.

How do you store dryer balls?

You can store dyer balls in a well-ventilated area to avoid picking up odors or retaining moisture. We recommend you do not store them in a plastic bag for that reason.


Do wool dryer balls work for static?

They can! But if static cling is still an issue with your wool dryer balls, spray the balls with water before placing in the dryer to increase humidity.

You can also attach a safety pin, which diffuses static electricity because it's made of metal.

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Are wool dryer balls bad for your dryer?

Image of parent and child standing in front of white washing and drying machine

Wool dryer balls are designed to be gentle for both your laundry and your dryer drum.

So, are wool dryer balls loud?

Well, if you’re expecting the sound of a ricocheting tennis ball or other type of plastic dryer ball as it bangs and tumbles inside your dryer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quiet reusable wool dryer balls are.

To further dampen their sound, you can layer the balls in between your laundry rather than just adding them before or after you load the dryer. The layering technique should muffle the sound a bit more.

How to clean wool dryer balls

Image of one white wool dryer ball on top of white folded towel

Wool dryer balls seen better days? Don’t toss them in the trash just yet! There are a number of ways you can freshen up your organic wool dryer balls before it’s officially time to retire them.

To clean your dryer balls ...

  • Hand wash in a mixture of mild laundry soap and warm (not hot) water.
  • Avoid machine-washing in hot water because the heat will eventually relax and speed up the unraveling process, damaging the felted wool.

How do you remove lint from wool dryer balls?

Lint build up shouldn’t affect the effectiveness of your wool dryer balls. To get rid of it, you can wash them or (gently!) shave the surface with a light razor or sweater depiller.

(Quality dryer balls may also pill after use, which is normal and increases surface friction, which can make them even more effective.)

What to do with used wool dryer balls

The uses are (almost) endless. Once you’ve decided to retire your used wool dryer balls, you can toss them in your compost. Or, you can keep them around.

Here are some ideas:

  • Freshen your air: Add oil to the dryer ball and place it in a corner.
  • Sweeten your linens: Add oil to the dryer ball and tuck it into a closet.
  • Play indoor catch.
  • Practice juggling.
  • Cover it with fabric and use as a doll head.
  • Offer them to your pet — they make great toys! Just make sure any essential oils you've previously used are animal-safe.
Image of person sprinkling essential oil on wool dryer ball

Shop wool dryer balls

Ready to wool dryer balls a try? Then, pick up a package of Grove's reusable wool dryer ball 3-pack. Or, try a set of 3 wool dryer balls and your favorite essential oil for a scented eco-friendly experience.

Less drying time = less energy used!

Our wool dryer balls separate clothes to allow more air to them, eliminating post-cycle wrinkles. Sustainably designed to reduce drying time, these dryer balls reduce energy consumption too. They last up to 1,000 loads and are 100% biodegradable. Plus, our all-natural dryer balls are 100% New Zealand wool and nothing else.

Read more from Grove

Here at Grove Collaborative, we’re big believers in the power of natural products — both for ourselves and for the planet. But we know making the switch can be daunting, especially if you’re accustomed to conventional products and are new to the world of natural, eco-friendly alternatives. That’s why we’ve created Beginner’s Guides to Natural. Each week, we’ll give you a primer on the ins and outs of transitioning to a natural version of a common household item, plus a few of our favorite brands for making the switch. Let’s get to swapping!