Dryer Balls Vs Dryer Sheets (The Ultimate Breakdown)

There are numerous reasons why you might consider getting rid of using dryer sheets in your laundry. In order to bring you all the information you need, we’re doing a deep dive into dryer balls vs dryer sheets.

Wool dryer balls are eco-friendly, are not made with harsh chemicals, and decrease dry time. Dryer sheets help soften laundry, prevent static cling, and can leave long-lasting scents but can be made with chemicals that cause skin irritation.

We’ve given you a brief overview of the pros of dryer balls and dryer sheets. But, there’s a lot more to the story. We’ll go over the pros and cons of each so you can easily compare the two to each other.

To get started, let’s talk about what dryer sheets actually are.

Table of Contents

What are Dryer Sheets?

We’re jumping right in with information about dryer sheets. I thought it would be a good idea to mention both regular one-time-use dryer sheets as well as reusable dryer sheets so we can cover all our bases.

Now let’s get to it!

Regular Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are flattened sheets of polyester that have been coated with chemicals.

These chemicals can vary by brand but essentially they are all the same. These chemicals are scents, fabric softeners, and things that reduce static cling.

The chemicals that the dryer sheets are coated in are designed to evaporate in the dryer when they heat up.

Once they evaporate, they fly around inside your dryer and coat your clothing with all the good things that they have. This is what makes your clothes come out smelling fresh and feeling soft.

Dryer sheets are great at their job, however, a lot of people get concerned when they hear that dryer sheets coat your clothes with chemicals.

Additionally, people that have sensitive skin might find that dryer sheets irritate their skin.

However, reusable dryer balls have been created to help with some of these issues.

Reusable Dryer Sheets

Reusable dryer sheets are like a hybrid between dryer sheets and wool dryer balls.

They are woven pieces of polyester that look a lot like a washcloth. These reusable dryer sheets aren’t coated in any kind of chemical but are still made with the synthetic fiber of polyester.

They help reduce static cling, soften clothing, and prevent wrinkles.

The instructions I’ve found online for most reusable dryer sheets state that you need to wash them about once a month. This wash acts as a ‘recharge’ to the dyer sheet and keeps them working well.

But, apart from this once-a-month maintenance, reusable dryer sheets last about 500 loads of laundry which is 500 fewer dryer sheets used.

Reusable dryer sheets are great for people with sensitive skin, eczema, or infants. It has no chemicals and is a great alternative to wool dryer balls if you’ve got a wool allergy.

If you don’t want to use regular dryer sheets but still want your clothes to smell fresh, you can put a drop or two of essential oils on your reusable dryer sheet to make your clothes smell wonderful.

Alright, we’ve covered everything we need to know about dryer sheets, so let’s start the comparison.

Dryer Balls Vs Dryer Sheets

Dryer Balls vs Dryer Sheets

We’ve covered a lot of information about dryer sheets, but we haven’t talked about dryer balls. If you need more information about dryer balls before we get into our comparison, check out our other post here.

Time to get into the nitty gritty of dryer balls vs dryer sheets. We’re getting started with one of the biggest comparison points; sustainability.

1. Sustainability

First off, most dryer sheets are not reusable. But, as we mentioned earlier, there are some dryer sheets that are reusable.

But, both dryer sheets are made with polyester which is a synthetic material made in a factory and isn’t easily recycled.

And, since regular dryer sheets are one-time use, they aren’t very sustainable.

Now let’s get into the dryer ball side of things.

Wool dryer balls are made from a sustainable, natural material that can also be recycled.

Dryer balls of any kind also decrease the dryer time by bouncing around a separating the clothing which increases airflow. Most people say it decreases their dry time by about half!

Last but not least, dryer balls are reusable and last around 1000 loads of laundry. Imagine all the dryer sheets you would save by switching from dryer sheets to dryer balls!

So, when it comes to sustainability, dryer balls beat dryer sheets, but reusable dryer sheets are a close second to dryer balls in terms of sustainability.

Next, we’re going to talk about what dryer balls and dryer sheets bring to the table in the dryer itself.

2. Benefits in the Dryer

dryer balls vs dryer sheets

Dryer sheets, reusable dryer sheets, and dryer balls generally all do the same things in the dryer. But, it’s the way they do them that makes the difference.

Fabric Softening

Let’s talk about softening clothing first.

Dryer sheets soften clothing by coating your clothes in fabric softener in the dryer. This method of softening clothes is extremely effective.

Dryer balls bang around inside your dryer fluffing up and separating the clothing. This fluff might not be quite as good as the dryer sheet fluff and softness, but no chemicals are involved in this process.

Reusable dryer sheets aren’t as effective at softening clothes as the other two. The main way they soften clothes is by absorbing the water from the clothes and then releasing it like a little steamer. Not as soft, but no chemicals are involved.

Reducing Static Cling

Next, we’re going to tackle reducing static cling.

One of the main reasons people want to use dryer sheets is to reduce that annoying static cling.

Dryer sheets are pretty effective and it has to do with the materials the dryer sheets are made of. Dryer sheets are made of polyester.

Having a different type of fabric, such as polyester, in the dryer with your clothes is one of the things that decreases static cling.

Some of the chemicals on dryer sheets also help with static cling.

Reusable dryer sheets aren’t quite as effective as regular dryer sheets, but they still do help reduce static cling. If you use reusable dryer sheets, make sure you dry lots of different kinds of fabric together (cotton with wool and other synthetic materials).

This diverse mix of fabrics will help reduce static cling even more.

Lastly, wool dryer balls are not quite as good at reducing static cling as the other two. But, wool dryer balls still help reduce static cling for the sole reason that they’re made of wool.

Adding Scents

Let’s be honest, nothing is better than a warm fresh smelling load of laundry. It makes you just want to bury yourself in it.

We all know that dryer sheets have scents added to them already, but what about the other two?

Reusable dryer sheets and wool dryer balls can have scents added to them through the use of essential oils.

Here’s a great video on how to make an essential oil spray to put on your dryer balls before your dryer load.

Some essential oils can cause skin irritation so it’s good to check some resources first.

Here’s a link to a webpage that has a good breakdown of essential oils that commonly cause skin irritation and some other tidbits to help you use them safely.

Preventing Wrinkles

Pulling a wrinkly shirt out of the dryer is so annoying. You think you’re done with your laundry and lo and behold, there’s still more to be done.

Dryer sheets by themselves don’t do anything to assist in de-wrinkling clothing. The other two, on the other hand, can help with wrinkly clothes.

Both reusable dryer sheets and wool dryer balls help de-wrinkle clothes in the same way so I’ll only go over it once.

When you throw a wet load of laundry into your dryer, the dryer balls or dryer sheets will absorb some of that moisture.

Then, as the dryer heats up, it will release this moisture as steam. Steam is one of the best ways to get wrinkles out, so they are both pretty effective.

If your laundry is still looking a little rumpled, you can add water to your dryer sheet or dryer balls before the cycle to help them have even more steam to release.

You can also do this with dry clothes. If you have a load of laundry that needs de-wrinkled, throw it in with damp dryer balls, damp reusable dryer sheets, or even a wet washcloth. They’ll come out looking much better.

Decreasing Dry Time

Regular dryer sheets don’t do anything to decrease the dry time in a dryer. Reusable dryer sheets, however, can help a little bit.

As I mentioned in the previous sections, reusable dryer sheets act like little steamers, they absorb the moisture from wet clothes and then release it to help prevent wrinkles.

This can also help decrease the drying time but the amount that it decreases is very small.

A main selling point of dryer balls is that they help decrease drying time which helps decrease your energy bill.

Dryer balls decrease drying time by increasing airflow between the pieces of laundry.

Wet laundry has a tendency to clump together in the dryer which makes it difficult to dry thoroughly and can even make your laundry still have wet spots in the middle of the clump.

Dryer balls help break up this clump by bouncing around and getting between pieces of laundry.

People that use dryer balls say that they help decrease dry time by about 50%. That’s insane! Not to mention eco-friendly.

Skin Irritation

Last but not least, we need to mention skin irritation.

A big reason people switch from regular dryer sheets is that the chemicals on the sheets cause them or someone in their family skin irritation.

While there are some hypoallergenic dryer sheets out there, reusable dryer sheets are still better at being hypoallergenic.

They contain no harsh chemicals and are made with hypoallergenic materials.

Wool dryer balls are also a great option if you get skin irritation from regular dryer sheets. However, some people also have a wool allergy.

If you want dryer balls but can’t use wool, plastic dryer balls are a great option. They give the energy efficiency bonus of dryer balls but without the wool.

Whew, we’ve covered a lot in this section. But, we have one more to go so hang in there.

3. Cost

Now, I don’t normally talk about the cost of things, but, the cost is a big part of switching from dryer sheets to dryer balls. So, bear with me, I’m going to hit you with some math.

A pack of dryer balls is usually between 20-30 dollars for a pack of six. These dryer balls will last you around 1000 loads of laundry. So, that’s the equivalent of 1000 dryer sheets.

Now, a box of dryer sheets can vary greatly by brand but they range around 10-15 dollars for a box of 120-140 sheets. So, two boxes of dryer sheets are the equivalent cost of a pack of dryer balls, but only gives you about 280 loads of laundry.

That’s a quarter of the loads you get from one pack of dryer balls!

Now let’s compare reusable dryer sheets to dryer balls.

Reusable dryer sheets cost between 10-15 dollars. There’s not as much research done on how long these guys last, but from what I’ve found they last an average of 500 loads of laundry.

Half as many as dryer balls but they also cost half as much.

So far, wool dryer balls and reusable dryer sheets are neck and neck.

But, there’s one last thing to consider: decreased drying time.

Wool dryer balls decrease dry time by about 50% on average. That cuts your energy bill from your dryer by 50%!

With that last tidbit of information, dryer balls come out on top in terms of cost, but reusable dryer sheets are still a close second.

Wrap Up

Woah. That was a lot of stuff. But you made it to the end! Give yourself a pat on the back.

Let’s hit the main points again just to make sure you’ve gotten everything you can from this post.

First, we talked about what dryer sheets and reusable dryer sheets are.

Then we got into the comparisons and started it off with a discussion about sustainability.

We discovered that reusable dryer sheets are more sustainable than dryer sheets, but that wool dryer balls are more sustainable than both of them.

Next, we talked about the benefits you get from all of them in the dryer.

We talked about softening fabric, reducing static cling, adding scents, decreasing dry time, and skin irritation.

Last but not least, we compared the cost of all three. While dryer sheets might seem like the cheapest option, in the long run, wool dryer balls are actually the most cost-effective.

And there you have it, everything you could possibly need to know about the difference between dryer sheets and dryer balls.

With your newfound knowledge, go make something awesome!

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