Are dryer balls healthy?

Dryer balls are a healthier alternative to fabric softener and dryer sheets. Some dryer balls are healthier than others. 

Wool dryer balls are a super healthy choice. They are hypoallergenic, making them the perfect option for people with sensitive skin. 

Quick links:

What are dryer balls?

Wool dryer balls are the best

Are plastic dryer balls healthy?

Are rubber dryer balls healthy?

Are wood dryer balls healthy?

Wool vs plastic dryer balls

Benefits of wool dryer balls

How to care for wool dryer balls

Skip the harmful chemicals and ecologically disastrous laundry products and buy Smart Sheep wool dryer balls. They’re eco-friendly, organic, and reusable.

“Quiet, efficient, and hypoallergenic”—Eve Vulgaris, verified Amazon purchaser (five stars)

“Effective non-chemical Softener”—AEL, verified Amazon purchaser (five stars)

“Nice to get away from the chemicals in the dryer sheets, and having them end up on the floor in laundry and bedrooms. Very happy with this product!”—Jenny T, verified Amazon purchaser (five stars)

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Shop our full collection of eco-friendly laundry products and discover how good it feels to kick toxins out of your household. From essential oil sprays to stain sticks to detergent strips, we have your laundry needs covered.

What are dryer balls?

Dryer balls are…balls designed for use in your clothes dryer. Shocker, we know. Their purpose is to improve the performance of the dryer by speeding up drying time, reducing wrinkles, and softening clothes. Unlike dryer sheets, which are single-use (and which contain toxic chemicals), dryer balls can be reused for many cycles.

Dryer balls can be made from the following materials:

  1. Wool
  2. Plastic
  3. Rubber
  4. Wood

Wool dryer balls

Wool is the most popular material for dryer balls, and the most effective. Wool dryer balls reduce static, smooth wrinkles, reduce drying time, and replace dryer sheets and fabric softeners.

Quality wool dryer balls last for over 1,000 loads of laundry. Ours are made from 100% New Zealand wool and are handfelted by Nepalese craftspeople who are paid a fair wage.

Wool dryer balls are a super healthy option, both for your home and for the environment. They are hypoallergenic, 100% natural, and biodegradable. 

Smart sheep 6 pack


Some dryer balls are made of plastic materials like polypropylene or polyethylene. They attempt to mimic the softening effects of wool through their shape and texture. They’re just not as effective as wool.

Plastic can break down over time and leave residues in your dryer and on your laundry. In rare cases, plastic dryer balls can cause damage to the dryer drum or lint trap.

Plastic dryer balls are the least healthy choice. Plastics can release toxins into the air and into your laundry. They are also an ecological nightmare. 


Rubber dryer balls have rubber spikes that help separate clothes as they bounce around the dryer. These lack the absorbent and anti-static properties of wool dryer balls, and just don’t provide the same level of benefit.

Health-wise, rubber dryer balls can be fairly benign, or not. It all depends on the quality and type of rubber they’re made from. Rubber has a much worse environmental impact than wood or wool.


Wood dryer balls can help circulate air, but they’re less effective than wool at reducing static or softening clothing. Wood balls may also absorb unwanted scents from laundry.

Wood is a very healthy choice for your home. It has a higher ecological cost than wool, but lower than plastic and rubber.

Wool vs. plastic dryer balls

Wool and plastic are the most popular types of dryer balls. Wool is the clear winner in every regard. Wool offers significant benefits for human health and the environment, whereas plastic is toxic to humans and the planet.

Smart Sheep wool dryer balls

Plastic dryer balls


Natural wool

Synthetic plastic



Plastic toxins



Releases microplastics into the environment


None, can add essential oils for hundreds of desired fragrances

The scent of overheated plastic, mmmm



May cause allergic reactions



May cause skin irritation


Lasts for several years

Lasts for a year or so


More expensive upfront

Less expensive upfront

Energy savings



Lifetime savings



Fair trade



Sustainably produced







Safe and healthy for you and the environment

Toxic, bad for the environment

6 pack penguins

Benefits of wool dryer balls

Wool dryer balls utilize natural materials to lift and aerate clothes as they tumble. This circulation allows for a faster, healthier drying process with several advantages:

  • Reduce drying time up to 25%. Efficient air circulation means clothes dry quicker, saving energy. 
  • Soften fabrics naturally without irritating chemicals.
  • Eco-friendly and reusable. Natural wool dryer balls last for over 1,000 laundry loads, reducing waste compared to single-use dryer sheets.
  • Wool dryer balls are free from toxic chemicals. 
  • Help eliminate wrinkles and static electricity. The tumbling motion keeps clothes separated and tangle-free. 
  • Hypoallergenic properties. Wool dryer balls contain no irritating perfumes, dyes, or additives that trigger allergies and asthma.
  • Lower your carbon footprint.
  • Wool dryer balls save money. You will spend less on laundry products and on energy usage.

“I admit to being quite skeptical about the effectiveness of using wool dryer balls exclusively for my drying my laundry. I completed a few tough trials drying clothes that usually cling together and finding they don't, I was sold. I am so happy not to be using fabric softener liquids or dryer sheets. Not only does that save me money it is better for the environment. A win-win.”—Don, Amazon verified purchaser (five stars)

“10 loads down using only one of these dryer balls and I am very impressed! No static, even here in dry Denver, and it takes less time to dry – even towels!”—P.L., Dutchmanstore verified user (five stars)

Downsides of traditional dryer sheets

Dryer sheets may make your laundry smell floral and fresh, but they come with significant health and environmental downsides:

  1. The synthetic fragrances and chemicals applied to dryer sheets get transferred directly onto clothing. These residues can cause skin irritation and even allergic reactions or asthma flare-ups.
  2. From an environmental standpoint, dryer sheets are a disaster. They are single-use products that take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Billions of sheets end up in landfills each year.
  3. Cause allergic reactions. Perfumes and chemicals in dryer sheets are common irritants for people with skin sensitivities or respiratory conditions. Direct contact with wet clothes can trigger reactions.
  4. Residual buildup on clothes. Dryer sheets are known to contain harmful toxins and artificial fragrances that create a chemical layer on fabrics, gradually accumulating with regular use. This leaves clothes feeling stiff and rough.
  5. Dryer sheet health risks. The EPA has identified hazardous air pollutants released from dryer vents containing dryer sheets. These chemicals can cause asthma, lung inflammation, and other health issues.

Rather than exposing yourself and your family to dryer sheet toxins, you have a better option—choose organic wool dryer balls.

Want to know why dryer balls are a great, natural alternative to dryer sheets? Take a look at our wool dryer balls vs dryer sheets comparison article. 

“If your goal is to stop using fabric softener or dryer sheets this is the product for you!”—Bob Atchinson, Amazon verified purchaser (five stars)

How do I care for my wool dryer balls?

Wool dryer balls are designed to last 1,000+ loads of laundry. With proper care, they'll keep your laundry fresh and static-free for years. Here are some tips for using and maintaining your dryer balls.

How to use dryer balls effectively

  • Place 3-6 dryer balls in the dryer depending on load size. Use more balls for bigger loads.
  • When first using, dry on low heat for the balls to adjust to the temperature.
  • For scented laundry, add a couple of drops of essential oil directly onto the dryer balls. Or buy our essential oil spray for an easy way to add natural fragrance. A couple of spritzes on each dryer ball is all it takes..
  • Dry for 5-10 minutes then pause to redistribute clothes. This allows balls to separate items.
  • For static control, use fabric softener in the washer and then wool dryer balls in the dryer.

Cleaning and maintaining dryer balls

  • If balls accumulate lint, hand wash gently in warm water using a lint brush. Air-dry them completely.
  • To remove odors, soak in white vinegar and water for 30 minutes. Rinse and air dry.
  • Avoid using bleach, fabric softener, or dryer sheets on the wool dryer balls as these will reduce effectiveness.
  • If they start to wear out, you can recharge dryer balls easily. Wash them in the washing machine with your load of laundry on a gentle cycle. Recharge them every 1-2 months so they don’t lose effectiveness over time.
  • Store wool dryer balls in a breathable bag or container between uses. Don't pack tightly.

Wool dryer balls FAQ

Are dryer balls good for clothes?

Dryer balls are good for clothes. Dryer balls can reduce static cling and soften clothes without the use of chemical fabric softeners.

What are the downsides of dryer balls?

The main downside of dryer balls is the higher upfront cost versus dryer sheets. Even though dryer sheets seem cheaper, they're actually more expensive than wool dryer balls when you average costs over 3 years (the expected lifespan of our wool dryer balls).

What happens if you use too many dryer balls?

Using too many dryer balls can reduce efficiency, with overcrowding preventing proper tumbling. Start with 3-4 balls for small to medium loads and add 1-2 more for larger loads. You can use as many as 8-12 balls in your tumble dryer if needed.

How often should dryer balls be replaced?

Most quality wool dryer balls will last for over 1,000 loads, or about 3 years. Plastic balls may need replacing after a few hundred loads. Replace balls when laundry is no longer drying efficiently or balls appear heavily worn.

Are dryer balls worth buying?

Wool dryer balls provide enough benefits to be worth the investment—reducing drying time, softening naturally, minimizing static, and offering a reusable and eco friendly option. The long lifespan offsets costs.

Do dryer balls have chemicals?

Wool and plastic dryer balls do not contain any harsh chemicals. Wool dryer balls use only natural wool. Some plastic balls may have traces of toxins that leach over time. For chemical-free results, wool dryer balls are recommended.

Further reading

The best essential oil recipes

How do I use wool balls for down jackets?

Should I put a safety pin on my wool dryer balls?

Will wool dryer balls leave wool on my clothes?

How can I make my own wool dryer balls?

Why put tennis balls in the dryer?