Do dryer balls work with cold-water laundry?

Many people are opting to wash their laundry in cold water. Cold-water washing saves energy and handles clothes gently. But are dryer balls still effective with cold-washed clothes?

Let’s explore the relationship between cold water washing and dryer ball performance.

Quick links:

Dryer balls and cold-water laundry

How to optimize dryer balls with cold washing

Cold vs hot water and dryer balls

How do wool dryer balls work?

Things to know about wool dryer balls

If you still haven’t found the perfect dryer balls, look no further. Smart Sheep wool dryer balls are the best around! They’re made of 100% hand-felted New Zealand natural wool.

Set of 6 Handfelted "Marching Penguins" 100% New Zealand Wool Dryer Balls


Dryer balls and cold-water laundry

Wool dryer balls effectively dry laundry, even when using cold water in the washing machine. The wool balls create space between wet laundry, increasing air circulation. This effect doesn’t depend on water temperature, so dryer balls reduce drying times and energy consumption with cold water laundry.

The gentle agitation from wool dryer balls softens clothes and reduces static cling, regardless of the wash water temperature. Natural wool fibers absorb moisture and distribute it evenly throughout the load.

Combine these eco-friendly laundry practices to reduce energy consumption, lower utility bills, and minimize environmental impact. Wool dryer balls, a sustainable alternative to dryer sheets, reduce waste and exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.


Set of 6 Handfelted "Playful Pups" 100% New Zealand Wool Dryer Balls


How to optimize dryer ball performance with cold-water washing

To optimize dryer ball performance with cold-water laundry:

  • Use a mild detergent for cold water washing. These detergents contain enzymes that effectively clean clothes at lower temperatures.
  • Add the appropriate number of wool dryer balls to the dryer based on the load size. 
  • Adjust your dryer settings if clothes retain more moisture after a cold water wash. Add a few extra minutes to the dry cycle or select a higher heat setting to compensate for the slightly increased drying time.
  • For best results, avoid overloading the dryer. Give your dryer balls enough space to move freely and create air pockets between the clothes.
  • Periodically clean the dryer balls by running them through a wash cycle with a mild detergent. This helps maintain their effectiveness and removes any built-up lint or residue.

Dryer balls in cold vs hot water

Wool dryer balls work well in both cold and hot water laundry. Water temperature changes the laundry process, but dryer balls handle both situations.

Cold water laundry and dryer balls

Here's how wool dryer balls work in cold water:

  • Wool dryer balls create space between clothes, allowing better air circulation. This mechanism is not affected by water temperature. As a result, dryer balls reduce drying time and static cling in cold water loads.
  • The combination of wool dryer balls and cold-water washing maximizes energy efficiency, as you save energy in the washing and drying process.
  • Cold water is less likely to cause shrinkage or damage to delicate fabrics, and wool dryer balls provide a gentle agitation that further protects your clothes.

Hot water laundry and dryer balls

In hot water laundry cycles, wool dryer balls offer the following benefits:

  • Hot water loads dry more quickly since clothes are already heated from the wash cycle.
  • The combination of hot water and the gentle agitation of wool dryer balls results in exceptionally soft and fluffy fabrics.
  • Hot water is more effective at killing bacteria and allergens, and dryer balls aid this process by separating clothes for even drying.

Set of 6 Handfelted "Smiling Sheep" 100% New Zealand Wool Dryer Balls

How do wool dryer balls work?

Wool dryer balls are a natural, eco-friendly alternative to traditional fabric softeners and disposable dryer sheets. They tumble with your clothes in the dryer and improve your laundry experience. Here are some of the benefits of wool dryer balls:

  • As the dryer balls separate clothes, they increase air circulation for faster drying times. This saves energy and reduces costs over time.
  • Wool dryer balls also soften fabrics and minimize static cling. As the balls tumble in the dryer, they gently agitate the fibers of your clothes, resulting in a softer, fluffier texture. 
  • The natural fibers absorb moisture, reducing static cling and drying times.

Many people prefer wool’s eco-friendly and hypoallergenic properties; wool is free from harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances that can irritate sensitive skin. 

With quality wool dryer balls, you can enjoy the benefits of a more efficient and gentle laundry routine without the toxic chemicals found in dryer sheets and fabric softeners.

About cold-water washing

Many people are washing clothes in cold water instead of hot water because it benefits their clothes, their bills, and the environment:

  • Energy savings. Unheated water uses less energy, saving you money.
  • Gentleness on clothes. Cold water is less likely to cause shrinkage, fading, or damage.
  • Compatibility with modern detergents. Many laundry detergent manufacturers offer cold-water formulas that effectively clean clothes at lower temperatures.
  • Convenience. Modern washing machines often have dedicated cold water settings or cycles that make it easy to cold-water wash.
  • Environmental impact. With energy usage lowered and the quality of clothes preserved, cold-water washing contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Wool dryer balls FAQ

Can dryer balls damage the clothes dryer?

Dryer balls, especially wool ones, are gentle on your dryer and won't cause any damage. They're soft, durable, and tumble safely in the dryer drum.

Do wool dryer balls leave lint on dark clothes?

Our wool dryer balls won’t leave lint on dark clothes. High-quality wool dryer balls are made from 100% wool that has been felted, which means the fibers are compact and less likely to shed. Always choose well-made, tightly felted wool dryer balls to minimize any risk of lint.

How can I add scent to my wool dryer balls?

To add scent to your wool dryer balls, apply a few drops of your favorite essential oil directly onto each ball. Or use Smart Sheep scenting spray. Choose between lavender, lemon, and orange scents.

Check out our detailed guide on using essential oils in your laundry routine!

How can I make my dryer balls work better?

To make wool dryer balls work better, clean them regularly by removing any built-up lint or residue. Add a few drops of essential oils to the balls for a fresh scent. The balls need enough room to bounce around freely during the drying cycle.

Are wool or plastic dryer balls better?

Wool dryer balls are better than plastic ones. Wool is a natural, eco-friendly material that's gentle on fabrics and doesn't create static. Wool balls are also more durable and can last for hundreds of loads. Plastic dryer balls can be effective, but they are noisy and less environmentally friendly.

Do wool dryer balls collect pet hair?

Wool dryer balls collect pet hair during the drying cycle. The natural texture of wool attracts pet hair, pulling it away from your clothes. After each cycle, remove the accumulated hair from the dryer balls to maintain their effectiveness. 

How many wool dryer balls should I use?

Here are some general rules to follow:

  • For small to medium loads, 3–4 balls should get the job done.
  • For larger loads of laundry, use 5–8 balls.
  • For extra-large loads, go as high as 9–12 balls.

Further reading

What is the least toxic laundry detergent?

What is the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin?

Should I use tennis balls in the dryer?

Detergent sheets or liquid fabric softeners: what to use?

Can I use dryer balls for down jackets?