Why Put Tennis Balls in the Dryer?

Tired of scratchy laundry and static cling? You considered an unconventional hack—tennis balls in the dryer. But that backfired, leaving gross rubber bits on clothes.

There’s a better way—wool dryer balls. Here’s why tennis balls don’t work and how wool balls are a game-changing natural solution for soft, static-free laundry.

Quick links:

Do tennis balls leave residue?

Tennis ball alternatives

Wool dryer balls vs tennis balls

Are tennis balls good for down jackets?

When you learn how much better our wool dryer balls are, you’ll want never go back. Enjoy the benefits of soft, static-free laundry without residue or chemicals.

How Do Tennis Balls Work in the Dryer?

When it comes to laundry, innovation can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. Enter tennis balls—unassuming—yet surprisingly effective—allies in your dryer. Here's how they work:

  • Agitation. The bouncing balls collide with clothing, physically breaking up the fibers through impact. This agitation helps soften and fluff fabrics.
  • Airflow. The circulation of the balls increases overall airflow and turbulence in the drum. The improved air movement helps clothes dry faster.

Tennis balls also have some downsides…

Why Don’t Tennis Balls Work?

Despite seeming like an easy laundry hack, tennis balls cause as many problems as they solve.

  1. Plastic residue
  2. Damage
  3. Limited impact
  4. Unpleasant odor

Plastic Residue and Lint

Tennis balls are made of plastic. During the drying process, they can shed minuscule plastic particles and contribute to lint build-up on your clothes. No one wants mysterious gunk on their clean laundry.

Potential for Damage

Tennis balls' continuous bouncing can create friction within the dryer, leading to increased wear and tear over time. Additionally, the repeated impacts can be abrasive to certain delicate fabrics, potentially causing damage.

Limited Impact on Static Cling

Contrary to expectations, tennis balls don't have a strong track record of reducing static cling. The minor anti-static effect they offer might not suffice for those who prioritize a completely static-free laundry routine. Clothes dried with tennis balls will still have significant static issues.

Unpleasant Rubber Odor

Even if you always use clean tennis balls, their distinct rubber smell can permeate your laundry, leaving a not-so-pleasant scent on your freshly cleaned clothes. This odor might clash with the clean and fresh feeling you expect from well-laundered garments.

For those looking to embrace green living and practice proper clothing care, tennis balls are not an optimal dryer solution.

What to Use Instead of Tennis Balls in the Dryer?

Rather than settling for tennis balls, there are better solutions for softening laundry and reducing static without leaving gross residue behind. Two common options include dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener.

Both of these are bad for the environment and for your health.

Wool dryer balls refresh laundry, shorten dry times, and reduce static. Plus, they're great for the environment and your health.

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are infused with perfumes, chemicals, and static reducers. While they make laundry smell nice temporarily, the fragrances contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contaminate the air. The dryer sheets’ harsh chemicals also leave a residue on clothes that can irritate sensitive skin.

Dryer sheets are single use only and create unnecessary plastic waste. For those focused on eco-friendly living, dryer sheets are far from ideal.

Liquid Fabric Softener

Liquid softeners work by coating fabrics with a chemical film. This helps reduce static and makes clothes feel softer initially. However, the film wears off over time, requiring repeated applications.

Fabric softeners contain synthetic fragrances, preservatives, and alcohol that can trigger reactions in sensitive individuals. The chemicals also build up inside the dryer over time. Liquid softeners are a source of pollution and health concerns.

Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls provide an all-natural, chemical-free alternative. The wool absorbs moisture and speeds up the drying time. Wool's natural oils also reduce wrinkles, soften fabrics, and reduce static cling.

Wool dryer balls last for over 1,000 loads, saving money in the long run. They are reusable and don’t create any plastic waste. Plus, they’re really simple to use. You just put between three and twelve wool dryer balls into the dryer (depending on the size of your laundry), and they do their magic.

Wool dryer balls are hypoallergenic and contain no irritating perfumes. The natural fibers are gentle, without any chemical residue that could transfer onto fabrics. For effective green living and safe clothing care, wool balls are the best solution.

6 pack penguins

Dryer Balls vs Tennis Balls—Which to Use?

When it comes to drying laundry, both wool dryer balls and tennis balls can help fluff and soften clothes. But wool dryer balls have clear advantages that make them the better choice.

Wool dryer balls are made from natural materials, while tennis balls contain synthetic coatings, dyes, and rubber. The wool is biodegradable and aligns with eco-friendly laundry practices. Tennis balls, on the other hand, create plastic waste that ends up in landfills.

The natural wool fibers act as a gentle fabric softener by absorbing moisture and slowly releasing it. This allows wool dryer balls to reduce drying time, resulting in energy savings. Tennis balls lack these moisture wicking properties.

Wool dryer balls also minimize static cling by preventing fabrics from sticking together. Tennis balls help separate clothes, but are less effective at reducing static.

When it comes to durability, wool dryer balls can handle over 1,000 loads in the dryer without breaking down. Tennis balls lose their fuzz and shape much quicker.

Wool dryer balls are useful for bulky items like blankets that benefit from efficient airflow.

Although wool dryer balls are unscented, you can infuse them with fragrance by adding a few drops of essential oils or by using Smart Sheep’s scenting sprays in orange, lavender, or lemon. With just a spritz, your wool dryer balls become fragrant laundry superstars, spreading the scent you love throughout your clothes. Tennis balls cannot compete with this, can they?

Perhaps most importantly, wool dryer balls contain no harsh chemical residues that could transfer to clothing. Tennis balls often leave behind rubber, dye, and other mystery gunk that ends up in your laundry.

The choice is clear. Wool dryer balls are the obvious winner over tennis balls for soft, static-free laundry. Ditch the tennis balls and upgrade to wool for superior fabric care that's natural, chemical-free, and waste-free. Your clothes and the planet will thank you.

Dryer Balls or Tennis Balls for Down Jackets?

When it comes to drying down jackets, wool dryer balls are far superior to tennis balls for several reasons:

  1. Gentler on down. Down jackets require a delicate touch to maintain their loft and insulation. Wool dryer balls provide soft, gentle agitation that separates and fluffs down without causing damage. Tennis balls can be too harsh on delicate down.
  2. Efficient drying. The moisture-wicking properties of wool dryer balls generate heat and allow down jackets to dry faster. This efficient process ensures jackets dry thoroughly without compromising insulation.
  3. Natural and chemical-free. Wool dryer balls contain only natural fibers, unlike the synthetic materials in tennis balls. Using wool avoids any chemical residues or odors on your down jacket.
  4. Eco-friendly. As a renewable, biodegradable material, wool is an eco-friendly choice that reduces waste. Dryer balls can be reused for years.
  5. Softness and fluffiness. Wool's natural softening abilities restore loft and maintain the fluffy feel of down jackets. Dryer balls help preserve the jacket's insulation and shape.

Wool dryer balls are clearly the optimal choice for down jackets. Their gentleness and efficiency make dryer balls ideal for delicate down.

Tennis Balls FAQ

Do tennis balls really work in the dryer?

Tennis balls can provide some benefits like separating clothes, softening fabrics, speeding up drying time, and reducing static electricity. However, tennis balls also have downsides like leaving lint/residue behind and causing potential damage to clothes and dryers long-term. 

Our wool dryer balls are way better than tennis balls for laundry.

Should I put tennis balls in dryer to soften clothes?

Adding tennis balls to the dryer can help soften fabrics through agitation. However, there are better options for this cleaning hack that avoid residue.

Can you put tennis balls in the washer and dryer?

While tennis balls can be used in the dryer, it's generally not advisable to use them in the washing machine. The agitators in washing machines can cause the balls to become misshapen or damaged.

What can I use in my dryer instead of tennis balls?

Here are some alternatives to using tennis balls in the dryer:

Of these alternatives, only one is any good. Can you guess which one?

How many tennis balls should I put in the dryer?

Depending on the size of your laundry load, you can put 2-6 tennis balls in the dryer. Or better yet, 2-6 wool dryer balls.

What are some laundry hacks for green living?

Here are some of the best laundry tips for green living.

  • Wash clothes less often
  • Use eco-friendly laundry products
  • Wash with cold water
  • Wash fuller loads
  • Consider a microfiber filter
  • Air dry clothes instead of putting it in the dryer
  • Use our wool dryer balls to reduce energy usage

Should I put a ball in my dryer?

Putting objects like tennis balls in your dryer can seem like a really simple way to help dry wet clothes. However, tennis balls can damage clothes and leave residue behind. For better air circulation to dry them faster, it's better to use a wool dryer balls.

Further Reading

What are the benefits of natural clothing stain removers?

What are the best laundry detergents for sensitive skin?

Is it safe to use dryer sheets on baby clothes?

Why is the dryer making my clothes smell burnt?

Homemade stain remover for white clothes

Why is the dryer making my clothes smell burnt?

Will essential oils on my dryer balls stain clothes?