It’s only very recently that we’ve had a tumble dryer and whilst we don’t use it each and every time we do laundry, it does get used on a regular basis because we live in the North West of England, a very wet region of the United Kingdom, and I don’t want wet clothes hanging indoors and ruining our lovely new plaster. I’ve started experimenting with ways to make using the dryer not only better for the environment but also less draining on our bank account.
Whilst in Home Bargains a couple of months ago I picked up a pack of Wooly Tumblers Dryer Balls, made from hand felted wool, retailing at £3.49. The balls claim to reduce drying time by 25%, reduce static, soften fabric, and save energy. Made of hand felted 100% New Zealand wool with no added dyes, the Wooly Tumblers create loft in the dryer which allows the heat to be distributed in a more even fashion. The fibres of the natural wool then sucks moisture from the fabrics you are drying. So how do you use them? Just pop all 3 balls into the dryer with your clothes and let them do the work. The packaging claims they should last for at least 1000 loads but obviously it will take me quite a few years to test this claim, although they seem to be holding up very well and look just the same as they did when I bought them. Our drying time is dramatically reduced, perhaps by around 20% (depending on the fabrics) and Mr Thrifty suggests they have all but removed his need to iron his work shirts (about the only thing we can actually be bothered to iron in this house.) For basic cottons I usually need to twist the dial of our (very old, hand me down) vented dryer to 2 hours but with the balls in the load I tend to need 90-95 mins.
I have tried other tumble dryer balls in the past (various varieties of the plastic kind) and whilst they have reduced drying time by a small margin, these work so, so much better and I have yet to hear one thud in the drum. When I tried tennis balls in the past it sounded a lot like I had 2 tiny Andy Murrays playing out a particularly aggressive set inside my dryer and I worried about damage to the machine itself. If you’re a crafty type you could make your own, felting is easy and pretty cost effective, however I’d suggest trying to use a yarn without dyes, in order to preserve your clothes. These yarns may prove more expensive if you don’t already have them sitting around doing nothing. One small downside? Our Yorkshire Terrier loves them and when I first brought them home he tried to make sweet, sweet lurve to them on a number of occasions. Have you tried this kind of tumble dryer ball, have you felted some? Let us know what you think in the comments below.