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Laundry How To

How To Clean Wool Dryer Balls in 4 Simple Steps

In today’s eco-conscious world, sustainable products like wool dryer balls are taking the market by storm. No more traditional dryer sheets or fabric softeners – these alternatives reduce drying time, saving energy and money, are kinder to sensitive skin and are the more eco-friendly option for the drying process.

They don’t use harmful chemicals like some single-use dryer sheets, but instead use natural materials (at least the wool kind do).

However, like any reusable product, wool dryer balls can deteriorate over time, developing unpleasant odors.

No need to worry, though! It’s possible to keep their fresh scent lasting longer. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how to clean wool dryer balls in four simple steps. So, keep reading for all the details!

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Should You Clean Wool Dryer Balls?

Yes, you should clean wool dryer balls to maintain their effectiveness and extend their lifespan. Washing the wool balls is essential to prevent lint buildup and ensure they decrease static cling, even for large loads of laundry.

Now, you might wonder: when should you wash your dryer balls? Generally, washing those sustainable drying tools varies depending on how frequently you use them and the manufacturer’s instructions.

However, some telltale signs help you determine when to recharge wool dryer balls. These include:

Increased Drying Time

If you notice your laundry taking longer than usual to dry, your wool dryer balls might need washing.

You see, those natural fibers are made of complex cells arranged in layers. One of those components is a spring-like structure that makes up the interior of wool.

Proteins surrounding this structure contain high sulfur content, which attracts water molecules. This process enables wool to absorb 30% of its weight without becoming wet!

However, water isn’t the only thing this natural product absorbs. It also removes dirt, skin flakes, pet hair, odors, and any debris from the clothes. That can build up over time, create lint, and clog the cells.

Consequently, those eco-friendly products lose their efficiency to dry clothes. Cleaning the balls helps remove all the accumulated lint and buildup, restoring their effectiveness.

Foul Odor

As mentioned earlier, wool absorbs foul odors from clothes, which can cause the balls to smell unpleasant. However, that’s not the only reason they can become smelly.

Mold can grow on those clothes-drying tools and produce a musty smell.

As you know, wool holds water, providing a damp environment that favors fungal growth. Not to mention, those microorganisms produce spores, which cause allergies, among other health risks.

Visible Buildup on Clothes

Your clothes’ condition can also indicate if the dryer balls need cleaning. In the case of fiber build-up on the dryer balls, your clothes won’t come out fresh and dry.

Instead, the laundry will be greasy and can even smell! You may also notice lint and other debris on the clothes.

How to Clean Wool Dryer Balls

Now that you know when your wool dryer balls are a mess, let’s discuss how to clean them!

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools

The good news is that you don’t need many tools to restore the dryer balls to their former glory! Here are all the essentials you’ll need for this process:

  • Warm water: You’ll need a bucket, basin, or sink in the case of hand washing.
  • Mild detergent: Choose a laundry detergent for delicate fabrics since it won’t contain harsh chemicals.
  • A soft brush or clean cloth: Use a soft brush to gently scrub the wool dryer balls.
  • Sweater shaver: A sweater shaver, a razor, or any lint remover tool can help remove accumulated fuzz.
  • Mesh bag: Choose a size that’ll fit into your washing machine.
  • White vinegar (optional): Acetic acid can break the stain’s bond with wool fibers, eventually removing it. It also acts as a deodorizer.
  • A clean, dry towel (optional): The fabric can help absorb excess water and dry the balls quickly.
  • Essential oils (optional): Use your favorite essential oils scent to add a pleasant fragrance to the dryer balls.

Step 2: Prepare the Balls for Cleaning

Unlike rubber or plastic dryer balls, natural wool dryer balls need a few preparation steps before washing.

For starters, you want to check the manufacturer’s care instructions to avoid damaging the product. Additionally, you need to eliminate any accumulated lint since washing won’t remove it.

Here’s how to remove the fuzz:

  1. Place the drying balls on a flat surface for stability.
  2. Examine the balls to identify areas of visible pilling.
  3. Glide a sweater shaver or razor gently over the wool’s surface. Avoid applying too much pressure.
  4. Pick up the lint as you remove it to prevent it from sticking back to the ball.
  5. Repeat the same process as necessary.

Step 3: Wash the Dryer Balls

As you might know, wool dryers are made of natural fibers. Over time, the former can dry out, losing its ability to absorb water. Washing the drying balls, also known as recharging, can help you tackle this issue.

Now, there are two ways to wash the wool balls: handwashing (which leads to better results) and machine washing. Let’s discuss each method in further detail!

1. Handwashing

Here’s how to handwash wool dryer balls:

  1. Dampen a clean cloth with white vinegar and dab the stubborn stains with gentle pressure. Repeat until they fade away.
  2. Fill a bucket, sink, or basin with enough water to fully submerge the balls. Make sure not to use hot water, as it can damage the fibers.
  3. Add about half a cup of mild detergent or as instructed on the label.
  4. Swish the balls for a minute and let them soak for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Remove the wool product and gently scrub it until it’s clean.
  6. Soak the dryer balls again if needed.
  7. Rinse with cold water. Repeat as necessary to remove the detergent residue.
  8. Squeeze excess water and lay a clean, dry towel on the counter.
  9. Pat dry the wool balls and let them air dry in a well-ventilated area.
  10. Add 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil to give them a pleasant scent. It’ll also make your laundry smell better.

2. Machine washing

For a hassle-free cleaning process, you can throw the wool balls into a washing machine—although it can damage the drying balls in the long run. Start by soaking them in vinegar and water for around 30 minutes, and use a cloth to gently remove stubborn stains.

Following this step, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Place the dryer balls in a mesh bag. The former helps protect the balls from excessive agitation, which can shrink wool fibers.
  2. Add gentle laundry detergent as instructed on the label.
  3. Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle and start it.
  4. Remove the balls from the mesh bag and let them air dry, as mentioned above.
  5. Add a couple of drops of essential oil to the wool.

Step 4: Dry Using High Heat

Instead of letting the balls air-dry, you can use a drying machine to facilitate this process.

Simply squeeze the excess water by hand. However, avoid twisting the balls, as that can damage the wool fibers. Then, place those clothes-drying tools inside a mesh bag and throw them in the dryer. Set the machine at a high temperature to ensure they dry out completely.

Now, all you do is add a few drops of essential oil and use the balls on your next drying cycle!


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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How often should you wash wool dryer balls?

Generally, you should wash wool dryer balls after 100 uses. That’s around every 6 months if you do four laundry loads weekly.

However, the time will vary depending on how often you use them. So, it’s best to wash them every couple of months or whenever they start to smell. Still, check the manufacturer’s care recommendations to avoid damaging the wool.

Q. How long do wool dryer balls last?

Most wool dryer balls can withstand 1000 loads, which is between 2 and 5 years of laundry. If you use the dryer once a week, the balls can last about 20 years!

However, the lifespan will vary depending on family size, washing frequency, and maintenance.

Q. Can you wash wool dryer balls with your clothes?

Yes! You can wash wool dryer balls with your clothes. Simply place them in a mesh bag to protect the delicate fabric and use a gentle washing cycle to avoid damaging the wool.

Q. How can you dispose of wool dryer balls?

Wool dryer balls are biodegradable; soil microorganisms break down the keratin, eventually decomposing the fibers.

For that reason, you can also throw them in your compost bin or bury them in your backyard. You can also discard of any old dryer balls at any facility that recycles textiles. Or, even better, you can reuse them as pet toys or air fresheners.

Q. Should you clean wool dryer balls before using them for the first time?

Generally, wool dryer balls are pre-washed and ready for immediate use. So, you don’t need to clean them for the first use.

However, you can clean wool balls to remove any manufacturer residue or dirt. Just make sure to hand-wash them using a mild soap.

In Conclusion

Learning how to clean wool dryer balls is essential for maintaining their effectiveness. It helps remove lint, residues, and foul odors, ensuring these eco-friendly laundry tools reduce drying time.

With warm water, mild detergent, a sweater shaver, and other optional equipment, you can keep your wool balls in top condition. It’s best to hand wash the dryer balls to extend their lifespan. However, machine washing also works, but the fabric can deteriorate over time.

Regardless of the option you choose, cleaning wool dryer balls ensures your next load of laundry can enjoy their benefits for a long time!


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