HAPPY MONDAY, my friends! This week I’m talking about dirty laundry. You may recall that earlier this year I gave my laundry room an upgrade by painting it a cheery orange, hanging some functional artwork, installing a custom shelving unit and hanging canvas laundry bags. I know it’s Monday and laundry is probably one of the most boring things in the world to read about, but there’s a giveaway at the end of this post so keep on keepin’ on!
Since becoming a mom I’ve think about (and do) laundry more than ever. Not only do I need to get things ‘really clean’ (i.e., removing poop stains), but what I actually use to clean my baby’s stuff is definitely a concern for me. I’m not cool with detergents or fabric softeners leaving harsh residues on my boy’s soft skin. Early this year I began looking into more natural ways to launder his clothing, blankets and sheets. Rather than use special detergent just for his stuff, I began a quest to become a one-detergent household. I will talk to you more about what detergent I selected on another day. Just know that no matter what detergent I tried I noticed a common denominator: everything felt just a little bit stiff when it came out of the dryer. My towels were the worst. Pure crunchiness.
I’ve long since abandoned liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets. After working at Restoration Hardware for a year, I broke down and bought a few RH Turkish cotton towels. These towels are nice and they are, as far as towels go, pretty darn expensive. We always advised our customers not to use fabric softeners on the towels because softeners leave a residue on the towels that reduces their absorbency over time. When I bought my towels I decided to ditch the fabric softener on my towels only. Then when I became a mom I read somewhere that fabric softeners also shouldn’t be used on baby clothes because they can reduce effectiveness of flame retardency and contain chemicals/fragrances that can irritate baby’s skin. Since fabric softeners (and also detergents) leave residue behind that can build up on your stuff even when you aren’t throwing them in with a particular load, once I had the baby I just ditched the darn things completely!
But, what about the stiffness and the crunch? I have hard water and a water softener so there’s a whole lotta factors impacting my laundry routine. I’ve tried a few methods to help soften up my towels (the good ol’ vinegar and baking soda trick) and clothing, but the best solution I’ve found to date are dryer balls.
There are many brands on the market and I chose to purchase a set of four Heart Felt Dryer Balls to give this natural softening method a try. Heart Felt is a New Zealand-based company that makes its dryer balls out of densely felted New Zealand wool. Dryer balls work by gently moving between your wet laundry in the dryer allowing the hot air to circulate better and dry your laundry up to 30-50% faster. The movement of the dryer balls also serves as a natural fabric softener so there’s no need to use dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener to achieve softness.
The dryer balls absorb water from your wet laundry while in the dryer so they are typically wet when you take out your load. I store my dryer balls in a metal basket so they can air out when I’m not using them. Adding a drop or two of essential oil (I use lavender or clean cotton scent) to the balls before placing them in the dryer gives your clothing that wonderful, fresh from the dryer scent that you’re likely used to if you use dryer sheets. I keep my essential oils in the laundry room in a little glass candle holder right next to my balls.
As you can imagine, the balls bounce around in the dryer when you’re drying a load. I don’t notice any noise when I’m doing a large load of towels or sheets, but if I’m drying only a few things I can hear the balls bouncing around in the dryer. If your laundry room is in your basement you probably wouldn’t notice the noise. My laundry room is on the second floor so I can hear them when I’m sitting below in my living room.
My laundry has gotten remarkably softer since I started using these. As I said, I have hard water and even though we have a water softener I believe there is still mineral buildup causing my clothing to feel stiff. I notice a huge difference in the softness of my son’s clothing and diapers in particular. For a while his sleepers were feeling really stiff and icky. Now they are back to that softness they had when they were brand new. My towels are also noticeably softer, although they still don’t have that brand new fluffiness I crave. I’m hoping that over time these dryer balls will beat my towels into submission.
While I haven’t done extensive testing of the reduction in dry time, I will say that my clothing does dry faster using the dryer balls. I’m just not sure it’s 50% faster! My biggest stumbling block with significantly reducing dry time is likely the fact that most loads of laundry I do are extra-extra-extra large. I have an HE machine with an enormous drum and no agitator so I tend to overstuff the washing machine. Drying smaller loads of laundry would probably make a huge difference! I use cloth diapers and that is where I see the biggest difference in dry time because those are relatively small dryer loads. I could also try using more dryer balls. Right now I only have four, but I think having six or eight for larger loads of laundry would work wonders for the dry time.
Yesterday I did a load of white towels as an experiment (4 towels, 4 hand towels and 2 wash cloths). Without the dryer balls it took my towels 70 minutes on low to dry. With the dryer balls the same load took 60 minutes on low to dry. Not a huge difference, but definitely faster! Drying at medium heat might make a difference as well, but I try to dry on low because I’ve heard that also helps eliminate crunchiness. Since I purchased these for the purpose of softening my laundry (which is definitely working!) any reduction in dry time that I’m seeing is an added bonus.
One of the very best things about these dryer balls is that they are reusable so there is no waste or harsh chemicals involved. Perfect for anyone looking to live a greener life. They also come in a beautiful organic cotton bag, which is great if you’d like to give them for a baby shower or house warming gift! I personally will be giving these to all my new mom friends because, as a new mom myself, I know how much more time is spent on laundry after the addition of a little one!
These things are awesome! Don’t believe that a couple of felt balls could make your laundry softer? Then try them out for yourself! The kind folks over at Heart Felt have graciously agreed to give away a set of four dryer balls to two lucky winners. If you’d like to try them out for yourself please enter the giveaway below! If you aren’t lucky enough to win, you can purchase your own set to try out here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The giveaway is open now and ends at midnight on Saturday. I will notify the winners via email next week! Good luck everyone!
***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED. THANK YOU FOR ENTERING!***