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Green Laundry Wash Ball & Nellie’s Dryer Balls Review

By Casey Slide

mother son laundryMy little laundry area was cramped, messy, and hot – my least favorite room in the house! The storage space and shelves in the laundry room were packed with cleaning supplies, while gummy detergent spills and dryer sheets seemed to adhere to every surface.

However, as hard as I tried to clean and clear out that room, nothing seemed to work. I needed to save space and money. I tried to make my own homemade laundry detergent which solved the cost issue, but the process was time-consuming and I was still left with little storage space. Additionally, I also wished to reduce the time I spent drying my clothes, which would save on electricity and wear-and-tear on my dryer.

That’s when I heard about the Green Wash Ball, a reusable product that allows you to wash your clothes without detergent. So I decided to give it a try, and while I was at it, I used Nellie’s PVC Free Dryer Balls as well. I couldn’t make my laundry room bigger, but I could transform it into a cleaner, more space-efficient space.

Green Wash Ball

How It Works

green wash ballThe Green Wash Ball is an eco-friendly, reusable laundry ball that enables you to wash laundry without the use of detergent or fabric softener. The wash ball contains ceramic beads, which change the pH level in the water due to friction. The effects of the increase in the pH level are similar to detergent, but without the chemicals. It is advertised as being good for up to 1,000 washes.

My Experience

I was a bit skeptical that the wash ball would work, but I was pleasantly surprised by its results. When I washed particularly smelly or stained items, it was obvious that the wash ball was doing its job.

Odor Test
One test that I ran with the Green Wash Ball was to eliminate the “dog smell” from the blanket that my dog sleeps on at night. I put the blanket into the washing machine along with the wash ball, and ran the same cycle I would use if I were using detergent. After washing, I smelled the blanket and did not notice any odor. I ran it through the dryer, and the blanket was left clean and scentless.

Stain Test
The second test that I ran was to see if the Green Wash Ball would remove stains. While the instructions for the wash ball say that you may need to pre-treat stains as you would using detergent, I wanted to isolate the wash ball’s work.

To do the test, I took two pieces of fabric and identically stained each piece with the common culprits in my household: ketchup, olive oil, soda, coffee, yogurt, and pen ink. I ran one piece of fabric through the washing machine with the Green Wash Ball and one with regular detergent. I was shocked that both pieces of fabric came out equally clean.

Final Test
The final test I ran was to see if the wash ball could get the smell and stains out of my toddler’s blankie, which he drags everywhere. This blankie had a combination of dirt, food, saliva, mucus, and other unidentified stains and smells that had built up over two weeks’ time. To my surprise, the wash ball got rid of it all!

Nellie’s PVC Free Dryer Balls

How It Works

nellies dryer ballsThe purpose of Nellie’s PVC Free Dryer Balls is to decrease drying time. This in turn decreases the amount of power needed to dry clothes, and reduces wear-and-tear on your dryer.

Dryer balls tumble around your dryer to lift and separate clothes, while preventing static cling and eliminating the need to iron due to wrinkles. Dryer balls also purportedly soften clothes and linens. Since this particular brand is PVC-free, no chemicals leak onto clothes.

My Experience

I used the dryer balls for several laundry loads and evaluated the level of static, wrinkles, softness, and drying time. While there was no static in my clothes just as the manufacturers claimed, I did not notice any difference in the amount of wrinkles. If I was going to iron an item without the use of the dryer balls, I would still need to iron the item with the use of the dryer balls.

I also could not tell if my clothes were softer; perhaps there was a difference, but it was too small to detect. On the positive side, I did notice a significant difference in the drying time of my clothes. The manufacturers claim dry time to be 15% to 25% less when using the dryer balls, and I estimate that my clothes dried in about 25% less time.

Although the dryer balls solved my issue of dry time, there is one big issue: They are loud. The laundry room is centrally located in my home, and using the washer and dryer are already loud enough. Adding in the dryer balls made the noise coming from the laundry room a big annoyance and distraction.

Final Word

I believe the Green Wash Ball is a great solution to cramped laundry rooms and an excellent way to use less and save money on household products. The washes that I have done over the past several weeks have come out just as clean as they normally do with laundry detergent. And for those who have sensitive skin or allergies, there is no need to worry about harsh chemicals because none are contained within the wash ball.

I would not recommend Nellie’s PVC Free Dryer Balls unless your laundry room is sound-proof or located far from where you usually spend time in your house. The only benefit I found was that they do shorten dry time, which can help save money in energy costs at home depending on how often you run loads. However, for me, this positive was outweighed by the noise created.

Have you used dryer balls or detergent-free products? What has your experience been like?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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  • Oregongirl77

    Very interesting….thanks for reviewing these products. I would love to reduce drying time of my laundry! I may have to give these a try (and since my laundry room is in my basement, it will work out great! ;-)

    • Casey Slide

      Oh yeah, you will enjoy them then! Wish I had a basement to do my laundry! Good luck, and let us know how they work out for you.

      • Cheryl

        Hi Casey–I’ve been using the Green wash ball for 2 weeks, and really like the results too! But I can’t find the answer to one question–It says :the wash ball must be placed in the sun for 1 hour (for best results) before each use. Do you know whether you have to put the Green wash ball actually OUTSIDE in the sun? I have a skylight and it gets sunny there- do you know if that works just as well or not?? Have you tried washing without putting it in the sun every time>? I;d like to feel I could do a load occasionally , without having to wait an hr–or without having to wait for a sunny day! And thanks for the review, it was so helpful!

        • Casey Slide

          I don’t think you need to actually put it outside. I don’t always put my wash ball in the sun before washings, and it seems to still work fine! :)

  • ptkdude

    I’m curious to know if washing the items in just plain water would have yielded the same results as using the Green Wash Ball.

    • Casey Slide

      That’s really a great question. I’m sure washing with just water does work with items that are not that dirty. I’ll have to try that and get back to you.

  • Sia

    I love dryer balls. Mine are Target brand. Unfortunately, over time, they do kind of start to turn the inside of your dryer the color of the dryer balls,

    • Casey Slide

      Ha, never thought about that. Hopefully it’s a color you like!

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