How to hack your laundry drying time

Posted by Sarah Turner on 11th Sep 2017 in Blog

Let’s get ready to tumble.

We’ve all been there. You reach into the tumble dryer and the clothes you want to wear are still that teeny bit damp. What are you going to do: run late or go clammy?

Then there’s the energy thing. Even the eco-friendly dryers can eat up electricity and pile the pounds onto your bill.

But if you haven’t got a clothes line, a tumble dryer is often the only option. Especially if you don’t have room for multiple clothes airers around the place. Let’s face it, they don’t look great, do they?

How I came to love dryer balls…

That was exactly the situation I found myself in when, as a family of four, we took up residence in a two bed flat whilst renovation work was being carried out on our home.

Amongst all the usual upheaval that kind of thing brings (such as where on earth are we going to put all this stuff!) drying clothes for two little ones was pretty high on the agenda. Having been used to a clothes line in the midst of the gusty Yorkshire dales, it had never really been an issue before.

Turbo charge your tumble dryer

Being a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-on-with-it kind of person, I looked around for ways to turbo charge my tumble dryer. After reading some reviews on dryer balls I thought I‘d give them a go.

These spiky plastic wash day wonders sit in and amongst your laundry in the tumble dryer to help circulate air in between garments. The result? Shorter drying time, fluffier fabrics and no need for artificial softeners.

Problem solved, you might think. And in the short term, you’d be right. I was quite happy with my dryer balls. Yes indeed, I thought I’d grabbed the problem well and truly by the… well, you know what I mean.

The trouble with plastic dryer balls

As time wore on, however, it became apparent this wasn’t the laundry love affair I’d had my heart set on. My plastic dryer balls made the whole tumble process extra noisy as they bounced around the drum. Not great when you’re in a small space and little people are trying to sleep. What’s more, they began to wear out and then crack.

 Sourcing a more natural alternative

That’s when I got to thinking. Who says dryer balls have to be plastic? It’s not bio-degradable anyway and just adds to the mountains of waste already out there. So why couldn’t they be made out of something more natural that was eco and fabric friendly?

As one of the world’s biggest advocates of the wonders of wool – on second thoughts make that the biggest – my attention naturally turned sheep-ward. Naturally rich in lanolin, Mother Nature’s patented softener, surely wool would be the perfect replacement? Supremely hard wearing and packed with bounce-back-ability, it seemed the ideal substitute for plastic and without any of the green-guilt. Win win.

The birth of LITTLE BEAU SHEEP Dryer Balls

I set to work creating my first set of LITTLE BEAU SHEEP Dryer Balls. These early guinea pigs – I mean sheep – allowed me to experiment with size and quantity to come up with the perfect formula.

Now for the science bit. After various shapes and sizes, the optimum combined weight for three sheep came in at 100g of pure natural fluffy wool. Further laboratory tests revealed three dryer balls are enough for a smaller load, with six or more for a heavier one. As a general rule, however, I’ve found the more the merrier (so much for the science).

Soft, strong and they really do last long

Made from 100% sheep wool to the core, there’s no wrapped
yarn filling, so these hardy types won’t unravel in the tumbler.
In fact they’re good for literally 1000s of spins. Like the best of
sheep, they may need a trim from time to time to return keep
them looking good.

Their lanolin content also makes them an ideal chemical-free
alternative to softeners and disposable laundry sheets. My little
ones’ nappies (always the ultimate test I think) came out soft, fluffy
and free from any of the residue softeners can leave behind.

 Add a hint of your favourite fragrance

That’s not to say you can’t add a little fragrance if you want to.
A couple of dabs of Lavender or Sweet Orange essential oil
gently releases fragrance as the tumbling sheep go about their
work. (Just make sure the oil isn’t still damp on your roller ball
before you put it in the tumbler.)

5 dryer ball laundry hacks

1  Helps circulate air between garments, to facilitate drying

2  Massages fabric surface for a fluffier finish

3  Reduces creasing in the tumble dryer for easier ironing

4  Natural lanolin contents softens and smooths garments

5  No need for expensive softeners that can leave annoying residue

I also noticed how these woolly wonders reduced creasing amongst my laundry load – which means less ironing and more time to do what you actually want. Better yet, as they’re soft and bouncy, you don’t get any added noise when they’re spinning around the drum.

Stars and baaas

The story really started, however, once I let loose my flock of fluffy tumble troopers on the world. Whilst popular at home, the majority of dryer ball customers came from the USA. Especially from bigger cities like New York, Boston and LA. Whilst delighted to be spreading the word for Yorkshire wool so far afield, I did wonder why the sheep connection was so strong over the pond.

As the feedback from happy customers rolled in, it became clear. Of course! Apartment life and dryer balls go hand-in-hand. Just as I’d discovered when living in the family flat, when you don’t always have access to a garden, anything that can speed up drying time is a bonus.

One last surprise. Quite a few people it seems don’t use my dryer balls in their tumble dryers. They just sit on a shelf looking sheepish. Which as a sheep fan myself, I totally get!  There is even a collectors set, I won’t tell anyone, I promise.

Meet the flock

Why not take a look for yourself? There’s everything from Herdwick to English, Rare Breeds, Suffolks, Scottish and Zwartbles with quite a few in-between.

Until next time,

Sarah x