Save money, save the planet: How to dry your clothes faster

Apart from dryer balls, there are also lots of other things you can do to make drying clothes cheaper and kinder to the environment

Dryer balls? What are they?

Dryer balls are rubber or wool balls that claim to speed up tumble-drying time. They bounce around the drum continuously, separating items in your dryer. This is meant to allow the heat to circulate more efficiently, drying your clothes faster and using less electricity, their makers say.

Why should I care?

If you are interested in saving money, concerned about water and air quality and keen on making your clothes last longer, then you should care about how you dry your clothes.

Tumble dryers are one of the biggest energy guzzlers in our homes. Depending on your machine and energy tariff, each cycle can cost up €1.95, according to

Tumble drying alone could be costing you more than €200 a year. Indeed drying clothes costs far more than washing them.


There is the environmental cost too. Carbon emitted from electricity usage is warming the planet. Heatwaves, flooding, storms – that is the result. Tumble drying releases microplastic fibres from your clothes too, polluting the air and water.

Tumble drying also wrecks your clothes – the heat and agitation causes shrinkage and wear and tear. Just look in the lint compartment to find all the bits that have come off, reducing their longevity.

There is something batty about spending money to purchase an item of clothing and then spending more money at regular intervals to destroy it.

But then, in a country where it is pretty wet from October to April, and as apartments can lack clothes drying facilities, households can feel they do not have a choice.

Do dryer balls work?

Dryer balls reduce drying time by up to 28 per cent, their inventors say; however independent studies on the matter are hard to find.

In a trawl of government and non-governmental organisation advice on household energy savings, dryer balls do not get a mention.

Anecdotally, they seem to work in some cases, but it depends on what is being dried. Bed sheets might benefit from being loosened up. A drum full of socks, jocks and T-shirts might not need the help.

However, the sound of dryer balls banging around in the tumble dryer may remind you the appliance is still going, burning up your money and emitting bad stuff. This may guilt you into switching it off.

Should I give dryer balls a shot?

Give them a go, they might work in some cases. The act of using them shows good intent towards your wallet or the planet that may spill over into other parts of your life.

There are also lots of other things you can do that are proven to make drying clothes cheaper and kinder to the environment.

First, ensure you have the optimal load – that means filling the drum about three-quarters full. Overfilling it will lengthen drying time, using more electricity.

Bunched-up items take longer to dry, so stick your hand into socks and sleeves to open them out.

Put heavy and light clothes into separate loads – jocks will dry faster than towels for example. There is no point having small, already dry items banging about with big items that are still wet. You don’t need to use the dryer for everything – try drying shirts on hangers in the bathroom.

Dry clothes outside any day you can of course, or inside with some ventilation.

You can also just wash your clothes less.