When I was taught to do laundry, I was told that a Bounce dryer sheet went into the dryer with every load of wet clothes. But the green-minded among us have come up with a better solution to keeping your clothes static-free and soft (without involving PVC in the process): wool dryer balls.

Get a few of these thingies, and you will not need to buy dryer sheets for years. You can even make your own, with minimum craftiness required.

The companies that make balls like these claim that they save energy, too, which would be great if it were true, since dryers suck up a ton of electricity. But the few industrious people who’ve tried to confirm this claim have come up way short. Here’s how one blogger tested their efficacy:

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In my test I used our normal family load of some towels, pants, T-shirts, underwear and socks. After washing and spin drying it, I used a digital scale to record the exact weight of the clothes. Then I threw them all in the dryer and set it on “cupboard dry”. When the dryer stopped I measured the weight again. The difference is exactly the water removed, or how much drier the clothes are.

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The blogger then recorded the energy used and divided the energy used by liter of water removed from clothes. Results: “DRYER BALLS SAVE NO ENERGY.”

One person who got a hold of a copy of an independent testing report was skeptical of its claims that drying with balls took less time. And one home test showed that drying with balls actually took more time.

Our conclusion: more convenient than dryer sheets, probably slightly less waste in terms of materials used up, not actually helpful on the energy efficiency front. On the other hand, it’s a super-easy DIY craft you can then act smug about, so that’s pretty good.

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