Laundry Balls: How I Wash Without Detergent

posted by Andrea | 11/13/2019

how to use laundry balls

Have you ever wondered how to use laundry balls… or even if they actually work?

Well, for the last 2 years, I have been washing everything with eco-friendly laundry balls, and I’m sharing my experience and answering many of your questions in today’s post! 

And yes, I literally have not purchased any laundry detergent in 2 years! 

I do sometimes add a splash of bleach with our whites and a sprinkle of OxyClean if the clothing is very dirty. But other than that, I’ve been washing all our clothing, bedding, towels, winter gear, swimsuits, couch slipcovers, and much more with plain water and laundry balls! 

Pretty cool… huh!?!

I’ve gotten SOOOOOOOO questions about how to use laundry balls (ever since I first mentioned them in my Favorite Things post a couple of years ago) that I decided it was finally time to do one full dedicated post to the infamous “Laundry Balls”! 

NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post. However, I am using my Amazon affiliate link. If you click through and make a purchase, I will get a very small commission (thanks!) Read my full disclosure policy

BARON Laundry Balls

Let’s do a little Q & A! 

NOTE: My answers below are based on my own experience of using laundry balls these past 2 years — as well as research I’ve done online myself. I have NO scientific background! 🙂

Which laundry balls do I use? 

I purchased the BARON brand from Amazon roughly 2 years ago now. I actually just purchased another set last month as one of our balls was starting to crack open. 

They were $18.95 for a 2-pack (I use both at the same time).

eco-friendly Laundry Balls

So what exactly are laundry balls?

They are rubbery softball-size balls filled with hundreds of tiny bio-ceramic balls, which provide an all-natural way to wash without any harmful chemicals or detergent.

They are great for anyone with sensitive skin, anyone with allergies, or anyone who doesn’t like their clothing to have strong detergent smells (me!)

Each ball contains Alkali Balls, Far Infrared Balls, Anti-Microbial Balls, and Chlorine-Removal Balls (see image below for more description),

tiny bio-ceramic balls

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How do laundry balls work?

From what I understand, the hundreds of ceramic balls inside the rubbery ball increase the pH level of the water when they move around in the washer.

They help reduce negative ions in the water, creating a natural Hydrogen Peroxide type effect, which adheres to dirt to keep the clothes cleaner and fresher during the wash.

laundry balls

Do laundry balls actually clean well? 

The use of laundry balls is widely debated — some claim they aren’t any more effective than using plain water. Others claim they are a revolutionary discovery! 

I’m sure you’re not surprised to know that I fall somewhere in the middle! 

I’m positive they are much more effective than using plain water because I’ve done my own testing. I’ve tried washing towels with plain hot water (no balls or detergent) and they came out smelling musty. Then I washed them with the laundry balls and they came out smelling clean (not scented, but clean). 

Will they work in any type of washing machine?

Yes, top-loading, front-loading, high efficiency, etc. 

NOTE: I always use warm or hot water as that’s what was recommended on the box. 

Are they safe for all fabrics?

In my experience… YES! 

I have successfully cleaned colors, whites, delicate items, couch slipcovers, and everything in between.

How long will they last? 

This obviously depends on how many loads of laundry you do each week. One set of laundry balls is said to be able to wash up to 1500 loads of laundry. This should last an average family about 3 years (doing 9-10 loads per week)

How do you use them?

When you first get your laundry balls, you’ll want to soak them in water for 30 minutes. 

After that, you can simply toss them into the washing machine (on top of the clothing) before you turn it on… that’s it! 

It’s best not to cram your washer totally full — I usually try to leave a little extra space at the top to make sure the clothing has enough room to move around with the balls. 

They claim to work best with warm or hot water (I never use cold water). 

They can sit in the washer (with the door/lid open) in between uses — it is good for them to completely dry out once in a while. 

Once a month, put them outside to sit in the sun for a couple of hours to “recharge”.

What if it’s not sunny where we live?

It doesn’t matter — the laundry balls just need to be outside for a couple of hours (even in rainy, snowy, or cloudy weather) to re-charge. 

I always do this on the 1st of the month. 

Can you use detergent or bleach with them?

Yes, if you want to use a small amount of detergent with them, you can… I do not. 

You can also use bleach, OxyClean, stain remover, fabric softener, or even essential oils with the laundry balls. I usually do not use any of these things though, and our laundry comes out clean! 

A Few More Laundry Ball Resources To Consider: 

1. The Wikipedia link:

This explains (in detail) how these laundry balls are supposed to work. However, it pretty much bashes the idea of laundry balls, saying they aren’t any more effective than using plain water. It has fairly extensive content with lots of sources to explain more. 

2. An article from Does It Really Work?:

This article claims that YES, laundry balls do, in fact, work. There are tons of comments weighing in on the subject too. 

3. Best Review’s Top 10 Laundry Ball Brands

BARON was #3 with a score of 9.1 out of 10.

4. The Amazon Sales Page

More information on BARON Laundry Balls via their Amazon Page. 

 

More of My Favorite Laundry Tips and Tricks:

10 Life-Changing Tips When You’re Overwhelmed with Laundry

Why I’m Still Not Sorting Laundry

Our Laundry System (I’ve actually recently tweaked this a bit and will share more about it soon!) 

My 7 Laundry Don’ts

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Like I mentioned above, this not a sponsored post, nor am I “brand loyal” to BARON in any way. 

I simply wanted to share EVERYTHING I know and EVERYTHING I’ve learned about how to use laundry balls these past 2 years. If nothing else, now I’ll have a handy resource to send people when they email me their questions!  

Laundry Balls work for us for now… I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts! 

how to use laundry balls

 

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38 comments

  1. Jenny

    11/19/2019

    I clicked on the Baron (“Beron”) link and that totally turned me off! Misspellings and grammar and factual errors all over and fake-sounding science! They even say on their own page that these “could help” or “may work” for $18-something. I’m going to look at Consumer Reports and some factual science info. Though, if you feel these work for you, keep using what works, of course!

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    Jenny Reply:

    Yep. Did the research review. I recommend that you do it, too, before using these.

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  2. Rachel

    11/15/2019

    I have been using laundry balls for a few months now and have mixed feelings about them. I use a small bit of detergent and I use 4 balls because my kids are super messy/dirty. Sometimes they come out spotless, other times, it’s like the dirt just redeposited on another piece of clothing (usually white!). I found that they only work well with a deep water wash, which for me kinda negates any savings because I have to use a lot more water than I would ordinarily. I’m still giving it a shot but I may eventually move back to detergent.

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    Andrea Reply:

    You might have different results with different types of water. We have really great city water, so that might be part of it!

    Thanks for sharing what does (and does not) work for you!

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  3. Dawn Kaestner

    11/13/2019

    I use Dropps.com pods and love the idea of using aundry balls as a money saver, but if I have to start washing my clothes in warm or hot water I think my utility bill woould negate any savings. But I do see some comments about washing in cold water so maybe there is hope yet!

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    Virginia Dryden Reply:

    I used Dropped laundry pods but did not think they did a very good job. I like the idea behind them, but they just did not cut it for us.

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    Andrea Reply:

    interesting… I’ll have to Google “dropps” to see what they look like!
    And honestly, I think so many people get freaked out by their “hot water bill” when in reality, the gas required to heat hot water for one load of laundry is very minimal (at least where I live!)

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  4. Debbie

    11/13/2019

    Interesting! I’ve never heard of laundry balls. I usually wash colors in cold and delicate in cold. I don’t know how these balls will do well in cold water, and if they will damage the delicate load because it’s agitating against the fabric. I don’t know if I’ll want to risk putting it my delicate load and it snag against those fabric. It is interesting though, and I’m glad it’s working for you. How awesome to not have to buy laundry detergent anymore.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I do enjoy being able to skip that smelly isle at the grocery store 🙂

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  5. Margaret

    11/13/2019

    Color me skeptical. I know that laundry detergents are surfectants–they work because they loosen dirt so the water can wash it away; the “clean” smell that people are attracted to is a marketing ploy. I suppose these might work, but I’d like to see more double-blind studies done under controlled conditions.
    I have a lot of allergies, so I use an unscented detergent; either Shaklee or the Planet brand from my local co-op.
    As far as the relative environmental cost, I also wonder if not using detergent cancels out not using fossil fuels to heat water. That’s a question. I don’t know which has the lower impact overall; I certainly know which would be more expensive for me. (Hint–I was EVERYTHING in cold water.)
    Jury’s still out.

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    Andrea Reply:

    it’s super crazy — I totally was skeptical for a long time. I still sometimes “wonder” if they are really working — but my clothes honestly do come out clean, stain-free, and not musty smelling at all.
    They are fairly inexpensive, so it wouldn’t be a huge investment if you wanted to give them a try! 🙂

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  6. Tiffany

    11/13/2019

    Got these a few months ago bc of you…. 5 kids, grain farmer dirty husband… more than 10 loads around here per week 😉 they work WONDERFULLY!!!!!!! I have super huge washing machine and was using 3 Tide pods per load to get stuff clean. “Sometimes” I still put one pod in- mostly on bed wetting sheets bc I think they need it, although they prob don’t bc everything else comes out completely void of dirt, smell and chemical smell- thank goodness! (Even my nasty hypoallergenic formula smeIl comes out!) should prob stop using the pods altogether!! Thanks for tip!!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    glad to know they are working well for you. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Sarah

    11/13/2019

    Ooh I love a laundry post thank you!
    I can’t understand how washing without detergent removes underarm whiffs and deodorant stains. Particularly for teenagers and sporting clothes…one of my pals has lads and says their clothes can be almost toxic to launder!
    I wash with hotter temps, particularly towels, bedding which go on at 60 and my kitchen cloths I use a dab of bleach and 90. This is an interesting read: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/infections/can-clothes-and-towels-spread-germs/

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    Andrea Reply:

    this is an interesting article — thanks for sharing 🙂

    My favorite line from the article “(see Why should pregnant women avoid sheep during the lambing season?)” HAHA. I’ll make sure to tell all my pregnant friends to stay away from sheep during the next lambing season!! 🙂

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  8. Kelly

    11/13/2019

    We bought one at your recommendation about a year ago and love them! We’ve even moved in that span of time so we went from an apartment with a laundry room to our own washing machine, and they’ve worked well in all those settings, different water systems, etc.

    Also, sometimes at our apartment we used a ball in one washer and detergent in another (since it was a laundry room with multiple washers), and I could never tell the difference when the loads came out!

    For the cost savings alone, I think they’re SO worth it, not to mention the environmental side of things.

    I have a super sensitive nose to musty/mildew smells, stinky smells, etc., and haven’t noticed any issues. With that said, we were already using “free and clear” detergent, so if someone is looking for that scented fresh laundry smell, this wouldn’t provide it.

    We always wash with cold water. I also haven’t been putting them into the sun – will try that now!

    Thanks so much for this recommendation!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is so helpful — thanks for sharing, Kelly!
    Aso, congrats on the new house!

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  9. Amy

    11/13/2019

    This is a big nope from me. I believe in science. Science says these are a farce. i will stick with my Tide powder & enjoy my clean clothes.

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    Liane Reply:

    I’m with you. My tap water pH is already 8. I sure don’t need to raise it. Lots of natural product advocates suggest using vinegar which actually lowers pH as it is a weak acid. Adding acid to my tap water makes things worse since it precipitates salts and deposits them. And my biggest problems with laundry, which are stains despite using bleach on dirty white socks and dishrags and pilling. I probably donate a bag a month of unwearable knit clothing due to pilling. I read recently that we should never wash knits with towels because the towels are abrasive. It seems counter productive to add an abrasive rubber ball to the wash. My strategy has been to use Tide pods in the un scented version, and a plant based softener made by Downy. I wash nearly everything that doesn’t come in contact with food in cold water on the delicate or hand wash cycle.

    I think the number one reason to do laundry on shirts, tops etc. is to get out underarm odor unless it’s kiddo clothes because in their case it’s food. Towels get musty. Dish towels get food on them. Undies — well I won’t go there but cottons get the hot dryer treatment and delicates (all my undies are basically hand wash labeled) get the hand wash cycle. I would never expose my Shapeez to abrasive balls.

    I don’t adhere to fake science. These balls probably don’t do anything that just plain water would do on it’s own.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Stick with your Tide! I can always smell it a mile away — and while I personally prefer scent-free clothing, there’s nothing like the fresh smell of Tide. One of our neighbors uses it and I can always tell when it’s her laundry day. Even the kids will say “what’s that good smell” when we’re outside playing 🙂

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    Amy Reply:

    I actually don’t smell Tide in clothes as it washes out. My clothes smell like “nothing.” You’re probably smelling the fabric softener most people use. I detest fabric softener for that perfume smell. It also makes your clothing more flammable. We can’t use it because my husband wears flame retardant clothing for work. Wool dryer balls for us 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    we use the wool dryer balls too! I guess you’re probably right about the fabric softener smell. Does tide have a fabric softener though? I swear, there is a “tide” smell to our neighbor’s clothes!

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  10. JJ

    11/13/2019

    We just got a whole house water softener and reverse osmosis(kitchen sink) due to all of the water issues in our area(cancers linked to issues with water and other environmental factors), and the company gave us 5 years worth of free laundry detergent and cleaning supplies that are more natural. Otherwise I’d try these! I always used Gain flings and LOVED them, especially because with small children I never had to worry about stains. They always came out. I have not had the same results with my free “natural” laundry soap. What do you do/use to remove stains? I often will use a Fels Naptha bar, but I want something that will affect the whole load so I don’t have to investigate every piece of clothing. Haha! Thanks so much!

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    Melissa Reply:

    Hi JJ,

    I am curious about who you used for the whole house water softener and reverse osmosis. Would you be willing to share the company you used, that is, if it is a national company. We are in Oklahoma.

    Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Melissa, we have very hard water with iron and love our Kinetico softener & RO system. Worth every penny!

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    Melissa Reply:

    Thank you Amy for the tip.

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    JJ Reply:

    Hey, Melissa! We used Clear Water Concepts. They use Westinghouse for the water softening system(Lifetime guarantee!!!–which sold us!!!). We also have a UV Ray light, because we have a well(coliform bacteria is a beast and shocking the well doesn’t guarantee you are rid of it). So the UV Ray light kills the bacteria. The reverse osmosis removes it from the water for safe drinking and cooking. They do a free water test in your home, which was a cool science experiment for our kids. Haha! Our TDS level should have been 10. It was 80. Our pH level was surprisingly 7. But that can always change. So this keeps it regular. Our water was also hard, so cleaning was a nightmare. I had never had a well before, and I honestly hated having one. I was fighting lime like it was my worst enemy. Now things are so much better!!! And we aren’t spending $80-100 on bottled water a month. We also aren’t buying cleaning products because of the free products we got.

    When my doctor had found nodules on my thyroid(LADIES get your thyroid checked by your doctor yearly…make them feel for any nodules!), it really scared me since there has been a thyroid cancer outbreak in our area. Two of our neighbors had thyroid cancer and one died of ovarian cancer. Our dog died of thyroid cancer.
    I shared my concerns with my doctor, and he totally brushed it off. My ENT doctor said they had conducted studies of the air and soil AND both showed no signs linked to cancer. Then a report just came out that the city water had cancer causing links detected because of the chemical reaction with the cleaning agents used to clean the city water. Thankfully after biopsies, mine were shown to be benign! In a different state, my aunt had cancer along with two of her neighbors. They had their water tested and got a whole house system with reverse osmosis, because her cancer had come back. She has been cancer free now with the clean water. They were the ones who suggested reverse osmosis for clean drinking water.

    I am very passionate about drinking water now, especially! It can really kill you. Literally. The water company we used also recommended never buying bottled water UNLESS it says, “Treated by reverse osmosis”(Great Value, Sam’s Club, and Nestle are some that do). Reverse osmosis removes the impurities. If you look at a lot of bottled water, it says, “Municipal water”. You’re literally buying city water. Spring water is horrible. When my daughter had salmonella poisoning, the state health department contacted us and asked 100 questions. One question asked was, “Did she have bottled spring water?”

    I’ll get off my soap box now(haha! Pun intended!–sorry, Andrea, to crash your laundry post with my lengthy reply mostly about drinking water!).

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    Andrea Reply:

    this is awesome — thanks for the detailed information!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — this is awesome. I might have to tell my sister about this as they have “bad” water. She’d love a system for her entire house!

    As for stain removal — I’m horrible and truly don’t do anything 🙂 I just put a little OxyClean in every load 🙂

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    JJ Reply:

    Thank you, Andrea! I started doing that and it seems to help.

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    Andrea Reply:

    glad to help!

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    Jenny Reply:

    When you saw you just put “a little” Oxyclean, what does that mean? Do you basically follow the label instructions, or are you adding less than that?

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    Andrea Reply:

    honestly, I don’t even know what the suggested amount is! I just dump about a tablespoons worth into each load!

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  11. Ann

    11/13/2019

    I am really close to being ready to try these. The warm/hot water gets me as I am afraid that our shirts etc will shrink if I do. I always wash the main clothes (“darks/lights”) in cold water and that is a hard change for me to wrap my mind around! I also am a machine STUFFER and, although I know that clothes don’t get as clean when I do it, I do it anyway.
    Thanks for the thoughts!

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    Kelly Reply:

    Ann, we use these with cold water only (we wash everything in cold) and they’ve turned out great!

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    Amy Reply:

    I use mine with cold water and it works great! Thanks Andrea for the recommendation. I was extremely skeptical but you were right!

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    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — and you’re welcome 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Several people have commented that they do use cold water and the balls work. It might be worth giving them a try 🙂
    I will say that stuffing your washer is not great NO MATTER what type of detergent you use — your clothing will get much cleaner if you don’t stuff the machine too full.

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