If I learnt one thing from my recent energy monitoring challenge, it's not to use the tumble dryer so often. But what about when you really need to get your jacket dry in time for a meeting, or don't have any dry, clean sheets? I'd not tried these little alien-looking balls before now, but surprsingly, they do seem to dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to get things dry as well as making them softer to the touch and less creased than usual.
So how do they work?
The idea behind dryer balls is that they 'mechanically soften' the fabric, making towels fluffier and cottons less creased. This effect was something I did notice to an extent, but I found that by far the most dramatic effect was the drying time needed (I haven't timed, but it seemed to be taking almost half the time to dry my laundry when I put on a couple of loads this weekend).
This makes them 'eco' in two ways: cutting down on the (in most cases, very inefficient) energy consumption of your dryer, and eliminating the need for the chemicals found in fabric softener.
The only problem I can see is that they make something of a racket in the drum! But unless your dryer is in your bedroom, this should not cause too many headaches
You can buy a set of Ecozone dryer balls for £8.95 at Ethical Superstore