I wish I could snub my tumble dryer. It’s one of the priciest appliances to run, yet it still takes hours to dry clothes. But it beats the alternative – hanging them on any possible radiator, chair or table corner of my tiny flat, with my kitten running around clawing them to the ground as if he’s getting points for it. I know it’s spoiled and privileged and impatient of me, but my message to tumble dryers is: “Good work, but hurry UP.”
As often happens in this age of innovation, someone has been working tirelessly to solve this first-world problem. What they’ve come up with is a pair of knobbly light-pink eggs that look like pet toys, and claim to reduce the time it takes to tumble dry by up to 28%.
So how do EcoEgg dryer eggs work?
Inventor Rob Knight and his team of “clever physicists” filmed inside tumble dryers, and noticed that the clothes tend to go around in clumps. Nothing ever dried quickly in a clump. Also, it leaves a lot of wasted space inside the drum.
The way the dryer eggs work is by bouncing around the dryer with your clothes, “lifting and separating” them so that they take up all available space. They’re made of an “eco-friendly plastic”, according to Knight, that absorbs and radiates heat. So during the cycle, heat comes both externally – from the dryer – and from the EcoEggs inside the tumbling mass of shirts and pants. “It’s not rocket science,” Knight told me. “It just makes the best use of the drum – it uses all of it.”
Each pack of two comes with four replaceable fragrance sticks that you insert into the eggs, to leave your washing smelling like either “spring blossom” or “soft cotton” (although to me they smelled like that retro candy, Love Hearts). These last for 40 dries, according to ecoegg.com.
The nodules are for softening the feel of clothes without having to bother with fabric softener.
Online reviewers gave mixed responses (names changed):
5 stars: “Was sceptical about claim on reduced dry time but bought originally for scenting in dryer … worked so well bought another set.” – reformed sceptic, UK
“OMG I love the Ecodryer balls. My daughter suffers from extreme eczema and I suffer with psoriasis. Kind and gentle washing detergents that suit our skin conditions are very difficult to maintain on a disability allowance. Since using [the eggs], my daughter’s eczema has improved and my psoriasis is no longer as irritated. My washing is beautifully clean and fresh and our skins happier. Looking forward to an environmentally kind home, financial benefits due to less expenditure and happy skins from here on out. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your products. xxxxxx.” – ecstatic skins, UK
4 stars: “I haven’t done an experiment to see if it’s the 28% that they claim, but it is definitely quicker drying my family’s clothes with these in the drum. I have taken one star off because they are a little noisy. Worth it for the saving though.” – medium smile, UK
2 stars: “I was looking forward to trying these in my tumble dryer, especially during the winter months when it is the only way to dry clothes. However, I was very disappointed that my drying time was not reduced whatsoever. The only reason I am keeping them is because it’s not worth the postage returning them, and they do smell nice. Hence the two-star rating, otherwise it would have been one star. In my opinion, THESE ARE NOT WORTH BUYING.” – CAPS FAN, UK
I have to disagree with CAPS FAN on that, after running my own test. I dried a half load for 100 minutes without the eggs and – as usual with my sub-par dryer – the clothes were still damp and needed another blast. But after a hundred minutes with the eggs, they were bone dry. (I realise washing and drying the exact same load twice is the opposite of eco-friendly, but it’s just this once for journalistic purposes, I promise.)
My own verdict – the minus points
• If like me you tend to overstuff the drum, the eggs are less effective because they can’t de-clump the load without space. They will still help things along by radiating heat, but don’t expect the full 28% decrease in drying time.
• The criticism that the eggs make a racket might be true, but my dryer makes such a song and dance as it is, I couldn’t hear them. If you have a quiet dryer and a light load, you might hear them knocking around.
And the plus points
• In the testing stages, 28% was the record time reduction in drying, and the lowest was 21%. So it seems that although results vary, using the eggs is always more energy-efficient than not using them.
• You don’t have to remember to use the dryer eggs as they simply live in your dryer. However, if you have a washer-dryer, you will have to remember to remove them for the wash cycle.
• The smell left by the inserted fragrance sticks is quite pleasant, even if it does remind me of the sweets counter at my primary school discos. They’re easy to insert, and the eggs work perfectly well without them if primary school discos bring back unpleasant memories for you, or if you’re not comfortable with the idea of smelling like every other EcoEgg customer. (What’s the politics of that? If you and a stranger realise you’re wearing the same EcoEgg fragrance, do you have to nod to each other, like people who drive Minis?)
• I didn’t use fabric softener, and was quite surprised to notice the clothes did feel soft after the EcoEgg cycle.
• So, with dryer eggs in your life, you might not need to buy fabric softener anymore. Which probably wouldn’t be the most drastic saving of your life, but every little helps.
The EcoEgg dryer eggs genuinely do everything they claim (except smell like spring blossom), and simply improve the efficiency of an expensive-to-run appliance. Previously, there were two extremes to choose from when drying clothes: hanging them to dry, which is free and environmentally friendly but annoying; and blasting them in the tumble dryer, which is quicker but expensive and environmentally wretched. The EcoEgg dryer eggs is a welcome midway point.