Do ionic washing balls work?

If a product sounds too good to be true … it probably is.

Do ionic washing balls work?

If someone told you there was an affordable, reusable product that could reduce energy and water consumption, and work as an eco-friendly alternative to washing detergent, you’d probably think it’s too good to be true. And according to studies by CHOICE, you might just be right.

Laundry washing balls range from around $8 to $150, and there are extravagant claims about their cleaning power, financial and environmental benefits. There are pseudoscience claims, unsupported by research, while others exaggerate benefits. However, manufacturers rarely agree on how these washing balls work.

Some of these supposed benefits may be explained by the mechanical movement of the ball itself, helping to remove some types of stains. The instructions on washing ball packets often call for hot water, which contradicts other claims that these balls will reduce energy usage.

Washing balls supposedly contain products such as ‘activated water’, bamboo charcoal nanoparticles, ceramic pieces or magnetic materials that claim to help with washing and stain removal. Washing balls also claim to “separate clothing and reduce clothing entanglement”.

One Australian company claims that the small ceramic stones that fill their Eco Wash - Laundry Wash Ball contain around 80 natural minerals. These minerals supposedly “soften the water” and “open the fabrics weave” to allow water to naturally wash clothing without the use of chemicals or detergents. This product also claims to remove chlorine and bacteria from the water.

CHOICE reviewed a number of washing balls, comparing cost per wash, general detergency and their effectiveness at washing a number of different products out of clothing. These washing balls range from $30 to $150 dollars. The overall highest rating was a $40 dollar ecozone product that scored 46 per cent overall.  However, tap water used in a top loader was rated at 47 per cent, bringing into question the comparative effectiveness of washing balls.

In fact, Nanosmart Laundry Balls won CHOICE’s 2015 Shonky award. According to the tests, Nanosmart washing balls did absolutely nothing. CHOICE stated, “We put them up against plain old water in a test to remove a variety of stains in our washing machine lab, and Nanosmart lost! That's right, using nothing is better than using Nanosmart laundry balls, and last time we checked ‘nothing’ was free – unlike laundry balls, which cost about $50 a pop.”

Do you own a washing ball? Would you consider using one?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Rod63
    12th May 2020
    10:29am
    "These washing balls range from $30 to $150 dollars. The overall highest rating was a $40 dollar..."

    Hi Liv Gardiner - when you use the dollar sign eg $5, you don't have to write the word "dollar" afterwards as well.

    Otherwise "$5 dollars" reads as "five dollars dollars".

    It's a bit like "PIN number".
    Faysie
    12th May 2020
    11:13am
    I have been using Washing balls with ceramic balls in them for many years now at least 10 I find they do work and clean better than water. If I have something extremely dirty or stained I use a pre wash stain remover and laundry detergent then. I have saved a lot of money over the years and if used and looked after correctly your initial outlay mine was $30 really worth it.
    Hardworker
    12th May 2020
    11:14am
    You must be totally bored Rod63. Don't you have anything better to do?
    Rod63
    12th May 2020
    12:06pm
    Just being helpful. Only took a moment.
    Trimcat
    12th May 2020
    12:37pm
    My sister uses them, and her clothes look grey. Plus she uses cold water. Ugh.
    nannyalone
    12th May 2020
    12:58pm
    I have been using an eco-wash ball for years and have always had good results. Don't know the original price as my daughter-in-law gave it to me and neither of us has had any problems, even washing in cold water. If needed, I just use Sards Soap on stubborn stains. Maybe these still work because the original ones work better than newer models..
    Faysie
    12th May 2020
    1:59pm
    I am glad someone agrees with me Nannyalone
    iday
    12th May 2020
    3:16pm
    Whatever tickles your fancy, go for it.
    Eddy
    13th May 2020
    1:34pm
    My wife and I have never used a washing ball so know nothing about them, but I do remember some of the chemistry I learned in high school. I take from the comments that washing balls are used without detergent, is that correct. If so I would be very sceptical at their washing efficiency, about the same as belting washing on a rock. The main characteristic of long chain fatty acids (ie detergents) is the ability to allow oil molecules to bind onto water molecules Bashing on a rock will not do that. To make a claim the certain 'balls' inside the washing ball will soften water or remove chlorine and bacteria is ludicrous. If the correct chemicals were introduced to soften water, remove chlorine or disinfect they would be consumed very quickly and quickly become ineffective. From what I have read in this subject it seems to me that washing balls are an illusion sold by snake oil salespersons.
    Eddy
    13th May 2020
    1:34pm
    My wife and I have never used a washing ball so know nothing about them, but I do remember some of the chemistry I learned in high school. I take from the comments that washing balls are used without detergent, is that correct. If so I would be very sceptical at their washing efficiency, about the same as belting washing on a rock. The main characteristic of long chain fatty acids (ie detergents) is the ability to allow oil molecules to bind onto water molecules Bashing on a rock will not do that. To make a claim the certain 'balls' inside the washing ball will soften water or remove chlorine and bacteria is ludicrous. If the correct chemicals were introduced to soften water, remove chlorine or disinfect they would be consumed very quickly and quickly become ineffective. From what I have read in this subject it seems to me that washing balls are an illusion sold by snake oil salespersons.


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