August 12th, 2011

SmartKlean Laundry Ball Review: Is it Really Green?

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SmartKlean Green Laundry Ball

Imagine doing a load of  laundry without laundry detergent and getting the same results. When SmartKlean sent me their laundry ball to try out I was intrigued.  The intrigue was quickly overshadowed by the lingering question: how could this strange laundry ball replace the need for laundry detergent? The simple truth is we get pretty dirty over here. Three boys and a dog make for some messy loads of laundry. Time to put the SmartKlean Laundry Ball to the test.

The SmartKlean Laundry Ball is green, but is it really GREEN?

I’m always on the lookout for products that are innovative and eco friendly.  The SmartKlean Laundry Ball is certainly innovative: it’s a funky looking green ball that sounds like a maraca when you shake it. The ceramic beads inside the laundry ball contain a mixture of different minerals that wash and clean your clothes. When the beads come in contact with water they essentially have the same effect as laundry detergent, but with no harsh chemicals. The ball stays in your washing machine for each load of laundry, giving a toxic-free wash without the use of expensive and/or toxic soap or detergent.

Why I like the SmartKlean Laundry Ball

  • The laundry ball lasts for about 365 loads of laundry. For the average American, this can last for 1-3 years. Wow! No detergent for up to three years for each laundry ball. I’ve been using it for about 2 months now and I’m starting to really enjoy not adding detergent to the laundry.
  • The SmartKlean Laundry Ball stays in your washing machine after each load-there is no need to take it out (caveat: the ball needs to be placed in the sun once a month to regenerate the pellets). I’ve  had a little trouble remembering not to add detergent.
  • No need to buy detergent. I’m not only saving money, but I’m reducing the number of empty, plastic laundry containers that end up in landfills.
  • According to the company, the laundry ball and its packaging are both completely recyclable. The ceramics and magnets are biodegradable. BPA and PVC-free.
  • The laundry ball reduces the amount of toxic chemicals entering out waterways. Conventional soaps and detergents have run off that enters bodies of water and harm wildlife.
  • It’s hypoallergenic,  non-toxic and leaves no residue of harsh chemicals on your clothing.
  • I’ve done the math and using this laundry ball for 365 loads of laundry comes out to 8 cents per load. Not bad!

A few concerns

  • It’s made from plastic. I’m working very hard to reduce the amount of plastic in my life, even BPA free plastic. However, there is much less plastic in this one laundry ball compared to the amount of plastic containers I’ve been using for non-toxic, chemical free detergent.
  • There is no scent at all. If you like a little scent add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your load of laundry.
  • If you want suds-this isn’t for you.
  • It doesn’t do a stellar job removing stains. Vinegar in addition to the laundry ball will help with this one.
  • It’s not cheap. It costs $45.00 with a $5 shipping charge-grand total $50!

Does it work?

It really does. After a trial period of two months our clothes seem fresh and clean. I’m enjoying the ease and convenience of leaving the laundry ball in the machine after each use. Washing clothes without harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrance is invaluable-I’m willing to pay for it.

How to try a SmartKlean Laundry Ball

SmartKlean is offering readers of Groovy Green Livin a FREE SHIPPING discount when they purchase a SmartKlean Laundry Ball through THIS PAGE. You can also CLICK ON THE PINK  SMARTKLEAN ADVERTISEMENT in the right column for the same discount.

Let me know what you think.

[Full disclosure: SmartKlean was kind enought to send me a Laundry Ball to try out. All opinions in this review are my own]

36 Responses to “SmartKlean Laundry Ball Review: Is it Really Green?”

  1. Great review, Lori! I’ve been wondering about this laundry alternative and a few others like it, but hadn’t taken the leap yet. Thanks so much for your honest opinions 🙂

  2. I’m glad to hear it actually works. I admit I was skeptical when I first read about it a year ago. I’m still hesitant to buy more plastic, though, especially now that I’m using non-toxic laundry detergent and refilling my own containers with it at the store when I buy more. Tough call!

  3. Thanks Amity! I really like it so far-and it’s so easy to use.

  4. OMG, this sounds great! There are so many times when I am about to do laundry and I get it all sorted and drag the boys to go with me only to realize no soap is left. I think it may just be worth the price because I will save so much on not buying detergent AND, most importantly, I won’t be purchasing tons of plastic detergent containers over and over. Love it, Lori! Thanks!

  5. I understand Andrea-it is a tough call. If you are using your own reusable containers then you don’t have the plastic container issue like I do. You do save on detergent and there is less run off waste into our waterways. Let me know if you decide to try it.

  6. I’m amazed it works. What’s in those pellets? Didn’t think ceramic had any special cleaning qualities (or if they do, the clay on my clothes doesn’t get them any cleaner!). For laundry, I use soap nuts for mildly dirty clothes, and Seventh Generation when I have something more stubborn to get out. Seems to work pretty well.

  7. Hi Jennifer-I was pretty skeptical too. According to the company “the ceramic pellets are made of more than 80 kinds of natural minerals, like tourmaline, medical stone, quartz powder, and others.” I’ve tried the laundry ball on grass stains and food stains and it seemed to work well. I did add a little vinegar directly to the stains to help out. I’ve used soap nuts and other non-toxic detergents too. I do like that the laundry ball can be used for 365 loads of laundry. I’ve been using it for a few months and am interested to see if it continues to work well for the year.

  8. How does it compare to soap nuts? Have you used that too? I am wanting to try out one or the other!

  9. Hi Sherry-Great question! Here’s the simple answer-soap nuts can be used for 4-5 loads of laundry. The SmartKlean Laundry Ball can be used up to 365! They both seem to be a similar concept. I think soap nuts are made from the shell of a fruit from India. They aren’t actually “nuts” and are safe for those with nut allergies. I would suggest trying both and seeing which you like!

  10. I took the leap and and am surprised the darn thing works. It’s a trip though, because when you stop using detergent, you start to see what your clothes really look like without all those “optical brighteners”. My eyes and sinuses are much less irritated since I made the switch. I still use mild detergent on towels, but anything I have prolonged exposure to (sheets, clothing), I use the laundry ball. Good purchase.

  11. Thank you so much for posting your comment. It’s always nice to hear from someone who takes that leap and tests out the product. It’s pretty amazing how those brighteners change the color of our clothes. Most important-your sinuses and eyes are less irritated since you started to use the laundry ball! That’s fantastic. So glad you like it and thanks for sharing.

  12. I and my daughter bought the smartklean ball, with the assurance that if we were not satisfied there would be a full return at any time as they stood behind their product 100%. Then was told no, only 14 days on the return. I used the ball twice, and was not impressed! Any company that won’t be happy to return the product, and refer to having a “posted” return policy (that was not referred to at the time), then tell you it would return at ANY time if not satisfied, is suspect to using false advertising.

  13. Thanks for letting me know Elizabeth. I’ll pass the comment on to the company.

  14. Hello. I noticed Elizabeth’s post as of September 13th, 2012, and I wanted to say that the same thing happened to us. We used ours and both times the laundry smelled funky and was definately not clean. Then I was unable to return the balls(we purchased 2) immedietely. They said that because it had been too long they would not refund my money. I also wonder what kind of company says on their website regarding their product that they “guarantee unconditionally” their product, but only for a 2 week span? Seems like terrible customer service, I for one will never recommend it to anyone.

  15. Thanks Elizabeth and Tymon!
    I was at the Vancouver home and garden show this weekend and almost bought one but wanted to see how other’s reviewed it. I’m glad I was able to see both the positive and negative reviews. I think I will wait until the ball has been on the market a little longer and has all the “kinks” worked out.

  16. Glad you waited.This is high pressure sales at the home shows, and targets people who are really trying to go green.But, live and learn.After several discussions with the company I stand by my comments, they don’t stand behind their product, and it certainly didn’t work for us.

  17. Hello Tymon,

    Thank you so much for your feedback. I am terribly sorry to hear that our laundry ball is performing under par for you. We use only the highest quality active ceramics and components. You can see that reviews of our product are outstanding, by the users themselves. Have you tried our troubleshooting page on our website (in contact page)?
    There are many solutions and tips there that help with most problems. Issues with our product rarely come up and we’ve found that it is not the laundry ball’s fault, but possibly because detergent was used in the past and has accumulated mold and odors in the washing machine. We offer an easy solution for this. Please contact customer-care@smartklean.com for additional info. We make it clear on our order page that the laundry ball has a 15-day guarantee, which provides more than enough time to test out our product. We’re sorry if this seems like bad customer service to you. Please allow us to make this right and stand by our own high expectations for health and environmental focus as well as customer service.

  18. […] reviews of this product seem to confirm how well it works. I was totally 100% sold on how crazy good this […]

  19. I have been using the Smart Klean Laundry Ball for over 2 years.I just now have purchased my 2nd ball but I don’t need to change it yet.I live on a farm and no matter what I have put in the laundry, the Smart Klean Laundry Ball gets it clean.It actually removed a few stains that I thought were set.Believe me when I say, you can’t go wrong by using this product.

  20. I bought the ball as it was on sale at London Drugs for $25. I had been curious prior but cost held me back. I checked out your website for info prior to using and noticed a few negative posts. I want to say I am sold on this ball. I threw in the t-shirt my 12 year old son wears while playing hockey (you can imagine the stench!) and after the wash, there is absolutely no smell! Environmentally friendly and saving money on a product that works, how can you go wrong.

  21. So glad you had a positive experience Jen. Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. I too bought mine at London drugs, about the same time, and use it ever since. It works great. There are sowm things it won’t take out like the smell on my polyester shirts, so I just spray a Castiel soap mixture and it works totally fine.

    To the people that say their clothes smell: what type of detergent are you using? If it’s your grocery brands like Tide, gaine, sun light ect, depending on the hardness of your water, there can be a smell left in your machine when you switch to this. Run a couple of loads with vinegar water to try and break the sludge and stench down.

    It worked for me no problem because I was using Nellies laundry detergent.

    I 100% believe in this product. They also will give you a discount if you send back your old one and purchase a new one, according to their website.

  23. I purchased a ball at a Mother Earth News Fair last fall. I have four kids and we have lots of laundry. I kept a tally sheet of how many loads we did with the ball(about 400). We do at least two loads per day. I have been extremely satisfied with the ball and after 6 months of what I consider to be hard use, I ‘m about to buy another one. I’m planning to use my grey water for watering and this product is exactly what I was looking for. I do pretreat stains but overall I’m extremely satisfied.

  24. I have the laundry ball and was intending to use it on my cloth diapers (website suggested I could). I’m NOT happy at all with using then with cloth diapers. I ended up with ammonia buildup and my 1yr old got an ammonia burn! It may work for clothes but definitely not cloth diapers!

  25. I have been making 100% wool dryer balls and I’ve found them to work very well at removing static and fluffing up my laundry. I was very excited to see the SmartKlean laundry balls at Health Show a few months ago and I am completely satisfied with how well the laundry ball works. I pretreat any stains and they have come out clean. I have sensitive skin and I love that I am not using chemicals when I wash and dry my laundry. Long live SmartKlean Laundry Balls and Wool Dryer Balls!!

  26. Thanks so much for your comment Andrea. Glad to hear SmartKlean and Wool Dryer Balls are working well for you.

  27. It is really work. 3 of my friends want to buy it. So I bought for them.
    All of them love it. I put 1 table spoon of baking soda and vinegar into the machine. I think this is the best way to use for me.

  28. Hi, I was on the SmartKlean website, and it says that Amazon doesn’t sell the laundry ball, but I see it clearly that it is being sold there. My husband says it is a scam and that it is the residual detergent, water and friction from the ball itself that cleans the clothes, specially at first that fools people into thinking it is actually working. What do you think? I am afraid to purchase and waste my money and hopes.

    Helen

  29. Hi, I wanted to be clearer about my previous comment, my husband says he read online somewhere people saying that it is the residual detergent on their clothes from previous uses, and the water itself cleans, that makes people think that the laundry ball is working specially at first. There is also friction from the ball itself that helps in cleaning the clothes. I was on Amazon.com and there are those that say it did not work at all. I don’t know who to believe!

  30. I bought the ball at the Seattle home show for $53.00. I followed the instructions exactly as given. We are a family of 6. After 6 weeks of using it, everyone was complaining how dingy their whites looked, and their clothes smelled musty. I wrote the company over 2 weeks ago and have not heard from them, I am not impressed with there product or there service. Don’t buy all there BS, because it doesn’t work!

  31. I am curious about the price. You said it costs $45 and that it was about 8 cents a load. 45 divided by 365 would be just over 12 cents a load. Is there a discount you got that we can get too? I would like to try it but 12 cents a load is a but much for me. Thanks

  32. I did a bit of research on this on wikipedia and the FTC and though I’ve used a ball for years, it seems it’s really not much better than just water
    https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/1999/04/marketers-laundry-detergent-substitutes-charged-making-false-and

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laundry_ball

  33. I’ve been using it for 2 years and find it’s VERY effective. Plus, since there are no suds to rinse out, I can by-pass the wash cycle and go straight to rinse which, in this age of droughts, is great.

  34. These make your clothes smell like metal. It’s most noticeable when you take them out of the dryer. I bought it at the Home Show locally after I was told you could use them on cloth diapers and they created so much build up both from not cleaning the nasties out and from depositing minerals or metals that I had to strip and bleach them to get rid of the smell. Wasted time, wasted money on chemicals to remove the residue. When I contacted customer service to return it I was told to pay for them to be shipped even though I bought them in person. I received an unprofessional response and in the end it cost me another $10 to ship these heavy things back locally. On top of all of this its not that great of a deal anyways. When you work it out it’s about the same cost to use a detergent you know works.

  35. I was skeptical. Kept this in my cupboard for a year. Finally decided to try it and…I LOVE it!!!

  36. I have used this for nearly 2 years now and absolutely love that my clothes come up perfectly clean with no chemical smell. Plus I can safely recycle the water onto the garden. Sure, if you have grease stains in particular, you need to treat them properly first. Follow the instructions and don’t overload your washing machine, then you will get great results. It is the perfect eco-friendly solution for me. Saved huge amounts on expensive laundry products too. Win/win all round.

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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