Downy Fabric Softener Ball Review

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Below are a collection of reviews of the Downy fabric softener ball, as shared by readers.

This page was created after I wrote my own Ultimate Guide to Using The Downy Ball, and then asked people to write in with their own opinions and experiences with the product.

You can find my review of the product at the link, and it includes quite a few troubleshooting tips for how to get the Downy ball to dispense, if you're having trouble with this, since it is a VERY common problem (as can be seen from some of these reviews and comments below).

Ultimate guide to using a Downy ball for fabric softener dispensing

Before we get into the reviews, here's a video created by the manufacturer's of the ball, explaining how it's supposed to work. (Note, I say supposed to work, because the big complaint of many commenters below, is that it doesn't work this way.)

Now, here are the reviews, which have been mixed, with some people loving it, and others, not so much.

Anna's Review

Your review is, if you'll forgive the pun, spot on!

I've used the ball for YEARS and still love it. If I pack the washer full it doesn't open right, but that's my fault.

If used properly, I bet it's worked 99.9% of the time and that .1% was probably my fault somehow too.

The whole reason I was googling the Downy Ball and found your article is that it is so hard to find anymore.

I was afraid there was some massive recall that I didn't hear about. "Downy Ball linked to bee infestations" or some such nonsense.

After reading many articles, I finally found my answer here, the growing popularity of the HE machines. Makes perfect sense.

I've always had older machines, if not coin-ops, so have missed the whole HE revolution.

Maybe when I can afford a nice new washer, I'll say good-bye to my Downy Ball. Until then though, it's the best!

Downy Ball {Referral Links}

Taylor says:

Thanks so much Anna for your kind words about the site, and also your thoughts and experiences with the Downy fabric softener ball.

You can read even more reviews below, and don't forget to share your own reviews of the product as well in the comments below.

Downy fabric softener ball reviews from readers: both positive and negative {on Stain Removal 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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I Miss My Rinse Cycle Without The Ball

by Jennifer

Jennifer shared on the site's Facebook page her experience with this laundry supply.

Jennifer says:

My washer and dryer are out in my garage.

I just love the Downy ball because before they came out I missed the rinse cycle many times and had to re-rinse.

I have had times when it doesn't open, but not that often. I hope I never lose them since they seem to be so hard to find.

I will not go with the HE washing machines until I'm dragged kicking and screaming.

My neighbor is an appliance repairman. He does not think they are good and he keeps my machine, which is about 20 years old, running. As long as he is able to keep it going, I'm sticking with my dinosaur.

Taylor says:

Thanks for your review Jennifer.

Remember that you can add any type of fabric softener to the ball, not just Downy.

In addition, along with using it to add traditional oil based softeners, you can use it to dispense vinegar into the rinse!

You can get even more ideas for laundry uses for vinegar here.

Top 7 uses for vinegar for laundry

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The Downey Ball Is . . . Ugh

by David B.
(Horsham, PA)

David has also shared his review of this fabric softener dispenser.

David says:

We have a brand new washing machine and the ball is new as well.

7 out of 10 times it doesn't open and no softener is used.

Basically we then have to waste water, energy and time to rinse again.

I've read that sometimes the ball has residue at the seal but we haven't used it enough for that to happen.

20% of the time it does open, yet it doesn't go into the laundry and about 10% it empties partially leaving softener all over the clothes.

We didn't notice it one time and it stained our new sheets which really made my wife's day.

I wish this new washer had the ability to pour in the compartment but it doesn't. We are at a loss.

Taylor says:

David, sorry to hear about this frustrating experience.

Your experience of the ball not dispensing at all, or not completely, is unfortunately quite common.

So is your experience of the softener getting on the clothes later, and staining them.

Here's my article about how to remove a fabric softener stain, which can hopefully help with this issue.

Fabric softener stain removal guide

I'm wondering if you should just forego fabric softener, and not use it in the wash if it will cause this much trouble for you.

The other option would be to use a product that softens clothes, but can be added at the beginning of the cycle, instead of having to wait until the rinse cycle to add.

Examples of such products currently on the market include Purex crystals and Dropps fabric softener pacs.

If you also have used this product, and love it, hate it, or have other suggestions for how to make it work better in your washer to dispense the softener, make sure to share your comments below.

Downy Ball {Referral Links}

In addition, you can check out even more laundry supplies reviews here, for a wide range of products used for your laundry, and be sure to share your own as well!

Laundry supplies reviews, plus guides for their use

Downy fabric softener ball reviews from readers, with both positive and negative opinions and experiences {on Stain Removal 101} #DownyBall #FabricSoftener #LaundrySuppliesuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Laundry Tips For Busy Moms

Ultimate Guide To Using Fabric Softener

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There are affiliate links on this page, and if you purchase a product through them I receive a small commission. Purchasing through my links costs you nothing extra, but helps support the free information provided on this site and my family. To learn more please see my product review disclosure statement.

Comments for The Downey Ball Is . . . Ugh

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Fabric softener stains with this product
by: Brandii Linville

I have a top-load el grande washer that uses a Downy Ball to dispense fabric softener. I use Downy. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the ball doesn't dispense all the fabric softener and I get blue stains on the clothes that turn to brown/ugly purple when I try to wash them again to get the stain out. Please Help!!

by: Anonymous

Every time I use the downy ball for Downy fabric softener it leaves huge stains all over my clothes. Very disappointed! I have been using this product since they came out with the ball and only recently have I had this problem. I have to re-wash an entire load of clothes because they have what looks like oil stains all over them. Pretty furious this time. Guess It's my fault; I had to throw away a pair of sweat pants from one of my last loads because I couldn't get the stain out, even with an oxy fabric spray. Will not be using downy in the future.

Does not work
by: Ann

I mistakenly purchased a washer without the softener feature. I tried the Downy ball over and over. It opens but over half the liquid does not dispense.

If it does it is all on one article which leaves a huge mess.

For those of you who have trouble finding them I know many people who would give you theirs for free.

I love mine!
by: Meryl

I love the Downy fabric softener ball and never had any problems with it opening at the right time. My clothes always smell so good!

works most of the time
by: Anonymous

For the past two washes the ball did not open up until the machine stopped. Fabric softener in the bottom of the machine. What a mess. Scared to use it again....

Cracked ball
by: Anonymous

I have used the downy ball for years and lioved it.. The. last 2 have cracked. I have only used my last one 4 times and it cracked. Very disappointed.

Downey Ball
by: Anonymous

I absolutely love the Downey Ball! It's convenient and I don't have to mess with any measuring lids.

No good for HE machines
by: OG Mike

My Maytag Centennial HE does not have a softener dispenser and was sold by Maytag with the Downey Ball and it doesn't work. It opens and the softener stays in the ball. I have an alarm clock net to the washer. I set it for 20-25 minutes and go add softener.

Doesn't Open
by: Ginny

I too have the same problem in that it does not open 50% of the time and it was brand new.

used to work great but...
by: steph

unfortunately, i have to go to a laundry-mat b/c my tiny apt. doesn't have a washer/dryer hookup. they used to have older washers there & my downey balls worked great, always opened & really helped soften my clothes. a few months ago, the machines were changed to newer ones (not HE) & for some reason, the balls don't work as well - i usually end up with stained clothes. i'm going to try a softener that doesn't contain any dye & see if that helps (if the softener ends up on clothes, at least i won't see it). i also like the idea of diluting it in the ball, i am going to try that idea as well. i hate not using fabric softener as i really can tell the difference in how soft my clothes & towels are. the dryer sheets help with static cling but i don't think they really soften clothes. thanks everyone for your thoughts here!

sometimes won't open, and this is happening more and more
by: Linda

I have had my Downy ball for many years and sometimes it just won't open and this is happening more and more. I have read your problem solving ideas and will try them.

When my ball does not work like it should, I pour some Downy directly on a clean cloth and put it in the dryer with the wet laundry. This works pretty good.

Thanks you for your helpful hints.

must use in my new HE machine
by: Juanita

This is not so much a review as information about some HE machines. My NEW HE requires a Downy Ball as the only way to use fabric softener. Since I am determined to stop using fabric softener sheets (they are an ecological disaster) I am happy to learn I can order them online. (On the other hand, I hate my HE washing machine.)

can be annoying
by: Anonymous

Great when it works. Annoying when it doesn't open or when opening the machine to find it upside down on my favorite blouse.

it does not work
by: Christina White

I love the original scent of Downy (April Fresh) and although there are other types, I still recommend the original one. I decided to try the Downy ball since I live in an apt. and machines do not have a fabric softener dispenser in them. As much as I loved the idea of using it in order to make sure my clothes would come out smelling "april fresh" I was so disappointed to see/smell that my clothes did not receive the softener because it would still be inside the ball itself. I tried buying another one, but sadly the results are the same. Why continue to make this product if it does not work? It might help if you were to solve this problem first, and then make a model that does work!! Consumers like myself do not appreciate wasting our hard earned money on a product. Well, I have decided to not buy it anymore because it simply DOES NOT WORK!!!

stains my stuff
by: Anonymous

My Downy ball opens but the softener doesn't come out. SO when I pick it up to lift it out of the machine, it spills all over everything and stains all of my stuff.

didn't open
by: Anonymous

I just used it for the first time and it didn't open.

Tried 2 Downy Balls - neither work
by: Corrine

I have a new Amana Top Loader and have given up trying to use the Downy Ball (I've now bought 2 because I thought the first one might have been faulty).

Both failed to dispense all of the fabric softener (and yes, I use the recommended amount) so I'm forced to run a second rinse.

Downy ball tips
by: Lynda

I've used an older version of the Downy ball, but maybe try these tips: 1. Make sure ball is placed on top of clothes with plug facing up; 2. Make sure there is enough water in the wash; 3. I rinse out the measuring cup with water and add to ball. This will dilute the softener if it spills onto your clothes. I don't have any staining this way. Hope this helps!

Newer machine
by: Anonymous

My machine is new and doesn't have a dispenser. It has no agitators and the ball only opens half the time. I use it for Lysol for the wash.

Buying Downy Ball
by: Bel

It’s very difficult to find a Downy Ball in stores! I finally found a 2 pack on Amazon for $5.89! The ball works better in older machines, so if you have to buy one some GE models do not come with softener dispenser. So I bought a dispenser for it on Amazon it worked great so easy to put on if you want to stop using Downy Ball! Good Luck & Happy washing! 😉

Piece of junk
by: Anonymous

The downy ball is a piece of junk. I can’t even count how many balls I’ve wasted money on. I should have my head examined but I always think the next one will work. They never do. I’m finally ready to give up trying.

no instructions about whether can be used in an HE washer on packaging
by: Margaret Vaccaro

We recently purchased an HE washer with no dispenser for fabric softener and I remembered using a Downy ball years ago. I was happy to see they were still available and purchased one to use in our new machine. There was no information on the wrapper saying not to use in HE machines. I think in all fairness to us, the consumer, you should say so on the wrapper.

my original ball is still working!
by: Vickie

I have used the ball for years and love it (same one I originally got)!

Occasionally, I wipe the rim with alcohol or hand sanitizer or ammonia. Still working!!!!

only one downside - cleaning the ball itself
by: Lori Cawthorn

I absolutely love this product and have recommended it to others I know. The only downside is cleaning the ball itself.

bring with me when I travel and rent apartments
by: Brian K

I've used a Downy ball for at least 20 years. I LOVE the thing. From time to time it won't open and you can just run a quick rinse cycle and that usually fixes the issue. Nothing is fool proof. However I must say there's just nothing like that fresh smell of Downy in your laundry. I travel a lot so I rent an apartment and you are never guaranteed what kind of laundry equipment you're going to end up with. Regardless ... if you are lucky enough to have an upright buy the Downy ball and enjoy great smelling clothes. BTW .. any fabric softener will work. I just like Downy and love my Downy ball. Enjoy!

wish still sold in Canada
by: Karen

I use the bulky cycle and the downy ball never fails in my top load machine.

If I use the *load sensing* that barely covers the laundry with water, I experience either fail to open or splotches of softener on clothing. (I also get undissolved detergent on this cycle, I hate it).

Why did retailers stop selling these in Canada unless you buy 8 on Amazon for $20? Yet a single downy ball on Amazon is $56? Insane. Bought the 8, advertised the rest for $5 each. Sold like hot cakes! Obviously, Canadians still want them.

hard to find, will use in my HE machine
by: Sarah Barnes

I love my fabric softener ball dispenser. Even though my machine is an HE it doesn't have a fabric softener dispenser. It only has a bleach dispenser.
So, yes I use the Downy ball. I had mine for 20 yrs, and somehow it got squashed. So now I'm having to buy a new one and they are hard to find.

Works part of the time
by: Anonymous

The Downy ball works part of the time. I dilute the fabric softener in the ball and I still find stains, worse on dark clothing. Since I hang to dry my dark clothing I check the load and I have to rewash the load and apply Clorox2 onto the stain and in the wash. That seems to work. By the way, the washer is a commercial washer without a fabric softener dispenser in an apartment building.

Total junk!
by: Anonymous

The old Downy ball worked great, but can't say that about the cheap plastic garbage that is being sold now. It doesn't even work! Please tell me that there is something else out there that works.

so frustrating
by: Lisa R.

I have used the Downy Ball for years. Lately the ball will semi open leaving the fabric softer in the bottom of the ball often staining my clothing. I do not overload and I add water to the ball. I have used the Downy ball for years. This is the first time I've ever had these problems. I have tried replacing with a new ball, same problems. My washer locks during it's cycle. It's so frustrating.

Problems no matter where or how it is placed in the washer
by: Dan

The engineers must have been on holiday when this was designed. Do they have a Quality Control division? Problems no matter where or how it is placed in the washer. Doesn't open, opens and leaves a mess at end of wash. The best solution I have found is to NOT use it.

getting frustrated
by: Paula Rieder

I've been using the Downy Ball for a few months and I am noticing that not all the fabric softener comes out. And when it does come out, it gets on the clothes to which now I have to rewash or throw out because it leaves a stain. I have tried adding water to the ball thinking the softener is thick. And it still gets on the clothes. My washer does not have a softener dispenser so I must use the Downy Ball. I am getting frustrated. Please help.

doesn't dispense properly
by: Anonymous

I put in the washer as directed and when the wash is done, the ball is open and Downy softener is still inside...!!!???

caused a fabric softener stain
by: Anonymous

I use a ball dispenser and some remaining Downy stained a new pair of capris made from rayon and nylon. I have tried rewashing, as well as vinegar. Please help.

Washing Machine Fabric Softener Option
by: Anonymous

Do I need to turn on the fabric softener option on my washing machine if using a Downy Ball instead of the built in dispenser in the washing machine?

My Whirlpool HE machine recommends using the ball
by: Dan Ferguson

Just thought I would let you know I recently purchased a used Whirlpool HE washing machine with the agitator plate in the bottom of the tub. My machine has no automatic dispenser for fabric softener. After reading the owners manual I found a section where they advise or suggest using the Downy Ball.

I thought that was interesting as your article and others say the ball is not for use on HE machines, but Whirlpool recommends it, and says the washer has been designed for its use. So there you go. In case you would like to check it out yourself, here is my model no. WTW5000DW1

ball in He washing machines
by: Sheedan 233

My new Maytag HE washer suggests using a Downy ball to add fabric softener. However, articles I read said the Downy ball can't be used in HE washers. Feedback please.

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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.