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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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I hope you enjoy this gift, and stop by again soon!
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.