Now that I’ve tackled veggie-sprouting faux coinage in my roundup of stocking-appropriate last minute holiday gift ideas, I’m moving on to the laundry room with a look at perhaps the most adorable damn thing that’s ever been tossed into a clothes dryer.

A cute, clever addition to the ever-growing number of products marketed as eco-alternatives to landfill-clogging synthetic dryer sheets and chemical-laden liquid fabric softeners, Kikkerland’s Hedgehog Dryer Balls adopt the standard spiny dryer ball shape but with the mug of everyone’s favorite grunting nocturnal critter.

According to Kikkerland, purveyor of solar corgis and Strigidae-themed dusters, hypoallergenic Hedgehog Dryer Balls are  “a green product that lowers drying time and saves energy. The Spikey hedgehogs create space for heat to move and dry efficiently. Removes wrinkles, controls static and fluffs your laundry.”

Sounds good by me. Although Kikkerland doesn’t specify exactly how much energy using these little guys can save with regular use, I do know that similar products are capable of reducing drying time by 15 to 25 percent (or more) while lasting upwards of 1,000 loads. 

The only not-so-tiny caveat that I can see here is the ‘hogs, like many dryer balls, are made in China from what I assume is PVC plastic (but I could be wrong). Obviously, this isn’t the ideal (and certainly doesn’t warrant them a 100 percent “nontoxic” status). However,  I’m of the opinion that they’re still a fine alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softeners. That said, there are a couple of PVC-free dryer ball options out there including Woolzies and a new, recyclable option from Nellie’s. So if you’re trying to put a kibosh on the number of PVC-based products coming into your home, these may be a safer bet. Or better yet, you can just line-dry.

Like all dryer balls, the Hedgehogs are sold as — and should be used as — a pair. They’re proving to be a hot seller this holiday season as the Kikkerland webstore can’t seem to keep them in stock (a placement in the new issue of Real Simple probably has something to do with this). However, as of publication, they do indeed appear to be available. Scratch that: they're sold out again. Also, retailers such as Paper Source currently have them in stock for $6.95.

Added bonus: real hedgehogs apparently dig ‘em.

Anyone out there had a chance to try Hedgehog Dryer Balls out yet? How’d they compare to other dryer ball varieties?

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Go (hedge)hog wild in the laundry room with adorable, energy-saving dryer balls
On the prowl for a stocking stuffer that’s sure to please energy-conscious launderers with, umm, a love of spiny mammals? Check out Hedgehog Dryer Balls.