The Downy Ball is a handy little device that dispenses fabric softener into the washer during the rinse cycle. For those of us that have machines with no softener dispenser built-in, and who wish our air-dry clothes to be softened as well (so we don't use dryer sheets), can use the Downy Ball and never fear missing the rinse cycle again.

Downy says you should only use Downy brand fabric softener in your Downy Ball but I've used Snuggle softener in there and it works just as well.

Apparently Downy has a new ball out on the market that has a dark blue lid (instead of the old light blue). It's called the Downy Enhancer Ball ( This ball's an upgrade to the old ball that works with the new Downy Enhancer fabric softener. As a bonus, Downy's new ball is backwards compatible with their older softener products, so this is the better ball to buy!

1. Fill the ball with Downy fabric softener up to the fill line.
2. Pull the ring up to close the lid.
3. Drop the ball in the washing machine at the start of the wash.

How it works:
The ball normally floats around on top of the wash, but when the washer spins the load the Downy ball is thrown against the side of the drum. When it hits, the weight inside the ball keeps moving (see Newton's First Law of Motion) which pulls on the lid and pops the plug. The ball then releases the softener as it's jostled around in the wash.

Here's an ASCII picture I made of the old Downy ball:
            //_/_ ;_  __
 ____  /_/_/__/__/ /_/_/_,
 ..  |   _           _
 ||  | // \ || | | || | || |
 ||__| \\_/ ||_|_| || | ||_|
       D I S P E N S E R  _/

           // \\
        /         \
       /  ======   \
     /     _||_      \
    |     |    |      |
    |     |    |      |
    |     |    |      |
    |__|_FILL LINE_|__|
     \    '----'     /
       \___________/    m1a