• I see a magazine ad that says that old Downey (liquid softener) won’t work with the new Downyballs, so you’re supposed to get new Downy and a new Downyball. What’s the difference between the old and new softener? What’s the difference btween the old and new balls? - MC

marketing. they probably tell you other brands won’t work either.

All this science, I don’t understand. It’s just my job 5 days a week-- Rocketman

They do tell you other brands won’t work, and it’s true. The balls are designed so that the liquid inside has to be heavy enough to pop the top during the spin cycle. Thin fabric softeners won’t work. I’m not sure why the new Downey wouldn’t work in the old balls, though. Maybe it’s thinner?

Oh, sorry. I thought someone was calling me.

Work like you don’t need the money…
Love like you’ve never been hurt…
Dance like nobody’s watching! …(Paraphrased)

Well, mangeorge, I thought this topic was about you, too…but since it’s not…do those things really work?

What if the hokey pokey is really what it’s all about?

I use an “old” downey ball, and I use CVS brand fabric softener, so they’re probobly full of it. Probobly you can’t use the really el-cheapo stuff, but mine works fine.

A friend is someone who likes you even though you’re as ugly as a hat full of assholes.

Please correct me if i’m wrong, but if your fab softener lacks density, then just add more volume. Isn’t this how physics works? oops, that sounded fresh, didn’t mean it to be.

again, marketing. does it say lather, rinse, repeat?

All this science, I don’t understand. It’s just my job 5 days a week-- Rocketman

Yes, adding more would work, I presume. Of course, if you have to add twice as much of the thin stuff, you might as well just by the Downey. (Or sit by your washer and wait for the rinse cycle.) Sure it’s marketing, but the balls were pretty clever anyway.

I love those “sponsored” recipes you see in magazines. Like, if the recipe is sponsored by Kraft foods, they’ll say something like, “… then add two slices of <font face=“Arial,Helvetica” color=“red”>Kraft Brand Processed Cheese Slices</font> and serve.”

What happens if you use another brand? Will your dinner explode?

Afraid to fly? Hey, I’ve been there!

Yeah, it’s just hype. I use my regular “Downy” ball with cheapo softener. Or distilled vinegar, if I’m just eliminating static and getting rid of any soap residue. (Seriously, this is what you’re supposed to use if you’re having some sort of allergies to the detergents.) The viscosity of the liquid shouldn’t make a difference in if it opens or not because the weight in the pop-lid thingie is what opens it, as far as I can tell.

I haven’t seen the difference between the old and new balls. The one I have has two parts. There’s a clear outer part in the shape of a sphere that has a round opening about 3cm in diameter. That hole is plugged by a…uh…plug with a ring on the outside of the sphere and a cylindrical chunk of plastic hanging on the inside.

It took me a few minutes to figure out how they worked. Basically on (hopefully) the first spin cycle–the one right after the wash and agitate phase–the ball will align itself so the opening is inward. The centrifugal force produced by the heavy cylinder as the wash basin spins eventually pops the plug open and the fabric softner can mix with the water on the next cycle–the first rinse.

As best I can tell, you can put anything in the ball as long as it isn’t filled too much or the buoyancy of the heavy cylinder will compromise the functionality. Also, you might want to be sure the substance in the ball readily mixes with water.

Hey, aren’t you supposed to be at work?

The slipperiness of the Downy liquid allows the weighted plug to pull free in the spin cycle. I assume older types of the liquid might not be as slimy.

“Think of it as Evolution in action.”

nah, vinegar is not slimey at all and it still works. It’s a centrifugal force deal, I think. (or centripital, if you’re my physics teacher, Mr.Lutey.)

If you’d been reading your Straight Dope mailbag, you’d have known how those balls work immediately.

The ball works with every brand of softener I’ve tried it with (and I’ve tried many, including Downy).

Laundry balls, Downy balls … never knew doing the wash could be so exciting.