I've heard of the Downy ball before but I never did much of the laundry until my wife had a stroke and got paralyzed. Before, she was using the sheets of softener that you put in the dryer. I wasn't thrilled with it. I started using the liquid Downy, but I have to set up the kitchen timer for 20 minutes, then put in the liquid in the washer.
I decided to buy the Downy ball where I put the liquid in the ball and put it on top of the dirty load. It automatically opens during the spin/rinse cycle. It will not open during the soaping cycle. How do I know? I pull out the clothes and they smell like Downy. If the ball opened up during soaping, then it will wash away with the soap.
This ball cannot be used with a front-loader washing machine. I do swear by this Downy ball. Absolute time-saver. Great for lazy men like me.