For about a year now I’ve been using wool dryer balls in my laundry as a substitute for traditional dryer sheets. I wanted something that was all-natural and free of the perfumes and dyes that are often associated with commercial dryer sheets, which can sometimes cause skin sensitivity or allergic reactions in some people when clothes dried with these products come in contact with the skin. I heard about wool dryer balls and this has completely changed the way I do laundry!
Felted Wool Dryer Balls
The benefits of using wool dryer balls over commercial dryer sheets are, as I mentioned previously, eliminating harsh chemicals and dyes from your laundry. They reduce your drying time which saves money on your utility bills. The wool dryer balls, as they work their way through the drying cycle, rotate and begin to lift and separate your clothes which increases their fluffiness. And they also reduce static cling (as long as you don’t over-dry them by leaving them in the dryer too long).
You can purchase pre-made wool dryer balls but it’s very easy to make your own. What you will need is 100% wool yarn (which felts easily), old nylon pantyhose, a piece of string, a pair of scissors, and some sort of needle or yarn hook with a blunt tip.
The idea is to use yarn that felts otherwise the balls would come apart in the dryer. I found that roving yarn felts pretty well. I use Patons 100% Wool Roving Yarn, which is what I found at my local craft store.
To make the balls, you start by wrapping the yarn around your first two fingers about 10 times. Then pinch the bundle of yarn in the middle and pull off your fingers. Wrap more yarn around the middle of the bundle.
Begin, from the middle, wrapping the yarn around the entire bundle until you have the beginnings of a small ball.
Continue wrapping tightly until you have the desired size ball. One bundle of yarn can make 2-3 balls, depending on your size preference.
Pre-Felted Dryer Balls
To felt the balls you will need to wash the balls in the washer on a hot wash cycle with a cold rinse cycle. You may need to repeat this 2-3 times until the balls have felted. Then you dry them in the dryer using the hottest dryer setting.
This is where the pantyhose come in. Prior to putting them in the washer you will need to secure them in the pantyhose to keep them from falling apart in the washer prior to felting. You can either cut the leg off an old pair of pantyhose or use knee-high stockings. Put the balls into the toe of the pantyhose, tying tightly a piece of string in between each one.
Wool Dryer Balls Secured Safely in Pantyhose (Pre-Wash)
Once you’ve run the wool balls through the washer and dryer and they have felted remove them from the pantyhose and enjoy!
I purchased two skeins (bundles) of 100% wool yarn at Jo-Ann Fabrics, which yielded five wool balls. The more wool dryer balls you use the better. Because the more balls you have rotating through your clothes helps to increase the fluffiness of your clothes and also helps to decrease drying time.
And have fun. Choose different colors of yarn. There is no need to worry about the colors bleeding onto your white or light clothing. I haven’t had any problems with this in the year that I have been using mine.
Another advantage of the wool dryer balls is that they last a long time, so you can keep re-using them over and over again. This certainly saves money from having to keep purchasing commercial dryer sheets, which you can only use once or twice.
And one thing I neglected to mention is that you can use the blunt tip needle or yarn hook, if needed, to push in any loose yarn once you have made your wool dryer balls. But I found that I didn’t really need it if I wrapped the yarn tightly enough.
I hope that this has been helpful. I know that I probably went through the steps of making the wool dryer balls rather quickly. And because I find that it is often very helpful to have a visual reference to refer to, here is a link to a website that I first used when making my wool dryer balls. They have visuals to aid you every step of the way. I hope that you will try making these wool dryer balls. I know you won’t be disappointed!