Have you considered making wool dryer balls for your laundry? Use this surprisingly simple trick to make some gorgeous wool dryer balls for half the cost!
The first time I heard of wool dryer balls was when I was pregnant with my first child. As worried moms to be do, I researched everything from dryer sheets to deodorant to canned tuna. (Side note, I couldn’t eat fish anyway because of my food aversions!)
Now I wouldn’t call myself “crunchy,” nor do I claim to be anywhere close to all natural. But ever since then, I’ve always used dryer balls in my laundry. I actually started with some plastic dryer balls, which I later learned contain some crazy chemicals. I even used tennis balls for a very short time. (I only stopped because my dog kept sneaking them from the laundry!)
Today, I use 100% wool dryer balls, and I love them! Using felted wool dryer balls cuts down on the amount of chemicals that go on our family’s clothing. (Certain ingredients in dryer sheets are common household allergens.) The wool also wicks moisture from the clothing and helps to aerate the clothes, which both reduces drying time (saving energy costs) and also softens clothing. Finally, they can be easily scented with essential oils to add a light, all natural scent to your clothes.
We’ve been using wool dryer balls exclusively for about 3 years now, and my original ones are getting just a bit shabby. Since then, wool dryer balls have become more readily available online on Amazon and even through natural cleaning companies like Norwex. But since I have a yarn addiction and a love of colorful, pretty things, I decided to make my own!
My 2.5 year old daughter came with me to JoAnn fabrics, and I let her pick out the colors. We chose Patons Classic Wool Roving in Pale Blush and Frosted Plum. You can use whichever brand of yarn you please, but it’s important to choose a 100% wool yarn. Be sure NOT to choose a superwash wool, as these are treated to prevent felting, which will keep your dryer ball from holding itself together.
Since I wanted to stretch this yarn as far as possible, I decided to donate some of my husband’s old socks to the cause.
You’ll also need some nylon pantyhose to use for the felting process, and a pair of scissors.
First, I used my yarn winder to separate my wool balls into 2 nearly equal cakes.
Next, I rolled my (clean) socks into neat balls to form the center of my dryer balls.
From there, I began winding the wool yarn around the socks.
Turn the sock 90 degrees and start wrapping the other way.
There’s not much of a science to it, just keep winding until you have a mostly round shape, and be sure to cover the entire sock.
When you are close to the end, it helps to wind everything as haphazardly as possible. I find this helps the felting process go quicker.
Use your yarn needle or a small crochet hook to tuck in the end so it doesn’t unravel.
For my parents of dogs, cats, and toddlers, there’s one extra step! Sometime in the next few minutes, you’ll likely have to wrestle your dryer ball away from your critter. They look SO fun that your craft buddies of all species will be tempted. Since I am the proud parent of both a border collie and a wild daughter, I had to repeat this step about fifteen times.
After you’re done, you’ll want to cover each ball in nylon. I knotted the ends and cut them apart, but you could keep them in one long “snake” if you wish. Just be sure to knot in between the dryer balls, or they will felt to each other and get stuck!
Next, you’ll need to toss them into the wash with a load of laundry. Run them through once, then put them through the dryer. Repeat this process several times- the combination of moisture, heat and friction is what felts your wool together to make the solid ball that doesn’t unravel.
I washed and dried mine about 3 full cycles, and they’re just barely felted enough to use. But they are so pretty, I couldn’t wait any longer to see them. I love them! And the girly colors are such a nice change for my laundry room.
I used lemon oil to scent these and add some extra cheeriness. Lavender is another favorite of mine.
And that’s it! You’re done! Now you can reward yourself by doing a load of laundry with your new felted wool dryer balls. (Just kidding, go grab yourself a hot drink!)