One of the first things I did when I started to go natural and eliminate chemicals from my house was change out the conventional laundry products I had been using for years. Once I switched over to making my own all natural laundry detergent and dryer sheets, I wasn’t getting anymore allergic reactions from my clothes.
But one of the things that was lacking from my homemade laundry products was the softness that conventional chemicals left my clothes feeling. Adding a bit of white vinegar to my rinse cycle helped with this problem, but there was still a lot of static build-up on my clothes from the dryer, since I wasn’t using any toxic chemicals to help soften them.
That’s when I discovered wool dryer balls, and even though they have been around for quite some time, I had never even heard of them before! I guess that shows how deep I was into my chemical product addiction that I had no idea about alternative ways to fluff and soften clothes.
What Are The Benefits Of Wool Dryer Balls?
Wool dryer balls have been around for ages as an alternative eco-friendly way to soften clothes, but they actually do a lot more than just that. Here are some of the benefits to using wool dryer balls in your laundry:
- They shorten drying time by helping to absorb excess moisture from clothes. The dryer balls you have, the shorter the drying time will be.
- Conventional dryer sheets have toxic chemicals and fragrances to help soften your clothes and make them smell nice, but they can be very harmful to your health. Wool dryer balls are 100% natural, and have zero toxins, chemicals, fragrances, or harmful additives.
- Conventional dryer sheets can only be used once, then tossed in the trash, but wool dryer balls can be used over and over again for years, saving you hundreds of dollars.
- Wool dryer balls will retain the absorbency of your bath and kitchen towels, while conventional dryer sheets will reduce their absorbent power.
- Wool dryer balls will naturally reduce the static in your clothes and towels.
- Dryer balls will also naturally soften and fluff clothes without the use of chemicals.
- Wool dryer balls are a safe and natural alternative to conventional dryer sheets and fabric softener.
How Do Wool Dryer Balls Work?
Dryer balls work their magic by helping to separate the clothes as they tumble around in the dryer, which lets more air circulate through to dry your clothes faster, something conventional dryer sheets can’t do! The more dryer balls in your dryer, the faster your drying time will be. They also absorb any static cling from your clothes and towels while they are tumbling about, and knead the fabric making it naturally softer.
Some people use plastic dryer balls to get a similar effect, but most of the plastic varieties are made from PVC, which can leach out dangerous toxins when heated. The same goes for tennis balls. In addition to being quite dangerous, they just don’t have the natural absorbency and anti-static power of wool dryer balls. Wool dryer balls are just the better alternative, and you can easily make them at home.
How To Make Wool Dryer Balls
Making your own dryer balls at home really couldn’t be any easier, and all you need are a few things to get you started. You can easily get these done in a few hours, and half of that time you’re not even doing anything!
The trick to making these dryer balls work is a process known as “felting”, where through hot water and drying, the wool yarn fibers meld together to form a tight ball that can be used over and over again.
Because of the felting process, the most important part of this DIY tutorial is making sure you get the right yarn. It absolutely needs to be 100% wool with no acrylics or synthetics added in. You can easily pick up a package of yarn at your local craft store, or buy the yarn on Amazon.
Note: Avoid anything that says “superwash” or “machine washable”, as those yarns will NOT felt.
You can definitely use different colored yarn to make these dryer balls, as I haven’t had any issues with the colors bleeding onto my clothes, but you can always stick with lighter colored yarn if it’s a concern for you. I would just avoid any real deep colors like reds or blues, but bright yellows and greens can help you separate them from your clothes when they are dry.
On to the DIY tutorial!
What You’ll Need
- 1 Skien (package) of 100% Wool Yarn – (NO synthetics, acrylics, or anything that says “superwash” or “machine washable”)
- 1 Nylon Stocking or Pantyhose – (you will be cutting these, so make sure you don’t need them anymore)
- 1 Blunt Tipped Yarn Needle or Crochet Hook
- Pair of scissors
What To Do
Make The Dryer Balls:
- Start by wrapping the yarn around your first two fingers about 10 times until it forms a thick loop.
- Slide the yarn off your fingers and pinch the middle, then continue wrapping the yarn around the middle until you get the beginnings of a ball.
- Continue wrapping the yarn tightly around, alternating sides until you get to the desired size of the ball. I like to make mine about the size of a tennis ball, but you can go bigger or smaller if you choose.
- Once you have your desired sized ball, cut the yarn and use your blunt tipped needle, or crochet hook, to pull the loose end through the ball. This will secure the loose end so it doesn’t unravel when felting.
- Repeat these steps until you have formed 4-5 balls, or more.
Felt The Dryer Balls:
- Cut off a leg of an old pair of pantyhose, or nylon stocking, and place all of the yarn balls inside.
- Use a small piece of yarn or string to tightly tie between each ball of yarn, then tie off the open end of the pantyhose.
- Toss the entire yarn ball caterpillar into the washing machine with a few towels, or a load of laundry, and run the wash cycle on HOT, with a COLD rinse cycle.
- Once washed, toss the yarn caterpillar in the dryer and use the hottest heat setting to dry.
- Remove the balls from the pantyhose and check for “felting”. You may need to do this 3-4 times before they properly felt. You will know when they are ready when you can gently run your fingernail over the ball and the strands do not separate.
- Once felted, use in place of dryer sheets for each load of laundry. The more you use, the shorter your drying time will be. Add these with some homemade dryer sheets for a natural alternative to conventional products.
Don’t Want To Make Your Own?
If you don’t want to make your own, you can pick up some pre-made 100% wool dryer balls here.
Do you use wool dryer balls at home? Do you buy, or make your own?