WOOL DRYER BALLS?
Wool dryer balls are not a new concept, but I didn’t know much about them until recently! In our attempt to elminate some of the harshest chemicals from our home and spend less money on single-use items, we’ve learned that wool dryer balls are a really great eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
•• To start, commercial dryer sheets are filled with harmful chemicals and scents that cover your clothes and rest directly on your skin day in and day out. In contrast – there are no chemicals in wool dryer balls.
•• Commercial dryer sheets are expensive and you have to throw them away after each use. In contrast – wool dryer balls can be re-used for years, saving you lots-o-money.
•• Wool dryer balls increase fluffiness and reduce static as your dryer loads tumble.
•• Wool dryer balls help to soften clothes naturally – eliminating the need for chemical fabric softeners.
•• Wool dryer balls are made from an organic, renewable resource!
HOW DO THEY WORK?
Simple! They bounce around in your dryer – separating clothes, allowing heat to circulate through your laundry, and cutting down on your drying time. The wool balls pull moisture from your clothes, so the more you have in your load, the shorter your drying time will be.
BUY ‘EM OR MAKE ‘EM?
You can definitely buy online, but in searching Amazon what I found was that no matter where the wool had been sourced (New Zealand, Ireland, Europe, USA), most of the balls themselves were manufactured in China. With very little information about the manufacturing process (and even some manufacturers failing to disclose all materials used), I felt most confident in buying the wool myself and making my own.
Here’s how I did it:
CHOOSING YOUR YARN:
Finding the right yarn is the most important part of making the wool balls. Look for 100% wool yarn, free of synthetics and acrylics. Most hobby stores sell it, or you can purchase the brand I used on Amazon here!
Note: stay away from wool labeled “machine washable” or “super wash”. These types will NOT felt.
SUPPLIES FOR MAKING THE BALLS:
• a couple skins of 100% wool yarn (not labeled “machine washable” or “super wash.” I used 2 skiens – you can find the brand I used here!
• crochet hook
• string or cotton/acrylic yarn (to tie off the pantyhose and keep the wool balls in place)
• loose, single socks (optional!)
STEPS FOR MAKING THE BALLS:
To stretch my yarn as far as possible, I went to the bin in my laundry room full of socks that haven’t had a match in years. Some have even moved across the world with us as singles – and a match has yet to be found…
If you want to give your balls a little boost in size and stretch your wool as far as possible, go ahead and roll a few socks together to get the party started. If you want to roll them as 100% wool, you can do that too. Just skip the sock step 🙂
Wrap your wool yarn around your socks a few times as tight as possible. Continue wrapping tightly until your ball is the desired size. I made mine the size of softballs to help cut drying time more, but a baseball or tennis ball size will do (and will use less yarn).
Leave ends loose as you continue making each ball – we’ll tie them off in just a bit.
Use a crochet hook to tuck the end of the yarn under several layers of yarn. Pull it through and cut the end.
Cut the leg off a pair of pantyhose. Put the first ball into the toe of the pantyhose. Tie in-between each ball with acrylic yarn or string.
Make sure not to use your wool yarn to tie off each ball, or it will felt right into the nylons. And simply tie off the end!
HOW TO FELT THE BALLS:
Throw your entire felt caterpillar into the washing machine. Wash in a hot wash cycle with a cold water rinse and dry on your hottest dryer setting.
After the first wash + dry cycle, check the wool for felting. You might notice (like me) that your yarn didn’t felt completely on the first try. No worries! Simply throw them back in with your next load of laundry and wash and dry a second time. You’ll know your yarn has completely felted when you can scrape your fingernail over the ball and the strands don’t separate.
USING THE BALLS:
Throw these bad boys into the dryer with your freshly washed clothes and let them go to work! For smaller loads, use 3-4 dryer balls. For larger loads (towels included!), use 4-6 balls or more. The more balls you use, the faster your clothes will dry.
A NOTE ABOUT STATIC: A common cause of static in the laundry is over-drying. When your items are completely dry but continue to tumble in the dryer, static electricity is invited into the mix. This is true across the board (not just for wool dryer balls – but with dryer sheets as well). Only allow clothes to dry until they’re not wet anymore, and you’ll find much less static cling when you pull them out!
TIP: If static persists, try using vinegar as a fabric softener during the rinse cycle of your wash. Vinegar serves double duty as a fabric softener and a static-reducer. When clothes are completely dry, the vinegar smell will disappear completely.