How to make Wool Dryer Balls
As the name suggests, wool dryer balls serve the same purpose as plastic PVC or tennis balls in your washing machine dryer, with the added advantage of being eco-friendly and non-toxic. Unlike the commercial dryer balls, the woolen ones don’t hurt your dryer’s sensitive electronic sensors.
Dryer balls made of wool last for years without much maintenance. Unlike fabric softeners and commercial dryer sheets, they are gentle enough for cloth diapers. They remove pet hair from your clothes, minimize wrinkles, while the lanolin present in wool acts as a natural fabric softener. For your regular loads, using up to 4-6 balls would be ideal, while for large loads, use 6 or more.
Homemade felted dryer balls: DIY steps
(makes around 4 balls)
Use natural sheep wool only, since other varieties might leave lint on your clothes. Also, do not pick up wools that are labeled “machine washable”, as they might not felt well, with the balls unraveling after one or two uses.
What you need:
- 100% Wool Yarn – 1 or 2 skeins
- A tapestry or felting needle
- A pantyhose
- Some string
- A Pair of scissors
- Wrap the wool around your fingers, to make a ball (like you do with your spare wool after finishing a project). Keep wrapping till you have a round ball, about the size of a tennis ball (though you can wrap the yarn more or less, as per your desired size).
- Take your needle, and thread it with the yarn tail. Weave it randomly multiple times over and under the threads through the exterior part of the ball so it would not unravel. Trim off any excess yarn. In the same way, make the other balls.
- Pour these balls one by one in the pantyhose and use the string to tie a knot between each one of these to form a caterpillar.
- Finally, to felt your dryer balls, run the entire caterpillar through the hot cycle in your washing machine, and then dry it in the hottest dryer mode. This should work. However, some qualities of wool do not felt easily. So, take the balls out of the pantyhose and check. If you find the balls didn’t felt at one go, you might need to repeat the hot-cycle process up to 3-4 times until they felt, forming solid balls.
Because of its absorbent fibers, 100% wool acts as a natural anti static agent by generating mild static electricity. Felting the balls dramatically reduces the chances for the wool to shed, making them possibly safe for wool allergic people. However, make sure to test for any allergic reaction before starting to use. Your dryer balls may start to show some pilling over time, but that would not affect their function at all.
Tips and alternatives
- You can use wool roving instead of yarns. For that, use 1½ oz per ball.
- If you want a cheaper recipe, you can first use a regular acrylic yarn to make the core, and then wrap the wool yarn around it. Instead of buying, you can also recycle the wool from old sweaters.
- To make your dryer balls visually interesting, use strands of two different colored yarns to add a stripy look.
- You can place 2-3 safety pins or metal paper clips inside each of the balls (while wrapping the yarn) to increase their anti-static power.
- Infuse the dryer balls in half a cup of vinegar and air dry before you throw them in your laundry cycle. This enhances the fabric softening properties of the balls. You can also put a few drops of essential oil of your choice on the balls to have a refreshing aroma in your laundry.
If you are an expert in needle felting, you can easily make pretty dryer balls in this method. Try the method for fuzzy dryer balls with wool roving