Introduction: Homemade Dryer Sheet Replacement
Wool dryer balls are a simple to make, cost effective way to keep clothes soft and wrinkle/static free! They deliver the same benefits for laundry as commercial/conventional dryer sheets WITHOUT all the nasty chemicals. And due to their bounciness, they also work to create more space in between your garments during the drying process, which allows better circulation of the hot dryer air. This reduces drying time by up to 25%!! - resulting in huge time, cost, and energy savings for you!
Let's get started!
Step 1: Choosing Your Yarn
You must buy 100% wool yarn (no synthetics) that has a minimum wool content of 85%, with any additional fibers being natural. As an example, my wool was 85% wool / 15% mohair and it worked really well. Also be on the look out for roving which is a looser, more 'open fiber' yarn that felts better than standard wool yarn.
I made my balls about softball size and used 90 yards per ball. It's not absolutely necessary to make them as big as I did (baseball size will do), so feel free to use less wool per ball.
Step 2: Getting Started
The only other things you'll need other than the wool, is a nylon stocking, scissors, and about a 3 foot length of either acrylic yarn or embroidery thread.
To get a ball started, using both ends of your skein (double up!), start wrapping the yarn around your fingers. (2 or 3 fingers work)
Step 3: Grow Your Ball
Once you have 6-8 wraps of your fingers, pull your 'starter' off and wrap a couple of times around it's middle. (like pictured) Then turn it and squish it from end to end and continue to wrap your starter until you've formed a small round sphere. Keep wrapping until your ball is anywhere from baseball to softball size.
Step 4: Tucking Your Tail
Once the ball is the size you want it, cut the doubled up ear, leaving a 2" tail. Tuck the ends underneath a few yarn strands and push it down towards the center of the ball with your finger. If you don't feel like it went in deep enough, grab your scissors and use one end to push it in further.
Repeat the last few steps for however many balls you want to make.
3-4 balls for small to medium loads
5-6 balls for larger loads
Step 5: Getting Fancy
This next step is completely unnecessary, but I love a chance to add some visual fun when possible.
Inspired by Italian Bocce Ball sets, I used colored wool yarn to add some fun embellishment. Tying and tucking the ends the same way I tucked the ball ends.
You can get all kinds of creative with this one!
Step 6: Felting Your Balls
To protect your balls during the felting process, do the following:
- Cut four 7-8" pieces of acrylic yarn or embroidery thread.
- Gently stuff the first ball into the end of a panty hose leg or knee high, being careful not to move the decorative yarn patterns if you decided to try that.
- Use one of the acrylic yarn pieces to securely and tightly tie the fist ball in place.
- Repeat this for all your remaining balls, being sure to finish with a tie too!
Now your balls are ready to be felted.
Add your wooly caterpillar to a load of towels and wash in hot water, dry on high. Repeat this one more time.
NOTE: The balls will continue to felt even more over time with use.
Remove the balls from the pantyhose and...
Voila! You have upped your drying game for the next 1000 LOADS!! - have saved yourself time and money, and the environment energy. That's a lot of win win if you ask me.
You can also add essential oils to the balls prior to putting them in if you're used the adding scent to your clothes. Lavender works really well.
Now go forth and soften!