Wool Dryer Balls – Why and DIY

Wool dryer balls.  Have you heard of them?  I was pretty intrigued when I first heard about them.  They are used in place of fabric softener dryer sheets to soften your clothing in the dryer, to reduce drying time, and even reduce static. This makes them green (no harmful chemicals or scents coating your clothing) and economical (reusable for a loooong time).

With that said, I didn’t want to pony up $20 for a set of three.  So I set out to make my own.  I had some experience felting wool sweaters last year and figured it wouldn’t be *too* tough to make my own wool felted dryer balls! Last summer I was in the local thrift store and ran across three skeins of 100% wool for .75 each!  After snatching them up and running toward the cash register, I then proceeded to let them gather dust for six months.  But hey, such is the life of a wedding photographer with no free time in the summer. 🙂

Anyway, yesterday I decided it was time to create them.  So, here is my tutorial.

Step 1: Find 100% wool yarn.  Make sure it’s not one that is safe for regular wash.  In my case, it said “Dry Clean Only”… this is good because then you know it will felt in the wash! With that said, most wool yarn will felt properly- it’s just the” specially treated for easy washing” variety that you may have issues with.  You can also unravel an old 100% wool sweater or buy new yarn – it will still save you money.

Step 2: Each regularly sized skein of yarn (as shown above) should yield around three wool dryer balls. To begin the ball, start wrapping the thread in a loop around your fingers.  I’d estimate 40-50 loops.

Step 3: Wrap a loop in the middle of your 40-50 loops.  Make sense?  See the above photo. You are basically making it look like a bow.  Then start making the whole thing into a ball by wrapping yarn every which-way you can.  There is no particular art form for this. Just have fun with it.

Step 4: Realize that this will take a while.  Pull up Netflix or pop in a movie.  I chose Law & Order SVU.

Step 5: Continue wrapping your ball until it’s approximately a 3″ diameter.  Then cut your yarn and tuck the end in the ball – I wrap it around several strands so that sucker won’t go anywhere.

Step 6: Continue until you have the desired number of balls.  If only I had a nickel for every time I…. never mind.

Step 7: Find an old pair of nylons.  Insert a ball, then tie off the nylons in between each ball.  I try to pull the nylons pretty taut so the balls can’t move much.  (Am I the only one with the maturity of a five year old boy? )

 

Step 8: FELTING.  Throw your nylon and wool balls into the washer.  Add some detergent (storebought is better than homemade from what I read).  Wash on the hottest water you can and do a cold rinse.  I add a towel or two so it will really agitate the wool fibers.

Step 9: Repeat step 8.  Maybe 2-3 times is what it took for my wool to properly felt.  Basically, the hot water will open up the wool fibers and the cold water will “shock” it back into intertwining it within the other strands of yarn and thereby prevent unraveling.  Then throw the whole thing in the dryer.

Step 10: I considered the process complete when a few of the nylon balls started to show fibers outside of the nylons.  (Note – not all of the wool balls were visibly felted at this point… I just needed to see a few before I was comfortable cutting the nylons apart.)

 

Step 11: Cut/pull the nylons apart from the wool balls.  That’s it!  They are done!  Even though you can still see the wool strands, they ARE felted – you can see the fuzzy fibers and the strands are not loose.  They are stuck together.. felted.

To use these dryer balls, place 3-5 of them in the dryer with your wet clothes and reduce your normal drying time.  Enjoy!

If you prefer to buy your dryer balls rather than make them, you can check them out HERE (affiliate link).

December 11, 2013 - 10:00 am

Cheryl - Fantastic! I never knew about dryer balls and now I want! This would make a good project for the new year for me.

December 11, 2013 - 8:12 pm

Corri - Good way to do a little stash busting too 😉

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