April 11, 2011

Homemade Wool Dryer Balls


A few weeks ago, my youngest child broke out in an all over the body sort of rash.  We observed him and what he was eating for a few days, but saw no connection.  We began to wonder if it could be related to the laundry products we were using and, sure enough, when we switched to more natural products the rash disappeared completely.

We switched from our regular laundry detergent to one that is all natural (a.k.a outrageously expensive), we switched from fabric softener to good ol' fashioned vinegar,  and we threw out our dryer sheets in favor of these adorable little dryer balls.

Dryer balls reduce static in your laundry and decrease drying times.   They make some noise as the bounce around in the dryer, but we quickly got used to it.

Here's how to make your own dryer balls.

You will need:
  • some 100% wool
  • a crochet hook
  • scissors
  • an old pair of stockings/ pantyhose
  • some patience
  • your favorite essential oil (optional)

Start by crocheting a chain about a foot or two long.  This step isn't entirely necessary, but it makes the beginning of the winding process less finicky and frustrating.

Starting with your crochet chain and then moving on to the attached wool, wrap the wool around itself to make a little ball.  Wrap it tightly.

Continue wrapping the wool and increasing the ball size until it is about the size of a tennis ball.

To keep the ball from unravelling, push your crochet hook through part of the ball and pull your loose end through the ball.  Repeat two or three times until you are confident the wool is secure.  Cut off the remainder.


Repeat to create desired number of balls.  Three is good.  Six is better.

Now place the balls one at a time into the leg of an old pair of stockings. Tie a knot after each ball.  This will keep the balls from becoming unraveled while you felt them in your washing machine.


Throw the stocking full of dryer balls into your next load of laundry, and then into the dryer when you dry the load.  Repeat two or three more times.  Loads washed in hot will help felting happen faster, but cold will work too.

Carefully cut (or untie) the stockings to release your lovely new dryer balls.  If desired, add a few drops of essential oil to each ball to add a slight bit of fragrance to your clean laundry. I use lavender.

At this point, depending on the wool you've used, your dryer balls may just be slightly felted.  This is good enough to keep them from unravelling in the dryer.  They will continue to felt with repeated use.  They will need to be re-scented periodically.


Now all that is left to do is to throw your pretty new wool balls into your dryer every time you dry a load and start saving money on dryer sheets and electricity costs!

51 comments:

  1. What a great idea! I like the colours of the wool you used too - hmmm, never thought I'd say that about dryer balls!

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  2. I should point out for readers who aren't familiar with yarn, that you want to make sure that it's not labelled "superwash". Not all 100% wool will felt. (Although it might hold together well enough). It's a neat idea, I wish I'd known about this before I managed to find a set of reusable dryer sheets to purchase.

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  3. Hi there

    Read your dilemma with the laundry detergent. Thought I'd hook you up with another blogger who's got a recipe for homemade laundry soap you can make with ivory for your little one. That ought to cut your costs. Check it out here http://www.frugalflamingo.com/2011/03/scoop-on-homemade-laundry-detergent.html and here http://www.frugalflamingo.com/2011/03/homemade-laundry-detergentthe-kind-you.html

    Hope this helps.

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  4. That's cool...if only I could crochet! LOL!

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  5. I am in the UK and ivory soap isn't something we have over here. However, I have been making my own laundry soap using a cold process method and this works out at pennies per load, using pure ingredients! Don't be intimidated by soap making.. if you can bake a cake and follow simple safety instructions then you can make fantastic soap from scratch! My own recipe for around home is 50% coconut oil and 50% tallow. If tallow isn't for you, subsitute for palm oil, though this is more expensive. I dissolve some of the soap (about 5 oz) and some washing soda (about half a cup)in 4.5 litres of water and leave overnight to form a gel. I use this all over my home, including in my washer, and it cleans beautifully, without nasty chemicals. A little goes a long way, 1/4 cup in the washer followed by a vinegar rinse will leave your clothes fresh and clean.

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  6. I love this idea!! My son also has allergies to soaps, etc... I have been making my own laundry detergent for several months now and this would top it off perfectly. Thank you =)

    Christi

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  7. I never knew this would work! I'm off to make some dryer balls right now! Thank you!

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  8. Thank you so much! I had heard of wool dryer balls on another site, and so wanted to make some of my own, but coudn't figure out how I would do it! Gonna go get a skein of wool yarn right away to do this!

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  9. I saw these for sale at some unearthly price and then googled it and found your lovely site. Brilliant!

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  10. Thanks for sharing this! I have some plastic dryer balls my mother got somewhere, but I'm wondering if the wool ones would do a better job of defeating static cling.

    Also, because of our allergies, I've been making our own laundry soap for a long time. It only takes about 15 minutes and a batch lasts us about a month. You can find lots of recipes online. I use method #3 from this website: http://tipnut.com/10-homemade-laundry-soap-detergent-recipes/

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  11. Since other people are sharing their laundry soap recipes I thought I'd share mine too. You will need 2 cups baking soda, 2 cups washing soda, 2 cups borax, & 2 bars of Dr. Bronner's castile soap in any scent. We used peppermint last time & it filled the whole house with minty freshness when I mixed this up. First, finely grate castile soap to make about 4 cups of shavings. By the way, castile soap is pure veggie oil soap. It's about the most chemical free soap I've found so far. Anyway, mix all these ingredients together & store in a container w/ a snug lid. You only need 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) per regular load, so this recipe will make enough for about 80 loads. This is front-loading HE machine safe too. I use 1/2 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle for the fabric softener & dryer balls like you do. The castile soap will be the most time consuming & pricey part of the mix. However, it took me only 15 minutes to grate it all up & I figured out it costs about $35 for a year's worth of soap for my family, but you do 12 loads where we do 5-6 each week, so bank on maybe $75/yr.

    Oh, I didn't read anyone else's recipes, but just in case... Fels Naptha has chemicals in their soap so I personally wouldn't recommend it since your kiddo has allergies, but it does make a very inexpensive homemade laundry soap.

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  12. do the wool balls work as well as the plastic ones? I can't imagine a ball of wool "bouncing" off the walls of the dryer the way the plastic ones do.

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    Replies
    1. I haven't tried the plastic ones, but these wool ones are wrapped pretty tight and bounce really well.

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  13. Thanks for posting this! I've been wanting to try the wool dryer balls, but didn't want to pay the $20 for them. Plus, I had some left over wool yarn, so I figured I'd try to make some. Love your site, too!

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  14. Side tip: You can unravel wool sweaters from goodwill and use that for your yarn... or I've seen people cut the sweaters and sew them into balls post felting. ;)

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  15. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Just found your blog via pinterest and I just have to say thank you!!!! I'm gonna make a bunch of these (since I have yarn coming out of my ears lol) and give them to friends. I have quite a few friends and family with sensitive skin.

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  17. Any ideas on brands of yarn to use? I was in a hurry and bought the first one I saw that said "100% natural wool perfect for felting," but it was $10.99 a skein at JoAnn! I got 5 decent sized balls out of it though. Now that I have finally figured out how to wind the yarn into a ball I'm going to be making these as Christmas gifts for at least two people I can think of this year! It only took me a about 40 minutes per ball to roll them up once I got the hang of it (which took another hour of trial and error, since i don't know how to crochet lol). Thanks so much for this great tip! I can't wait to see how mine turn out!

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  18. I made my own wool dryer balls without the crocheting part! I have no idea how to crochet. So, I just rolled the yarn into a ball and tucked the ends like this, sort of. I also felted mine in a stocking, but I boiled the wool balls for about 20-30 min and then ran them through a few dryer loads of towels and such on high heat. They work so well! I have super sensitive skin and get hives from just about any chemical laundry stuff and body lotions, etc. I use some scented oils I bought from buddha bunz - an online store that sells wool dryer balls. She has about a bajillion scents that haven't hurt my skin for super cheap! I use gardenia and coconut grove together, because it makes me think of summer at the beach (I live in Alaska), and because I am SO thrilled to finally have good smelling laundry! That is a neat idea about using the wool sweaters. I have a few I intended to make something with and never did!

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  19. so I was just wondering? how the oils work? do you soak the balls in the oil before you add it to the laundry? Im sorry if that sounds like a dumb question but I am courious? I am slowly trying to green our laundry because my son gets eczema real bad and I am looking for something cheaper than the stuff that has "all natural" stamped on it.

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    Replies
    1. Essential oils come in little bottles and are normally measured in tiny "drops". Only put a few tiny drops on the balls. Soaking them in essential oils would cost a fortune and be a fire hazard!

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  20. Could this also work with home aide fabric softener on them?

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  21. I made my own dyer balls, but I am wondering more about the scenting with the essential oils. Do you drop the oils directly on the ball or try to do so inside the ball? Also, the oils will not hurt your clothing in anyway? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. The essential oils just go directly on the balls. You only put a few drops, so no, there's no way that they can hurt your clothing.

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  22. Do you use fabric softener sheets in your dryer during the felting process?

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  23. Can you use cottton to make these? A family member has allergies to wool.

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    Replies
    1. Cotton doesn't felt like wool does.

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  24. Love the site - great job!
    Wool allergies here too. Any suggestions?
    These might be a great gift idea...

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  25. After loosing my expensive plastic ones, I made some by drilling a hole in tennis balls and stuffing them with a wash rag, but those are so much prettier.

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  26. The whole thing doesn't have to be wool either. You can wrap wool around a ping pong ball to get it started. Or you can use cheap acrylic yarn on the inside and wool for the last several layers. Just make sure that the wool is covering the acrylic yarn several times so that it felts well.

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  27. I bought.http://allurewool.com/
    like red and pink balls. Each set comes in a cloth bag- perfect for gift giving or just to store them. No more buying Dryer Sheets or Softener. Eco-friendly alternative to chemical dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener.

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  28. I've tried the plastic and they are loud and the nubs break off after time. I'm lazy and didn't want to make my own. I use Leaping Sheep wool dryer balls! They are amazing, not loud at all and they are going on one year and are still like new!!
    I don't use fabric softener or dryer sheet and never have static. I also have sensitivity to wool and have no issues using these wool balls. Check them out on Etsy or the web site at www dot leapingsheep dot com

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  29. I read on ehow that cotton can be substituted. Wool works best.

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  30. Does anyone out there have a recipe for homemade laundry detergent that doesn't need the use of "Washing Soda"?? I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba (CANADA) and I am unable to find Washing Soda here!! Any suggestions would help a whole bunch. THANKS ALOT!!

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    Replies
    1. You can make your own washing soda out of baking soda, place 2cups of baking soda in a shallow 9x13 pan, spread out to as even a layer a you can, bake @ 400 degrees for about an hour. That is it.... here is a link to the site I used... http://naturesnurtureblog.com/2012/05/08/ttt-turn-baking-soda-into-washing-soda/

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  31. I've been using the wool balls for awhile now, but am still having problems with WICKED static. Any suggestions?? (We live in New Mexico, but run 2 humidifiers 24/7 to help reduce static throughout the house)

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    Replies
    1. safty pins. Place on wool ball, should help reduce static.

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  32. You've got a winner here! Can't wait to try this! THANK YOU!

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  33. Does anyone have a recipe for laundry soap that DOESN'T have Borax in it? We're ditching all chemical cleaning products in our house. And since Borax is an insecticide I don't want to wash our clothes in it.

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    Replies
    1. I have used soap nuts. Check out Laundry Tree online for more info. Totally natural.

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    2. You can also try using Kosher or Epson Salt instead or the Borax. That in addition to the washing soda should do it.

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  34. Hello! I just love homemade things! I choose wool dryer balls 'cause they are great eco-friendly alternative to both fabric softeners and sheet softeners.

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  35. Can you use the same balls for back to back dryer loads or do you need a second set?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I use them for back to back loads.

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  37. I found you through pintrest. I wish I had seen this before I bought 2 balls for $12, plus shipping. I went out today to get some wool yarn to make some more, boy is it hard to find 100% wool! Well, I finally did at Hobby Lobby, and they only had a few colors, and I'll start winding my balls tonight while I watch tv. I think I'll felt them by the boiling method. It's a lot quicker! Thank you for taking the time to post this!

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  38. I'm highly allergic to wool. Will these dryer balls be a problem? Has anyone else had any experince with this situation?

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  39. Could you leave the balls in the stocking??

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  40. I just made some dryer balls and instead of putting them in the washing machine to felt, I put them in a metal pan and added the hottest water I could from the tap, then added a cup of almost boiling water to make it good and hot. I used a wooden spoon to agitate them for a a few minutes. I placed them in a towel and squeezed to get out as much water as I could, then put them in a hot dryer. They felted nicely.

    I am using them for the first time with a small load and have to admit, I'm bothered by the noise they make bouncing against the dryer wall. I have four of them in a small load so maybe it won't be so bad with a larger load.

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  41. How many balls do you put in for each dryer load?

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