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Wool dryer balls.
Either you know exactly what I’m talking about and LOVE them or you are scratching your head trying to figure out what in the world a dryer ball is?
Here it is…
This, my friend, is a wool dryer ball. A seemingly ordinary ball of yarn is a game changer in the laundry room! Tossing a few of these in your dryer will reduce dry time, fluff your clothes, and completely eliminate the need for toxic (and expensive) dryer sheets.
Wool dryer balls can be purchased (I highly recommend the Norwex ones) but they are also very easy and inexpensive to make! Yes, even if you don’t think you have a “crafty bone” in your body, you can do this! Plus, they make excellent gifts.
Dryer balls can also be found made of plastic or rubber. However, they tend to crack, not last as long, and are not as effective as their wool counterpart.
You cannot use just any ol’ yarn laying around or purchased at the craft store. 100% wool is a necessity for this project.
Have you ever accidentally washed a wool sweater that was supposed to be dry cleaned, only to have it come out of the dryer looking like doll clothes? It shrunk because the wool in the sweater felted. Essentially, felting is when the fibers in the wool fuse together. This happens when the fibers are exposed to heat (hot water/hot dryer).
Felted wool has many uses from fashion to cloth diapers (YES!) to use in musical instruments. Felting the wool in this project prevents the ball of yarn from unraveling in the dryer, thus it is a sanity saver. A dryer full of clothes tangled up in yards and yards of yarn is the stuff of nightmares…
Only 100% wool is capable of being felted. It also cannot be “washable” wool. Again, it will not felt and you will end up with a huge tangled mess. Read the label, if it says “dry clean only” you know you have the right stuff. Roving yarn (verify it is 100% wool) also works great, although more expensive.Lions Brand Fisherman’s wool is my go-to yarn for this project, you get the most bang for your buck and it felts very nicely. I like to pick it up at Jo-Ann when I have a 60% off coupon but it can also be found on Amazon and at many other retailers.
Dryer balls can be made completely out of wool yarn or you can save a few bucks and make the center of the ball out of scraps of wool fabric. Thrift stores are great places to find cheap wool sweaters, blankets, etc. Check the tag and purchase only the ones that are 100% wool and “dry clean only”. Technically, you could make the entire ball out of scraps of non-felted wool but I find this method to be the easiest.
This is a great “mindless” project to unwind (haha) with while watching your favorite show or listening to music at the end of the day.
Let’s do this!
Gather your supplies:
- 100% dry clean only wool yarn. Such as Lions Brand Fisherman’s Wool. One skein of this makes roughly 4 dryer balls using this method. (Approximately 2 balls if you are only using yarn)
- Wool sweater or blanket
- Nylons/pantyhose (cheapest you can find- an old pair works great!)
Cut the wool sweater or blanket into strips about 3/4″ to 1″ wide. They can be any length, although very short pieces will be hard to use. Wrap these pieces into a ball, tucking in ends as you go. Be sure to rotate the ball as you go so you end up with a sphere, not an egg.
Once the upcycled wool ball is roughly the size of a tennis ball, tuck in the end (you could also sew a couple stitches in at this point for more security but I don’t find it necessary). Secure your yarn to the ball and wind!
Again, be sure to rotate the ball as you wind so you end up with a nice shape.
Wrap the yarn around the ball until it is the size of a softball. Tuck the end under a few layers if possible (I like to use a crochet hook for this but a skewer or pencil will also work to push it under).
Did I mention you can make these anywhere?! Yes, even in a deer blind!
Cut the legs off of your pantyhose (knee highs work great too!).
Place the balls one at a time into the pantyhose and tie a knot between each one. This prevents the yarn from unwinding during the felting process.
Throw your odd looking pantyhose holder into the washing machine. Run a cycle on the hottest setting. Make sure to add a color catching sheet if you are worried about any dye transfer (the wool blanket I used was red… whoops).
Dry on the highest heat setting.
Repeat this step 2-3 times. The more you do this, the stronger the “felting” and the longer they will last.
*Do not be concerned when your wool dryer balls shrink- this is exactly what you want to happen!*
Cut the nylons and remove your ready-to-use wool dryer balls! If they are a little “fuzzy” looking, don’t worry, they will tame down once you use them.
I recommend using at least 4 dryer balls at a time. The more you use, the more tumbling action you will get, reducing your dry time and fluffing your clothes. If your clothes end up full of static, that is due to over drying, so reduce your dry time. It may take some trial and error to figure out how long to dry your clothes but once you get it down, you (and your pocket book) will notice the difference!