I’ve shared a lot of natural, chemical free solutions over the past year. Things like eyeliner, makeup remover, hand soap, body wash, laundry detergent, and natural allergy relief. But the first change I ever made to eliminate chemicals was getting rid of dryer sheets and using wool dryer balls instead. I made my first set 2 years ago and have loved them since day one. Call it the gateway drug to natural, chemical free living, but wool dryer balls are the easiest switch you can do. And they are easy to make!
When I made my first set, it was a bit of learning curve. I had never really felted before and definitely wasn’t familiar enough with our new washer so the balls never got 100% felted and have since started to unravel. I decided it was time to make some new ones and thought I’d share how.
Toward the end of last week, I developed a horrible cold. I was working from home last Friday and couldn’t even finish the last 90 minutes of my work day! After laying around for a full 24 hours, I still was miserable but I was also getting bored. I already had yarn on hand for new wool dryer balls and making them seemed like an easy boredom solution. It was win-win, minus the whole feeling miserable thing. ?
100% wool yarn (I used Alpaca wool and Peruvian Highland sheep wool but any wool will do!)
Yarn darner needle or crochet hook
Nylons (like socks or knee high stockings)
String or ribbon
Old jeans, towels, or something to wash them with
Washer and dryer
Wrap yarn into a ball. Start with two fingers and wrap the yarn multiple times around.
Slide off fingers and wrap yarn around in the opposite direction.
Then switch back to the original direction. Continue wrapping the yarn around in multiple directions until a ball forms.
Be careful not to pull the yarn tight, but also you don’t want it too loose. Mine were about the size of a tennis ball when I was done. The purple skein I used was 3.5oz and I got 3 balls out of it. The other two colors were a thinner wool and were only 1.75oz. I used that to make two balls of each and they were slightly smaller than the purple.
After the balls are formed to the size you want, use the upholstery needle or a crochet hook to weave the end of the yarn into the ball. I like to weave it in and out a few times and the last time, pull the needle all the way through so the end is somewhere in the middle of the ball.
Next put the balls in a nylon. Use string or ribbon to tie them off so they don’t felt together.
Then toss it in the washer. I throw them in with an old pair of jeans to help agitate but towels or sheets will also work. I have a top load high efficiency washer and it took a few times to figure out what settings felt best. What I have found to work is to run it through the wash twice with laundry detergent under heavy duty, hot, and at least a medium soil level. After that, I cut the strings, removed them from the nylons and tossed them in the dryer.
A Note On Smell
These balls did not have an issue smelling but previous ones I’ve made for myself and for gifts have. I did some research before making these and it seems wet wool can smell, well, like the animal it came from but the smell should go away once completely dry. So if they seem dry but still smell, dry them some more as they might be wet inside. I also wonder if my homemade detergent minimized the smell better than the store bought stuff.
How to Use Wool Dryer Balls
To use the dryer balls, keep them in your dryer with every load. And enjoy that you have eliminated harmful chemicals from your family’s clothes, sheets, and towels! You can add some drops of essential oils to them every couple loads if you miss the scented smell from dryer sheets. You might even find laundry is more fun now! ?