Thursday, October 24, 2013

wool dryer balls!

i know! it's exciting!  i've been working on these for a few weeks and i think they've finally felted.

it's okay, i didn't know what 'felting' was either.  until i made wool dryer balls.

sounds strange, right?  i stopped using dryer sheets and static cling was becoming an issue with some items.  adding plastic balls (shaped like hedgehogs) helps dry clothes faster, but it's possible for chemicals to leach out.  wool dryer balls help both: they tumble around and help your clothes dry faster, and they help cut down static.  because they absorb some of the moisture and release it into the dryer, they help keep the humidity higher, which reduces static*.

*or so i'm told.  i'm not a scientist or whatever field would understand this.  it just is.

it cost me $7 to buy enough wool for six dryer balls (wool yarn was on sale!).  you can also use a secondhand sweater or afghan - be sure it's 100% wool yarn and unravel it.

it's going to be photo heavy.  mostly because there's not, like, real instructions.  so enjoy!

start with a skein of wool yarn.  or however you have your wool yarn.  it has to be wool.  i chose this multicolored wool yarn.  i think it's purdy.
wrap it around your fingers a few times, as shown.
take the yarn off your fingers and wrap some yarn around the middle, making it look like a little bow!

fold it in half or smash it together or whatever and start wrapping the yarn around to make a teensy ball.

guess what - keep wrapping.  it makes a bigger ball!  keep going and going....

apparently, cartoons are correct.  cats do like yarn.  jake was very interested in what i was doing. 
he was enjoying the yarn.  he got his fang stuck in it.  it was cute.

so this is about the size you want.  i got three balls from each skein of wool yarn.  stick the end of the yarn back in the ball, or secure it under a few strands.  whatever you want.

get an old knee high or the leg of an old pair of pantyhose.  put the finished ball in the toe and tie an knot.
make three more balls (or however many) and add those to the knee high/pantyhose.  tie a knot after each, so each dryer ball has its own little nylon coat.  or whatever. 
i made three dryer balls in this color too.  very fall.

so here you see all six dryer balls in my old knee high.  the knee high/pantyhose helps keep the yarn together for the next step.

continue to allow a cat to play with the wool yarn dryer balls.  jake was confused.

so at this point, you'll have your wool yarn in balls.  like a little smaller than a tennis ball, i would say.  once the balls are in their nylon coats, you're going to want to wash and dry them.

i hear you - you can't wash and dry wool!  that's the point here.  we're trying to felt the wool yarn.  wash the knee high full of wool dryer balls in HOT water (i washed with my towels and sheets) and then dry them on HIGH (dried them with my towels).

some reviews online said you only had to wash/dry them once to felt them.  felting them kind of makes the yarn melt into itself, so each strand is like attached to another strand.  it won't unravel (ideally).  and that's why each ball is in a knee high - to keep it intact and from unraveling during the felting process.

now, i didn't think they had really 'felted' after one wash.  i ended up washing them three or four times in hot water and drying them on high heat.  each strand of yarn is kind of attached to another strand, but they're not totally felted.  i have washed/dried them with clothes already, and there was no unraveling.

after three or four trips through the laundromat, i have new dryer balls!

you can still see each individual strand of yarn, but if you felt it, it feels pretty smooth.  like, if you really wanted to, you could dig your fingernail under a strand and separate it, but don't do that.  the more they are washed in water and dried in the dryer, they will felt more.

you can kind of see on this one that the strands are more melded together.  

the more i use these, the more they will felt.  online comments from other bloggers show that these can last YEARS.  if you like some scent in your dried clothes, some people add a few drops of essential oil to the wool dryer ball.  i'm not doing that because i have scent added to my HOMEMADE LAUNDRY SOAP!  which you'll learn about soon enough.  it's almost time to make another batch.

so now you can stop using dryer sheets.  they do nothing but coat your clothing with chemicals, coat the inside of your dryer, and fill landfills.  these are economical and green and fun.  now, i still have a little static with some poly-blends, but i've taken to line drying most of them (i don't have a lot of stuff like that).  oh, and instead of using fabric softener - vinegar.  i just dump in about 1/8 of a cup of white vinegar into the softener compartment for each load.  it helps rinse out the soap and other contaminants and, if you own your washing machine, it will help keep it clean and fresh.  and your clothes will not smell at all like vinegar.

let me know if you make them and if you love them! and please, feel free to pin the hell out of any of my DIY or recipes.  follow me on pinterest!  i'm on tumblr now, too.  i haven't added buttons about that yet.  because.  i just haven't.


  1. Thanks for explaining how they're supposed to feel when they're done. This was my first time and they looked the same after two washes and dries. Thanks!!

  2. i'm glad it helped! even though they have started to felt after three or four hot washes/hot dryer runs, i keep washing them. i took them out of their pantyhose prison and am washing all six balls on hot with my towels. then i put three in with my towels/sheets on high heat and three in my jeans on high heat. they still seem to be cutting down on drying time (i know this because i'm coming home with more quarters than i used to) and they're starting to felt a bit more.

  3. I have to admit that wool dryer balls are new to me. But, they will certainly come in handy, especially during my outdoor adventures. See alternative methods here: