This is one of those projects that has been on my “must/want to make” list for some time now. So during our latest winter blast, I stayed in and played. I don’t know why I didn’t get around to these sooner, they really took no time at all to make and so far I’m loving them!
What are wool dryer balls?
Wool dryer balls are made from 100% wool and can be made in any size you want. They go into the dryer with your wet clothes and help to separate and fluff them so that it shortens the amount of time you have your dryer running. They also help to get rid of wrinkles and static. And if you use some essential oil, make your laundry smell good without any use of chemicals.
Shorter dry time, no wrinkles or static, and pretty smelling. Yay! With wool balls you can use and reuse again and again!!! Saving you money. Yep, that brings a smile to my face. A penny saved is a penny earned… I’m earning some serious pennies with this one!
How to make your own dryer balls…
The first thing you need is 100% wool yarn. It can’t have any cotton or acrylic or anything else in the yarn. And it can’t be pre-shrunk. The wool has to be able to felt. I wanted to be able to make quite a few balls and didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on the yarn. So… I got really cheap (or thrifty) and bought some wool sweaters at a garage sale for a quarter a piece. Then I bought a couple of skeins of yarn at the fabric store. You’ll also need some old pantyhose and a crochet hook. Don’t worry, you don’t need to actually know how to crochet (whew!) you just need it to pull the final piece of yarn through.
Since you wanted to save money on yarn and are using a junk sweater, you need to cut the sweater into strips.
Then you take two strips of your wool sweater and knot them together to form the base of your ball.
Now you can take and wrap more of your sweater strips around and around until you get it to about the size you want.
Once you have a decent size ball, take your yarn and wrap it around the sweater strips. This holds all the sweater strips in place and makes your balls pretty.
When your ball is the desired size, cut your yarn, take your crochet hook, and weave the yarn into the ball. I made my balls the size of a large orange. The bigger, the better. Or so I hear. The larger the balls, the more they bounce around and separate the clothes. Just felt I had to clarify that a bit for those of you who have wandering minds.
Now, I’m not sure this next step is necessary, but I thought it might help since I have a front-loading washing machine and wanted to make sure my balls got adequately soaked and shrunken. So I filled my sink with really hot water and a bit of hand soap and soaked and swished my balls for a little while. Okay, so I really just let them soak while I went about and made lunch.
Before you pop them into your washing machine you want to enclose them in the pantyhose so that they don’t unravel and create a really big mess. I suppose you could do this before you soak your balls in the sink too. I did have one that I made earlier and never got around to finishing floating in the sink. Doesn’t matter as long as you do it before they go into the washing machine.
Place a ball in the stocking, tie a knot in the stocking, put another ball in, tie another knot and so on. You won’t be able to reuse the pantyhose once the balls are felted. The pantyhose get kind of hairy. Not a pleasant feeling. So buy really cheap ones or use some old ones that you’ve had hidden in your drawer for 10 years. I don’t wear pantyhose too often to go out and feed the animals here on the farm. Although it might be kind of entertaining to the neighbors!
Now you are ready to throw your wool ball worm into the washing machine. Wash in high heat with cold rinse. Then pop them into the dryer and dry on high heat. Now might be a good time to wash your sheets and pillowcases. Just an idea.
Take them out of the dryer and run your fingernail over the stocking/ball and see if the yarn threads have “felted” together. You may want to put it through the wash/dry cycle one more time to be sure.
Your finished balls will look similar to this. You can make them in any colors you like.
I made 7 of them using one and a half skeins of yarn. The sweater insides really helped to save money on the yarn. I put mine in a basket on top of the dryer with a bottle of lavender essential oil. Place a few drops on the balls before popping them in the dryer and you have a healthy alternative to the chemical-laden dryer sheets sold in stores. Much prettier and reusable too. Be sure to use essential oil, not fragrance oil. Fragrance oil will leave greasy spots on your clothes. Pure essential oil will not.
Now that I’ve had fun telling you all about my balls (tee hee), go out and try to make some of your own and let me know how much you love them! Hmm, how do you use dryer balls when you hang your laundry on the line during the summer? I’ll have to ponder that one!