DIY: Making Wool Dryer Balls

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.

Wool Dryer Ball Supplies

Since you wanted to save money on yarn and are using a junk sweater, you need to cut the sweater into strips.

Wool Sweater Strips for Dryer Balls

Then you take two strips of your wool sweater and knot them together to form the base of your ball.

Knotted Wool Sweater Strips for Dryer Balls

Now you can take and wrap more of your sweater strips around and around until you get it to about the size you want.

Medium Wool Dryer Ball

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.

Start of Wool Dryer Ball

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.

Large Wool Dryer Ball

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.

Soaking Wool Dryer Balls

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!

Wool Dryer Ball Worm

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.

Close-up of Wool Dryer Ball

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.

Basket of Wool Dryer Balls

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!

If you don’t feel like making them, you can always buy some online at Etsy or Amazon .

 

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A Baby Boom in the Laundry Room

Whew!!  The baby boom seems to be over… for now.  Our first Muscovy hatched 4 babies (all were Muscovy, one will be white), Jade (another Muscovy) hatched 13 little ones.  Muscovy duck and ducklings The same day, Jill hatched her eggs.  We saw 2 goslings.  Jill left the nest with only one of them.  The remaining little baby couldn’t use its legs.  We brought it into the house with a heat lamp and Lexie spent the evening trying to get the baby stronger and eating.  Around midnight Lexie woke me up and told me the gosling wasn’t raising its head anymore.  We had to make the decision to let it die.  It was a hard night for Lexie, she had grown attached to that little baby.  But she pulled up her “big girl britches” and did what had to be done.   

Two days later, another Muscovy mom hatched a Pekin baby on her own and then Nik and I helped hatch another 2 Pekin babies for her.  She had the Pekin eggs (which hatch in 28 days) and Muscovy eggs (which hatch in 35 days) in her nest in the Pekin duck box.  We didn’t see a problem with the set-up until the eggs started hatching.  We have 14 ducks that spend their nights in the Pekin box.  Momma started hatching her eggs in there and we started to get worried that the babies would get trampled.  Not to mention that Momma wouldn’t let any of the Pekins in to lay eggs so getting them all in there at night would be a problem.  So early in the evening we moved Momma and her 3 babies into a stall in the barn.  We took as much of her original nest as we could along with her remaining eggs.  No such luck.  She refused to sit on her nest.  At that point we were just relieved that she looked after her new babies.  We lost quite a few babies, but definitely learned from our mistake.  This same day we finally cleaned out Jill’s nest.  We found another egg that hadn’t hatched yet.  We hatched that baby and put it in with Momma Muscovy’s newly hatched little ones.  So now we have 2 goslings!  It’s just that one thinks it’s a duck.  Should be interesting to see how that works out!

Other than that, Lexie got her 8 Pekin ducklings for 4-H, we have yet another Muscovy that will be hatching soon, Nik gets his 20 broiler chicks next week, the garden needs some serious weeding, but on a good note we finally got all the mulching of the flower beds done!

I took about 20 minutes and squeezed in some time to make a batch of laundry detergent.  I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for about a year now. LOVE it.  No more stinky armpit smelling shirts.  I hated it when you put on a shirt and it smelled like flowers, then when you started working and heating up, it ranked like last nights garlic dinner.  It was a smell that went away temporarily but always came back with lousy timing.  No more yellow stains under the pits either.  Our clothes are clean.  Not just perfumed and enhanced with optical brighteners.  Really clean.  I started with a very basic simple recipe that I found online and enhanced it after doing some research.  I read a great article from one of my favorite blogs, Little House in the Suburbs that goes into the science behind the makings of laundry detergent.  And tadaa!  Cheap, very effective laundry detergent!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 cups Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • 2 bars finely grated bar soap
  • 1/4 cup Rid-X Septic System treatment
  • 1/2 cup OxyClean
  • 1 1/2 tsp tea tree essential oil

Homemade laundry detergent supplies

 

I know, who puts septic system treatment into their laundry?  Well, I do.  It’s made with 100% B.Subtilis protein enzyme cleaner that removes protein stains from your laundry.  Safe for your water systems and safe on your clothes.  What’s really cool is that while you are washing your laundry, you’re also treating your septic system!  Bonus use!  Like I said, I’ve been using this over a year with no problems. 

I use a little bit of salt since we have hard (very hard) water.  The salt helps to set and revive colors that the hard water leaves dingy.  It also helps to stop the “bleeding” of colors. 

grated bar soap for homemade laundry detergent

I used a 3-pack of Jergens Pure & Natural soap from the dollar store.  I try to look for the soap with the least harmful ingredients.  One of these days I’ll make my own to use!  Let the bars sit and “dry out” for a day or two.  It makes it much easier to grate.

The tea tree oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, antiseptic, and antimicrobial.  And it has a clean fresh scent.

Powdered homemade laundry detergent

Mix all the ingredients up and whirl it for a minute in a food processor until you get a fine powdery concoction.

I like to make a triple batch at a time.  That way I have enough to last me at least 6 months.  And that’s doing 6 or 7 loads of laundry a week!

I broke down the cost of making my own compared to a cheap store bought box.  Homemade detergent costs about 10 cents per ounce and the store bought costs 11 cents per ounce.  I only use 1 1/2 Tbsp per load.  So I can get much more out of my box than a store bought box.  Not to mention that I know exactly what chemicals and ingredients are in my detergent.  I’m bombarded with enough chemicals in my food, I don’t want to wear them too.

No fabric softener.  I fill my fabric softener compartment with white vinegar.  The real stuff, not the petroleum-based vinegar.  As long as your vinegar states that it is made from grain, you’re okay.  I used to buy the cheap stuff until I found out that it was made from petroleum.  I’ve got enough gas, thank you very much, don’t fill my food up with it too.  The vinegar rinses any residue off of your clothes and leaves them naturally soft with no static cling.  You won’t have that flowery smell though.  But you could add lavender essential oil to the vinegar.  Don’t worry about smelling like vinegar either.  The vinegar odor dissipates as it dries.  No smelling like vinegar-dipped garlic and onions here!!!

Sorry Nik!  Not trying to discriminate against garlic and onions!  Personally I love them both.  I just don’t want to smell like them!

Let me know if you’ve tried your own homemade laundry detergent or if you have any suggestions for improving mine.