I’ve started using homemade felted wool dryer balls when we dry our laundry, and I’m loving it! They are so easy and inexpensive to make, and they help your clothes dry faster, which saves you time and money! If you want to learn how to make wool dryer balls, check out the simple tutorial below!
Homemade wool dryer balls are great for tons of reasons; check out all the benefits of dryer balls below! Since they only take a few minutes to make, why not give them a try!
- They are reusable! No more dryer sheets that you throw away after a single dryer load; these wool balls will last for years!
- They reduce drying time, which saves time and reduces your energy bill! Plus, fewer wrinkles!
- They are non-toxic! Commercial dryer sheets are full of chemicals that get on your clothes and eventually your skin, but these wool dryer balls are all natural, no toxic chemicals!
- They are gentle enough to use on cloth diapers! Since they are all natural and non-toxic, they are safe to use with cloth diapers, unlike commercial dryer sheets and fabric softeners which can ruin cloth diapers.
- They reduce static in your laundry! They soak up moisture from your clothes and then slowly distribute it throughout the dryer as the machine runs. This helps keep the dryer humid for longer, which greatly reduces the amount of static generated.
- They won’t “coat” your laundry! Over time, commercial dryer sheets and fabric softeners can “coat” your towels and washcloths with a film which affects their absorbency, but wool dryer balls won’t!
- They help your pillows keep their shape as they dry! The wool dryer balls hit the pillows (and any other stuffed or filled laundry items, like sleeping bags, etc.) as they tumble around, helping to break up any clumps of filling so the pillows don’t get lumpy!
- They soften your clothes naturally!
- You can add essential oils to your wool dryer balls to help naturally scent your laundry!
So how do dryer balls work?
Well, dryer balls do a lot of things while they bounce around in your dryer. As I mentioned earlier, they soak up some of the moisture from your wet laundry, then slowly release it as the dryer tumbles. They do this over and over again throughout the whole cycle, helping to dry your laundry even faster! They also tumble around, pummeling your clothes as the dryer runs. This helps reduce wrinkles and soften your clothes, plus if you have pillows or other filled/stuffed items in the load, it helps keep them from getting lumpy.
The more dryer balls you use, the faster your clothes will dry, so be sure to make about 4 or 5!
Tennis balls or the plastic PVC dryer balls you can find in stores also work the same way, but they can leak weird chemicals when they get hot, so these homemade wool dryer balls are much better! Plus, they’re so easy to make!
How To Make Homemade Felted Wool Dryer Balls
Here’s what you need for your homemade wool dryer balls: (affiliate links below to the products I use and recommend)
- 1 skein of 100% wool yarn (I used Fishermen’s Wool yarn)
- string or washable yarn
- optional, a few drops of essential oils for scent (learn more about essential oils here)
I made 4 dryer balls (about baseball sized) with one skein of Fishermen’s Wool yarn.
A quick note about yarn: You need 100% wool yarn for the wool dryer balls themselves. No acrylic, no blend, no wool yarn that is labeled as “machine washable”; these types of yarns won’t “felt” and then your dryer balls will just unravel the first time you try to use them! Make sure the label says 100% wool yarn! You also need a few pieces of acrylic or washable yarn or string to tie up the dryer balls in the pantyhose. You don’t want to use the same 100% wool yarn for this step or the strings tying off the pantyhose sections will “felt” into your dryer balls and it will be really hard to get the dryer balls apart later on!
Start by wrapping the 100% wool yarn around two fingers a few times.
Then pull the yarn loops off your fingers and start wrapping more yarn around the loops in the opposite direction.
Continue wrapping yarn around the loops, squishing them up and rotating the directions of your loops until a small ball forms.
Continue wrapping yarn around the ball, changing up the direction every once in a while, until the ball of yarn is about baseball sized.
Cut the yarn, leaving about a six inch tail. Wind the tail in and around other strands of yarn in the ball to secure it. Then tuck the very end inside the ball as far as you can. You can use a blunt-tipped needle for this, or just tuck it in with your fingers.
Repeat the steps above to make as many dryer balls as you want! If you run out of yarn halfway through winding a ball, just start a new skein, tie the two ends together, and keep winding! It will all hold together later so it won’t matter if it’s two separate pieces of yarn.
Once you have all your dryer balls made, it’s time to “felt” them! Stick one of the balls down into the toe of some pantyhose. Then tie off the pantyhose with a piece of string or washable (acrylic) yarn. Then add another ball and tie off the pantyhose again. Continue until all of your dryer balls are in the pantyhose, and make sure to tie off the pantyhose again after the last ball is added!
Wash and dry your dryer ball “snake” on the hottest wash and dry settings 4 or 5 times. I just washed a bunch of sheets and towels along with the snake so that I wasn’t wasting water! Keep checking the dryer balls between each load of laundry; you should see the wool starting to “felt”, meaning the wool strands start to mesh and meld with the rest of the strands, smoothing out the surface of the ball.
After 4 or 5 wash and dry cycles, the individual strands of the balls should be much less visible; just remove the wool dryer balls from the pantyhose and you’re done!
When you’re ready to dry a load of laundry, toss 4 or 5 wool dryer balls in with the load and start it up just like normal. The ball will bounce around as your laundry dries, and when the clothes are completely dry, just pull the dryer balls out and set them aside for the next load!
Add a drop or two of essential oil to each dryer ball before tossing them in the dryer to help naturally scent your laundry! I love using Lavender essential oil and Purification essential oil for this!
What other laundry tips and tricks do you have?
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P.S. if you liked this project, check out these other great cleaning and laundry tips!
What scents would you use in your laundry?
If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, just let me know or join our Facebook group! I’d be happy to get you more info or get you a sample to try out!
Or if you are ready to start using essential oils, you can get the all of the must-have essential oils in the Young Living Premium Starter kit at a HUGE discount. Plus you 24% off every purchase you make for life when you sign up as a wholesale member. The starter kit is everything you need to get started living a happier, healthier, more natural life with essential oils, and the 24% discount on any future purchases of Young Living oils and products doesn’t hurt either! Check out this page for more details.
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Please be careful with any cloth, yarn and tennis ball fluff remedies in dryer as they can catch on fire.
Jessi Wohlwend says
Yes, you certainly do need to be careful that you are using pure wool or cotton fiber and not plastic. Just like you can dry cotton t-shirts in the dryer, but you’d want to be careful about drying polyester or any other non-natural blend!
Could you use an old wool sweater to make the dryer balls? Thanks for the tutorial!
Jessi Wohlwend says
If you pulled the sweater apart into strands of yarn you probably could! I don’t know if you could just ball up the sweater as is and have it work though, but if you have an old sweater laying around, give it a try!
Nancy Schuler says
Again if the sweater is 100% wool you can use the yarn! However don’t prewash the sweater. It will partially felt & then you can’t separate the yarn! I make felted wool mittens so I know.
Jessi Wohlwend says
Joan Payton says
Hi Jessi, thanks for this tutorial. I swear, my middle initials should be DYI because I’m always looking to make stuff I could otherwise buy. I have a question about the 4-5 washes … do they need to be all at once or can it be wash one time then throw in the next time you do another load of laundry? Thanks! Joan
Jessi Wohlwend says
You can spread them out or do them all at once. But it takes the wool about 4-5 washes to actually felt together, so just make sure to leave them in the pantyhose until you’re done with all four or five washes. But you can definitely just throw them in with your regular laundry whenever you do laundry, so you can spread out the 4-5 washes over a week or so if you want!
Steph @ Crafting in the Rain says
Very cool–never tried dryer balls before, but they’re pretty too 🙂
Suzanne C says
Great tutorial! I finished wrapping the balls tonight and will start the felting process tomorrow. So excited to try this out! (I’m so easily entertained) 😉
Courtenay @ The Creek Line House says
So neat! I’ve heard about these but I’ve never tried them. I’ve also seen them for sale and they were quite expensive so it’s good to know they’re so easy to make! Thanks for the tip! 🙂
Alice & Luci @ Mums Make Lists says
Fab post Jessi – I am such a laundry geek and love how these things you would never think of work. Pinned.
I apologize for sound so dumb, but at what point do you remove the panty hose? I read your post several times but couldn’t find where that happened.
Jessi Wohlwend says
Not dumb at all Laurie, it was a little hidden. I updated the post to make it a little more obvious, but after you have washed and dried the “snake” 4-5 times you can remove the balls from the pantyhose.
Love this idea and I’ve been looking for ways to use more lavender in my life. Do you have to do a full wash on the balls or could you just do a rinse and spin and then dry?
Jessi Wohlwend says
I did a full wash because I was also washing sheets and towels, but you don’t need the actual washing part with soap, just the hot water part. The heat from the hot water during the wash cycle helps to felt the wool, then the heat from the dryer adds to that effect. If you can do a hot rinse, then that will probably work just fine!
Awesome! Thanks so much for your quick answer! I really enjoy your blog. Have a great weekend. 🙂
Jessi Wohlwend says
You’re so welcome! Glad you like the blog, and good luck with the dryer balls! Let me know if you have any issues!
What a great idea, Jessi. I don’t buy drying sheets, but my hubby hates it when his pants are “clingy”. I will definitely be giving this a try! Love it.