How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

Posted by Mrs Money on March 12th, 2009

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I had a question the other day from a reader regarding my opinion on dryer balls. Personally we don’t use them any more as we’ve been using vinegar as our fabric softener, but I know there are many people out there that use the infamous blue spiky dryer balls to fluff up their clothes without using fabric softener.  While I do think that they are better for your wallet because you aren’t purchasing fabric softener again, they also have been controversial on just exactly how good they are for you.  In fact, a post on TreeHugger claims:

“What the manufacturers fail to mention, however, is that the the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material the supposedly “nontoxic” dryer balls are made of is one of the most poisonous plastics ever created, posing great environmental and health hazards in its manufacture, product life, and disposal.

Kinda scary, right? It’s sad you are trying to save money and the environment by eliminating all those chemicals in our water and plastic fabric softener tubs in landfills or recycling centers but at the same time may be harming your family’s health in the long run.  Of course, I’d still rather take the dryer balls over fabric softeners as they seem to irritate my skin with the chemicals being set in my clothing and rubbing against my skin.  To each their own.  You can’t be a fanatic about everything.

There are a few alternatives if you’re scared of the PVC in dryer balls. You can use tennis balls (which may not be any better), or ideally learn how to make wool dryer balls.  Here’s how I made mine.

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

Materials:
-Wool yarn (I’m a knitter so I’ve got some extra “scraps” lying around)
-Scissors
-Crochet hook
-Old pantyhose
-piece of string

Instructions:

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1. Wind your wool into a nice, tight ball to the size of your preference. Use the crochet hook to tuck the end under the yarn.

2. Stick the yarn ball in an old pantyhose leg and tie the string around the opening so it doesn’t get out and fly around your washing machine. Throw them in with a load of clothing you are washing in hot water. They will felt quicker this way.

3. When they are done washing, you can throw them in the dryer with the clothes and take them out when the clothes are done.

4. Let them dry overnight and then wrap another layer of yarn over the felted wool dryer ball. This helps keep the wool dryer ball tighter. Repeat steps 2 & 3.

And that’s it! How simple is that? If you’re ambitious, you can put a sachet of lavender in the middle of your dryer ball for scent. I like mine plain!

What do you use to soften your clothes? Would you learn how to make dryer balls?

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18 Responses to “How to Make Wool Dryer Balls”


  1. Deirdre says:

    I have never understood why people feel the need to use fabric softener of any kind. Seems like at totally pointless product to me – and the whole concept of “softening” clothes/linens is just something advertising people came up with. I’ve never used any kind of fabric softener and my clothes are just fine.

    [Reply]

    Cheryl Reply:

    I SOO agree! And scents. People are OBSESSED with scents. Also I would always use white vinegar, the apple cider can turn your clothes dingy!

    [Reply]

  2. Miss M says:

    Any idea why this works, I’m curious. What is it about wool that would soften clothes…

    [Reply]

  3. Mrs Money says:

    Deirdre- I like skipping it too! It makes me feel better.

    Miss M- I think it’s just the wool balls banging in the dryer, like hitting the clothes that makes it soft. Kind of like tenderizing meat! lol

    [Reply]

  4. Brandi says:

    I really only use fabric softener for bedding and to cut down on static cling during colder months (which isn’t often here). I am curious about using vinegar… do you just put it in your washer’s fabric softener dispenser?

    [Reply]

  5. Mrs Money says:

    Hi Brandi!

    I either put it in there or in a Downy ball. It works either way. :) Thanks for your comment!

    [Reply]

  6. Deb says:

    What kind of vinegar (white or cider) and how much?

    [Reply]

  7. Mrs Money says:

    Hi Deb! I use about 1/3 cup of white vinegar per load. You could use 1/2 cup with no problems. :) Let me know if you like it!

    [Reply]

  8. Howard says:

    My wife and I are both retired. I do the weeks laundry every Monday morning. I read what people were saying about homemade laundry detergent and softener on the internet and thought it may help with some our allergies so I decided to try it without telling my wife to see if she could tell the difference. I used nothing but the homemade stuff and white vinegar as a softener for about 8 months before she said anything. There was no complaint about the cleanliness of the clothes, but she said they did not smell as fresh and the towels were not as fluffy. I took a load of towels that had just been washed in the homemade stuff with vinegar as a softener and washed them again and used liquid softener and I do agree that they do smell better and are more fluffy with the softener. We have a front load washer with an automatic softener dispenser, about 1/2 cup. I am still using the homemade detergent but have gone back to liquid softener. For the detergent, I use equal amounts of Borax and Washing soda and a bar of Fels Naptha, shaved and dissolved in water.

    [Reply]

  9. Mrs Money says:

    Howard- Thanks for your comment! That’s awesome you do laundry! What a great husband. Thanks so much for letting me know how your homemade laundry detergent is working! Best of luck to you!

    [Reply]

  10. lorrwill says:

    I wish I had these years ago. I am not a fabric softener person but do like the way the balls cut down on the drying time and the static. Of course now I find this when I’ve gone dryer free in favor of the handy line…

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    I am drier free too! I love using the term “solar powered dryer”. It really gets people thinking!

    [Reply]

  11. Tammy says:

    Wool dryer balls ROCK! I bought mine from a mom at http://www.wooldryerballs.com and they are still going strong in my dryer over a year later! Hers are made different than you show (the raveled ones can come apart after 1-2 month use I found out the hard way..ahhhh!) These soften by friction on your clothing (without pilling laundry!)and they speed up the drying time. We have saved alot of money using them.

    [Reply]

  12. Madison says:

    I don’t use liquid fabric softener anymore for no real reason except the added expense. The thing that bothers me is static. Some of our shirts come out staticy and it drives me crazy. I usually use dryer sheets since they seem to really help keep static down. Do these wool balls help with static? I’d love to have something more reusable than dryer sheets.

    [Reply]

  13. Susan says:

    I bought some wool dryer balls the other day from a mom on Etsy and when they arrived, they were much smaller than I was expecting (just slightly larger than golf balls). The ones I see on this site are considerably bigger. Does size matter when it comes to dryer balls?

    It seems that the balls help with static, but then it is summertime now and there isn’t as much static. The real test will come in a few months. I also use vinegar in the rinse cycle during washing, so that may be part of what is helping also.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Susan- They do sound pretty small. I would still think they would work pretty well, but I’ve only used the larger ones. I would contact the seller now and tell her you are concerned about the size so that if they don’t work as well as you expect you may be able to return them later. Hope that helps!
    xoxo,
    Mrs. Money

    [Reply]

  14. Mandy says:

    I created a couple of balls and on the second use in the dryer, one of them came unraveled. Do you have any idea what causes a ball to unravel? Maybe I didn’t wind it tight enough towards the end? Also, can I just wind it up and wet-felt it again? Or is it a total loss? Would it help if I also needle-felted it after I’ve wet-felted?

    [Reply]


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