About a year ago, I made myself some wool dryer balls. You may be wondering what on earth wool dryer balls are and why you would need them. Well, I've done a lot of research and I'll show you here just how to make your own. Lucky you!
Wool Dryer Balls are a chemical free alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softeners. You may remember my post on homemade laundry detergent for sensitive skin. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets are no different. They contain nasty chemicals and fragrances that Eric and Caleigh can't tolerate on their skin.
For years I have been using those hard PVC dryer balls with the spikes. They are supposed to help with drying time, but I've read that they are hard on your fabrics. I can totally see why. So I went searching for something more gentle. With my love for crochet blooming each and every day, I came across wool dryer balls. I fell in love and made me a set right away.
One year later, nearly everyone on our Christmas list got a set and I wanted to share the love and know how right here. In case you don't feel like making your own I do sell them in my Etsy Shop. Easy peasy and no fuss.
Your going to need 100% wool for this. Any yarn or roving that is a blend will not work.
You'll also need a pair of scissors, a yarn needle, pantyhose, and your washing machine.
To get started follow the above images. 1) Wrap the the yarn around a few fingers 15 times. 2) Then turn the yarn and wrap the opposite direction for 15 more times. This makes a cute little bow shape. 3) Squeeze the two bowed ends together and 4) then continue wrapping in a circular motion making a ball.
Once you get to your desired circumference, you will weave in the end with your tapestry needle. Just tuck it in back and forth really tight until the end has disappeared.
I've made everything from grapefruit size to golf ball size dryer balls, but I recommend tennis ball size to start with. Your imagination is your limit! The more dryer balls thrown in with your laundry the better.
You'll be able to see all the yarn lines and feel the texture of the yarn at this point.
Here is where you have a choice. I bought queen size, knee highs at the dollar store. Three pairs for a dollar, not too shabby. You can put your yarn balls into the knee highs and tie them off into separate areas with anything but wool yarn. If you use wool the yarn will felt and it will be a mess. In the photo below I used floss. It was a minty fresh, slippery pain to tie those knots.
My preferred way of doing this is to put your yarn balls into the panty hose as tightly as you can. One at a time, tie a very tight knot in between the yarn balls. The tighter the better so that they will keep their shape in the wash. Make sure no part of the wool yarn is touching another ball.
I've done both ways and I have to say that the knots work better for me. If you don't care about your cheap hose then you can just cut the yarn balls out when your done instead of hassling with the knots.
I like to boil a pot of water and soak the prepped yarn balls before I throw them in the washing machine.
At this point, I start a load of laundry using the hot water cycle. I toss the boiling water in with the balls too. It's best to wash them with something to help keep their shape. A load of towels is always good because the water has to be on it's hottest setting. Don't forget to use your Homemade laundry Detergent!
Now depending on the yarn or roving chosen you may have to run this a few times. You'll know that they are done when you can run your fingers over the wool balls and not be able to move any of the strands. This is called felting. The wool just melts together.
Throw them in the dryer to further the heating process. I've done this with and without the panty hose on and haven't seen a difference. If your on the fence, leave them in the hose.
Then your done! The dryer is their home and they work for you now!
These beauties will last a few years. As they bounce around in your dryer they will lose some of their wool here and there softening your clothes as they go. I can't tell if the ones that I have used for a year now are smaller or not. It's definitely not a visible difference.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or tips! Happy Chemical Free Drying!