I have a fun, easy, practical tutorial for you guys today, and it doesn’t even involve crocheting!
I’ve been wanting to give these DIY wool dryer balls a try for a while. I ran out of dryer sheets last week, so I knew now was the time to learn.
Did you know that wool dryer balls last up to a year or more, making your clothes soft and static-free and reducing your energy costs by helping your clothing dry faster? You’ll never have to buy dryer sheets again! Paired with your favorite homemade laundry detergent, you will have a recipe for some SERIOUS money-saving DIY. (That’s my favorite kind of DIY!)
So to begin, you’ll need a few basic things:
- 100% wool yarn (MUST be 100%, no blends. I used Hobby Lobby’s “I Love This Wool Naturals.” It’s 220 yards and I had enough for two balls from each skein, with a little left over.)
- Yarn needle
- Old tights or nylons
- NON-wool yarn or string (just a small amount for tying up your nylons, but it’s important that it’s NOT wool this time)
- Your washer and dryer
The first thing you’ll need to do is wrap your yarn into tight balls. (Think every kitten’s dream toy.) I know many of you do this with all of your yarn after you purchase it, but I don’t, so if it’s new to you, here are some easy steps (photos below):
- Roll yarn around three fingers, about 15 times.
- Remove the yarn from fingers and wrap 5 times around the middle. (It should look like a little bow.)
- Fold the bow over on itself.
- Begin to wrap the yarn around the base you’ve just created. Wrap, turn slightly, wrap, turn slightly, etc, to form a ball. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly shaped all the way through – you’ve got a lot of yarn to work with and a lot of time to shape it nicely. Look at it from different angles as you go, and try to wrap the yarn so that a nice sphere is formed. Do this until your ball is about 2.5″ tall, or approximately the size of a tennis ball.
- Leaving a 10″ (or so) tail, cut the yarn. Thread it through your yarn needle. Insert your yarn needle into the ball, going in the same direction as that piece of yarn would naturally go, and “skim” the ball by about 1/2 an inch, bringing the yarn needle out the other side (see photo below). Continue to do this around the ball 3-4 more times.
- Snip the yarn at the surface of the ball. You’re ready to begin the felting process!
Your dryer balls should be about the size of a tennis ball when you’re done rolling them.
Now we need to put the balls through the “felting” process. Felting is the process of fusing together the wool strands to create a sturdy ball that (hopefully) won’t unravel even after hundreds of wild rides in your dryer. Lucky for us, this is an easy process, and all you’ll need are nylons, string, and your washer and dryer!
The Felting Process
- Put the first dryer ball into the leg of your nylons, all the way to the bottom. Tie a piece of NON-wool string or yarn around the nylons so that the ball is tight and snug. (If you were to use a wool yarn here, you’d end up felting that too, and your dryer balls would probably be ruined.)
- Add the next ball and do the same thing, until all of your dryer balls are safe in the nylons.
- Throw the balls in your washing machine and run a full cycle on HOT. (This is also a great time to get your towels washed, because they can handle the heat, and it won’t affect the dryer balls at all!)
- After the wash cycle, run them through the dryer on HOT (again, your towels can join them).
- When you remove them from the dryer, you’ll notice that they are a bit more compact. This is good! Now, repeat steps 3 and 4 one more time to finish the felting process.
- Remove balls from nylons.
That’s it! Now that they’ve felted, you don’t need to wash them anymore. Just leave 4 or 5 of them in your dryer to use with every future load of laundry. You can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (if you want) to give your clean laundry an amazing smell!
I was so excited about these wool dryer balls that I decided to make a bunch of them and give them to my mom and older sisters. (The little sis will definitely be getting some when she heads off to college soon!) We are all getting together this weekend for a freezer cooking party (yay!), so I think that’s a perfect time to gift them. It will be one big money-saving weekend. How fun is that?
Let me know how your wool dryer ball process goes!