Monday, January 12, 2015

DIY Dryer Balls...

Have you ever used dryer balls?

Have you ever even heard of dryer balls?  They're those wool balls that you put in with your laundry to help the clothes tumble and dry more efficiently in the dryer.

I hadn't until a few months ago, but I can tell you that I'm now convinced that they work...and that they're ridiculously easy to make!

You start with 100% wool...either old sweaters or wool yarn.  I went with a friend to our local Goodwill store the other day, and scored a pile of 100% wool sweaters for just a few dollars.  Our local store has a "bargain room" where all clothing is sold for $1.39 per pound.  You've got to be willing to dig, but if you have time, it's worth it.

Adult sizes work best, as you get a larger piece of wool to work with...

Lay the sweater out flat, and cut out either the front or the back.  You want to cut off the waist band and cut around the seams, ending up with a large, relatively rectangular piece of wool.

Then begin cutting in a spiral, starting at the outside edge.  I like to cut a spiral about 1 1/2" - 2" wide.  I tried it cutting a more narrow spiral, but I like the finished look better this way.  When you get to the center, leave a small square of wool.  This will be where you begin wrapping...

Bunch that small center square into a ball, and begin to wrap as tightly as possible...

When you're finished...wrapping the wool as tightly as possible as you go...tuck the ends in wherever you can...

The ball on the bottom is what it should look like when you get to this point.  (the top ball is completely finished...just so you can see what the finished product looks like next to it)

Next...put your wrapped wool balls into an old nylon stocking as snugly as possible and tie knots tightly between them...

Then...toss them into the washing machine with some old towels or dark colors and wash in hot water.  Throw them into the dryer (still snug in their stocking) with the wet laundry and start it up.  The hot water and hot dryer "felts" or shrinks the wool and keeps the balls from unraveling.

I recommend running them through several hot wash and dry cycles, to be sure that they're completely felted and that they don't unravel in the dryer.

In the picture below, the white ball on the right is made of wool yarn.  This was one of the first dryer balls that I made, and I wouldn't recommend this method. It was harder to get the yarn to "felt", and was considerably more expensive to make...

I usually toss at least three of the dryer balls into the dryer with my wet laundry.  It shortens the drying time, and helps to prevent static.  You can even occasionally put some drops of essential oils directly onto the balls if you want a lightly scented load of laundry.  (It's a lot less expensive than fabric softener!)

I didn't wash the sweaters first, but that was a personal decision.  I figured they'd be washed in hot water soon enough and get clean that way.  If they are noticeably soiled, wash them in cold water and lay flat to dry before cutting, but don't wash them in hot water yet or they'll be felted before you want them to!

There you have it!  A simple, fun project for a cold wintry day.


  1. I thought you were going to advocate foil! Wow... I might give this a try, I get so tired of buying disposable sheets!

  2. This is a wonderful idea! I think I will try it some time soon.

  3. except for the fact that i'm allergic to wool and all that handling would make me itch like crazy! :)

  4. Yes I've heard of the wool dryer balls but had forgotten all about it. What a great way to dry clothes faster with no static cling.

    Thanks for the tutorial. It's very clear and to the point.
    The only thing, I'd hate to cut that beautiful sweater.

    Do the balls ever get musty at some point?

  5. Great idea. Thanks. Although it's not a problem for me, there are plenty out there who won't have old nylon socks to use in step two. I still like to hide my scruffy legs from the world when I wear a skirt (skirt? what's a skirt?). ;-D

  6. Thanks for the inspiration. I'm going to try it as soon as I find some sweaters.

  7. This is a project that I've been wanting to try, but haven't gotten around to it yet.
    Thanks for the information, and the 'how to's'.... I need to give them a try.
    By the way... great price on the old wool sweaters!!!


  8. I have not heard of this- it sounds like a great idea. Dryer sheets are expensive.


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