These DIY wool dryer balls are a great alternative to heavily scented store-bought dryer sheets that often contain harsh and toxic chemicals. Plus, they’re fun to make!
I’ve been using reusable wool dryer balls for a couple of years now to reduce wrinkles and prevent static cling, and I love them. They eliminate the need to use any kind of harsh chemicals to soften my laundry, they’re more environmentally friendly than a dryer sheet, and they’re definitely cost-effective. If you’re used to using Downy, Bounce, Seventh-Generation, or Snuggle in your laundry, you’ll enjoy this wallet-friendly and eco-friendly switch.
One set of dryer balls will last indefinitely, so you’ll never need to buy dryer sheets again… unless, of course, your dryer balls seem to bounce away and go missing in the laundry room like mine have from time to time. I purchased my old set, but when I needed some more, I decided it made sense to just make my own to toss into the dryer with our wet clothes and towels since they’re so easy to put together. You can buy dryer balls of all kinds, but the best wool dryer balls are the ones that you make yourself.
See also: The Laundry Basket in the Trunk Trick
Basic Supplies and Tools Needed
- 100% wool yarn ball
- An old pair of stockings
- An old wool or non-wool sweater that you can cut up (optional, one that has already begun to unravel is a good candidate)
That’s it! One regular-sized wool ball should make about 3-4 felted wool dryer balls, about the size of tennis balls, if you use the same method that I used. Three-four is about the perfect number to use with a regular load of laundry that will fit in most home dryers. One ball alone won’t really do much of anything, so be sure to sit down with a good show or playlist and make a few.
More essential laundry day tips: How to Fold Sweaters for Easy and Tidy Stacking
How to Make Homemade Wool Dryer Balls
We’ll start off with an optional step. This will make the whole process easier, but it’s definitely not necessary. This is what I did though.
Start off by cutting a piece about three to four inches long off of the sleeve of an old sweater. The type of fibre that the sweater is made from won’t affect how well your dryer ball works to fluff drying laundry, so don’t worry about that. This is just adding bulk and making it easier to wrap your wool into a ball shape. The sweater I used was an old wool sweater I had that I accidentally shrank a couple of years ago.
Fold the sweater sleeve piece up and tightly tie the end of the wool yarn around it. Start wrapping really tightly with your wool, beginning to encourage the sweater to go into a roughly round shape.
OK, now keep wrapping and wrapping and wrapping, covering up all of the sweater piece.
Then wrap some more, covering all sides of the ball until it starts to be a really nice round shape.
Repeat these steps until you’ve made enough dryer balls.
Another clever dryer use: The Curtains in the Dryer Trick
Finishing the Laundry Balls
The last thing you’ll need to do is to wash the dryer balls in a hot water wash-cycle so that the yarn will all become felted together and the balls will hold their shape as they bounce around in your dryer.
To do this, cut a leg off of one of the stockings. I used this fancy patterned one because it was on clearance. 🙂
Put your dryer balls into the stocking and tie a knot on each side of each dryer ball so they’re held in place within the stocking.
Wash them in their stocking on a hot cycle with a hot rinse as well in your washer, either alone or with a load of laundry. You can use laundry detergent or laundry soap in your washing-machine like a normal load of laundry without issue. Tumble dry the dryer balls on a hot setting to finish the felting process.
Untie one end of your stocking and take a look to see if your dryer balls look sufficiently felted to maintain their shape. If not, throw them in the next load of laundry again!
See also: Top Ten Ways to Make Laundry Day Better
How to Use Wool Dryer Balls in Your Laundry Routine
Use your wool dryer balls in place of dryer sheets or fabric softener sheets when you dry a load of laundry. They act as a natural fabric-softener and will add softness to your laundry on their own without residue. They’ll even help it dry a little faster by fluffing things up as they bounce around.
Did you know that you can also use white vinegar to soften fabrics? This is a surprising but easy solution if you don’t need to worry about static cling.
If you like to freshen your laundry with a nice, fresh scent, add about 3-4 drops of essential oil of your choice to one or two of your dryer balls before throwing them into the dryer to prevent odors. Fresh smelling essential oils with a fragrance like lavender or eucalyptus are particularly lovely in a load of laundry. You can also leave them unscented if you prefer, of course.
Wool balls for your dryer don’t need any special cleaning or maintenance other than what they get automatically when you use them in your laundry routine, so they’re pretty much a maintenance-free solution.
For another easy alternative: You Can Use What?! Instead of Dryer Sheets?
Have you ever made your own wool dryer balls? Did you make them this way, or did you do it a bit differently?
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.