I bet some of you are thinking, "What on earth is she talking about?!" So let me tell you just what Felted Wool Dryer Balls are. I had never even heard of dryer balls until sometime last spring. I started reading about them, made them, and now I really love them! These would be a really unique and practical gift to give, plus, they are really kind of pretty. I love homemade gifts that I can use and not just have to dust or eat!
DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls are little balls of foil that you wrap in wool yarn. You then use your washing machine to "felt" the wool yarn (that means it all smooshes together and turns into felt and won't unravel). You then keep these little balls in your dryer. As they warm up and tumble around they do a couple of things. First, they reduce drying time by 15-30% (some sources said it would be up to 50% but that hasn't been the case for me), they soften clothes, and they reduce static cling. These are a great natural replacement for dryer sheets and fabric softener (both of which contain a lot of chemicals I'm not comfortable using), and they help lower your energy use (and in turn your bill!) by speeding up the drying process. DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls make drying more efficient by rolling around in the dryer. They beat against the wet clothes and make them not just clump into a ball, they absorb some of the water into the wool, and they also add extra heat. As the dryer heats up the foil centers in the balls do too.
The last little perk is that they are a fun way to add a little scent to your clothes. I stopped using drying sheets 6 or 7 years ago, but my daughter always loves it when she goes to someone's house and their linens and clothes smell nice. Ours don't stink, but they don't have any kind of perfume either. Now I can add a few drops of essential oils to the dryer balls before tossing them in with my clothes and they can add a natural scent to what I'm drying. My favorite essential oils to add are calming lavender and Citrus Bliss (that one is a citrus blend that Doterra sells, it's my favorite). So now my clothes are getting dried quicker, are coming out softer and less staticy, and they smell good. What's not to love!
I took my felt wool dryer ball making supplies over to my friend's house and we sat at the table and wrapped the yarn around again and again while we chatted and the kids played. They aren't hard to make but they take a little time. It's kind of a mindless activity so it's perfect to do while chatting with a friend or watching a show. I'm kind of in love with Fixer Upper on Netflix right now, that would be my choice if I were making another set today!
DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls
What you will need:
100% wool yarn
Pantyhose (old ones work great, they will get ruined)
1. Tear off a large piece of foil about 24 inches long. Crumple the foil into a ball about the size of a ping-pong ball.
2. Wrap the yarn around the foil again and again until the yarn ball is about the size of a baseball or small orange.
3. Trim the end of the yarn and then tuck the loose end of the yarn under some of the yarn pieces on the ball. You can use a crochet hook to pull the yarn end under some of the other yarn pieces more easily.
4. Repeat until you have 5-7 balls (this is a good amount to use in your dryer to have them work well).
5. Add one ball to the leg of the pantyhose and push it down to the toe. Tie a knot in the pantyhose close to the ball. Drop another ball into the leg and push it down against the first knot and tie another knot in the pantyhose above the second ball. You are making a pantyhose/dryer ball snake and separating the dryer balls with knots in the panty hose so that the balls aren't touching.)
6. Now it's time to felt the wool yarn. Add your dryer balls inside the panty hose and a towel or two to your washing machine. Run these through a wash cycle on the hottest setting, without any soap. You want there to be lots of room for the towels and dryer balls to swish around and rub against each other. I had my machine set on a medium water level.
7. Dry the towels and balls (still in the panty hose) on the highest/hottest dryer setting. Depending on your machines, the yarn you used, and how hot your water is, this should have felted your wool yarn. The felted yarn will look like it shrunk and smooshed itself against the rest of the yarn. When you rub your finger against it, it will feel smooth and not like little pieces of string but rather one piece. See notes about yarn recommendations. Repeat this step until the wool is felted. My friend only had to do this once at her house but I did this washing/drying step in the pantyhose 3 times.
8. When your wool is felted, remove from the pantyhose (I just carefully cut mine apart), and you are ready to use!
9. Keep your dryer balls in your dryer and let them work their magic. Add 6-12 drops of essential oils to one dryer ball before drying with clothes to add a nice scent to your clothes/linens if you'd like.
I learned a ton about wool yarn during this project! So there are two main kinds of wool yarn- fisherman's yarn and roving yarn. 100% wool roving yarn is what will work best for you, though both will work. The roving yarn has a looser structure and it felts a lot quicker (it looks fuzzy). The fisherman's yarn looks like it's been pulled a lot tighter and it was harder to get it to felt properly (it just looked like normal yarn to me). If you have a choice, find the roving kind. If you end up with the fisherman's yarn, plan on doing the felting process a few times. I used fisherman's yarn because I had no clue and my friend just happened to have the roving kind. Her balls look more like a solid mass of felted wool while mine still look like strings all wound around, though they are smooth to the touch. My skein was enough to make 7 balls but she had to use 2 to make hers. I'm not sure how much yarn you'll need because they come in so many sizes and weights, but I would plan on about a 8 ounces of yarn to make 5-7 dryer balls.
If you'd like more colors or designs, just wrap the outside of your balls with additional wool yarn, securing the ends as needed. Easy!
Here are some of the balls before the felting process. My yarn is tight and not fuzzy, but I borrowed some yarn from my friend (the dark gray) and it is fuzzy and felted really easily. Can you see the difference between the fisherman's and roving yarn?
This would make a really unique gift! You could throw in a bottle of your favorite essential oil too. I love that yarn comes in a million colors too because you can pick just the perfect color to make you happy inside. I'm all for making getting the laundry done a little happier. I hope you loved this little tutorial. Put these on your to-do list because there's so many great things to love about them.
Speaking of gifts, some of my favorite blogging friends have some other projects posted today that I think you'll love.
Bring on the holidays and all things handmade! Enjoy!