I had never even heard of wool dryer balls until recently. At first, I wasn’t too impressed as people using them in lieu of dryer sheets. I haven’t used dryer sheets in over twenty years, because when Tertia was born, she had severe skin allergies to everything. So I don’t use anything to soften our clothes or reduce static electricity and it hasn’t been a problem for us.
Then I read that wool dryer balls reduce dryer time, and I was suddenly very interested to learn more. I have now made some of my own and can now attest that this is indeed true, they do save dryer time! We have an over-sized washer and dryer, so a normal load for us, which would be very large for most people, takes 75 minutes to dry in our dryer. With 4-6 dryer balls tossed in, the same loads take only 60 minutes to dry (yes, I reran loads of laundry through the washer and dryer so that I could conduct a scientific test). So the wool dryer balls have reduced our drying time by 20%!
An extra, unexpected benefit, is that they also seem to keep the fitted sheets from tangling up.
In order to make these DIY wool dryer balls, I read several blog tutorials to make them,w here the blogger felted a ball of yarn. Well, not only was I not willing to sacrifice a ball of yarn, I had a lot of wool roving that I had bought several years ago that was just taking up space. So I decided to wet felt my dryer balls.
- Wool roving (all natural, non-colored, else the color may run when touching your wet laundry)
- Sink with hot water
- Pantyhose (optional)
- Washing machine (optional)
- Spread out the roving in to thin strips.
- Roll some strips into a ball, crisscrossing your layers.
- Keep adding layers, crisscrossing as you go, until the ball is about the size of a large grapefruit or small cantaloupe.
- Decide if you want to wet felt by hand or use your washing machine. (if using a machine, skip to step #9)
- If you want to felt your balls by hand, fill a sink with hot soapy water.
- Immerse your ball into the water.
- Roll the ball, just like you would if you were making a clay ball. Use very light pressure to avoid cracks and/or “dread locks”!
- Continue rolling until your ball is the desired firmness. For me, it took about 10 minutes for each ball.
- If you want to use your washing machine to make your wool balls, cut one leg off of a pair of pantyhose. Push your ball of wool down into the toe of the pantyhose and tie the pantyhose with a tight knot, continue until you have stuffed all of your wool balls into the hose. Wash the pantyhose in your washing machine, on hot. When the washing machine is done, cut open the pantyhose and viola, the balls will be felted.
- Regardless of which method you use, I found it best to then run the balls through the dryer once on their own, just because they take so long to dry otherwise and I was worried that they might mildew before I used them.
- To use the dryer balls, toss them in with your laundry when you put it in the dryer.
- Be sure not to run them through the washing machine with your clothes, as you don’t want them to end up felting on to your clothing.
- Wool dryer balls supposedly can be used almost indefinitely, though I can not attest to that yet.
- As an FYI, wool is naturally flame resistant.
Do you use dryer sheets for your laundry? If not, what alternative to do use? Have you tried wool dryer balls before? If you do use dryer sheets, why not give wool dryer balls a shot to see if you can reduce the amount of energy and time you need to dry your clothes, as well as save landfill space from dryer sheets? If you don’t want to make yourself, you can even buy wool dryer balls from Amazon.