Oftentimes, it’s far too easy to throw a dryer sheet into a machine and call it a day. While commercial fabric dryer sheets are useful for keeping our clothing and textiles smelling clean and fresh, they aren’t always the most safe or energy efficient solutions. These sheets tend to be full of toxic chemicals and ingredients that we'll never understand. Instead of reaching for the all-too-convenient dryer sheets, try making your own wool dryer balls. Infused with essential oils for a natural scent, these handmade yarn balls can separate your garments, allowing for more air circulation. As a result, the necessary drying time is shortened while your clothes are softened. The best part is that they can be re-used for multiple loads. Your wallet and skin will thank you for making the switch to these energy efficient creations!
Step 1 – Gather Materials
The first thing you’ll need to do to get started is gather your materials.
Step 2 – Wrap Yarn Around Fingers
Tightly wrap the yarn around all your fingers, except your thumb, ten times. Make sure to keep your fingers close together during this entire process and to wrap tightly and securely.
This bunch of yarn will serve as the beginning foundation for your first wool dryer ball.
Step 3 - Gather Yarn
Remove the yarn from your fingers, and gather it together.
Step 4 - Begin Forming Ball
Wrap more yard around your initial bunch of yarn. The best method for doing this is to change the wrapping direction per five to seven wraparounds. This will bring in all sides of the loose yarn and slowly form a spherical wool dryer ball.
The uneven sides may make the process feel awkward at first, but it is important to keep going.
Step 5 - Continue Wrapping
Your yarn should be starting to form a small ball. Again, you want to regularly change direction to create a nice, evenly shaped sphere.
The wrapping process is important to complete correctly because each ball must be tightly wrapped and compact in order to move around and separate clothing in the dryer. It is the most important characteristic for encouraging a shorter drying time and therefore, an energy efficient home.
Step 6 - Separate Ball From Skein
Continue wrapping until the yarn is about the size of a tennis ball. Keep in mind that the ball will shrink slightly when felted in the dryer.
Using scissors, cut the yarn to separate the ball from the skein.
Step 7 - Tuck Away or Tie the Loose End
Take the end strand, and carefully wrap it around another strand.
You can use a crochet hook if you have a difficult time tucking away the end with your fingers. The crochet hook can also be used to insert the yarn deeper into the ball. If the ball comes apart, don't worry; simply try again and re-wrap.
The end of the yarn can also be tied onto another strand to fully secure it. Again, if you’d like to do this, proceed carefully. It may seem tricky at first, but it will become easier the more you do it. A tight double knot is best.
Step 8 - Add Essential Oil
Add three to four drops of lavender essential oil directly to the ball. For a stronger scent, add five to six drops.
The lavender oil will add a light, pleasant scent to your wool dryer balls. Of course, you can use any of your favorite essential oils. Feel free to experiment and combine two essential oils for a unique touch. Lemon is ideal for a summery scent, while tea tree oil emits a relaxing, soothing aroma. Adding essential oils will eliminate the need for fabric dryer sheets, which are often full of chemicals and artificial scents.
For the best results, you can add a few drops of essential oil every one to two uses. This will keep your laundry smelling fresh and clean every time it goes through the newly energy efficient wash and dry process.
If you want to make your clothing extra soft, you can also add a few drops of vinegar
Step 9 - Create Additional Balls
Depending on how many garments you are drying, you will need anywhere from two to six balls per load. The more garments you are drying, the more balls you will need for the most energy efficient process possible. Luckily, you can’t really have too many wool dryer balls in your laundry load because they are completely natural and harmless, so don’t worry about inserting too many.
Repeat steps 1-8 as many times as needed to have a full set.
Step 10 - Insert in Pantyhose
Place the first wool dryer ball into one leg of pantyhose. Tie a tight knot and insert the next one. Repeat until all of them are in the pantyhose.
Make sure each knot is tied tightly. This will keep each unit secure while they are all washed and dried.
Step 11 - Wash and Dry
Using the hottest setting on your washing machine, wash the wool dryer balls for one cycle. Do not use laundry detergent.
After they have been washed, put them in the dryer for one full cycle. Forty minute should do the trick, but you can always add more time if necessary. Again, use the highest heat setting. This step will fuse the strands of yarn together, creating a compact, hard ball.
To diffuse the noise, you can wash and dry the wool dryer balls with towels or blankets.
Remove the wool dryer balls from the pantyhose, and enjoy your energy efficient creations!
Time: 45 mins (prep) & 1.5 hours (wash/dry) || Cost: $14