Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DIY Wool Dryer Balls

Have you ever heard of Wool Dryer Balls? I hadn't until very recently. If you don't know what the purpose of them is, they are supposed to help speed up your drying  time due to the wool absorbing excess moisture as well as a good  alternative to fabric softener as some people say they help reduce static by moving the clothes around. You can get them scented and unscented, whatever your preference is. I would guess that the majority of people who use wool dryer balls are people who cloth diaper their children as you can not use fabric softener with cloth diapers. However if you're looking for ways to cut costs wherever you can, this is one way to do that not to mention dryer sheets have chemicals in them so this is one more way to reduce the chemicals that your family is exposed to on a daily basis.

You can purchase wool dryer balls in all different colors and variations. There are many retailers that sell them online; Buddha Bunz is one option and the following are a couple of pictures of the different varieties that they carry from their website:

Colored Varieties
Custom Designed

These are all gorgeous and the custom  designed ones are super cute, however I found a really neat DIY tutorial to make them yourself  so Sheleah and I attempted to make a couple the other day. I'm just now getting around to where I can blog about them. lol.

Click the link for the tutorial that we found and used. It's from Earthy Crunchy Mama which is another blog that I enjoy.

We went to our local Joanne's in search of 100% wool; it must say something about felting. The only ones we had found that said this was the Fisherman's wool. I looked at Fred Meyer's the other day and didn't find it but found it at another one a few days later. I imagine you should be able to find it at most retailers that sell yarn. It's a little pricey, $10.99 for one bundle (I don't knit or crochet so not really sure what you call it, lol) but wool dryer balls in general are a little pricey, so I'm not too worried. It'll save in the long run.

You start with winding the yarn around your fingers about 5 times or so and then slip it off your fingers and start winding it around itself. I should have taken more pics of that process but I didn't think about it at the time. I'll try and add some in later when I make more. I think the tutorial said to wrap 4 times then turn? Honestly we just wrapped a few times and turned, without really being too stringent about it.

At first it may look like a big of a square or rectangle, that's when we started wrapping it around the corners as well (like I said, don't worry about wrapping perfectly, just wrap it to shape). At one point it looked more like an oval so I started wrapping one side and corners heavier and it evened itself out. This is the tiresome part as your fingers start to get sore. Make sure you have something entertaining to do in the meantime such as something on TV or maybe do it with a friend like I did, so you can sit and chat.

The ball I was working on and Rosalie's cute little fingers

Sheleah working on hers (Please ignore the tear in the couch. This is our worn out kids couch that we got for free from Craigslist. lol)
Eventually you start to have some pretty wool balls :0) The tutorial says to keep wrapping till you have 4 oz or till it barely fits in your hand and should be half of your yarn. This wasn't quite the case for us as we didn't have a scale and had to guess but we made them fairly big and could probably get at least 3 or 4 out of the bundle of yarn. Tie off the end of the yarn on the ball itself. You can also use a felting needle but we didn't have one and it wasn't too difficult.

This is how big my ball was
The left ball is mine, the right ball is Sheleah's. She made hers a little bigger then I did

Next thing to do is to wash the balls. Find some pantyhose (the tutorial suggested the dollar store for knee high variety) and stuff the balls in the pantyhose. You can either put multiple balls into one leg and tie a knot after each ball or cut the pantyhose, which is what we did, and tie off around it.

The tutorial said to wash the balls in a pillow case that is tied off in hot water 3 times. I had other laundry going so we thought to maybe try boiling the balls in a  large pot of water for 20 min or so and see if this would do the same thing. It would be better then using the washer 3 times with hot water.

However, It didn't work :( Oh well, now we know!

I washed them in the washer 3 times, but I skipped the pillow case part. We have an older washer and dryer so my only options was to use the hot/cold temp which meant I had to sit by and listen when the first cycle was over so I could quickly catch it before it went into the cold cycle. That kind of sucked, but hopefully I'll only need to do this one more time with the remaining balls I'm going to make.

After the 3rd hot cycle let it run on a cold cycle then pull the balls out. I actually dryed them once after also but they really weren't that wet after the spin cycle. Take off the panty hose carefully as there will be a lot of little fuzzies sticking the two together. You'll notice that it is now hard to separate a single strand from the rest of the ball. (I hope) this means it's done!

If you were wanting your balls to be scented you would find some essential oils to add at this point. I looked at Fred Meyer's for some and apparently they're having a hard time getting them from the distributor right now. One store had peppermint only and the other eucalyptus only, both scents I'm not interested in. I'll be keeping an eye out as I'm hoping to add some lavender scents to them.

Overall, they were pretty easy to make and might make a cute addition to a baby shower gift basket of some kind, especially if the mother is cloth diapering. Most of the sites I looked at recommended having 6-8 balls for maximum benefit so I need to get working on some more!


  1. Fun! We should have a craft play date sometime. Crafts for the moms, and the kids can play (since organized play dates are hard to do with little ones!) :)

    1. I've been wanting to plan something like that. Gideon just started mornings as you know and everyone always seems to do playdates then. lol. We're *hopefully* picking up our swing set on Friday as long as they got it in stock and if my hubby can get it set-up this weekend I'll plan some afternoon stuff! We also just fenced in the yard which makes it easier with the kiddos as well :0)

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