Okay, I’m going to say something that you may find sort of shocking.
Our grandmothers didn’t use fabric softener—–and we shouldn’t either.
While I love the results of fabric softener and fabric sheets—the beautiful scent, the static free clothing–I have to say that I worry from time to time about using them. They smell wonderful and they do a fabulous job—BUT—I wonder if the cons outweigh the pros in this circumstance. Softeners are expensive, they coat our dryer vents creating a potential for fire and they often contain potent chemicals like acetone (the active ingredient in nail polish remover). Our children are wearing clothes that are potentially laced with paint thinner…that’s crazy! But thankfully, there are other options. Vinegar added to the rinse helps reduce odors and stiffness in the fabric, and homemade wool dryer balls will absolutely help eliminate static in the drying cycle!
Benefits of Wool Dryer Balls
Why should you make and use dryer balls instead of fabric softener??
- They save time. The wool balls bouncing around in the dryer help to keep clothes separated and shorten the drying time.
- They save money. Dryer balls can be used hundreds of times before they’ll need replaced. Isn’t that better than running out to buy softener every week or two?
- They soften naturally. Dryer balls rub against the fiber of the wet clothes softening the clothes naturally.
- Don’t affect absorbency. Dryer balls soften without affecting the absorbency of of towels and lofty fabrics.
- Don’t affect air circulation. The same waxes and chemicals that reduce absorbency in your towels also hinder air circulating through the fabric, which can mean you sweat more!
Here’s what you need to make your own!
To make homemade dryer balls you only need 2-3 items: an old knee high or panty hose, wool and essential oils (optional). For the wool, you need 100% all natural wool; no synthetic blends, thanks! You can use 2-3 skeins of wool yarn such as Lion Brand Yarn 620-152 Wool-Ease Yarn or you can upcycle an old wool sweater by cutting it into strips of “yarn”. Either way works and either will yield 5-10 dryer balls.
Here’s how you do it!
If you’re recycling an old sweater, cut off the arms and using sharp scissors, cut a 1/2 inch strip of “yarn”, beginning at the cuff and spiraling around all the way to the top. Do the same thing with the body of the sweater til you have a lovely pile of wool yarn.
Using either your yarn or your upcycled sweater strips, you need to begin rolling the fiber into a ball. Start by winding it around 2 fingers 10-15 times til you have the beginning of a ball. Remove the fibers from your finger then begin alternately winding the yarn in opposite directions until that lumpy egg-looking wad of yarn begins to resemble a ball. Keep winding until you have a ball about the size of a baseball.
Now using a crochet hook, paint can tool or any other item with a hook, pull the end of the string under several layers of yarn. Pull up and repeat several times to “lock” the yarn into place.
Tuck the ball into the toe of your hose and tie a tight knot. Repeat for the length of the hose. Now throw the ball of yarn into the washer and dryer on hot settings with a load of laundry.
Do this several times and you’ll end up with a dense, felted wool ball. If you’d like to scent the wool balls, simply drop a few drops of your favorite essential oils and replenish as needed.
Simply toss them in your dryer with wet clothes and dry as usual. 6-8 wool balls seem to be the optimal number, but experiment and see what results in the shortest drying time and least amount of static. You may need more or you may need less, so experiment and see what works for you.
Now isn’t that just the easiest DIY project ever? Not only does it remove potentially hazardous chemicals from our home, it also shortens drying time which saves us money. Nothing wrong with that! I hope you give felted wool dryer balls and try and let me know what you think about this time, money and chemical saving project! Til next time!
Posted to the Simple Life Mom Homestead Blog Hop!