DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls

Here’s a quick and easy project to help “green-up” your laundry: felted laundry balls.  They’re non-toxic, save energy, and can be composted when you’re done with them!

But why would you want to use balls of wool instead of your usual dryer sheets?  Commercial dryer sheets often contain harmful chemicals that attach to clothing allowing them to enter your body as you wear your clothes.

Healthy Living How To lists the 7 most common chemicals found in dryer sheets:

1. Alpha-Terpineol causes central nervous system disorders. Can also cause loss of muscular coordination, central nervous system depression, and headache.

2. Benzyl Alcohol causes central nervous system disorders, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, central nervous system depression, and, in severe cases, death.

3. Camphor on the US EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Central nervous system stimulant, causes dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles, and convulsions.

4. Chloroform on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Neurotoxic and carcinogenic.

5. Ethyl Acetate on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Narcotic. May cause headaches and narcosis (stupor).

6. Linalool causes central nervous system disorders. Narcotic. In studies of animals, it caused ataxic gait (loss of muscular coordination), reduced spontaneous motor activity, and depression.

7. Pentane causes headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapors causes central nervous system depression.

Gross.

And while it’s true that you’re not drinking or eating them, you are still wearing clothes every day. Why not use an alternative to these at least some of the time?

And truly, there are even more benefits apart from the avoidance of these chemicals:

  • Decrease drying time and therefore save money on utility bills
  • Reduce landfill waste as they can be reused for many years and then composted
  • Save money with one less thing to buy
  • They don’t reduce the absorbency of towels or cloth diapers the way commercial softeners can
  • Increase fluffiness and reduce static
  • Soften clothes
  • Made from a renewable resource
  • Can be scented as you wish with essential oils

They’re also pretty easy to make.  You just need to make sure you find yarn that is 100% wool so that it actually felts. I used Fishermen’s Wool.

IMG_5207Next, you’ll need to make several yarn balls.  I got a little over 4 out of this skein.

  1. Wrap the yarn around your thumb and first finger several times to get the ball started.
  2. Slip this off your fingers and fold it in half.
  3. Begin winding yarn around this to form a ball.  Wrap a few times in one direction before moving on to another direction.
  4. Tuck the tail of your yarn under several other strands to form a ball.  Four is a good amount to make.

yarn ballsNext you’ll need to begin the felting process.  Felt is just wool that has been treated with heat.  So, we’ll run these balls through a hot wash and the dryer to get them started.

To make sure they don’t felt together, put them into pantyhose and separate them from one another with thread.

IMG_5152

Wash the balls in a load of laundry that is done HOT, and then dry them in a HOT setting on your dryer.  The first time they come out, they’ll have started the felting process, but they’ll continue to felt as you use them longer.

IMG_8411They’ll also shrink as they felt.  You can add additional layers of yarn if you want them larger.  You can also add a few drops of essential oil onto them so that they lightly scent your clothes (lavender adds a nice touch).

One word of warning.  You’ll notice there are only 3 balls in the photo above (I made four in this batch).  Keep an eye out for the yarn ball bandit. She strikes in the dead of night.

yarn ball bandit pipeHappy felting!

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8 thoughts on “DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls

  1. My daughter told me about adding a yarn ball to the dryer so I am sharing this with her. I don’t think she ‘felted’ hers. I am going to try this myself. Dryer sheets are not only full of chemicals but run into some serious change, too :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: My Week on Wednesday… January 15 » Once Upon a Time in a Bed of Wildflowers

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