How to Make Wool Dryer Balls by Betsy Jabs

Choosing Your Yarn

Finding the right yarn is the most critical part of making these wool balls. Look for 100% wool yarn. Most hobby stores sell it, or you can purchase it online.

Note: Stay away from any wool labeled “superwash” or “machine washable.” This type will NOT felt.

I have successfully used many types of wool yarn to make felted wool dryer balls, but I prefer the thick, lightly spun roving yarn (pictured in beige below). It felts much better than the Fishermen’s Wool or the other tightly spun wool yarns.

If you want to be really thrifty and “green,” unravel an old 100% wool sweater you’re not wearing, or purchase wool sweaters at a second hand store and use the yarn for this project (or other projects). If you use a yarn with even the slightest bit of acrylic or other blend, your balls won’t felt correctly, if at all. If they are not felted, they will unravel in the dryer and you’ll have a stringy mess.

I like to use brightly colored yarn so I can easily separate the dryer balls from my clothes when coming out of the dryer. I haven’t had trouble with colors from the yarn balls bleeding onto fabrics, but you can choose lighter colors of yarn if you’re worried about this.

You Will Need:

skein of 100% wool yarn (NOT wool labeled “superwash” or “machine washable”)
scissors
pantyhose
blunt-tipped needle or crochet hook
string or cotton/acrylic yarn (to secure the wool ball in the pantyhose)

1. Begin wrapping your wool yarn around your first two fingers about 10 times.

2. Pinch the bundle of yarn in the middle and pull off your fingers. Wrap more yarn around the middle of this bundle.

3. Wrap yarn around the entire bundle until you have the beginnings of a ball.

4. Continue wrapping tightly until your ball is the desired size. (I make mine softball-sized to help cut drying time more, but tennis ball or baseball-sized will help save money on yarn.)

5. Use a blunt-tipped yarn needle or crochet hook to tuck the end of the thread under several layers of yarn. Pull it through and cut the end.

Repeat these steps with more yarn until you have 4-6 balls.

6. Cut the leg off an old pair of pantyhose. Put balls into the toe of the pantyhose, tying tightly in between each one with string, or cotton/acrylic yarn. (Just don’t use wool yarn or it will felt around the pantyhose.) Tie off the end. Take a few minutes to play with your yarn ball caterpillar if you like.

Felting the Dryer Balls

7. Throw the entire yarn caterpillar into the wash with towels (or a load of jeans if you used brightly colored yarn).

8. Wash in a hot wash cycle with a cold water rinse cycle. Dry your yarn caterpillar with your laundry using the hottest dryer setting.

Remove balls from pantyhose and check for felting. Some types of wool yarn will not felt well on the first try. You may need to repeat the washing and drying cycles up to 3 or 4 times. You’ll know felting has occurred when you can gently scrape your fingernail over the ball and strands do not separate.

Using your wool dryer balls

Just throw these babies in the dryer with your freshly washed clothes, and let them do their work! For regular loads, use at least 4-6 balls to notice a decrease in drying time. For large loads, use 6 or more wool balls. The more you use, the more quickly your clothes will dry.

Store your dryer balls in the dryer between uses or display them in a basket in your laundry room. (They’re pretty!)

If you want to lightly scent your laundry you can add 1-2 drops of your favorite essential oil to each ball before throwing in the dryer. If you’re using a good quality, pure essential oil, you will not have trouble with the oils spotting your clothes. (Find 100% pure essential oils here.)

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