eco-friendly dryer balls
Cleaning DIY Projects

DIY Wool Dryer Balls

Lately I’ve been getting into a cleaner and greener lifestyle. The crazy amount of chemicals I had been using in my home was starting to get out of hand. I realized I’d been relying products with words I can’t even pronounce to keep my home clean. Bad idea, I know, but honestly, I just got lazy. This year I’m vowing to decrease the amount of chemicals I use and replace them with natural and safe alternatives. One area I’m focusing on first is my laundry room. There are so many products I have in my laundry closet, and I doubt any of them are good for my skin. Today I want to share a quick and easy DIY Wool Dryer Ball tutorial in an effort to ditch dryer sheets once and for all.

diy wool dryer balls

Why Ditch Dryer Sheets?

Have you ever actually looked at the back of the box of dryer sheets? What you’ll find is a bunch of words you can’t pronounce and probably have no idea what they are. Common ingredients in these sheets include ethanol (think gasoline you put in your car), benzyl alcohol (also used in inks, degreasers, glues, and head lice treatment), and chloroform (the stuff Dexter used on his victims to instantly knock them out before he plastic-wrapped them).

Ummm, I don’t want any of that stuff on my body. Not only that, but dryer sheets add a coating to clothes that causes the threads to break down quicker and hinders towels and gym clothes from wicking up as much moisture.

Can Wool Dryer Balls Really Work?

Here’s the deal with wool. It’s a natural static reducer. You don’t have to have a square piece of toxins to make your clothes soft and static-free. Wool dryer balls are pretty heavy and sturdy (for a ball of fabric, at least) and really easy to use. By popping in three or four balls into the dryer with your clothes and linens, you’ll reduce dry time by more than 10 to 15 minutes.

These little balls of energy efficiency bounce around in the dryer with your stuff, keep them from clumping and sticking together, and allow proper and even airflow around the garmets. You end up with wrinkle-free clothes that aren’t wrapped up in a pants leg taking all afternoon to get dry.

How To Make Your Own Wool Dryer Balls

These bad boys are so incredibly easy to make, and cost way less than buying a box of premade ones. You can also customize them by making different colors. Sure, white, gray, and black are fine, but I’m a fan of pretty colors. And saving money. And knowing for sure that there’s nothing in my dryer balls other than wool.

diy wool dryer ball yarn

Here’s What You Need

100% Wool Roving Yarn, I used Paton’s brand (1 roll makes two dryer balls, with a little leftover) *Make sure the label doesn’t say “Washable” and use light colors. Avoid shades of red. 

Crochet Hook

Thin Nude Pantyhose (you can use an old pair or a cheap pair from the dollar store) *I used black and they gave the teal yarn a hint of gray hue, so I’d suggest using nude so no color transfers.

Scissors

Essential Oils (optional)

make diy wool dryer balls

Wrap Yarn Around Your Fingers

Start by wrapping the yarn around two fingers, spread apart slightly, about 10 to 12 times.

Wrap Yarn Into A Bundle

Remove your fingers from the yarn, then wrap the yarn around the middle, like you’re creating a bow. Wrap this way about 10 to 12 times also.

how to make wool dryer balls

Wrap Tightly In All Directions

Here’s the part you’ll want to get comfy for. You’ll basically just keep wrapping in all directions, very tightly, until you’ve formed a ball.

Continue To Tennis Ball Size

Keep on wrapping, around and around, in all directions until you’ve reached the size of a tennis ball.

Leave A Ten Inch Tail

Once you’ve reached tennis ball size, cut the yarn from the roll leaving around 10 to 12 inches of “tail”.

make wool dryer ball

Thread The Tail

Using the crochet hook, thread the tail through the ball in multiple places until the tail is completely inside the ball. Threading is pretty tough because the ball is super tight and the hook gets stuck sometimes. To help the process, I pushed the hook handle through a a third of the ball (instead of straight through the middle) and twisted it as I pulled the yarn through. It still gets stuck sometimes, but when you pull tight enough, you can remove the hook and pull the tail through.

Every time I threaded the tail, I’d pull it to another place of the ball and repeat.

diy wool dryer balls

Eventually the tail will be completely inside the ball. No need to tie it off, just keep threading until you have no more tail left.

Bundle Wool Balls Into Pantyhose

Remember the Diaper Genie? If you ever had one of these for your kiddos, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Basically, you put a wool ball in the foot part of the pantyhose. Then you’ll tie a knot to keep it secure. Then add the next dryer ball, tie a knot, and continue until all the dryer balls are cased up like sausages. Tie off the final one and cut off any excess pantyhose.

diy dryer balls

Wash And Dry To Set

Here’s where they really come to life. Wash the diaper genie/sausage cased/stuffed pantyhose on the hottest cycle your washing machine has. I usually throw in some towels so I can knock out a load of laundry while DIY crafting. After the cycle, dry the wool balls (still in the pantyhose) on the hottest cycle of your dryer. It’s totally fine for the towels to dry with them. After they’ve dried, you’ll repeat this process a few more times. I usually wash and dry them with our bed sheets this time. (Look at you knocking out your cleaning duties and not even realizing it!)

diy wool dryer balls

Cut The Pantyhose To Remove The Balls

As they go through a few wash and dry cycles, the yarn bonds together, which is called felting. It took mine four cycles to felt, but it may take yours less or more depending on your appliances. You’ll notice when you take them out that they look a lot different than they did when you made them. The yarn binds together and turns into a solid ball, just like the store-bought ones.

diy wool dryer balls

Ditch Your Dryer Sheets

The wool balls are all ready to go now! They can go in the dryer with anything other than delicates. If you’re missing the scent of your old dryer sheets, you can drop a few dabs of essential oils on the balls before drying to give your clothes whatever smell you prefer. These balls should last around 1000 uses, so don’t worry about holding out on them. They’re also fantastic gifts to give!

Have leftover dryer sheets? Don’t trash them! You can stash these guys in the bottom of trash cans, under couch cushions, under seats in your car, inside bathroom cabinets, and anywhere else that needs a scented boost. Just be sure you don’t put them anywhere that will come in contact with clothing or skin.

diy wool dryer balls

Ready To Give It A Try?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on wool dryer balls in place of dryer sheets. Have you used them before? Do you buy or DIY them? Any tips and tricks you’d like to share? Get the conversation going below in the Comments and let me know what you think!

And if you want more clean toxin-free ideas, check out my DIY Glass Cleaner recipe and find out why it’s so much better than the store-bought stuff. PS: It never streaks. 

these diy wool dryer balls are a great alternative to dryer sheets. They're clean, natural, and decrease laundry dry times

22 Comments

  1. You shared some great idea. Thanks for this. This post will be helpful for those who want to ditch dryer sheets.

  2. Can u use tennis balls ? Aren’t they wool?

    • Lela Burris

      Hi! Yes, you can use tennis balls, although they are better for bedding, not clothes. They’re a little harder, have a slight burnt plastic smell, and don’t decrease static. They’re a great thing to use if you only plan to utilize them when washing pillows and comforters, but for everything else, I’d suggest 100% wool balls.

  3. What an awesome idea. I am very allergic to wool, but I could wear plastic gloves for the winding process. Think I may have to check out the local second hand stores for wool sweaters to unravel for this. Much more affordable than new wool, and if it hasn’t been washed yet should work fine to make up enough for mom, daughter and still have a few for me!! Thank You!!

  4. Hello, these sound really great. Do they help with static as well? Would love a chemical free solution for static free!

    • Lela Burris

      Hi Maurita! I’ve been using them for about a month and they do reduce static quite a bit. I’ve found that 2 balls isn’t enough to reduce static, but 6 balls result in almost none at all. Much better than chemicals. The only issue is the balls bounce around loudly, so don’t plan on turning on the dryer before bedtime.

  5. This is a great idea! The newer dryers with auto dry have a sensor that can be coated by the waxy substance in dryer sheets and keep them from working properly after a while!

    • Lela Burris

      You’re so right Brenda! That residue can really cause a lot of damage to a dryer sensor and vent screen. So glad you mentioned that!

  6. Awesome idea! I have bought wool dryer balls and they are expensive! $10 for 2! This will be much better at a better cost expecially if you use a crafting store 40% off coupon! Thank you!

  7. Tina Lindsey

    What should you use if you are allergic to wool? I’m allergic to so many things that I can’t even use the Aveeno sensitive skin cream stuff! So, what can I use instead?

  8. What a great idea. This is a DIY project I will try. Thank you for posting it.

  9. These wool dryer balls seems to be great, more effective, environment friendly, good for our health and cheaper since we can create them ourselves.

    • Absolutely! They’re really great and they’re also good for keeping bed linens from getting all rolled up in the dryer. 🙂

  10. Yup, I’m now ditching my dryer sheets!!! Great idea and tutorial!!

    • Thanks so much! Please stop back by and let me know how they work out for you!

      • Connie Heimann

        Cute idea. I use washer balls too. Can’t make those. But not toxic chemicals and you can buy them online at Crystal wash. Been using them for about a year and they work great. I’m with you about not using chemicals at home or on my clothes that touch my skin

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