Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Homemade Dryer Balls

I love the idea of dryer balls. I have terrible allergies and sensitive skin so I prefer not having to use dryer sheets. Not to mention they can get expensive over time. My problem is that I've been trying to minimize the amount of chemicals and toxins in my home, and running my children's clothing around with a bunch of PVC plastic seemed counterproductive. So I just said "screw it," and stopped using anything. Sure my clothes were a little staticy, but it was better than wrapping my kids in a chemical suit every morning.

Then one day I was walking through whole foods and I noticed a package of all natural wool dryer balls! I was very excited about these dryer balls right up to the point when I got up to the register and found out they were $20.00. Did I mention I'm cheap? Well I am, and paying $20.00 for some balls of wool seemed pretty stupid to me.  I thought to myself, "I bet I can make these." So I came home, and ignoring me children, immediately started perusing the internet to see if I could find some information on how to make my own dryer balls, and low and behold... it was everywhere!

So for your entertainment and (hopefully) enlightenment, I have outlined the process I went through to make these dryer balls. Enjoy!

What you'll need:
  • 100% wool
  • A pencil
  • A moment of peace
  • Old panty hose, tights, or socks
  • Essential oils (optional) 
First off you will need to get some 100% wool yarn. Check the label. Some wool can be machine washed - don't use those. You want it to say "hand wash only, lay flat to dry" or something to that effect. I got mine at A.C. Moore with a 40% off coupon bringing the cost down to about $3.50 for one ball of yarn. One standard size ball of yarn will make about three dryer balls. (I had to go back and get a second one so I could finish the fourth dryer ball).

To continue, you will need your moment of peace. I say this because you can't stop rolling yarn to go wipe butts and get water for little people because it will unravel. Pick a time when you won't be pulled away too much and it will make things easier.




To start, wrap the yarn around your fingers like so.




Once you've gone around a number of times (4 or 5), remove the circle of yarn and wrap the yarn around the middle a few times so it looks like a bow.












Then, fold it over and start wrapping the yarn around the center to start the ball.











 Continue wrapping it around and around so you make a ball-like shape about two inches wide. Warning: your hands will get tired and crampy.
I found it helpful to use the multicolored yarn because it made it easier to tell where I had just wrapped the yarn.






Using a pencil, push the remaining thread down into the ball as far as possible. Push the threads back over the hole to seal it.  (Others will tell you to use a  crochet needle. This sounds great in theory, if you knit. I don't knit, or sew very well for that matter, and so I didn't want to spend money on something I would never use again. A pencil worked fine.)





I made 4 balls, but you can make anywhere from 3 to 6.




Now cut off the leg of your pantyhose (Don't try to save them. Resistance is futile).  Stuff one ball into the leg pushing it all the way to the toe. Tie a knot above the ball. Then repeat the process until your pantyhose looks like this.



Here's the important part, you need to machine wash the balls in HOT water and dry them on HIGH heat to make them felt. Basically, this means they will shrink a little and the threads will fuse a bit. I put them in with a load of sheets because I worried about towel lint getting all over the pantyhose and causing problems.

Once you take the balls out, they should feel a little tighter and the threads should stick together.

You're not done yet....

Now you have to repeat the whole process again.  This time you will need to wrap your finished ball in more wool until they are about three inches across, push the thread through with a pencil, place them in the panty hose and wash on HOT, dry on HIGH.

Remove the balls from your pantyhose and enjoy. At this point you can add a drop of essential oil to each ball before throwing them in a load to give your clothes a nice cent. Don't add a lot of essential oil. Remember a few drops go a long way.

Here are my final balls. They look more like footballs, but whatever, it really doesn't matter.

They felted nicely and stayed together in the dryer fine. I anticipate they will firm up even more with continued use. I also think they are a little small. I may add another layer of wool in the future, but I'll see how these work first.

Now here's the million dollar question... Do they work? I'm honestly not sure. My clothes came out soft and without static, but it's been a wet summer, and I haven't had much in the way of static problems. The real test will be in the winter. That's when the static is the worst around here.

The essential oils (I used lavender) did make my load smell very nice though. :)

 






Linked to: Shabby Creek Cottage

26 comments:

  1. Hi Courtney!

    Interesting. Meaning I'm not too sure. Looks like a lot of work for a lazy person... me.

    I stopped using dryer sheet years ago because of migraines. Even got sick when the neighbors used them. Now they have non scented ones. But I'm cheap besides being lazy.

    So my question is... do they soften and reduce static? Do those spiky 'rubber' balls do the same thing?

    Thanks for sharing at my party this week :)

    xoxo Bunny Jean
    Wednesdays Bunny Hop Party!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was a bit of work, but they should last a long time. Like I said, I'm not so sure how well they work. Probably as well as the plastic ones. I will be able to give a better assessment during the winter.

      Delete
    2. Hello! I used the blue spikey balls, adn they were great, except for the part where they spontaneously all cracked and flew apart and I had to pull little blue spikey ball parts (heh) out of my clothes.

      I use the unscented sheets because w/o some external force all of the cat hair will redistribute amoung clothes in the wash and then form some sort of microcsopic atomic-level bond w/ individual threads of the clothing.

      I like the idea of the wool balls, I'll try it out on my own cat ridden clothes and I'll be able to advocate for (or against) that. :) I even think I have some balls of wool yarn around the house somewhere... Just to find them...

      Delete
  2. Years ago, I used dryer sheets. I stopped when I learned they were rusting the inside of my dryer. Isn't that weird? I recall later on an appliance salesman telling us this was a problem. Now, I don't know if this is still the case, but like you've I don't like the idea of wrapping my family in chemicals. This is why I oppose dry cleaning any clothing article. I always risk it and wash these garments either by hand or on the gentle cycle. Guess what? So far, no problems. Of course, I've not tried this on a man's suit and I don't think I would just because of the enmorous expense it would take to replace one. The good news is, I don't have to be concerned about this because DH doesn't wear dress suits. lol Thanks for linking up with Wayback Wednesdays again!

    Feel free to hop over to Retro Fitness

    Have a wonderful day! ^.^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's where I am too. Unless it's leather, I'm washing it. Thanks for sopping by.

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  3. Thank you for stopping by my blog, I am following back. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is great! I need to cut down on the amount of chemicals in our house as well, it's so hard!!

    Found you on WBH, following! Look forward to more. Follow back?

    www.ugobabyfitness.wordpress.com

    thanks! Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  5. wow! This is sooooo useful!! I had no idea! Definitely pinning this! Thanks a lot!

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  6. I LOVE this idea! I hope it really works out for you when winter comes about. I'd be curious to see if they do.

    Thanks for joining in on this week's Totally Tuesday Blog Hop at Frugal Living and More! I'm now following you via GFC!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. I will definitely do some testing with these this winter an give everyone an update.

      Thanks for the follow! :)

      Delete
  7. Hey, just nominated you for an award! Hop over to my blog to grab it!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great tutorial! Thanks!
    candace@cool2craft.com

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  9. Looks great! I look forward to exploring your blog more. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much. I've enjoyed your blog as well.

      Delete
  10. new gfc follower through the hop :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! Followed you back.

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  11. These are great, Courtney! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a great idea! I've been considering dryer balls for a while now and this looks like a great DIY idea.

    I would love it if you would share this at the Smart Solutions linky party. You can link up here:

    http://theprudentpantryblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/prudent-projects-and-smart-solutions_27.html

    Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome site! Thanks so much for the invitation. :)

      Delete
  13. This is such a wonderful and useful idea! Thanks for linking up. Please come and be the first to share on my new Parade of Money Saving Tips linky!

    ReplyDelete

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