When I first started to make my home sustainable, I decided to start with greening up the household products that I use most often. After taking care of laundry detergent and dish detergent, I decided to tackle dryer sheets. I’ve never liked dryer sheets. Besides all the chemicals and the waste, I’m way too cheap to like the idea of an expensive piece of faux cloth that I can only use once.
How They Work
After a bit of research, I stumbled upon the concept of wool dryer balls, which are felted, woolen balls that you toss in the dryer with your wet clothes. They drive the water out of the clothes with their constant movement and soak up excess water during the drying process. This helps reduce drying time and gets rid of static cling. I made a few myself, and they work amazingly well. If you don’t have time to make your own, you can purchase your own here, but all you need is a bit of yarn and time, and you can make your own set of wool dryer balls for next to nothing.
You’ll want to track down several skeins of 100% wool yarn. It has to be wool, or it won’t felt properly, and you’ll just have a ball of soggy yarn. I made four dryer balls from two skeins, but you may want double this number. The recommended amount for optimum drying is eight to ten dyer balls. My clothes end up a little static-y with four, but that’s the price I’m willing to pay until I get around to making more. You may also want to consider color when choosing your yarn. If you have a more neutral wardrobe, bright colors will make it easier to fish the balls out of your fresh laundry. They do try to escape sometimes!
Once you’ve got your yarn, make yourself a cup of coffee and settle yourself in front of movie because this make take you awhile. I made my first set on a car trip. Now that you’re comfy, find one end of the yarn and wind it ten to fifteen times around your fingers. Pinch the new bunch of yarn in half and start winding around the middle to keep it from separating. Keep wrapping until you start to form a ball. Continue to wrap, alternating yarn placement to keep it round, until you reach tennis ball size. You’ll want to lock off the end of the of the yarn to keep it from unraveling. I like to use an embroidery needle or crochet hook to pull the end through a piece of the already formed ball. Repeat until you have at least four balls.
Now, you’ll place each of your soon to be dryer balls in to an old pair of nylon stockings. Tie each ball off, so that it has its own space separate from the other balls. Make sure to you a non-wool string to tie them off, or they’ll felt to the stocking, and you’ll have to cut them loose. Wash your yarn balls on the hottest setting possible with a load of towels or jeans, and then dry them on the highest setting as well. Once they’re dry, check to see if the individual fibers have matted together. You may need to run them through a couple laundry cycles before they fully felt.
There you go! Enjoy your new, chemical free, reusable laundry sheet alternative. You can either use your wool dryer balls as is, or add a drop or two of essential oils (get your own here) for a fresher scent. Have fun with your laundry, and if you have extra yarn check out this post and teach yourself to knit!