Felt Dryer Balls

dryer ball core

I knew before Buddy was born that I wanted to wash his clothes in something that didn’t have quite as many chemicals as traditional laundry detergent. I started using All Free and Clear to prep his clothes before his arrival and continued to use that his first year. I then made the decision to switch to homemade laundry detergent using this powder detergent recipe. I didn’t use dryer sheets because of the chemicals, but his clothes came out with a lot of static in the winter. I searched for chemical free alternatives and all the felt dryer balls I found were very expensive. I finally found this tutorial on how to make them yourself. I did make some changes to the beginning so that I wouldn’t have to use as much yarn. You will need 100% wool yarn, crochet needle, pantyhose, and wool sweater. Make sure your yarn isn’t treated in any way or it will not felt.  I purchased the yarn at Michaels using a 40% off coupon. I bought a grey sweater and red sweater at Goodwill for $1.50 and $3 each.

First, you will need to cut your sweater into strips. You can do any size, but mine were about an inch wide and 6 inches long. You will wrap these around each other to make the core of the ball. I used 3 strips, but you can use more if you want to make a larger dryer ball. Mine will be a little bigger than a tennis ball when finished.

dryer ball core

Then take your yarn, wrap around and tie a knot to hold the strips together so you can begin to wrap.

core with yarn tiedIt will not be in the shape of a ball, but that’s ok. Once you begin wrapping it around it will begin to shape up. I usually just go in a clock wise motion around the strips of sweater so it will squish into the ball shape. Once I had a decent covering with the yarn it was about the size of a golf ball.

core with yarnJust continue to wrap the yarn until it is completely covered and to your desired size. I make mine a little larger than a tennis ball. They will be a bit smaller after washing. Then, you will take the crochet needle with yarn threaded through and pass through the ball. Don’t go right through the center. It will not go through the sweaters. Just go far enough in that it will hold the end of the yarn through the washing process.

dryer ball with needleCut off the remaining yarn.

I promise this is a little bigger than a tennis ball. I have really small hands!

I promise this is a little bigger than a tennis ball. I have really small hands!

Now you will put them in the panty hose. You will tie a knot in between each ball. Otherwise, you will have a felted mess. I didn’t use dental floss or thread because it kept slipping whenever I tried that. You could do this and reuse the panty hose for more dryer balls, but I thought the 33 cents for knee highs was worth saving myself the frustration. I just cut them out. You will wash the dryer balls on the hottest setting. I tried them with and without a regular load of laundry. They felted much, much better when they were in with some other things. I think the agitation helps.

dryer ball in hoseI was able to fit 5 or 6 into each knee high at this size. After washing, put them in your dryer on the hottest setting as well. You now have pretty, felted dryer balls!

felted dryer ball

I was able to make 6 or so balls of this size using the sweater core. My sweater was 100% wool, although I’m not sure this is necessary since it will be covered by the yarn. I just figured it wouldn’t hurt and didn’t want to chance it. I also made a set for darks using a dark brown yarn. You will get some pilling and lint on them, but you can use a sweater stone to remove most of it. Dryer balls are a great way to keep static away without chemicals. They also seem to cut back on dryer time for many people, but I didn’t notice this with our dryer.

I think this would be a super cute craft for the fall. You could make a few from different colors and put them in a wood bowl on the coffee table, or in a glass vase on the mantle. They are so easy, earth friendly, and cute!