10 Second How-To

10 Second How To: Making Yarn Dryer Balls

by Maxwell Tielman

For today’s installment of 10 Second How Tos, we teamed up again with Common Good to share a simple but amazingly effective household tip—making your own dryer balls from leftover yarn! If you’re absolutely terrified of static cling like I am (yeah, I’ve got a lot of irrational fears—don’t judge), you’ve likely turned to dryer sheets and fabric softener when doing laundry. That’s all fine and good, but these products oftentimes contain harmful chemicals that are bad for the environment and your body. These handmade yarn dryer balls do the same thing but are eco-friendly, reusable, and  pretty dern cute. They also help to conserve energy by reducing your drying time. They’re pretty much all-around awesome.

To make these snazzy little laundry helpers, simply wrap a bundle of wool yarn in your fingers until it forms a small ball. Pop the ball inside of a sock, tie it up, and put it through a standard wash cycle to “felt” the ball. This will condense the yarn fibers and prevent them from unraveling. For a little something extra, you can also add a few drops of scented essential oils when you’re done to add a nice fragrance to your laundry. That’s it! Toss a few of these guys into the dryer next time you do laundry and watch them work their magic! Stay tuned next week for more 10 Second How Tos! —Max

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  • You should specify that you need to use wool yarn, since not all yarns will felt – in particular anything acrylic will not felt into dryer balls.

  • Agreeing with other Jess – this will work with non-superwash wools, not cotton or synthetic yarns.

  • Also, you need to use hot water to work well at felting. Otherwise, you could wash it many times, with very little shrinkage/felting.

  • Ditto both of the above. :) Not only will acrylic or acrylic blend yarn not felt, it can actually contribute to static.

    Also it’s generally best if you go with a natural or white yarn, since some dyes might bleed onto damp clothing.

  • I assume this this will also work with wool roving if you happen to have some… Which I do.

  • How many times can these be reused before washing again (or do they need to be discarded)? Thanks.

  • You could make your own laundry soap (recipes all over the internet) and you wouldn’t have the fabric stiffeners included in commercial products that require you to purchase any kind of softener or static remover.

  • I just made new wool dryer balls yesterday! You must use 100% wool yarn, and not all wools will felt (keep from unraveling). The balls should be about the size of a lime, and not wound to tightly, nor too loose. I made 6 of each yarn (one grey, one beige), and tied them inside the legs of an old pair of pantyhose. I snugged the hose around each ball, and tied off tightly, then stuffed the next one in and did the same, until there was a row of balls. Wash and dry your balls several times (any temp water is fine). I throw them in with every load, wash & dry, for a week or so. Then take them out of the hose and just use them in the dryer. The whole point of these is NOT to reduce static (when using wool dryer balls, it’s best to air dry those garments that produce static, slippery or silky fabrics, usually), but to REDUCE DRYER TIME. A half dozen balls per load should cut your dry time significantly.

  • From the original post I didn’t realize the balls were supposed to have a function – was that your intent? I thought they were just decorative. What am I missing here?

  • Ryn, thanks for explaining what they are supposed to do; I didn’t really understand if it was for static or for scent. Thanks!

  • I use tennis balls for the same purpose. I sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil on it and it leaves the laundry fluffy and smelling great without yucky dryer sheets. For static- keep a wire hanger around and run it over static-y clothes to discharge the energy.

  • Do I use the ball(s) in the dryer while they’re still inside the sock? Or is the sock only used during the felting process?

  • I cannot pin this, no image appears. Anyone else having this issue? Help…please & thanks.

  • Caution on using tennis balls: the weight is perfect but the only tme i tried this my clothes came out smelling like burnt rubber.

  • I get conflicting opinions whether wool dryer balls SOFTEN the laundry. I’ve been experimenting, though not with wool ones, and as best I can tell it makes the laundry fluffier and maybe softer than nothing, but still not soft the way fabric softener does. Fabric softener also seems to preserve the laundry material better so it doesn’t get holey. (Yay for clothes not getting holes.) Anybody else?

    @Ryn – agreed, dryer balls speed up drying, especially for bedding loads.

    @Jesse – Tennis balls do work great, but I didn’t realize they’d split inside and don’t bounce! But those were just for laundry anyway. I’m intrigued by using essential oils on them for scent – fun idea.

  • Awesome! We found some cute plasticy porcupines that are supposed to do this, but I noticed tiny dings in our lovely new dryer drum.

  • We recently started using an aluminum foil ball and it ABSOLUTELY works. I’m a knitter so I have yarn all over the house but the tin foil is so inexpensive that I can replace it as needed and there has been NO static! We use a ball the size of a tennis ball.

  • Do you think I could put the aluminum foil inside a dryer ball made of felt and get the same result?

  • Love these…I made them because we are trying to cut chemicals out of daily life. Plus, my 18 month old and I have sensitive skin. I’ve been using them for a couple of months and noticed that our clothes were softer (and we were less itchy) after the first use. I Have been wondering about putting the foil inside them, too…anyone try this yet?