How many loads of laundry do you do in a week? I do about seven on a typical week – more in the winter, less in the summer. Laundry takes a lot of my time, and between laundry detergent, fabric softener, and electricity costs, laundry also takes a lot of my money.
A few weeks ago, as I was adding another load of laundry to the washing machine, I stepped in a gooey mess of fabric softener left by my son the last time he did a load of laundry. On the plus side, my son did a load of laundry. On the downside, he couldn’t manage the industrial sized bottle of fabric softener, and some dripped on the floor.
I thought to myself, “There has to be a better way.”
And there is.
After a little research, I discovered felted wool dryer balls. They’re easy to make, they can be inexpensive, and they last up to five years. Can you imagine not buying fabric softener for FIVE YEARS? Yep, that sold me on the concept, too.
I made some felted wool dryer balls and have been using them for about a week now. I just love them! They work, they don’t spread chemicals over my clothing, and they don’t make an ooey gooey mess!
Is your interest piqued? Great! Let’s get started!
DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls
Before we get started, you need to make sure to purchase the correct kind of yarn. You want 100% wool. You do NOT want washable wool. I found Patons Classic Wool at Michael’s Craft Store, and it worked really well.
The list of supplies is small. You will need:
- A skein of 100% wool yarn – I found that one skein of Paton’s Classic Wool (210 yards) makes two dryer balls. (Purchase at Michael’s, using a 40% off coupon.)
- A yarn needle. (I found a two-pack at Michael’s for a couple of bucks.)
- Old pantyhose or trouser socks.
- Essential Oil (Buy organic essential oil here.)
How to Make DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls
You are not going to believe how easy this is. I made four dryer balls in a couple of hours while watching TV th other night. It’s a perfect relaxing after dinner activity.
Step 1: Wind the wool around your fingers. Wrap it around three fingers about 10 times. Carefully slide the loop off your fingers.
Step 2: Wrap yarn around the middle of your loop. Wrap the yarn about 10 times around the middle of the loop you slid off your fingers.
Step 3: Make a ball of yarn. Keep wrapping the yarn every which way until you have a shape that resembles a ball. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Keep wrapping the yarn until your ball is about the size of a tennis ball. Again, it doesn’t have to be exact.
Step 4: Secure the end of the yarn. Once your dryer ball is the right size, cut the yarn and thread the end through a yarn needle. Use the yarn needle to work the end of the yarn through the ball a few times until it’s secure.
Step 5: Make a dryer ball snake. A what??? Yes, a snake. Carefully insert your dryer ball into the leg of an old pair of pantyhose or trouser socks. Tie a string securely around the pantyhose to secure the ball into place. You’re going to have to wash the dryer balls, and you don’t want them to unravel in the washing machine. Thus the need for the pantyhose.
Repeat steps 1-5 until you have the number of dryer balls you want (I have eight). Just add each dryer ball to the pantyhose snake until you fill the pantyhose or you are finished making dryer balls.
Step 6: Wash and dry. Wash the pantyhose snakes on hot water and dry them on the highest heat setting. Repeat three to four times. During the washing and drying process, the wool will felt, fusing the yarn together so the dryer balls won’t fall apart when you use them to soften your clothing.
Step 7: Enjoy saving time and money. To use, just throw three to four felted dryer balls in your dryer with your laundry. They work by bouncing around in the dryer and spreading out the clothing, making it dry faster (and saving you money on electricity!). The bouncing action also loosens the fibers in the clothing, making them softer.
If you enjoy a light scent in your laundry, you can apply a few drops of essential oil to each dryer ball. When you don’t smell the scent anymore, add more oil.
The Cost Breakdown
Do you want to know how much money you’re saving? Me too!
A 100 fl. oz. bottle of Purex costs $4.97 at my local big box store. That’s enough for 110 loads of laundry, according to the label. At seven loads of laundry a week, I do 364 loads of laundry a year. In five years, I do 2548 loads of laundry.
That’s depressing, but moving on….
For five years worth of laundry, I would need 17 bottles of Purex. That comes to a grand total of $84.49 on fabric softener. And that’s assuming I don’t spill any. That might be a big assumption.
Now let’s analyze the dryer balls. Each skein of yarn cost me $3.59 ($5.99 at regular price, using a 40% off coupon). I used four skeins of yarn to make 8 dryer balls. That’s a total of $14.38. Eight balls is all you need, as you can use four at a time. You could get away with making only six, saving you even more.
Anyway, the total savings of using felted dryer balls over liquid fabric softener over the course of five years is….drumroll please…..$70.11! And that doesn’t include the savings on electricity, because the dryer doesn’t need to run as long.
After a week of using my felted dryer balls, I’m a convert. I don’t have to buy chemical-laden laundry detergent anymore, and I’m saving money along the way!
Have you ever used felted dryer balls? What do you think? Will you try it?