Between cutting your laundry drying time in half and eliminating the need for fabric softeners and dryer sheets, the benefits of dryer balls make DIY dryer balls an attractive project by any measure! Adding a few wool balls to your dryer can cut drying times by 25-50 percent, making them one of the most frugal laundry hacks out there.
I’m such a fan of them that I made my own set of wool dryer balls that you can buy online in my shop! For those who would rather DIY than buy, never fear, because I’m sharing not one, but two easy ways to make them in this post. Whether you make them using wool or old socks, these simple dryer balls DIY projects are bound to be your new favorite homemade laundry product.
The sock dryer balls are not only great if you’re allergic to wool, but it’s a great way to use any orphan socks you have lying around, or an old pair of socks you don’t wear anymore.
How Do Dryer Balls Work?
Using wool dryer balls when drying your clothes helps separate the clothing, resulting in better air circulation and faster drying. The more balls you add, the more space you create, and the faster the whole load will dry. Dryer balls can also soften your clothes through gentle friction as the felted wool balls bounce against your clothes.
Felted wool dryer balls are simple to make and long-lasting, but if you don’t want to buy wool, you can make dryer balls out of old socks, too. Some people use rubber balls, plastic balls, or even tennis balls in the dryer, but both of the DIY options below will bounce around more quietly than any of those noisy alternatives!
How To Make Wool Dryer Balls Using Wool Yarn
- Skein of 100% wool yarn (or unravel an old wool sweater)
- Pantyhose or nylon stockings
- Embroidery floss or scraps of acrylic yarn
Step 1 – Form The Yarn Balls
To start your DIY dryer ball, take the loose end of the yarn and wrap it around your fingers about 20 times. Next, slip the wrapped yarn off your fingers, then wrap the yarn around that section about 20 more times to secure it.
Pinch the beginnings of the yarn ball together and continue wrapping more yarn around it, making sure to wrap it nice and tight. Once you have a round ball of yarn about the size of a tennis ball, cut the yarn and tuck the end under some of the other strands of yarn to secure it.
You should be able to make at least 3 dryer balls out of one skein of natural wool yarn.
Step 2 – Felt The Wool
The next step in the process is “felting” the wool, which involves using high heat to fuse the fibers together so the balls won’t unravel over time. (For everything you’re supposed to do when caring for wool fabrics, you’ll be doing the opposite here!)
Start by placing one of your yarn balls into the toe of a pair of pantyhose or stockings, then tie the opening closed with a piece of embroidery floss or acrylic yarn. Continue placing yarn balls into the hose and trying them off with floss or yarn until you have a pantyhose “snake” full of dryer balls.
Toss the whole thing in your washer and start a wash cycle on the hottest water setting. When the wash cycle is done, dry the dryer ball snake in your dryer on a high heat setting.
After washing and drying, the fibers will have fused a bit, and each of your homemade wool dryer balls will feel smoother and tighter. They will continue to get smoother and tighter as you use them. (They may also get slightly smaller, but that’s totally normal!)
How To Make Dryer Balls Using Old Socks
- Old cotton or wool crew socks (2 per dryer ball)
Starting at the toe, roll up one of the socks as tightly as possible. Place the rolled sock on the toe of a second sock, then roll it up tightly around the first rolled sock to make a ball. When you reach the top of the second sock, fold it back over the rolled socks to hold them together.
That’s all there is to it! Since this method relies on the elastic of the socks to keep the ball together, the tighter you roll the socks, the better off you’ll be.
How To Use Your DIY Dryer Balls
Add 1-4 of your DIY dryer balls to your dryer along with your laundry and dry as usual.
You can also add a couple of drops of essential oils to the balls beforehand to infuse your laundry with a pleasant scent. (I like to add a couple of drops of Simple Clean Essential Oil Blend to my dryer balls — it makes my clothes smell so nice!)
To help reduce static cling, try adding a few drops of liquid fabric softener to each ball before putting them in the dryer, or add a safety pin to one of the dryer balls.
How To Recharge Wool Dryer Balls
When wool dryer balls start to look shaggy, use a lint roller or fabric shaver to remove loose wool and lint buildup. If the balls start losing their shape or getting soft, you can “recharge” them by placing them in a pot of water, bringing it to a boil, then removing the pot from heat and leaving the balls in the water until it cools.
Another way to recharge your dryer balls is to zip them into a mesh laundry bag and wash them in hot water (gentle cycle, no detergent or fabric softener) to cause the wool to shrink and firm back up. After washing, dry the balls on high heat or let them air dry for a few days.
Unfortunately, not even the best-kept dryer balls will last forever! You’ll know your dryer balls are ready to retire when recharging them only helps for a short time. (They can still be useful after retirement, too — you can always pull them apart and use the wool for other projects!)
Have you tried making your own dryer balls?