Dryer Balls: They’re a natural alternative to dryer sheets that can soften your clothes and reduce the amount of time you need to run your dryer (thereby saving electricity). By doing the job of softening clothes as well as dryer sheets and saving electricity, they outperform them. Money can be saved in two ways: no longer having to buy dryer sheets, and reducing kilowatt hours.
I first learned of dryer balls from the post of a fellow blogger. I thought they were a clever idea, and I began searching for instructions on how to make them. I found tutorials on Pinterest and decided to try my hand at making them, but first, a quick explanation of the concept behind the idea.
What is felted wool?
Felted wool is wool that has literally stuck to itself. Lamb’s wool has a natural tendency to mat, due to the fact that it has microscopic scales along the fiber shaft, that when immersed in water and subjected to pressure, hook onto one another, creating the fiber we currently recognize as felted wool. Here’s a definition with a visual example.
To get started, you’ll need to buy a skein of 100% wool yarn. You don’t want to buy superwash wool because it won’t felt when put through the washing machine. I used Paton’s Classic Wool Worsted, which I have experience with from knitting a balaclava, and know for a fact will felt when washed. Roving will work also, just make sure to steer clear of superwash wool.
To begin, just wind a yarn ball. The size is up to you. I made mine about. 2 in.(5cm) in diameter.
Then, after you’ve completed step one, you have to set the balls up to be put through the washing machine a few times. They have to be separated from one another, and at the same time contained, so that they don’t become unraveled while in the washer. I used a stocking for this, making a knot between each ball. so that they remain separate.
Now all you have to do is a few loads of laundry. It takes 3-5 loads of washing and drying to felt them. Here’s what they look like when removed from the stocking:
I tried to show the effect that you’re looking to see when the wool has been felted correctly. The stocking should need to be peeled away from the ball. Here’s another pic:
And that’s it! Now they can be stored in the dryer and used with every laundry load to soften clothes and save electricity. Exactly how much dryer time can be saved? I’d say that I’m able to set the dryer for 10 mins. less per load, and with the dryer being one of the top energy consumers in a house, every little bit helps.