Thursday, 20 January 2011

DIY Dryer Balls - With Tut!

Have you seen dryer balls? They're an alternative to the normal dryer sheets we've all been using. There are lots of reasons to use them:

  • They're not full of the nasty chemicals dryer sheets are.
  • They're more economical since you can use them over and over again.
  • They dry your clothes faster so your electricity bill is cheaper.
  • They make your clothes super soft.
  • Did I mention you can use them over and over? That means you're not throwing away a dryer sheet every time you do laundry which means you're not cluttering up the Earth with your waste!

This was my first attempt at making my own dryer balls:

Not very pretty, huh? I learned something very important about making dryer balls: Pick 100% wool yarn. (Or any other yarn that will felt well. The yarn I used was only 30% wool and... Well, yeah. You can see what the problem is. Plus, they don't work quite as well.

If the yarn says "machine washable," give it a miss. (Well, maybe buy it but use it for something else...)

You're also going to need some nylons or a pair of socks. I only had knee highs and they worked just fine.

So, after you've bought your 100% wool yarn and you've dug out an old pair of nylons, you can get started making your own dryer balls.

Step One: Start your balls
Okay... If you don't know how to make a ball out of yarn, you don't deserve to touch it. Tell your yarn-loving, knitter friend that you'd like some dryer balls and she'll make them for you. Promise.

The skeins I bought for this project were quite small - incidently they were only 70% wool but I could tell by the look of them that they would felt pretty well - so I started the balls with some scraps of other yarn, just to make them a bit bigger.

If you want your balls to be nice and lovely smelling (No pun intended - Oh, who am I kidding? EVERY pun intended.) start with a sachet of lavender or other pretty smelling dried flower in the middle. Obviously the smell will eventually fade eventually but that's just an excuse to make more, right?

Step Two: Finish off your balls
If you've got a tapestry needle, like I did, use that to run the tail of the yarn through the ball to keep it from unravelling in the wash. If you don't have a tapestry needle, just use a very small crochet hook. If you don't have either of those, put the yarn down and step away.

Step Three: Stuff your hose
Once you've finished your balls, you need to put them in your nylons/socks. Tie a knot in the open end. Obviously, you can fit quite a few balls in a normal pair of hose so make as many as you please and tie them all up together.

You don't have to go nuts with the balls, of course. (Sorry... I just can't help myself.) You really only need two balls, which you'll use together for each load. I made three because I liked the yarn and couldn't decide which to buy.

(You'll have to ignore my nasty, stained, scarred worktop. It's embaressing, I know.)

Step Four: Whack 'em in the wash
Just toss the balls in the wash and wait. If you simply can't wait and you want to get them done quicker, put them in a hot water wash.

You may have to do this bit two or three times to get the right felted look. If the balls shrink too much, you can just add more yarn to make it bigger again. Try to start out with balls about 8-10 inches, that should be plenty big enough.

Step Five: Pull out your balls
Your balls should be done and ready to use!

Use two balls each time you dry a load of laundry and, in between loads, put them in a windowsill to keep them dried out.

Three balls cost me £12. I probably wouldn't have spent that much if I'd been making them for me but then, I would have only made two so that would have been £8. I suppose you could just go and buy a set from JML or something for a tenner but where's the fun in that? Also, a lot of the dryer balls on the market are made from PVC which, if you didn't know, can be extremely harmful to both you and the environment.


  1. I am excited you made a tutorial for dryer balls. My mom gave me a pair of these when I was at college. They work well, but I love d.i.y. ideas; I will definitely be making these to decrease my yarn stash!

  2. I think this will be a nice intro into the wonderful world of felting! Thanks for the awsome tute! I can't wait to make these!!!

  3. I should have added "stash busting" to my list of positives! :)

    If you make them, be sure to post pictures!


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