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How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

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Learn how to make your own wool dryer balls, tips for the felting process, how to use and care for them, how to scent your laundry with essential oils and more.

Yarn ball being trimmed off displayed above three fully felted wool dryer balls.

Wool dryer balls are a natural alternative to the harsh chemicals often found in liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets. I’ve been using them in my clothes dryer since 2012 and will never go back.

While I first purchased some to use, I decided to try making my own with 100% wool yarn. It was a good choice! They work just as well as the ones I bought and they were more affordable to make than buy.

Follow this easy tutorial to learn how to make your own DIY Wool Dryer Balls. It’s a fun way to make something practical that will get years of use in your home.

Supplies and Tools

  • 100% Wool Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Yarn Needle
  • Nylon Stockings
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Washing Machine & Dryer

By the Numbers: How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

Follow these simple steps to learn how to make your own dryer balls to reduce static cling and laundry drying time.

Step 1: Wind Wool Yarn Into Loose Balls.

Start by loosely winding the yarn into large balls (slightly larger than tennis balls). It is very important that you wind the balls loosely because that allows the fibers to felt more easily in step 4. The exact size of your ball isn’t important, but it’s better to go with a larger size since small wool dryer balls get lost in the laundry a lot more easily than larger ones.

Gray wool yarn being woven into a dryer ball

Step 2: Cut Yarn Tail.

Once your yarn ball has reached your desired size, the next step is to cut the end of the wool yarn, leaving a tail that is a few inches long. Thread that tail onto your yarn needle and weave the tail back through the ball several times to lock the end in place. Cut any remaining tail yarn to where it’s flush with the ball.

Cutting the yarn tail once the wool yarn balls have been formed

Step 3: Knot Wool Balls Into Panty Hose.

Slide the ball of yarn all the way to the toe of the nylon stocking. Knot the stocking so that the first yarn ball is completely surrounded by stocking.

One wool dryer ball tied into the end of nylons

Slide the next yarn ball in as far as it will go and tie another knot. Repeat this process until all balls are knotted into stocking cocoons.

Step 4: Felt Wool Balls in Hot Water.

Wash the worm of wool balls in very hot water with your regular laundry detergent. If you use cold water, they won’t felt. You can wash the balls with your regular laundry so you’re not wasting water or electricity.

Four wool dryer balls tied up into nylons before being felted

Send the balls through several wash and dry cycles (both on high heat) for best results. Since wool isn’t typically machine washable, the hot water and the soap will cause the wool to felt onto itself, meaning that the ball of yarn will become a solid ball that will not unravel.

Side note: I like to save up all of my dirty towels and blankets to wash on one day. That way I can wash the wool balls on hot with each load of towels. I can’t do the same with all of our clothes so it makes the felting process easier.

Step 5: Remove Felted Balls from Stocking.

It’s time to carefully cut your homemade wool dryer balls out of the stocking.

Dryer ball cut out of the nylon - it's fully felted now

If the wool doesn’t look completely felted (solid), go ahead and tie the balls into another stocking and repeat steps 3-5 with another load of towels or clothes or two.

Step 6: Use Wool Dryer Balls.

Once the wool balls are completely felted, you can begin using them in all of your dry cycles.

Three gray wool dryer balls.

Tips for Making Wool Dryer Balls

Answers to all of your questions about making and using felted wool yarn dryer balls.

1. Benefits of using natural wool dryer balls?

If you’re new to the concept of dryer balls, you’re probably wondering about their benefits, which are many!

  1. Wool dryer balls take the static cling out of your clothes and towels, taking the place of wasteful dryer sheets.
  2. It takes less time for a load of laundry to dry, which can save on electricity costs.
  3. Dryer balls soften clothes as they dry, replacing the harmful chemicals often used as ingredients in liquid fabric softeners.
  4. They’re a better choice for sensitive skin since you can reduce the use of chemicals in your laundry.

2. How to use wool dryer balls?

All you have to do is put at least 3 (more is better – I have about a dozen of them!) of these wooly wonders in with each dryer load to reap all the benefits they have to offer your clothing and household linens.

3. How use essential oils with wool dryer balls?

If you’re worried that you’ll miss the scent of dryer sheets, simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oil right onto the wool dryer balls and toss them in with your clothes for the last 10 minutes of the drying cycle.

A lot of people do this at the start of a load. It works best if you add the oils only during the last 10 minutes or so of drying. Otherwise the heat will destroy the scent. You don’t want that if you’re trying to save money with your choices.

I like the fresh scent of peppermint and lavender essential oils in my laundry, but you can choose any scent you like.

Pro tip: If you have rubber or plastic dryer balls, please do not use essential oils on them.

4. Why felt the wool dryer balls?

While a lot of people don’t felt their DIY wool dryer balls, I find it’s an important step you won’t want to miss. Felted wool dryer balls last longer than unfelted wool dryer balls, and they are a lot less likely to fall apart once the wool is felted.

That’s because the felting process essentially binds all of those strands of yarn together so they can’t come unwound. You’re wasting your money on wool if you’re not felting it.

5. How to store wool dryer balls?

As far as storage goes, we keep ours in the clothes dryer. Some end up in baskets in the laundry room for a bit, but since we have a dozen of them, there are pretty much always a few wool balls stored in the dryer ready to use.

6. Can you use old wool garments instead of new yarn?

Some people enjoy making homemade dryer balls with the yarn from an old wool sweater. You can only use wool sweaters and not ones made from other types of yarn like acrylic yarn. Acrylic and other synthetic materials won’t felt like wool.

Some people also like to use wool roving rather than yarn as they find it felts easier, making it a good choice for new crafters. You use the exact same process as using yarn, so if you have roving on hand or have been struggling with yarn, try it with that.

7. How much do dryer balls cost to buy or make?

If you purchase wool dryer balls, they can cost you up to $10 each (although the price is becoming more affordable as more companies are making and selling them).

If that’s more than you’re willing or able to spend, or you just like being crafty around the home, you can easily make your own for around $2.50 each using my tutorial. If you have a more affordable source for wool yarn, your cost may be lower.

8. Where to find inexpensive wool yarn?

If you’re looking at worsted wool yarn and thinking it’s too pricey, try looking at a local thrift store. I find they often have a craft section, making it a great way to find things like yarn someone bought and never used for a very affordable price.

If you can’t find a skein of wool yarn at a thrift shop, I like to buy direct from Lion Brand Yarn. Be sure you’re choosing 100% wool yarn as they also have wool blends that won’t felt right. Their Fisherman’s Wool Yarn is the best!

9. Buy Instead of DIY.

If this is the first time you’re learning about wool dryer balls, you many not be sure you want to invest the time, energy and effort into making them.

If you’d rather buy a set of new dryer balls, Dropps has a great set of four XL Dryer Balls they say will last for 10,000 loads for only $29. They’re high quality and larger than most other brands is why they last so long.

They also have a natural laundry products delivery service where you can have your natural laundry detergent, fabric softener, oxi booster and whatever else you need delivered on a schedule.

3 wool dryer balls on a patterned tablecloth

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

Learn how to make the best homemade wool dryer balls to reduce static cling and laundry drying time.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour
Felting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

Supplies

  • 100% Wool Yarn
  • Nylon Stockings or Panty Hose

Tools

  • Washing Machine & Dryer with normal detergent
  • Scissors
  • Yarn Needle

Instructions

  • Wrap yarn loosely into balls that are a bit larger than the size of a tennis ball. If you don’t do it loosely, you’ll have trouble with the felting process.
    Gray wool yarn being woven into a dryer ball
  • After your ball of yarn is large enough, cut the yarn, making sure to leave a tail that’s a few inches long. Thread the piece of yarn onto your yarn needle and weave the tail through the ball several times to make sure the end is secured into the ball. If there is any of the tail left, trim it down to where it’s flush with the surface of the ball.
    Cutting the yarn tail once the wool yarn balls have been formed
  • Insert the yarn into the toe of the stocking. Knot the stocking so that the first yarn ball is completely surrounded by stocking. Repeat with each of the yarn balls you made until they’re all tied into the stocking.
    One wool dryer ball tied into the end of nylons
  • Put the knotted balls into your washing machine with one of your loads of laundry and run through one wash cycle in hot water. Dry in the dryer with your wet clothes using hot air (not low heat). For best results, repeat this process with your DIY dryer balls for a few loads of laundry to ensure they’re felted.
    Four wool dryer balls tied up into nylons before being felted
  • Once you believe you’ve repeated this process enough times, cut the balls of wool out of the stocking. If you don’t have a solid ball now, go ahead and tie the balls into another stocking and repeat steps 3 and 4.
    Dryer ball cut out of the nylon - it's fully felted now
  • If the wool balls are completely felted, you can begin using them in your clothes dryer.
    Three gray wool dryer balls.

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