Now that I am making my own laundry detergent, I felt the need for a more natural alternative to fabric softener and dryer sheets. Meet the felted wool dryer ball! Not only do they soften your clothes, they also cut down on laundry drying time and reduce static electricity. And they are oh-so-simple to make!
Start out with full skeins of 100% wool yarn (not the machine washable variety). Roll it tightly into balls at least the size of tennis balls. Since I am a knitter, I used yarn from my stash. If you don't have a stash, find some coupons and hit your local Michael's or JoAnn Fabrics. Patons Classic Wool Roving works especially well, but you can also use regular worsted weight wool.
Using a largish crochet hook, pull the end of the yarn tightly a few wraps and snip off the end.
Next, cut the leg off an old pair of pantyhose. Feed your balls through one at a time and tie in between them using acrylic yarn (don't use your wool here!)
Then throw your yarn ball snake into the washing machine along with a load of towels. Wash in HOT water and dry using the HOTTEST setting on your dryer. Repeat this process once or twice, until your wool yarn balls have felted - meaning the strands will no longer separate when you rake your fingers across them. Aren't they pretty?
Adding a couple of drops of essential oil to each ball will add a light fragrance to your laundry. So will these orphan sock dryer balls! Yes, here is a way to use those mismatched socks that haven't had a mate in years but you can't bear to throw away!
Start by combining equal parts of flax seeds and lavender flowers. I used a cup of each. Add 20 drops of lavender essential oil.
Next, cut the feet off your old socks.
Turn them inside out and sew a half-inch seam along the cut edge.
Stuff with your flax seed/lavender mixture - not too full! - and sew the cuff end closed using a double row of stitches. Ta-da!
Yes, my dryer balls were lovely to look at and delightful to the nose but would they actually do their job? It was time to put them to the test. I washed a large load of towels and tossed them in the dryer along with my felted wool dryer balls and one orphan sock dryer ball. For experiments' sake, I added a couple of nylon running shirts notorious for creating static and a couple of white t-shirts to make sure my brightly colored dryer balls wouldn't bleed dye. To my delight, everything was dry in about half the usual time (whereas I generally have to run a load of towels through TWO cycles to get them completely dry, today they were done after ONE) and everything came out fluffy and smelling faintly of lavender and there was no static cling. Success!
I am enjoying my do-it-yourself adventures. I am saving money AND putting fewer chemicals into the air and water and onto and into my body. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to do another load of laundry!