I officially gave up laundry detergent and dryer sheets 6 months ago in an effort to reduce the amount of chemicals and detergents I use in my life in hopes of treating my struggle with eczema. I now use soap nuts in place of detergent with much success, but as of yet had been unable to find a good substitute for dryer sheets, so folding laundry has become a giant annoying battle with static as the weather gets colder. As luck would have it, natural dryer sheet alternatives are bountiful and being a knitter, I just so happened to have all the materials to make wool dryer balls on-hand already.
Making your own wool dryer balls is a relatively simple process, but there are a few things that should be noted before you begin:
– Be sure that the yarn you are using is 100% wool, and is listed as HAND WASH or DRYCLEAN only; any wool that is listed as being machine washable will not felt, and your dryer balls will fall apart
– When winding your ball of yarn, wind as tight as possible
– When weaving in the ends to complete each yarn ball, you should split a strand of yarn on the ball with your needle at both the beginning and end of the stitch (see pictures below); this will help to secure your tail end and keep the balls from falling apart over time
– The needle you use to weave in ends should be relatively sturdy, as the yarn ball with be pretty dense in the middle and the needle will need to pierce this; I attempted to use a plastic yarn needle and it buckled under pressure, so metal is recommended
– 100% wool NON-superwash yarn
– Metal tapestry or yarn needle
– Washing machine
Once you’ve finished winding your balls of wool, you’ll need to felt them to make the fibers bind together and be strong. To felt your wool, toss the balls into a load of wash where you will be using HOT water. This is important. The wool will not felt properly with cold, so throw them in with towels or sheets, or something that can withstand a hot wash cycle. Do not attempt to felt your yarn balls alone in a washing machine. They’ll get lonely. Other items in the wash cycle will aid in the felting process, plus, you know, you should probably be eco-conscious here and not waste an entire load of wash water on a few balls of yarn. You will probably need to wash the wool on hot anywhere between 3-8 times depending upon the type of yarn used. The ultimate goal is to not be able to distinguish individual strands of yarn (aside from color variations) – it will look like one solid ball of felt when finished.
So, this fuzzy little dude still needs to go through a few more cycles to become fully felted.
These would probably hold up fine, but I’m actually going to continue to felt them a few more times. Ideally, you’d want your ballz to look more like the solid orange and white ones, and less like the variegated blue and brown ones.
These all-natural dryer sheet alternatives will help reduce static in your laundry loads, and will even help decrease drying time. If you’re missing the scent of dryer sheets, you can easily add a few drops of essential oil to these wool dryer balls. Happy felting, folks!