DIY Projects

Dryer Balls

Since my husband built a laundry room for me in our basement, I’ve been acting more and more like my Grandmother Weaver (the one whose Irish Potato Candy Recipe is in the previous post). My grandmother is very particular about how her laundry is done. She shakes the dirty clothes inside-out until I think her frail little arms will break before putting anything into the washing machine where she uses the hottest water setting possible. Then she shakes the clothes again before puting them on the clothes line, being sure to remove all lint from the out-turned pockets.  She also bleaches anything that can be bleached and shakes the clothes for a third time as she takes them off the line. She may complete this process twice before allowing my grandfather to wear any articles of clothing again, depending on how clean they feel or smell to her. 

I am becoming picky about my own laundry, not because I was deprived of running water in the backwoods of Tennessee during the Great Depression like Granny, but because laundry is my favorite chore–the one I find most therapeutic. For this reason, I have begun to shape my laundry room into a retreat, complete with a space heater and radio. I’ve also begun to make my own laundry products, including my own dryer balls.

dryer balls

Dryer balls must be a new, cool thing because I hadn’t heard of them until I was browsing Pinterest and came across a DIY site called One Good Thing by Jillee. After subscribing to her blog, repinning her tutorial, and doing some research, I decided to make my own dryer balls using her advice. It seems that dryer balls are more affordable and longer-lasting than liquid fabric softner and dryer sheets and are better for the environment.

These require 100% wool yarn, which I thought would be easy to find. However, all that any craft stores in my hometown had were acrylic blends. Rather disappointed in our lack of higher quality blends, I ordered some natural-colored wool online at Patons. My laundry room is all neutrals; of course, I had to coordinate. It cost $10 with shipping for one roll. Though they can be found for less, $10 is what the nicer dryer balls tend to cost. (These are prettier and more fun.) I probably could have gotten a better deal had I ordered more and made some Christmas presents or found the yarn locally. (Go ahead and share your better bargain finds. It will only break my heart a little.) 

When the wool arrived, I rolled it into three balls that each fit comfortably in my hand. Three was as many as the wool would make, but I’ve heard that the more balls you use, the better they fluff and soften. I hope to make more soon.

I used one knee-high nude hosiery sock but any pantyhose should work. I put one ball in the sock at a time, tying each ball off so that they were separated and would not felt together. I threw the odd-looking creation into the washing machine with a load of whites so that I could wash on high heat. Then I tossed the load into the dryer on high heat. When the load was finished, I took out the tied balls, cut them loose, and made sure they had felted together. They were perfect.

Most of the websites I found suggested a drop of lavender essential oil on each ball to freshen the load. Since I didn’t have that, I put one squirt of a nice but subtle-smelling body spray on each instead. Surprisingly, the whole load just came out smelling nicer and cleaner, not overwhelming at all.

My clothes are fluffier and softer, but I’d like to make more dryer balls to make them even better. I make my own laundry detergent (which I hope to blog about soon), and it softens really well already. I mostly wanted these for “fluffing”. These balls still don’t fix one shirt my husband has that is forever static-y, but I bet I’ll figure something out for it. I was thinking about hairspray, but that is . . . flamable. Let me know if you think of something and if you know of someone who sells cheaper 100% wool yarn.


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