The dryer. A source of heat in an already hot home. For me, the quicker I am done with laundry the better I feel about my day. It also goes without saying that in order for my laundry sessions to feel complete, they need to be as low-energy and zero-waste as possible too! I mean sometimes using energy star appliances and eco-friendly detergents just aren’t enough when it comes to the laundry at home. Sometimes you just need a quick DIY to get you further down the road. Which is why I wanted to share with you one of the ways I have found to save on my household laundry bill and that is with making DIY Dryer Balls!
It’s best to start by saying that at least half of my household laundry is air dried, as this is my preferred method. However as I live in the deep south, and the farther the mercury rises in my thermometer, the longer air drying takes in my area due to humidity, this is always not an option. In comes, our electric dryer! I have found that I can save upwards of half my previous drying times by using dryer balls with each load of laundry at home!
How does this work, you ask? Well, by using dryer balls one can improve your dryer’s efficiency and life span by half, by reducing the time required for wet clothes to dry. As the dryer spins, these balls tumble between the clothes, maximizing the wet clothes’ contact with the warm air pockets they create. Effectively, dryer balls ‘fluff’ your clothes as they spin, speeding up the drying process and eliminating the need for fabric softening dryer sheets.
Also, as many of you may know, dryer balls are not a new concept. People have been making them for years as an eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener. But the greater picture tells us, that these DIY, eco-friendly marvels, can do so much more than just eliminate chemicals from your laundry, here’s how:
What are the benefits of using wool balls in your dryer?
- They decrease drying time, saving you money on utility bills; by as much as 1/2 during the colder, winter months!
- Dryer balls are chemical-free! Commercial fabric softeners and dryer sheets are filled with harmful chemicals and perfumes that coat your clothing, including PABA, which inevitably will end up on your skin.
- Commercial dryer sheets can be costly, costing as much as $$0.13 per sheet, which is like throwing money away! Wool dryer balls can be re-used for years, saving you hundreds of dollars.
- Commercial fabric softeners shouldn’t be used on cloth diapers. Wool dryer balls are perfect for keeping your cloth diapers soft and are again, chemical-free.
- Wool dryer balls won’t affect the absorbency of your towels, kitchen cloths, or cloth diapers – commercial softeners will.
- Dryer balls increase fluffiness for home linens and towels and reduce static as dryer loads tumble, per load.
- Dryer balls help to soften clothes naturally.
- Dryer balls are made from a renewable resource.
- Dryer balls cost under $1.00 each to make!
How do they work?
Dryer balls work, as they bounce around in the dryer separating clothes, allowing more hot air to circulate through all the garments. As they tumble, the wool balls fluff your laundry, reduce wrinkles, making for softer laundry. They also act as a moisture wick, and pull moisture out of clothes, and will save you up to 1/3 your drying time. Why should this matter? By saving 1/3 of your drying time you will save up to $0.50 per load on your electric bill! Here’s how to make your own!
- Skein of 100% wool yarn. Not superwash or machine washable varieties. (Here’s my favorite yarn to use)
- Crochet hook
- String or cotton/acrylic yarn
- Essential oils.
How to make Dryer Balls:
- Choosing Your Yarn: Choose skeins of yarn that are 100% wool; stay away from skeins labeled super wash or machine washable, as these skeins will not felt. You can even cut up wool sweaters, too. Also, you can choose any colors you wish, as felted wool does not bleed into washing or dryer loads.
- Create balls: Ball up your yarn, just as you would for knitting, or for a cat ball. Balls should be the size of a tennis fall; aim for 4″ balls. Repeat this step until you have 4-6 balls.
- Tucking: Use a blunt-tipped yarn needle or crochet hook to tuck the end of the thread under several layers of yarn. Pull it through and cut the end.
- Prepping: Cut the leg off an old pair of pantyhose. Put balls into the toe of the pantyhose, tying tightly in between each ball with string, or cotton/acrylic yarn; make sure not to use wool yarn or it will felt around the pantyhose. Tie off the end when you have 4-6 segments. Your segments will look like a caterpillar.
- Felting the Dryer Balls: Throw the entire yarn caterpillar into the wash with towels.
- Wash: Wash in a hot wash cycle with a cold water rinse cycle, and then. dry your yarn caterpillar with your laundry using the hottest dryer setting; repeat for three settings. You will know your balls have felted when a finger run across the balls does not create pills.
Now that you have created dryer balls, just toss 2-3 balls in the dryer with your freshly washed clothes, and let them do their work; I add 4-6 drops of essential oil on balls going to the dryer in lieu of fabric softener sheets! For larger loads of clothes, linens, or any load with denim, use at least 4-6 balls to notice a decrease in drying time. For large loads, or any HE super-size washers, 6-8 will be needed. The more balls you use, the more quickly your clothes will dry. I like to store your dryer balls in the dryer between uses or display them in a basket in your laundry room. Also consider making baskets of dryer balls for college graduates, for housewarming gifts, or for hostess gifts, too!
In the last three months of using my dryer balls, I have noticed that my clothes dry 1.3 faster, and my overall electric bill has decreased by $4.10, on average, per month; this is a projected saving of $36.00 a year!
So, folks, this is how I make my own dryer balls. Truly one of my most cost-effective and least time-consuming zero-waste swaps I’ve made in my home to date (you can check out other zero-waste swaps we’ve made here). So now I have to ask, are you using wool dryer balls or do you have other means for saving time on your drying bill at home each month? If so, please be sure to leave me a comment. I’d love to hear about your DIY experiences with them!