I was recently snooping on the Mother Earth News and found an article on dryer balls. I had totally forgot about these! There’s not much to it and they’ve been around for years. Simply put they are a felted wool ball that you toss in the dryer. They tumble with your clothes separating them allowing the dryer to work more efficiently thus taking less time to dry. I’ve been told you don’t need to use dryer sheets when you use the wool balls because they soften your clothes during the tumbling. I still use the sheets because with our wood stove drying out the air we have a ridiculous amount of static and the sheets help.
Essentially, tennis balls would do the same thing. I use them to break in a new Carhart coat. Even though they would they would work to dry quickly and soften clothes, your clothes will end up smelling like tennis ball, not always the most appealing smell.
Using the clothes line in the winter kinda works. It’s how my grandma grew up doing laundry in the winter but I’m not that much of a die hard. I use the clothes line in the summer and dryer in the winter.
Here’s how to make your own:
I start with the scraps of pieces from previous projects and bits of wool that didn’t spin like I planned (I messed up). Wrap them tight to start the ball. Then continue to wind yarn in a ball as you would wind a skein to a ball. Normally I wind my yarn loose, I don’t like to lose the give in it. For the dryer balls wind them tight. The tighter the better.
Once you’ve made your balls, place them in a pillow case and tie a string around the case to keep each ball in it’s own spot. If they rub together before they are felted the can unravel.
Toss the tied pillow case into the wash machine and was on with hot water and dry on the hottest setting in the dryer. (From what I’ve heard felting doesn’t work too well in the new wash machines with out the agitator. I don’t know, I’ve never had a new one)
Once they are dry and felted they are ready to use. Just toss them in the dryer and go! (The finished picture is at the very top.)
I use undyed wool yarn because I don’t want to worry about colors bleeding. You must use wool for it’s felting properties.