Hello! Apologies for the absence of posts around here lately; I've been working on a top secret project that I can't wait to share with all of you, so I've been deep in finishing and editing mode. I'm finally all done though (hopefully!), so I'm back with an easy laundry project. A few months ago I started using dryer balls instead of fabric softener. I had been using one of those Bounce bar things, which I actually liked, but after reading a few things about the residue fabric softeners leave behind, I switched. I'm really happy with the change; things seem to dry faster, they're nice and soft without feeling gummy, and you can add a couple of drops of essential oil to make your clothes smell good. I ordered these from Amazon, but it is super easy to make your own! And if you happen to have some wool yarn hanging around like I did, they'll be free, which is always great :).
So! To make your own, you will need:
scraps of synthetic (non-felting) yarn or string
washer and dryer
It's really important that the yarn you use is all wool (it could have a little bit of some other natural fiber, like mohair or alpaca, but absolutely nothing synthetic or it won't felt). This pile of yarn was given to me at some point or another, and I was probably never going to use it, so it was the perfect candidate. I wouldn't use really expensive yarn for this - it's going to sit in the dryer all the time, after all! Secondhand stores are a great place to find supplies for this project, but if you don't have luck with that, just go with the cheapest you can find that's all wool.
Wind the yarn into balls, somewhere between the size of a baseball and a grapefruit. The larger the balls, the faster your clothes will dry, but they'll also be louder banging around in the dryer, and might be harder to store, depending on your space. Also remember that the balls will shrink a bit after felting. I made mine about the size of a baseball and they came out to be just under tennis ball sized in the end. Make sure the end of the yarn is very secure - stuff the last 6 - 12 inches into the middle of the ball. I tried a crochet hook for this, but it was a lot of work, so I just used the sharp end of my scissors to push it in.
Next, put the balls into an old pair of pantyhose (the older the better; do not use your nice nylons or tights for this! They won't come out of this still useable, trust me on this). Tie off the top of the pantyhose, then fasten small pieces of acrylic yarn or string (rubber bands aren't a good idea, as they may not take the heat of the dryer all that well) between each ball, like so:
You want the balls to be fairly tightly packed so they don't move around a whole bunch. Then, run them through the washer and dryer on the hottest cycle possible for both. I'd recommend doing this at least twice, but I did mine three times just to be sure. Then, just slice open the pantyhose and behold your new dryer balls!
If you'd like them to smell nice, add a couple of drops of essential oil to each (I'd wait 15-20 minutes for the oil to dry before tossing them in - I got a few spots the first time I used them). The smell does tend to dissipate after a few cycles, so if you really like your clothes to have a strong scent, you'll have to redo this step as needed.
And one final warning...watch your furry friends, because they might try to steal your hard work!