DIY: Felted Wool Dryer Balls

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DIY Felted Wool Dryer balls :: Vintage Kids | Modern World

Want to save money doing laundry??

Wool Dryer Balls.

My husband is in our kitchen doing dishes right now, grinning.

Alright folks, lets get this out of our system and get a hardy 7th grade chuckle and move on: This post is about fuzzy balls.

there. I said it.

You know you were all thinking it and there’s no way around it, so lets be adults about this and move on with the topic of, ahem. fuzzy balls.

WOOL DRYER BALLS to be exact. And in addition to making you giggle on the inside, these dryer balls are going to save you a ton of money! ok. time to be an adult and return to our G-rating. {grin}

Here at Vintage Kids | Modern World, we haven’t talked much about New Year’s Resolutions. They’re great and all, but everyone is doing them. I’ve done them. And then forgotten about them (or broken them) by approximately January 4th or 5th. However, Rusty and I have one MAJOR resolution this year, and that’s to decrease spending and to hopefully have more than $8 at any given time in our savings. Lofty goals, people. Aim high.

As we have been looking at areas to cut cost, line drying our clothes has always been something that we want to do, but never stick with. First, because right now, it’s only 20’F here in northern Indiana and frozen skivvies are so much fun (said no one ever).  Also, the line that we currently use for our clothes only holds a small load of laundry. I have 3 children.  We end up hanging towels over chairs, sweaters on heating vents…you get the picture.  It looks like our closets threw up on our living room and it makes my A.D.D. go a million miles per hour.

However, this is one area where you can potentially save quite a bit each month, so I didn’t want to give up! Depending on the type of dryer you use, how often you do laundry, etc. you can estimate that it costs approximately $0.21 per hour to run your dryer on medium, but it could go as high as $0.50 p/load depending on the cost of electricity in your area, efficiency, etc.  Because my hubby does manual labor, we have little ones and I occasionally put my cloth diapers in the dryer,  I do anywhere from 7-10 loads per week (no joke…).  This adds up fast and is one area that we wanted to cut back on, without draping towels everywhere! low and behold:


The wool balls are meant to bounce around in the dyer with your laundry, thus agitating them a little more, as well as absorbing more of the humidity and dampness.  Unbelievably, if you use 4-6 of these with each load of laundry, you can cut your drying time by 25-50%!!  That’s a HUGE savings in time and money per month.  Plus, as an additional bonus, you don’t need fabric softener!  The wool fibers rubbing against your clothing, combined with the constant agitation, will leave your clothes soft and fluffy!  Like the “fresh” scent of fabric softener?  Simply add a few drops of essential oils to the balls before you place them in the dryer and ditch those nasty, skin coating synthetic chemicals! (and side note – in case you’re wondering – the colors don’t run and the wool does NOT add any extra lint to your clothing!! Once it has “felted” (more on that in a second) it won’t rub off or lint. ) Here is how I made mine (and you can learn from my mistakes and adjust accordingly!)

DIY Wool Dryer Balls

There are some really pretty dryer balls out there on etsy in lovely colors, and I realized that it couldn’t be that hard to make my own!  I looked at several tutorials that all called for wool yarn or wool roving, neither of which I owned.  However, on a recent trip to the thrift store, I found this lovely, slightly stained beauty for 75% off:

wool balls 4


This would be the dryer-sacrifice…(prepare your self….this gets gory). First, I chopped it to bits in all it’s fuzzy glory.  I started snipping and cut it into approximately 1″ wide strips of varying lengths (although the longest pieces were definitely easiest to work with) wool balls


Next, I started gathering the smallest pieces to be the center of the ball and I clumped them all together.   Then, I grabbed the longer pieces and wound those tightly around the smaller clump, making a very frumpy wool ball. wool balls 1


Form  a clump the size of a tennis ball-ish. wool balls 2


Now, at this point, all of those other tutorials said to wrap wool roving around the pieces.  I didn’t have any wool roving.  But wool is wool, right?  It should still work…? right?  No.  Here’s where I realized (after I was done) that having the roving would have made things a little prettier and a little more user friendly.

wool balls 3


If you DO have roving, wrap it tightly around your frumpy clump.  Either way, at this point, roving or no, place the frumpy clump into the toe of an old pair of panty hose. (You know you don’t mind sacrificing those!) Tie it off, keeping the ball as tightly formed as possible, and then repeat. (if you don’t have wool roving either, then follow along and adapt like I did. )

Once all of the frumpy clumps are in the panty hose and you’ve tied off the last one, throw it in with your normal laundry.  Wash it at least 4-6 times (preferably on hot).  This makes the wool “felt” .  The fibers tighten and shrink and if you use the roving, it seals in the smaller pieces.  Once you’ve washed them several times, dry them with a load of laundry on high to make sure that they are completely hot and dry through. (I ran them through several dryer cycles to make sure)  Once they’re completely dry, carefully cut them out of the panty hose, and voila, felted wool dryer balls!

Now, if you’re like me and you  don’t use the roving, well.  It doesn’t felt.  At least mine didn’t.  The first wool ball I cut out of the panty hose turned into wool confetti and I was back to the beginning with all of my chopped up sweater. So instead of buying roving, I am cheap and I decided to make due. I decided not to make wool dryer balls.

wool balls 5 Instead, I made a wool sausage string. Although not as pretty, and although it doesn’t fluff my clothes quite as well, it’s still just as cost effective and I can still add essential oils. There are also several other perks to making a sausage string:

1. I don’t lose individual balls in the dryer the same way I lose socks in the dryer.  I always have them together and they work just as well in cutting down drying time.

2.  I didn’t have to lug my gang to the craft store to buy wool roving.


3. The kids don’t steal them to play with, thus I am not fishing for individual balls in the bottom of the toy box.


And there you have it! Search through your closet for that ugly, itchy wool sweater you never wear, grab the scissors and some panty hose (you know you don’t mind sacrificing those!) and get to work!


This post is linked to Whole Foods Wednesday, Homemaking Linkup, Seasonal Celebration Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, Titus 2 Tuesdays

Top photo amended  by me but originally from this great photographer 

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18 Responses to “DIY: Felted Wool Dryer Balls”
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  1. maureen vetter

    a fun winter project to help with drying clothes or using the racks to dry clothes!

  2. With five kids and another on the way, I am there with the amount of laundry done. I have my oldest two washing their own, they each do two loads a week. I have to do the rest. I think that makes about 14-16 loads a week. I tried hanging laundry on the line the other day, but my fingers froze and I had wet clothes still at the end of the day. Oh well, we will have to wait until spring. So, this is why our electric bill, along with the heater, is $240! I don’t use any fabric softener. But this might work.
    Rachel E. recently posted..Stocking a PantryMy Profile

  3. Not sure when I’ve laughed so much at 9 am. Thanks for posting. I’m wondering if the sweater you started with was 100% wool? Also wonder about winding 100% wool yarn around the balls to help them hold together. Anyway, just my thoughts.

  4. Great post! and this is better than balls! Your string is much heavier so much more effective at fluffing – sort of like throwing a canvas tennis shoe in the dryer to fluff up your down blanket. I’m going to try it.
    (Perhaps that wool sweater is superwash? they don’t felt, Is why I love superwash so much: no more handwashing, just toss them in the washer).

    • Cheeky Bums

      CelloMom – I think you’re right – I think it probably was a superwash sweater (it was from GAP). Looking back, it already felt “felted” – the weave was tight and after working more with wool lately, I’m pretty sure it had already shrunk (which may have been why someone tossed it in the Salvation Army pile!). Either way, I’m pretty happy with my sausage string 🙂 thanks for stopping by! – Kelsi

  5. Janett

    HA! Love this idea and your humor! You talked me into the sausage like links when you mentioned fishing them out of the toy boxes. I have 3 littles that help with laundry (they actually like lugging and pushing the baskets through the house… so let them!). I would never have them if they where cute felt balls. Thanks for the tip and the math for the cost saving, again that totally amazed me on how much we could save with 12 loads a week minimum!

    • Cheeky Bums

      Janett – thanks for stopping by! yep – my littles help with the laundry too and even though my sausage string is pretty ugly, it definitely does the trick! Plus, if it IS in the toy box, it’s much easier to retrieve! hope it saves you some $$!!! all the best! – kelsi

  6. Marlene

    Just love the idea..have to give it a try. I am using vinegar in my rinse water.
    Will give this a try in the dryer. Love you made me laugh. lol.

  7. Cher

    If you wanted individual balls, I think you could hold it all together by making a covering for it out of more wool (sweater or skirt or jacket). Just use a pattern for making fabric balls or Christmas ornaments and make it tight then felt it more.

    • Cheeky Bums

      Cher, I think you’re right. I’ve also thought about getting some 100% wool yarn, wrapping them, and then washing and drying them. However, the upside is, my son doesn’t currently steal this and play with it! 🙂 I’m afraid if I had individual ones, they’d end up in the toy box! maybe once the kids are grown… 😉 – thanks for popping in! kelsi

  8. Janet B.

    I have asked a few people on Pinterest about people allergic to wool having a problem with these dryer balls, but none have responded. Maybe you have some knowledge of this. Maybe not a problem with how you addressed dryer ball “chain.” Second, I found that if I add white distilled vinegar to my wash(my front load washer has a place to add bleach and fabric softener which is where I put vinegar…just fill both, about 1/2 cup total)there is no static,which was a HUGE problem and actually helped to soften clothes as well as killed stubborn stinky smells with under arms, sneakers, etc. I use it every load whites or colors. Sheets come out perfect…and mine are solid mid green color.

    • Hey Janet, I love using vinegar in my washer – esp for the stinky grimy summer clothes! As for the allergy issue with the wool, I’m definitely no expert, but my gut says that it would honestly depend on the severity of the allergy. Small wool fibers could very likely end up on the clothes, so if the person is really sensitive then I would look at using something else. On Amazon, you can find dryer balls that are actually made from plastic. They’re more for fluffing the laundry as it dries, but it does help speed things along (esp towels). I’m not sure if that helps, but hopefully you’ll find something that works for you!
      all the best – and thanks for stopping in!


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