DIY Homemade Wool Dryer Balls

This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate links come at no extra cost to you. These links allow me to share the products I authentically recommend (and use) and support Live Simply by receiving a small commission.

These homemade dryer balls are amazing! My laundry is super soft and I don't have to deal with static. So easy to make and inexpensive compared to buying them from Amazon or the store.
Contributor post written by Kelly from New Leaf WellnessPhotos updated in December 2015.

Looking for an all-natural alternative to store-bought dryer sheets?  Wool dryer balls are your answer!  Not only are wool dryer balls all-natural, they’re so easy to make!

Here are some of the benefits of Homemade Wool Dryer Balls:

  • Shorten drying time
  • Reduce wrinkles
  • Decrease static
  • Soften laundry
  • Save money
  • Fragrance-free (or naturally scented with a few drops of essential oils)
  • You can buy wool dryer balls on Amazon or Etsy, but they’re also incredibly easy to make yourself.  All you need to make your own is 20 minutes and four basic supplies: wool yarn, a crochet hook, scissors, and pantyhose.

    These homemade dryer balls are amazing! My laundry is super soft and I don't have to deal with static. So easy to make and inexpensive compared to buying them from Amazon or the store.

    I’ll admit that I know nothing about using yarn to knit and crochet, but I know a heck of a lot about doing laundry.  Between me, my husband, and our three young daughters (ages 4 and under), laundry is just a part of our everyday life.

    Doing laundry isn’t exactly what I’d call “fun,” but an easy, practical craft sure is.  These homemade wool dryer balls rank up there with my homemade coconut oil lotions and sugar scrubs.  They’re a simple DIY that I absolutely love and want to share with all of my friends.

    Actually, I think making these wool dryer balls would be a really fun craft to make with friends.  I made my first two wool dryer balls with the help of my super-crafty mom and then asked for a crochet hook and wool yarn for my birthday so I could make more.

    These homemade dryer balls are amazing! My laundry is super soft and I don't have to deal with static. So easy to make and inexpensive compared to buying them from Amazon or the store.

    The more dryer balls you have, the more they will bounce around with your laundry and help it to dry quickly.  Six to eight wool dryer balls that are between the size of a tennis ball and soft ball seem to be just right.  The tutorial below shows you how to make two dryer balls from one skein of yarn.

    The best yarn is 100% wool.  After wrapping your yarn into balls, you wash them in pantyhose so the yarn “felts” together and becomes a solid ball that won’t unravel.  Thick, wool roving yarn felts perfectly.

    These homemade dryer balls are amazing! My laundry is super soft and I don't have to deal with static. So easy to make and inexpensive compared to buying them from Amazon or the store.

    The best colors for homemade wool dryer balls are ones that are bright and will be easy to pick out of your laundry.  Avoid red or other colors that might bleed.  (I learned that the hard way.)

    Have I convinced you to make your own wool dryer balls yet?!  Let’s get started!

    Homemade Wool Dryer Balls: The best natural dryer sheet alternative! So easy and inexpensive to make!
    5 from 7 votes
    Print

    Homemade Wool Dryer Balls

    Actually, I think making these wool dryer balls would be a really fun craft to make with friends. I made my first two wool dryer balls with the help of my super-crafty mom and then asked for a crochet hook and wool yarn for my birthday so I could make more.

    Course DIY
    Cuisine Cleaning
    Keyword Dryer Balls
    Prep Time 1 hour
    Total Time 1 hour
    Servings 2 Dryer Balls
    Author Kristin Marr

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. Start your first wool dryer ball by wrapping the yarn around a couple of fingers 10 times.
    2. Remove the yarn from your fingers and wrap about 10 times around the middle.
    3. Continue wrapping around the ball from every angle. Make your way around the ball, wrapping 5-10 times before moving to a new angle. (There's no exact science to this. Just keep trying to form a round ball.) Wrap the yarn tightly and hang onto your ball so it doesn't pop out of your hands.
    4. When your ball is a little bigger than a tennis ball, cut the yarn and pull the end through the ball with your crochet hook.
    5. Repeat Steps 1-4 to make a second wool dryer ball with the remainder of your yarn.
    6. Place your wool balls in your pantyhose, knotting the pantyhose between the balls.
    7. Run your wool dryer balls through your washer and dryer with separate loads of laundry until they "felt" and become solid balls. (Mine "felt" in 3-4 loads.)
    8. Remove balls from pantyhose and use in the dryer in place of dryer sheets.

    Tip: These wool dryer balls would be great to use with Kristin’s Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap or Powder Laundry Soap (from my cleaning book).

    These homemade dryer balls are amazing! My laundry is super soft and I don't have to deal with static. So easy to make and inexpensive compared to buying them from Amazon or the store.

Share This Recipe

See my lifestyle in real life

More from Kristin Marr

Live Simply, The Podcast Episode 023: The Encouragement You Need to Grow Your Own Food with Lacey from The Rab Farm

This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate links come at no extra...
Read More

114 Comments

  • Have you attempted to make these scented by adding essential oils to the yarn? I love really scented laundry and I use Bronner’s lavender soap for my homemade laundry detergent, but would like to add a little more during dry time….

  • Where do you buy 100% wool yarn locally? I’ve looked at Michaels and JoAnns without success 🙁 Would love to make my own and also to give as gifts

  • I Kristin I will be making a lot of your things for Christmas presents the foundation, blush, dryer balls, and some of the other items , I don’t believe I read if the dryer balls are to be washed in cold or hot water, or dose it make a difference, I love your website thx, Debbie

  • In an attempt to make more balls with less yarn, has anyone tried using a tennis ball and then wrapping the yarn a couple layers over it? Can you think of any cons to doing that? Any other suggestions to use less yarn?

    • Tennis balls are made of rubber/plastic so if you are wanting to avoid the chemicals and have a more natural drying process you will want to avoid the tennis balls. That said, I do not know how it would work to make a dryer ball onto a tennis ball.

      • I have used tennis ball many times when drying blankets and pillows to help fluff. They do not smell like rubber when used. However, I am excited to make some wool balls to use instead of dryer sheets!

  • Thank you for the awesome tutorial. I have been wanting a natural fabric softener/static remover to use!
    I set my colours into my fabrics by soaking in the wash machine with Epsom salts & water (a trick a science teacher taught me)
    Start with warm water & 1 cup of Epsom salts, using hand to agitate until dissolved. Set the cycle to small, switch temp to cold, place garment (dryer balls) in. Turn the machine on for a minute. Then walk away. I usually let them sit for 45 min-1hr. Put through a regular wash cycle, & voila your garment will retain it’s colour!

  • This may be a very silly question lol. But what if you just wrapped a tennis ball a few times till it was fully covered? I’m actually making these right now and my husband was like..why don’t you just wrap up a tennis ball and save yarn?..got me thinking

  • Well they are all done being wrapped up. They look good 🙂 I Am a tad confused as to how to wash/ dry them to form a solid ball. I made 12 of them. I put them in the stockings. Do I put them in the washer & dryer with clothes or just by themselves?

  • Thank you 🙂 loved the tutorial. They were so easy to make and honestly a bit of therapy after I put my kids to bed the past few nights haha! Nice & relaxing thing to make

  • I made them. They look great but I have done done them in about 10 washer & dryer cycles and they don’t look any different. I used 100% wool as you said to :/

    • Will the yarn unravel if you pull on it? If not, then I’m sure they’re fine by now. The appearance of mine doesn’t change that much – the wool just starts to “felt” together.

      If it will unravel, then I would check the heat setting of your washer/dryer. I’m not sure why 100% wool wouldn’t felt if washed and dryed that many times on a hot setting.

      Hope that helps and you get to start using your dryer balls sometime soon!

      • I had one ball fall apart in the nylon hose. Is there any way to use that yarn? It has become all unraveled….any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
        I have made several so far, this is the first “problem” I have had. I don’t want all of that yarn to go to waste….
        Thank you in advance.
        tam

  • I wanted to try these out and I only made 2 so far, but my clothes are still soooo staticy. Do I need more dryer balls? How many?

  • To save on yarn, could you cut up a old 100% wool sweater into strips and start with that as a base and wrap your yarn around it?

  • Thank you for this article. We are a very ‘green/natural/organic’ conscious family and the one thing that we were still using that wasn’t green and that was really bothering me not being able to find a less wasteful and more natural replacement was dryer sheets. I had almost purchased organic wool dryer balls off of Amazon when I came across this article. I’m not at all crafty and wasn’t sure I could pull this off but withmy husbands help, we now have 6 balls (albeit of varying sizes) going through their 3rd wash-dry cycle to felt. I am so excited to try them out with essential oils because I love it when clothes come out smelling fragrant. I am also super excited about not having to buy (and throw away) so many dryer sheets. I hope the balls work as good as I am hoping for at reducing drying time and static and all those tiny wool fibers floating around my living room because of rolling the yarn into balls is all worth it in the end.
    Thank you once again.

  • I do have one question though. Our balls caterpillar had gone through about 5 wash/dry cycles with hot water and hot dryer settings but I still don’t see the felting, the strands of yarn still look like they are separate. Could I take them out of the pantyhose and throw them in the washer/dryer directly to speed up the felting process?

  • Just reading the comments here and as a knitter, I want to say that you’d be best with a hot/cold cycle on the washer to felt these. It’s the agitation AND the “shock” of temperature switching that helps wool to felt 🙂

  • Would I add the essential oils to the balls once they’re made or part way through? Also, I don’t have pantyhose. What could I use instead?

    • Hey Kristin, I would add the essential oils once they are done. Although, the yarn may retain some of the oils if you add a few drops in the process of making the balls. I’ve never tried using anything but pantyhose, but I’m thinking a really light pair of socks may work. Maybe a pair of dress socks?

  • If you have a problem felting the 100% wool yarn make sure you don’t have superwash wool. This type of wool is made NOT to felt by removing some of the “scales” that make up the fibers,the smoother the fiber the less to catch together and felt.

    • I dont have a crochet hook, totally forgot to get one when I bought the wool yard!!! Is there any other way i can pull the end through the ball? Or something else i can do with the end?? I just spent $20 on yarn, and now I am thinking I should have just bought the wool dryer balls because i am pretty sure it would be cheaper. So basically, i dont want to buy any more materials for this. Hahaha thanks!

      • Hey Zoe, If you have a paint can opener, that will work instead of a crocket hook. You could also try using your finger. The idea is to secure the yarn so well inside the ball that it won’t unravel. Once you’ve gone through the felting stage, I think unraveling shouldn’t be an issue (even without the hook).

  • Does this work well with HE washers?
    What essential oils do you use? Are you using oil for just fragrance or therapeutic purposes?
    Thanks

  • Some may be flammable if touched to a direct flame, but this is a recommended practice and I’ve been doing it for years with no problems at all. The wool doesn’t get hot and there are only a few drops of oil on the ball.

  • I got to thinking why people where having trouble. Felting works best with a washer that has the agitator (top loader). Many people have the front load now and that is not great for felting.

  • What do you do when they eventually start to unravel and tangle all your clothes together? I wrapped 3 of my 6 in pantyhose so far, but I wonder if that doesn’t just add static!!

  • I have a HE washer and read on one of the posts that it may need more agitation than this type of washer does. Any suggestions how to make it work or do I need to buy pre made ones?

    • Hey Tonya, I’m not really sure. I know some people have issues, and some don’t. If you want to take the chance, I would give them homemade method a try. If not, I would purchase the pre-made ones–they work very well, too!

    • I have seen some youtube videos where people boil the wool balls on their stove top and skip the washer altogether. Then they throw them in the dryer with a load of clothes.

  • Thanks Kristin for this great diy tutorial. I am going to make these wool dryer balls as soon as I receive the wool I ordered. the instructions are clear and easy to follow.

  • I used a different brand wool yarn and they haven’t felted after a year and three unraveled. I put the remaining three back in the panty hose and after several months of laundry they still haven’t felted. This goes against everything I know about wool. I wish I had just bought the other yarn now instead of getting the one on sale.???? It was 100% wool, I’m baffled.

    • Hey Bethany, That’s interesting. Someone mentioned above that a front loader may be an issue for the balls not felting. Do you use a front loader washer? My other thought is maybe the balls weren’t tight enough, or the yarn wasn’t secure enough, since they unraveled.

    • Hey Angela, With a full load of clothes in the dryer, the dryer balls aren’t loud. But if I just throw a few things in the dryer, with the dryer balls, you can definitely hear them rumbling around.

  • How many balls does one skein make? I have been having trouble finding 100% wool roving yarn. Does just 100% wool work? Probably not…

  • Does it matter what color the yarn is? My friend says dark colored yarn will leave “hairs” that will show up on light colored clothing and vise versa. Thanks!

    • Hey Kimberly, I haven’t experienced any issues with my gray and purple dryer balls leaving behind noticeable hairs on the light colors or vice versa with the lighter dryer balls and darker clothes.

  • My clothes come out with static. Is that because we only have 2? Or maybe if they aren’t 100% wool might make that happen?

  • I just finished making mine but haven’t started the felting process yet so I appreciate the comments.
    I got my yarn at our local yarn store, Yarnology! The owner hadn’t made them herself but had a lot of customers who had. She suggested I make the base of each ball with my scrap yarn (non-wool) and then continue with the 100% wool as it would save me some $. I’ve been using a set of purchased wool dryer balls for 3 years and am excited to have more for myself and to gift to others!

  • Did you know that if you have yarn leftover from another project and it is no longer labelled, you can identify it with a burn test. Take a small piece and go outside or work over a sink inside. Using a match or lighter, take a few strands and hold them with tweezers. Light them. If the smell is like burning hair, it’s wool. Any manmade fibers will melt into a small globule. (Textiles and Clothing 101, Iowa State University)

  • I have 4 that I’ve been using for 4 years…they’ve lasted so well! I’m glad I found this tutorial, because we moved away from the area we bought them in, and I didn’t know what I could do to replace them. Thank you!

  • Dryer sheets were the very first “chemical” product that I noticed a have a bad reaction to, and so eliminating them a few years ago is what started my journey towards healthier products. I love this idea, but I am allergic to wool. I have simply been adding vinegar in the softener tray of my washer and that seems to soften my clothes, but I like the idea of the dryer balls speeding up the drying time. Does anyone have any other suggestions for materials to use?

  • I know this is an older post, but I wanted to give a different perspective. I have been a fiber artisan for 25+ years and a shepherdess for 20+ years. I’m going to bust a few myths here through experiment and demonstration, but at the end, I’ll give you a few tips that actually do work.

    Something to keep in mind is that one of wool’s best and most famous characteristics is that it naturally repels moisture/water. Wool dryer balls will not do anything to absorb moisture from your laundry load making it dry faster. It simply won’t – because it can’t. Also, given the surface area of a dryer ball, it would have a hard time sucking up much moisture anyway, even if it had a natural propensity for doing that. Which it doesn’t. If you’re in a pinch and need to dry a load of clothes faster, I do have a good tip for you: Throw a clean/dry towel in your dryer with your wet clothing. THAT will help your laundry dry a bit faster as the towel is actually is made from the right material to absorb moisture (usually cotton, etc) and has a large enough surface area to do so. Which brings up an interesting point. You’ll never see a bath towel made out of wool because it wouldn’t dry you off. Right? If you grabbed a pure wool sweater and tried to dry yourself off with it, you’d be disappointed. Wool just isn’t designed to be good at absorbing moisture.

    Also, wool does not have any magic ingredients to make your laundry ‘softer’. Any softness comes from abrasion/friction in your dryer that rubs the fibers off the clothing/towels/etc as they all tumble together. That’s what makes the lint in your lint filter. Lint is the fibers of your clothing, etc abraiding away (wearing off) of the items in your laundry and that’s what’s getting trapped by your lint filter. That’s one reason that clothes dried on a clothesline will feel stiffer, they haven’t had an abrasion session in the dryer after being washed. Will dryer balls increase the wearing away of your clothing to make them ‘softer’. Maybe microscopically, But your clothes, etc are already abraiding each other during the course of the dryer load with much more surface area to have contact with other garments for abraiding/buffing/wearing off of fibers.

    Regarding wool dryer balls reducing or eliminating static, there are no magic properties in wool that will reduce static. Static is a result of over drying, not a result of not having enough dryer balls in your laundry. It’s like having low humidity and shocking your finger when you touch a lamp or something in the winter. The atmosphere is dry, so there’s static. If you had a dryer ball in your hand you would not reduce that static and you’d still get shocked by the lamp.

    I’ll touch on the dryer ball claim of eliminating wrinkles very briefly. Say what??!! If you leave your clothes in the dryer for too long, they will wrinkle. 1-12 dryer balls laying in a heap of clothing will not make them unwrinkled. I don’t even know what to say about this claim. It defies logic, so I’ll leave it there.

    One last thought, I’ve sold a wide variety of natural fiber items at the wholesale level for the last 7 years of my fiber career. I’m often asked to make dryer balls for retailers to sell to their customers but always avoided the idea because my gut told me it was gimmicky. But I was asked so many times that I felt like I had no other option but to design an honest and repeatable experiment. If I was going to sell them, there needed to be a real and measurable benefit to customers or else I would be adding to the notion that there was something helpful, beneficial, innovative, time and money saving about dryer balls. So I made a dozen for myself. Not out of yarn, but out of clean wool fiber. I used the same weight of fiber as all of the other dryer balls out there so that my experiments would be apples to apples. Then I started doing loads of identical laundry. LOTS of loads of identical laundry. I timed them in the dryer with 1 – 12 dryer balls. Result: dryer balls sound natural and clean and ‘simple’ and homey and virtuous and a lot of other things, but they don’t live up to the claim. At all. They just don’t. There was no difference in dry time and I found that the more dryer balls in the load, the longer my load took to dry, according to the moisture sensors in my dryer. I’m sorry.

    I have a bit of good news to offer though. After using dryer sheets for years (yuck) I just stopped using them a few years ago. Cold turkey, I just quit. You know what? My clothes were just as soft (because they abraided against each other in the dryer) and they had no static (unless I overdried them) and they were not wrinkled (unless I left them in the dryer for too long – you know how that goes).
    Last free tip: if you really want to use essential oils to scent your laundry, you can do that and you don’t even need a wool dryer ball! Take a clean rag or clean old washcloth, add a few drops of your favorite EO and toss that in the dryer with your clothes. Done. Simple, cheap, non-gimmicky.
    (One caution – some EOs could be potentially flammable – be careful.)

    I am a wool advocate/fanatic. It’s just about the best natural fiber out there with a huge number of sheep breeds that bring various strengths and uses to the table. There’s almost no end to wool’s versatility and desirability. I want people to love wool as much as I do…and I love wool a LOT. But I also don’t want people who haven’t had the opportunity to learn a lot about wool to think it’s less incredible than it is, because they believed the stories about putting wool in the dryer to make laundry day all natural and hassle-free. That’s doing both the wool and the end user a disservice.

    I’m sorry for any bubble bursting that may have taken place here. It’s with the best of intentions.
    Now go knit or crochet or felt or spin or weave something amazing out of some quality wool…you won’t be disappointed! xoxo

  • My daughter and I used this tutorial to make dryer balls for our Life Skills class as we’re trying to eliminate plastics and chemicals in our home and environment. We used Patons Classic Wool, Roving and followed directions. After 10 washings in hot water and 10 tumbles in the dryer (we used white towels in loads) our balls still have distinct lines of yarn, they haven’t felted. We didn’t use laundry soap or fabric softener in loads. Any suggestions of how to make them felt? Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *