In my quest to remove toxins from my life as well as being more frugal, I’ve come across wool dryer balls! I initially thought they were just so adorable but wasn’t sure what the benefits would be to using them..
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link that earns me a small commission if items are purchased through it. As always, I only link to products I really love and recommend! 🙂
First off, I had no idea that fabric softener or dryer sheets were so bad for you. They’re full of chemicals that are considered hazardous to our health and have been linked to cancer, yet we use them everyday without a thought. When I first started getting into this “healthy living stuff”, I knew that eating clean/natural foods was really important because its going into our body as fuel, but I kind of blew off external products we use like lotions, face wash, shampoo, etc. thinking “I’m not eating it, so it can’t be that bad for my health.” After more reading and research I came to the realization that everything we put on our skin enters our blood stream rather quickly, and all of it affects our health in a major way. After that realization, I started thinking about clothes.. Clothes aren’t getting absorbed into our skin like lotion or face wash, so why should we be concerned with what we’re using to wash them? It wasn’t until I read articles like this one that I realized how dryer sheets and fabric softeners can actually affect us. They create vapors we breathe in every time we switch a load of laundry and create a film on our clothes that just sits on our skin when we’re wearing anything that was cleaned with that stuff. Every time you take a whiff of that “spring meadow” scent, you’re really inhaling stuff that should never be breathed. Initially it doesn’t seem to affect us in any way, but over years of exposing our bodies to this kind of stuff, it can actually contribute to issues. Especially when combined with lifelong exposure to chemicals in every other product we use. I really try not to get too extreme about this kind of stuff, but once you start going down the natural-living road, you learn so much and just want to live as naturally as you can- like people did for thousands of years before all these dumb products were ever invented. 😉 Sometimes I really feel like I was born in the wrong era! Haha.. I will admit, I’m far from having everything together when it comes to this natural stuff. Its a huge lifestyle change that you have to take in baby steps. Last year, over time, I was able to phase out commercial shampoo, conditioner, household cleaners, moisturizers, and toothpaste. I still use some “normal” products that are probably full of chemicals, but I’m constantly looking for better options and switching things over whenever I realistically can. Hopefully this year I’ll be able to phase even more things out and learn how to make my own to have an entirely toxin-free home. To me, its also about saving money and being slightly self-sufficient in knowing how to make the things that I need instead of relying on big commercial companies to satisfy all my needs as a human.. Haha anyways! ..I got super off topic there, forgive me! If you want to discover the perks to using dryer balls and see how you can easily make your own, read on. 🙂
-It saves you money! Felted wool dryer balls last basically forever. And you’ll never have to purchase dryer sheets or fabric softener again if you switch to wool dryer balls since they do the job that those products are designed to do. It also saves you money in your electric bill by shortening the drying time. These little balls bounce around in your dryer, separating garments and they create more air circulation as well as helping absorb the moisture from your clothes. They supposedly reduce dryer time to up to 25% quicker! I’ve noticed quicker drying time myself. Right now we’re using a dryer that is soooo slowwwww! When I have a large load to dry with heavy items like sweatshirts or jeans it literally takes 2-3 hours to completely dry it without dryer balls. Ridiculous, right? This past Sunday afternoon (laundry day) I had a large load like this drying with my homemade dryer balls and the entire load was dry in less than 2 hours! It probably took an hour and 40 minutes or so. I was pretty impressed. I didn’t think anything could speed up the slow dryer we use, but it did! So it saves you money (and it saves you time!)
–They’re toxic chemical free. I’ll let this one speak for itself. This was my main reason for wanting to switch. If you’re looking for more info on the toxicity of dryer sheets or fabric softener, read the article I linked to above. Its very informative. Any small step you can take to remove more toxins from your life, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
–Your clothes will last longer. Just skipping fabric softener will achieve this too. Fabric softener has fabric relaxers that makes the fibers of your clothes weaker and they break down faster, eventually leading to holes, and thinning clothes. Make them last longer by leaving this stuff out.
–Reduce wrinkles, static, and soften clothes. This is what fabric softeners and dryer sheets do, but use the dryer balls instead. 🙂 I did notice that when I had fleece items in the dryer, they were still kind of static-y, but not too bad. I haven’t actually used dryer sheets in a long time anyway just because I didn’t feel like buying them, so I’m used to way more static in my laundry, especially this dry time of year. The dryer balls definitely made a difference compared to not using anything at all.
-They’re so cute. I just had to add this one in there. Haha they’re so adorable and would make a cute laundry room decoration if you put them in a cute bowl/vase/basket. Its a very minor reason, but its still valid. 😉
If you buy a set of 4 on Etsy, they range from $20-$25, but they’re a lot cheaper to make yourself. Want to learn how to make your own? Its so easy!
-All you need is a couple skeins of wool yarn. (Make sure its actually wool yarn with no acrylic added in there. If you don’t use wool yarn, the balls won’t felt.) I used this brand and bought it at Joann’s. They’re $5-$6 a skein and make 3 small balls (slightly smaller than a baseball) or 2 larger (softball sized) balls, whichever you want. You want about 4 large sized dryer balls per load of laundry, or 6 smaller sized. So two skeins of yarn would be perfect. BUT- the more dryer balls you throw in with your laundry, the faster it dries, so if you make more, throw ’em in there! Here are the steps to making them:
-Wrap the yarn into whatever sized ball you prefer and tuck the end inside the ball. To do this, I used the blade of my scissors and poked a little hole in the yarn ball and stuffed about 3-4 inches of the end string in there and mashed around the hole to try and “close” it as much as possible. This worked for the most part, but with all the washing I did have a couple that tried to unravel a little. I just pushed the end back in and eventually it felted over and the end stayed put. To avoid this you could take the last 7-8 inches of string and use a needle to weave the end through the ball a bit so it won’t come out!
-Once you have your balls of yarn, find an old pair of pantyhose. If you’re like me and haven’t worn hose since childhood, you can get a pair for a few dollars at Target or Walmart. Place the yarn in the foot of the hose and tie it off. I just tied the hose itself to make things easy. Repeat with all the yarn balls until you have a yarn ball caterpillar.
-Place the whole thing in the washer with your laundry and use the hottest water setting. Afterwards, dry them with all your loads on the highest heat setting. After you’ve finished your laundry, cut the dryer balls free and they should have felted a bit. The yarn balls will continue to felt the more you use them. It will likely be a little while before the individual lines of yarn disappear, but after awhile, they’ll just appear like felted wool balls and no longer resemble yarn balls at all!
**If you love having a nice clean or refreshing smell on your laundry but don’t want those nasty artificial fragrances, add a few drops of essential oil to your yarn balls and your laundry will smell wonderful. My favorite is lavender!
Mine took about 3 weeks of laundry before they started to really felt, so it might take some patience. The hot water and hot dryer air, as well as the agitation of the washer and dryer are what make the balls felt.
Here’s a photo of mine after 3 weeks of laundry (2-3 loads/week). I think after one or two more washes, those lines of yarn will be completely gone!