If you're like me, then having your clothes come out of the dryer feeling more than a little squishy and wrinkled is not something you enjoy.
When that happens to you, chances are that you’ve been using those same old dryer sheets for years now, and probably don't even know what they're made of. But as it turns out, there are options available that will not only make our clothes smell better but also help them last longer.
In this article, I'm going to show you how to make your dryer balls yourself. This will save you money, make your clothes smell great, and help them last longer too. Let's dive deep into this topic.
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What are dryer balls and why use them?
Dryer balls are all-natural alternatives to fabric softeners. They are usually made of wool, which absorbs moisture from clothes as they dry. This can reduce dry time while promoting a static-free finish.
The most common type of dryer ball is the kind that you give an initial “fluff” with your hands before placing it in the dryer along with wet laundry. It's worth noting, however, that there are some models on the market where you throw them in damp clothes and let them do their thing without any human intervention. One popular model requires no fluffing at all because it has internal pockets where water collects during the spin cycle for later release.
Dryer balls are touted to help reduce static cling, which is especially helpful for those of us who use dryers year-round. It can also increase the longevity of your clothing by minimizing the tugging and twisting that occurs during tumble-drying. They're also great for people who live in apartments without washing machines (and it's tough to lug laundry to the laundromat every other day).
There are lots of ways you can choose to make these lovely little gadgets so let's get down to business.
How To Make Your Dryer Balls
Here are the steps you need to follow when making your dryer balls:
STEP 1: Buy your wool
The first thing you'll need to do is buy some wool. Any sheep's wool will do. You can even buy this stuff online if you have to. I suggest looking for 100% merino, though, because it has the least amount of processing and it's also the softest (which means less static). Some people like to use old cotton T-shirts instead of purchased wool but 100% cotton yarn is not recommended because it will attract lint towards itself during the drying process instead of repelling it like natural materials.
STEP 2: Shave the Wool
Taking care of all that extra fuzz makes for a happier dryer ball experience. If you're using 100% wool then you should be able to just shave it with a disposable razor or an electric shaver. If you're using the yarn mentioned above, however, then you will need to do this job by hand. This process is known as “teasing” and is done by gently going at the pile of fibers in long strokes until it reaches your desired length.
STEP 3: Cut the Wool Into Equal-Sized Pieces
Now that your yarn or wool is shaved, cut it up into small pieces which are about 1-inch square. It's a good idea to make a bunch of them because they break easily, which means more time doing laundry.
STEP 4: Tie Them Up Tightly
Put all your little pieces of yarn in your hand and tie them together at the top right corner. You can use a slipknot or some other knot that you'd like, but make sure it's firm because the dryer balls will get very heavy during use.
STEP 5: Find Some Socks
The best socks to use are older ones that are losing their elasticity anyway. A good pair for this purpose is ribbed on both sides, without any toe seam. The more unique the better. Also, avoid socks with unique stitching along where the big toe would be because those stitches can unravel when pulled too hard from either end. If you don't have an old sock then buy a cheap new one at a dollar store or Walmart.
STEP 6: Fill the Socks Up
Now, stuff those socks as full as you can with your yarn. If using a sock, make sure to push as much air out as possible before tying up the end. You don't want it too tight but just firm enough so that the balls won't come loose inside and cause problems during drying.
STEP 7: Tie off the Other End and Toss Them in the Dryer.
Using either a slipknot or some other knot that you'd like, tie off the open end of the sock after all your dryer balls are securely stuffed inside. Now toss them into your dryer at medium heat.
STEP 8: Hang Out and Enjoy Your Magic Balls
After the dryer has finished its cycle, your balls will be ready to use. Remove them from your sock (if you used one) and marvel at their newly-shrunken stature. They should feel like little marbles in your hand. You can leave them like this or you can decorate them using fabric paint (which is eventually non-toxic once it dries). Make sure to let them dry before putting them back into the dryer though. If left for too long then the heat may melt the adhesive on the paint.
Don't Get Discouraged If Things Didn’t Quite Work Out.
If you're not happy with how your dryer balls turned out then try again. There are also hundreds of online tutorials out there from other supply hoarders. You can also knit your dryer balls if you know how to do that, so your dryer balls will be custom-made for your needs.
Dryer Balls Vs Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are always the greener option when it comes to laundry. However, they have chemicals in them that don't belong with our skin or clothes so trying something natural is a nice way to avoid excess toxins. Also, dryer balls save money. Dryer sheets tend to be pricey these days and dryer balls will last for years before you need to replace them again.
Remember not to overstuff your socks because then they won't work correctly & may even break open while spinning during the drying process.
Another difference between Dryer Balls Vs Dryer Sheets is that the dryer balls are reusable & environmentally friendly, while the dryer sheets tend to need to be changed every time you do a load of laundry.
International Laundry Care Symbols
When doing your laundry, it pays to know what all the symbols mean because your clothes are not only being washed & dried but they're also being sanitized.
There are laundry care symbols seen on nearly every piece of clothing that's for sale these days:
- Washing – This simply means that the garment can be washed by hand or machine. Nothing else needs to be done to it after just washing.
- Tumble Dry Low Heat – It's self-explanatory but you can see a picture of a tumble dryer on there as well. If this is for a specific item then it may not be safe for all fabrics so read the tag first. Usually, only natural fibers could shrink from this kind of care.
- No Ironing Required – The fabric used for this piece does not need to be ironed before wearing because it doesn't wrinkle easily (usually due to high starch content). Yay for saving time & reducing wrinkled clothes after a long day at work.
Learning the correct meaning of International Laundry Care Symbols is crucial because you don't want to accidentally damage your clothing or send it to the thrift store prematurely.
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Final thoughts on making homemade dryer balls
In conclusion, making your dryer balls yourself is a great way to save money on dryer sheets which are expensive and potentially mildly toxic for people with sensitive skin. Most importantly, they help reduce wrinkles & static cling, ensuring that your clothes come out fresh each time you wash them.