Essential Oil Wool Dryer Balls

lavender wool ball

I was going to title this post “Wool Balls.” But then I couldn’t get the image of actual ram balls out of my mind. My mother was pretty entertained when I asked if I could come over and take a picture of Angus’s balls. She got a little (ok.. more than a little) suspicious of why exactly I’d want to take a picture of her ram’s balls?

Well, I recently became aware of the value of making dryer ball out of wool myself and I wanted to have a picture of an actual wool ball. See?

Needless to say, I didn’t have the time to make the 32 mile round trip, just for a picture of Angus’s balls, so here is a token, front-end picture of Angus (left) and his buddy, Domino.

Copy_of_Angus_Dom2-600x449

The whole idea of making wool dryer balls is to stop using those horrid, chemical laden dryer sheets to get rid of static cling and make your laundry smell great. They bounce around in the dryer and help fluff your clothes so they dry faster too. I’ve also read that if you attach a safety pin to a wool ball, or put a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer, it will help dissipate the static electricity in the clothing. I’ll have to report back on that after I test it. So lets get started.

You’ll need some wool yarn. Make sure its 100% wool. We want it to felt and shrink and mash together in the washer. An acrylic yarn like Red Heart won’t work because its machine washable. Besides that, its synthetic and icky. You can buy wool yarn at places like Michaels, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby or better yet, use up scraps. I’ve been making felted wool slippers for years and so I have a box of scraps. What an awesome way to use them up!

wool yarn scraps

Start by winding the yarn around a couple of fingers a few times, then slip it off and starting making a ball.

winding 

winding2

Just keep winding until they are about softball size. They’ll shrink during the felting process, so if you’re in doubt, make them a little bigger. Tuck a crochet hook, or a blunt needle into the strands. Grab the loose end, pull it through and tie.

yarn ball crochet hook

3yarnballs

Now to the washing machine. A couple of instructions I’ve read suggested putting the wool balls into the leg of a pair of old panty hose. But really? Who the heck still wears panty hose. Just the thought, brought back images of those Leggs eggs that the panty hose or “nylons” came in. Remember those? And that fact that my mother used to cut the legs off the old ones and store onions in them. Another fine recycling idea. Now I’m regretting mindlessly tossing that pair of ballet tights with the run in the back of the leg that my daughter grew out of.

I tried putting my three wool balls into a zippered pillow case, but the first time through the hot cycle on the wash, they started to come apart. Clearly, the point of the panty hose is also to keep the yarn ball from unraveling in the least little bit until the strands are felted together. So I cut off the messed up part that came off the edge of the yarn ball and hunted through some cupboards in the utility room. Shazam! I found a plastic mesh sack that used to hold oranges!

I cut it half, put one of the balls in and tied it shut.

yarn ball in sack

Then I put the other two into the other half of the sack, and tied it tight on both ends. OK, I set my washing machine on the lowest water setting, which is extra small. The water temperature on Hot for the longest time. Listen for the washing machine to get done with agitating part and draining. You don’t need to rinse. Go check the wool balls and see if they look felted. If not.. reset the washer back to the beginning of the hot cycle. And be sure to listen for when the agitation and draining stops. You can tell when they are felted enough by just scraping your fingernail across the side of the ball and seeing if the strands are mushed together or if they separate. They will felt together more securely as you use them and you can always run them through the wash with your towels or jeans too.

Done! I’m going to add a few drops of lavender essential oil and a safety pin to my wool dryer balls. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled at garage sales for partial skeins of 100% wool. With some essential oil and creative packaging, these would make great gifts!

lavender wool ball

shared at the Homestead Barn Hop #103 and the Creative HomeAcre Hop

11 Responses to Essential Oil Wool Dryer Balls

  1. Vanessa says:

    I made some of these a few weeks ago. I love them, but am having problems with static. I am going to attach a safety pin to one and see how it works! Thanks for the idea!

  2. Lisa Lynn says:

    Cool idea! I wonder if you could just toss these in the washer with your other clothes a few time until they are felted? Making sure that the color doesn’t bleed, of course.

    Thanks for sharing on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you tomorrow at:
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/03/the-creative-homeacre-hop-8.html

  3. Kim says:

    What a neat idea! As soon as I no longer have a dog who’s allergic to wool AND lavender, I’ll have to give it a try. (He’s allergic to lots of other things, too. But he’s pure love and I don’t know what I’d do without him, so I’ll wait on this project as long as I have to.) I was wondering, though, why you don’t rinse the balls? What I know about felting wool is that agitation AND temperature changes make it happen. That would suggest that a cold water rinse after a hot water wash could make the process go a little quicker. Also, would roving work instead of yarn, or would that not be strong enough?

    • I don’t rinse them because I’m impatient and if you don’t add soap, then its not necessary. And yes.. the combination of hot water to cause shrinking and agitation is the cause of the felting. At least thats my experience and understanding. I’d totally try roving. The reason most people use yarn is because its widely available at the craft stores. I think a big ball of roving would make a lovely dryer ball! Oh.. and you can add whatever oils you want. So use a citrus oil if your pup would prefer. Is he allergic to raw, unprocessed wool? or just commercially prepared wool and roving?

  4. Carol Samsel says:

    I’ve been making these for years out out of old recycled wool sweaters . I pick the sweaters up at thrift stores and cut them into strips and wrap them into balls. Sometimes I’ll unravel a sweater and use the yarn that way. I let the balls go through the cold water rinse and it does speed the felting process. You can also pick up panty hose at thrift stores very cheap and often still in the package…I only use them for crafting too :) Sometimes I even get real creative and embroider along the edges of the sweater strips for fancier balls. These make great gifts and only take a few extra minutes to spruce them up.

  5. Catherine says:

    Crochet hook! Why didn’t I think of that? I’ve been having the hardest time tucking the end of my yarn in when I finish a ball. And I use crochet hooks for random non-crochet tasks all the time.

  6. Angie says:

    I have done this and am very excited BUT when I throw it in the dryer 4 days out it sounds like a baseball is in the dryer. Is it because it is still damp so it is heavier? Or did I make it to big?

    • LOL.. how big is your finished one? I haven’t noticed any extra noise and mine are probably 3″ in diameter maybe. Do you notice more noise when you don’t have very many clothes in the dryer?

  7. Jennifer K says:

    Sweaters are a great idea! I’m looking for a new way to scent them, adding essential oil to the balls only lasts for 2 maybe three loads. I’ve had a terrible problems with static in some of my sweaters, I am going to try the safety pin trick.

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