Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Handcrafted Christmas: Dryer Balls

I heard something this past year about dryer sheets being toxic. And, I remember asking my sister if they were toxic to humans or to the environment. She said - both. Whoa. That made me think about what I just pop into my clothes every time I do laundry. And, when I checked this out online, it said that children were especially susceptible to the toxins.

Upon reading another blog, the author mentioned that she made wool dryer balls. So, after a quick search, I came up with this great tutorial. According to what I could find on-line, these were a natural way to eliminate fabric softener and increase dryer efficiency. Well, I figured it was worth a try.

The balls are very easy to make - if you want a simple project - this is the one for you! But, I still had to prove that they were effective.

During the first and second feltings, I washed the balls with sheets in hot water, dried on high heat. The sheets were not clingy or filled with static and I had not used fabric softener. Next, I threw one in with a regular load of wet clothes and started the dryer. My load was dry and static free!

Note: In recent weeks/months, I had been having to run my dryer through TWO cycles to get my clothes dry. Since using these dryer balls, my clothes have been dry after only one cycle! I did notice a little bit of static in one load, but overall have not had an issue with this. I'm curious about someone in a drier climate using this - as the static may pose more of a concern.

I have not used any fabric softener since we got back from our big road trip - over a month ago. And, I've only once had to run the dryer through two cycles when a really heavy towel was in the load.

I used one 8 oz. skein of Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool ($9 at Hobby Lobby) and made six dryer balls with it. I loved the feel and look of this yarn and it felted beautifully! Please take special note that washable yarn will NOT work for this project - you need 100% wool yarn!

Oh, and don't they look so cute all wrapped up in cellophane bags ready to give?! I think these would make a great stocking stuffer! Has anyone else tried an unconventional fabric softener?

PS: Carol of Pure Sugar is offering a Handknit Holiday book and yarn giveaway - the deadline is today, so hurry on over!

50 comments:

asnipofgoodness said...

I have never heard any of this, i didn't know dryer sheets were toxic, or that wool balls could take their place!?! Good info Monica, I wonder if just a piece of an old sweater would work just as well?? Not that you would want to gift that...haha. that brings funny images to mind....."Oh aunt June, its an old sweater sleeve, thought you might like it to through in with the laundry'...LOL

Elise said...

Wow, thanks for the info. I will probably make a few for family for sure. These would be so cute in a jar beside another jar of homemade detergent. Oh my, you could give a whole laundry themed gift!!
Elise

patty w said...

This is so interesting. I know softeners really gunk everything up. But hadn't heard they were toxic.

I've cut way back on the amounts of detergents and softeners that I use. I use both liquid and softener sheets. I cute the sheets in thirds usually.

Very interesting, will have to check into this!

Danielle said...

Wow! Thanks Monica. I didn't know that about fabric softner either. Scary really!

Great idea!

Anonymous said...

Hey Monica,
I had no idea about the dryer sheets!!!! Oh my goodness!! Thank you so much for offering a simple homespun solution. We should have know something natural could do the job :-). tammyp

Stephenie said...

Thanks so much for the info! I'm guessing the dryer balls are reusable, but for how long?

The Things We Do said...

I actually DID know that about dryer sheets and have been using chemical free biodegradable ones but I've never heard of these wool balls either. I'm totally going to make a bunch for our families for Christmas! Thank you!

Lindsay said...

This is such a great idea. I so wish I wasn't HIGHLY sensitive to wool :(

LynnMarie said...

Your Wool Balls look great and I'm going shopping on my way home from work today to look for 100 Wool to make some for stocking stuffers. I have to do laundry over the weekend any how! Thank you so much for this info. Do you have a recipe for home made laundry detergent as well? What a great gift for Christmas!!!

Paige said...

Rain water!
If you hang your clothes on the line every day like I do, you might plan to hang them before a little rain as the rain water does a lovely job of softening the fabrics.
Less detergent is a good idea too. Most of the stiffness is just residual soap.
Cool idea though, and easy enough I might make that one of our projects for my MJ chapter.
P~

Mary said...

Wow! The things I am learning these days. These wool balls look like a grat alternative to chemicals. I'm just wondering a couple of things. One, do you know how long they will last? Two, have you noticed them leaving any lint on the clothes? My husband and I both wear a lot of black/navy slacks for work and my son has dark uniform pants for school. I'm just worried about having a lot of lint on my things. I guess I could always use black wool...

Mary said...

Sorry to double post, but I meant to add that I've read recently about the buildup from dryer sheets on your dryer filter can cause your dryer to not work efficiently and even start fires! Try taking your filter to the sink and running water through it. If the water sits in the filter, you have a lot of chemical buildup clogging the holes. This could be why it's taking more than one cycle to dry clothes.

Ginger@From The Cocoon said...

This is a super cool idea! We are giving only handmade gifts this year on my side of the family and I think I can totally do this! Thanks!! And just an added bonus that my mom doesn't know about it, so she'll be impressed that I came up with this "all on my onw" ;)

My name is Cheryl said...

This is very interesting. I have never heard this about either dryer sheets or fabric softener. I will have to do some of my own wool balls to check this out. I am not suprised that something natural is the answer though.
Thank you for sharing this. This will make great stocking stuffers.

Amy said...

I have had this idea bookmarked in my notebook so I am definitely going to have to try this. I love how you packaged them up- they look so pretty!

My name is Cheryl said...

lynnmarie posted asking for laundry detergent recipes. I happned to be surfing after reading this post and came across this site. Hope it's useful for you.
http://tipnut.com/10-homemade-laundry-soap-detergent-recipes/

Edward said...

I have been looking at this project for a while, and I am thinking this will be a great project for our church fall festival/craft sale. btw, could I use your handcrafted christmas pic on my blog as well? Blessings, Shawn <><

The Parson's Wife said...

Shoot, I did it again! I am not Edward (above post) but his wife Shawn, so oops, sorry about that (aka the parsonswife) Shawn <><

Sirena said...

From what I've heard with Dryer Balls, if you run the drying too long the clothes will become dry and begin to get hot. Then they will make more static again, even if you are using a dryer ball. If you are using these and still getting static try cutting back your dryer time! Thank you so much for this on! I have some wool that was given to me and I can't wait to use it!

Wendi said...

I had no idea that dryer sheets were toxic. Yikes! I had been looking at the dryer balls for economic reason, no I have an even better reason to give them a try.

Your dryer balls are cute and I think they would make a great gift for my MIL!

Sirena said...

Sorry I'm double posting as well. I make laundry detergent and sell it at our local Farmer's Market. I have had a lot of success with it and I wanted to share the recipe. I shred 2 bars of soap (you can use any kind but I use no name 99% pure) and add 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda. I can buy washing soda in the bulk box section of our Save-on-Foods here in Canada. This is enough for 40 or more large loads of laundry. I use about a tablespoon for each load or a formula scoop. I have a client who has a high efficiancy washing machine and she uses half a scoop. If you have a HE washer you need to check your warranty because you may be voiding it by using a "non-recommended" detergent. Feel free to use this recipe as you desire! Blessings!

Nancy said...

I use an old Downy ball, and fill to the line with clear vinegar. I don't have a problem with static electricity. Vinegar also helps remove soap residue.
The wool balls are a very interesting concept though.

Ruth said...

Monica,
This is such a great idea. I didn't know that they were toxic. I don't think most people know.
Ruth

mama k said...

These are awesome! I too saw that tutorial awhile ago and am making them for friends after I made a couple sets for me. I put lavender EO inside and they let out a lovely soft scent when I use them.
Very nifty xmas gift too!

Deb Burton said...

This year more than any other, since my husband lost his job and transitioned into one that doesn't pay as well with more expensive benefits, I'm looking for more frugal ways to give Christmas gifts. This is not only frugal, but imminently green, unusual and all with that homemade touch. Thanks Monica!

thehomespunheart said...

Hi Ladies!

Great info and discussion here in the comments - thanks!

I'm not sure how long they will last - the only thing I could find on that topic was that they may eventually get pills on them like wool sweaters do. And if it bugs you, they suggested that you could shave them off as you would do a sweater.

I have not had any trouble with lint on my laundry and my husband wears dark pants and is in law enforcement, so they must be lint free.

Hope that helps!
Monica

Tracy said...

I'm so thrilled with this post!!! I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what to do for all the teacher gifts this year- school, sunday school, wednesday, etc.... How fun would this be??? Thanks so much!

Danielle said...

I read the tutorial and have one question...how many balls do you use at a time? Just one?

Thanks:-) and thanks Tracy for the Sunday School Teacher idea!

thehomespunheart said...

Yes, just use one ball per load of laundry!

momof4sweetsisters said...

These are so neat! I'm going to give them as gifts with our laundry bath. Thanks a bunch!

Tracey said...

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Lorie said...

I might have to give this a shot!! Thanks for the idea!

Teachermom said...

This is such a great idea...thanks for sharing! :)

Ginny said...

This is really cool. I have 2 of the kind that you buy at the store (the blue ones) but this is a better deal. Very cool!

I think you can also use tennis balls, but again making them seems like the cheapest way & they look nicer!

beingmolded said...

I remember hearing dryer sheets were toxic, but it left my mind. I just printed the tutorial and am hoping to get organized enough to make some to sell at our craft fair.
Thank you so much for sharing, Monica!

Tara said...

I can't wait to try this!!! We use cloth diapers and they take more than one cycle when we have to dry them inside. I bought some dryer balls at Babies R' Us that work great for getting them dry. However, I would rather use a more natural alternative (plus the plastic balls make the diapers smell kind of funny). I'll let you know how these work on both our diapers and clothes. Thanks so much for the project - I had no clue that you could make these!

Storybook Woods said...

Monica, what a wonderful idea !!!! Clarice

Gumbo Lily said...

I'm going to have to try this. Thank you for sharing this idea and all the tips to go with it.

Jody

Zegi said...

Another reason your dryer might be taking longer is that your exhaust tube is clogged up with lint. My aunt's house burned down because she didn't keep hers clean, so it is both an energy & safety concern! Thanks for the dryer ball tip...most of the time I don't use softener or sheets at all but when it gets dry in the winter I'll have to keep this in mind!

Becky said...

I love the wool dryer balls. I tried the plastic ones but they seemed to get beaten up so quickly. I am excited to give these a try.

We use a cup (give or take) of white vinegar in the rinse cup in our washer and that works quite well to deodorize, disinfect, and eliminate static- the only time I've had any trouble was when it was very, very cold and, thus, very dry here.

Anonymous said...

Dose anyone know how long a wool ball lasts? I think this is a great idea.

3boysmama said...

If you're dryer is not working, make sure you clean out the exhaust tube. You can have a professional come out and do that.

Another trick for fabric softener is to stick a tennis ball in the dryer. This works especially well when washing a down comforter or down sleeping bag.

The Things We Say said...

Well, I made one and we live in a really dry area. The clothes were super static. So, I'm glad to read Serina's advice to shorten the drying time. I didn't realize the ball would make it dry so fast. I'm eager to try catching the load at the right time before it's too dry. Thanks again Monica. I can't wait to make more for Christmas!

fruitfulwords said...

Thanks for such a useful post. I think I'll make up some of these as gifts too, besides keeping a few for myself. :-)

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica~ Do you use all 6 balls in a load to dry or just one,two or three???? Thank you for your craftiness on this idea. I like the yarn and color you chose. You have that special gift to chose things , making them more thought out. Smiles, Angelia in Tx

Please email me. When I figure out how to get you my email address.

Sazz said...

i just found your site and was looking at this thread. it is quite an interesting concept however the tutorial link comes up not found? have i missed out on getting to try this?

thehomespunheart said...

Sazz: I did a quick search and found the same tutorial. The link has been fixed! Enjoy

Sazz said...

oh thank you thank you!

Rachel said...

Thanks for this great idea. I made some after Christmas, but ran out of yarn so I used strips of felted wool and they seem to have the same effect. I just posted about it today.

Thanks for sharing all your creative ideas. They surely inspire me!

Elizabeth said...

this is a great idea...have you been using some in your dryer? if so, how do you like them now that several months (a year) has passed... does it work like you hoped it would?

thanks so much for answering my questions... i appreciate your time.