According to the Energy Information Agency, clothes dyers account for over 4% of total residential energy use in the United States. If you’re looking to cut back on energy usage and shrink your utility bill, the clothes dryer is a great place to start. You can boost efficiency by cleaning the lint filter to improve air circulation, drying full loads only, or using cooler cycles when possible. Of course, the best way to reduce laundry-related energy consumption is to dry clothes on a clothesline. But during winter, an outdoor clothesline isn’t an option. Instead, try wool dryer balls
Like magic, wool dryer balls cut down drying time by 20-50%, soften your clothes, and reduce static cling. Wool dryer balls are sold on Amazon.com and Etsy.com for $15-$20, but they are an easy, affordable DIY project. And bonus, they are 100% natural.
We’ve seen DIY wool dryer ball projects on several blogs, so we decided to try it ourselves.
To make wool dryer balls, you will need:
- 100% wool yarn
- Tights or pantyhose
- Scented essential oils (optional)
1. When purchasing yarn, make sure you find skeins that are 100% wool. If they include synthetic fibers, they will not felt properly. Depending on where you shop, a skein can cost from $5-$11. The one shown here cost $11, but was enough to make five balls with a three-inch circumference.
2. Start by wrapping your yarn around three fingers about twenty times.
3. Pinch the beginnings of your ball and tightly wrap the middle.
4. Continue to alternate, creating a bundle. (Don’t worry if it looks like a mess at this step.)
5. Once you begin to get some shape, make sure you wind the ball, alternating and moving your yarn around to keep the ball uniform.
6. Depending on what size you like, snip the line, and tuck it into some other strands to secure. Standard wool dryer balls are 4 inches in diameter.
7. To felt the dryer balls, wrap them in the pantyhose and tie them off between each ball.
8. Throw the pantyhose-wrapped balls in with a load of laundry. The hotter, the better. You can also heat some water on the stove and “cook” them on the range. Once they have been in the water process, throw them in the dryer with a load.
9. You can repeat step 8 again, but once is sufficient.
10. Undo the pantyhose, and you have your set of wool dryer balls, ready for use. Some people like to add one or two drops essential oils to the balls to add scent.