How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

A Natural and Reusable Alternative to Dryer Sheets

Homemade dryer balls on wooden surface

The Spruce / Olivia Inman

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 3 hrs
  • Yield: 3 or more wool dryer balls
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to $10

Dryer balls are an alternative method to keep clothes soft and static-free instead of using fabric softener or dryer sheets. You can find a variety of dryer balls on the market. There are balls made from PVC that look like little hedgehogs as well as felted wool balls. Some people swear by adding tennis balls to each dryer load to speed drying and reduce wrinkling. But you can also make homemade wool dryer balls.

Making your own felted wool dryer balls is simple and a great way to use up leftover 100% wool yarn. Dryer balls need to be crafted from 100% wool that has not been treated with any chemicals. You can even recycle wool sweaters that are no longer wearable. Dryer balls are also much less expensive to make than to purchase. Wool dryer balls are also so soft that they can't hurt your dryer even when they're bouncing around. And since they're wool, they don't hold moisture for long and can't get moldy.

Benefits of Using Wool Dryer Balls

  • By choosing a 100% natural wool ball to soften clothes, you can avoid introducing chemical residue and fragrances to fabrics that can be harmful to sensitive skin.
  • Wool dryer balls help keep clothes separated in the dryer, allowing the heated air to circulate better, dry items quicker, and reduce energy usage.
  • The wool balls also capture static and prevent static cling.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors
  • Large needle or crochet hook
  • Clothes dryer
  • Stovetop

Materials

  • 100% wool yarn or 100% wool fabric strips
  • Small amount of cotton string
  • Old thin sock or pantyhose
  • Hot water
  • Cooking pot

Instructions

Materials to make homemade dryer balls displayed on wooden surface
The Spruce / Olivia Inman

Tip

The fabric or yarn to make dryer balls must be 100% wool or another animal hair (like alpaca, but not cashmere) that will shrink, or felt, when exposed to hot water. The natural hair has barbs that latch onto one another to create a more solid finish. This will provide the density you need for the ball to hold its shape. The natural fibers also help control static much better than synthetic fibers.

How To Make Wool Dryer Balls

  1. Prepare Materials

    If you're going to use old woven or knit wool fabrics, like old coats and sweaters, cut the garment into thin strips or ribbons.

    Old garment cut into strips with scissors

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

  2. Wind Up a Ball

    Wind the wool yarn or fabric strips into a ball. Start by wrapping them around your fingers, and be sure to switch directions often to get a ball that's equally round—the same way you'd wind a ball of yarn. Wrap tightly and in an orderly fashion until you have a ball about the size of a tennis ball, around 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Secure the end of your yarn by running it under several strands of yarn. This can be done with a large needle or a crochet hook. It's best to make several balls before proceeding to the next step.

    Some suggest using a tennis ball as the core and adding wool yarn or fabric around it as a quick way to make a ball. But these balls won't last as long as a solid wool ball, and you still have the problem of chemical exposure.

    Fabric strips winding into tight ball with crochet hook

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

  3. Create a Sack of Balls

    When the balls are the correct size, put them into an old sock or the leg of a pair of pantyhose, using cotton string to tie off between each one.

    Leg of pantyhose wrapping dryer balls and tied with cotton string

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

  4. Soak and Felt in Hot Water

    Add the filled sock or pantyhose to a pot of hot water, and bring it to a boil, which will make the felted dryer balls. Once boiling, remove the pot from the heat source, but allow the balls to soak until the water is cool. The hot water will cause the wool to shrink and felt. If you're using anything other than white or natural-colored wool, you may see some dye transfer. Some dyed wool yarn or fabric is not colorfast. This won't be a problem when the balls are finished and used in the dryer.

    Dryer balls placed in pot with boiling water on stove
    The Spruce / Olivia Inman
  5. Dry the Core

    Next, squeeze any excess water from the balls, and put the sock of balls in the dryer to dry on high heat. When dry, cut the strings between the balls, and remove them from the sock or pantyhose. The balls will be smaller (due to felting) and should look fuzzy. You shouldn't be able to unwind them. These balls become the core of your final dryer balls.

    Dryer balls removed from pantyhose to dry core

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

  6. Finish the Ball

    Using the ball cores, begin the wrapping process again with the wool yarn or fabric strips. Keep wrapping until the ball is around 3 1/2 inches in diameter. This is slightly bigger than the final product. Repeat the soaking and drying process.

    Dryer ball wrapped with more fabric strips

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

How to Use Your Wool Dryer Balls

  • Put three to six balls at a time into your dryer, depending on the size of the load. You can take the balls out of their stocking or socks or keep them in while using them to dry your laundry; it's your choice.
  • Spray your balls with water and put them in the dryer to create a steam effect which can further reduce wrinkles.
  • Make your wool dryer balls smell good by adding a couple of drops of essential oil to them before you put them in the dryer.
  • When you want to clean your dryer balls, pop them in your washing machine with your regular laundry and wash them in hot water.
FAQ
  • How often should I replace wool dryer balls?

    After a few uses, you'll see pilling on the surface of the balls. While this isn't attractive, it won't reduce their efficacy. You will need to replace a wool dryer ball when recharging it won't work to refresh it and you are seeing more static cling. A dryer ball is probably done if little bits and pieces of it begin to fall off.

  • How do you recharge wool dryer balls?

    You can reuse wool dryer balls for hundreds of loads. If you are experiencing static cling and think your wool dryer balls are depleted, first try recharging them. Put the balls in a stocking or thin socks and wash them in your washing machine using a gentle cycle and hot water. Dry on high heat in the dryer.

  • What kind of wool is used for dryer balls?

    Only 100% pure wool will work for dryer balls. Wool is a very complex fiber. For one, wool's fibers interlock and felt nicely. Wool contains lanolin which makes the fiber water-repellent while at the same time it can absorb moisture without letting water pass through its fibers. This process helps eliminate static cling in the dryer. Blends, cotton, or anything treated will not work because it won't felt in the correct way to create the ball. It's recommended to use wool without a tight twist, such as wool slub since it felts up quickly.

Watch Now: How to Make Your Own Dryer Sheets

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Barani, Hossein, and Shahdokht Rahimpour. “The Dyeing Procedures Evaluation of Wool Fibers with Prangos Ferulacea and Fastness Characteristics.” Advances in Materials Science and Engineering, vol. 2014, 2014, pp. 1–6.