Here we go – the promised Dryer Ball Tutorial! After inquiring in the newsletter if there would be interest in a tutorial, the response was a resounding YES. I have made dozens of these now for our local natural foods store. So, I feel I have a good process worked out, and I’m ready to share it with all of you.

 

You will need:

Wool
Needle Felting Tool
Kitchen Scale
Access to Water
Clothes Dryer

A quick note about the wool: I love Corriedale wool, and used NZ Corriedale Roving for all the dryer balls I have made. Although this roving is available in a very wide range of dyed colors, I prefer the undyed ecru. It is economical, and I don’t have to worry about possible dye transfer from the wool. I’m just being super careful, since I am selling these dryer balls to customers.

After some experimenting, I settled on 45 grams of wool for a nice, pleasing size of dryer ball. They end up being about 2.5″ across.

 

Here’s the Process

So, I start by weighing out 45 grams of roving. I wind it in a loose ball to weigh it more easily, but I re-wrap it before felting.

To wrap the ball for felting, I start with a very snug core for the first few wraps, then relax a bit while still keeping the wraps neat and tidy. You want to keep the roving “flat” – I avoid twisting the roving because that causes thicker areas. Also, I take care to change directions while I wind, so the ball builds out consistently all the way around. For example, if I wind vertically a few times, turning the ball to lay the wraps side by side, I then hold the roving in place with my thumb and angle it horizontally, and wrap a few times on the horizontal axis of the ball. The ball ends up about 3.5″ across after I wrap it all up.

Now I needle felt over the surface of the ball, tacking down the end of the roving first, and then working over the whole surface of the ball. Don’t felt deeply – the needles never go into the wool more than an inch, and usually much less. I am not trying to needle felt it until firm, just enough to keep the surface intact for the next step. This needle felting step only takes about 5 minutes.

Just Add Water

I usually make a large batch of balls, about a dozen at a time. Once I have a bunch made up to this point, I then dampen them at the kitchen sink, and place them in a pan or bucket to take to the dryer. A note about the water: do not soak the dryer balls! The wool will repel the water at first, but I pat the surface of the ball while the water runs over it, and then squeeze out the excess, so it is not soggy. Too much water seems to make the balls turn out egg-shaped.

Then I throw the dryer balls into the dryer, and run them on High for an hour. This step sounds exactly how you would imagine a dryer full of tumbling of balls would sound. I do this step during the day, when nobody needs to sleep or nap.

Dryer Ball How To

When the dryer balls are done to my liking, they are about 2.5″ across. Sometimes one cycle gets them there, but other times, I have to dampen the balls a second time and run them through another cycle.

Dryer ball tutorial

There You Have It

Now the dryer balls are ready to use! Add three or four to your load of clothes while drying. It helps fluff the clothes, and if you have an energy efficient dryer that senses the moisture in the clothes, it can cut your drying time. We have a friend who swears by them for drying comforters and blankets more quickly, and a customer tells me they speed up the drying time for jeans.

While I have not tried it personally, I have had folks tell me they add essential oils to the balls, so they also add a fresh scent while drying and they can skip the dryer sheets. I imagine they dilute the essential oil with water and spritz it on the balls. I have not wanted to put essential oils in my dryer (I just washed these clothes to get them free of oils…), so I can’t speak from experience to this.

Your Feedback

Was this dryer ball tutorial helpful to you? Have you used dryer balls before? What do you love about dryer balls? I’d love to have your feedback – please leave a comment below!

11 replies
  1. Gwen Olmstead
    Gwen Olmstead says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! (And the pictures show just fine!) You use a slightly different process than most instructions out there and it seems to work great. I will give it a try!

    Reply
  2. Cecily
    Cecily says:

    I like your process and plan to try it. I have been making dryer balls for a number of years. Here are two things I do at the end. I make a vinegar bath…few tablespoons white vinegar to about half gallon of water. Rathe but don’t completely soak the balls. Let them air dry. Then make a very shallow platter or plan of water and swish just a few drops of essential lavender oil. Add the balls and just roll them around to get coated. Again let dry.

    these steps can be used to “recharge” the balls once every 6-12 months. Essential oil is not at all like dirty oil. But not only does it help with static it wanted it can add a light clean scent and kill germs. The vinegar is good for balancing the Ph of the wool. That’s my input!

    Reply
    • Andrea Schroer
      Andrea Schroer says:

      Thanks for the tips, Cecily. Do you use soap at all during the process of making the dryer balls? I usually only rinse with vinegar if I changed the ph of the wool by using soap.

      I really appreciate the tips on how to apply the essential oil.

      Reply
  3. Beth Kollé
    Beth Kollé says:

    This year I suddenly got the urge to make gnomes. I don’t know why this urge hit me, but I’m going with it. I have been making small (8 gram) balls of wool to make the head of the gnome in my kitchen sink just using my hands. Results have been mostly good, with the occasional ball that resembles a mini-cauliflower. I will try this method, once I buy some felting needles. Thank you for the idea!

    Reply
  4. Leonor
    Leonor says:

    I use essential oils on my dryer balls and it makes my clothes smell nice 🙂 I don’t use fabric conditioner, so this is a nice way to replace that “conditioner smell” one might be used to. I simply add a few drops of oil in a few balls and away they go. Nothing has happened to my tumble dryer from this, since the wool just soaks up the oil (and it’s a tiny amount anyway).

    Reply
  5. Gwen
    Gwen says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial. So pleased to see the size included. I have been playing around making balls but find now they are way too small. Back to the drawing g
    board. Maybe I can give the ones ive made to a friendly cat.
    Will start again.

    Reply
  6. sharikrsna
    sharikrsna says:

    So excited to be a new member of Mielke’s! Great info and products. I look forward to trying this, when my current dryer balls wear out. I also use oils with mine, on occasion. Does not seem to get on the clothes.

    Reply

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