I love seeing how others make the most of what they find at a creative reuse center. I may talk a good game, but I’m still very much a novice when it comes to upcycling. Thanks to Facebook, I get to peek at the ideas and creations of other re-users, which is generally where I find my inspiration.
Last week, I read about felted wool dryer balls, made out of some of the wool yarn remnants recently donated to Good Garbage. This project involves all my favorite things: saving the environment, saving money, and saving time. How is it I’ve never heard of these gems before now?
Felted wool dryer balls are simple to make and replace the pricey, chemical-laced dryer sheets most of us rely on to keep our clothes static-free. Even better, they reduce the amount of time it takes to dry a load of laundry, as the wool pulls the moisture out of your laundry and the movement of the balls helps separate your clothes, allowing more hot air to circulate.
If you Google “felted wool dryer balls” you’ll find dozens of tutorials on how to make them; some more complicated than others. But, here’s the process, in a nutshell.
First, choose your yarn. Look for 100% wool (no “wool blends”) and enough yarn to make a ball the size of a tennis ball. To avoid the risk of any color bleeding, go with white or cream or some incredibly pale color.
Next, create your yarn ball, leaving a rather long tail (I left mine maybe 1-2 feet, just to be safe), then use a blunt-tipped yarn needle to sew the tail through the ball of yarn several times. When you feel like the yarn is secure in all directions, cut the tail.
Then simply toss your wool balls into the washer the next time you wash a load on hot/cold, and dry it on the hottest dryer setting. Plan to repeat this step and send it through the laundry cycle several times until it’s thoroughly felted (you should see a difference after each load). The yarn ball is considered “felted” when the strands of yarn are no longer separate or at risk of unraveling.
To dry a regular-size load of laundry, you’ll need 4-6 felted wool dryer balls; large loads need 6 balls or more. If you miss the fresh scent your dryer sheets added to your laundry, you can add a few drops of an essential oil to each dryer ball, but be careful not to add too much, so the oil doesn’t spot your clothes.
That’s it! It doesn’t get much easier (or more earth-friendly) than this.
* A version of this post was originally published at reduxlou.blogspot.com.