Wool Dryer Balls

While looking for a more cost effective alternative to dryer sheets I found the following (disturbing) information.

Listed are chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets (eMediaWire website – Press release February 21, 2005):

• Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
• Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
• Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
• Alpha-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
• Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
• Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
• Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
• Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
• Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

Additional side effects from any of these chemicals can cause: Nausea, Vomiting, kidney/liver damage, Headaches, Blood pressure reduction, pancreatic cancer and irritation to the skin, mucus membrane and respiratory tract.

Talk about quitting cold turkey.  For a few weeks, my clothes went into the dryer without aid of dryer sheets or fabric softener of any type.  But combating static cling everyday is not my idea of fun, so I went back on the hunt for an inexpensive, simple alternative.

I did find “Dryer Balls”, which are rubber with little spikes on them.  For the record, I also found several people that love this product, but I am too skeptical in nature to buy anything “As Seen on TV“.

My search led me to the very simple solution of pure wool yarn wound into balls.  There are several sellers that have these items listed on Etsy made of various types of wool, including sheep, llama and alpaca.  I went to Joann’s Fabric Store and bought a skein of 100% pure wool yarn, in bright orange, because anything to make laundry a little more cheery is welcome in my house.  (Be sure to buy 100% wool)

Creating the balls are as easy as making a ball of yarn, because that is exactly what it is.  If you have never wound yarn, here are the basic steps.

Wrap the yarn around three fingers about 10 times.

Take the yarn off your fingers and wrap the opposite direction about 10 times.

Continue to wrap in alternating directions

Until you have a ball.  I made mine on the small side.  The next batch will be a bit larger.

After you have completed your yarn balls, put them into a nylon sock and tie the end.

Put them into the washing machine on hot and then into the dryer on the hottest setting to felt them.  They will shrink and the yarn will become a solid ball (you may need to run them through the wash cycle a couple times before they are completely felted).

To use the balls just throw them into the dryer with your laundry.  I currently have three in my dryer, and still experience some static, but less than with nothing at all.  I am going to add three more and hope that it takes care of this problem.  I will post an update later on.  If you have any tips or tricks, let me know.

Thanks for reading!

Cindy Dorfsmith



  1. Hey great article, have you ever considered hanging your clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer? It rains here 200+ days a year in tropical Queensland Australia with the average humidity per year at around 90% and i have used the dryer, briefly, twice in the past year and only as i had forgotten to get something ready for an outing… Allot of resources used in the large amounts of electricity in dryers…Justa a thought…

    1. Thank you for your comment. I will be installing a clothes line this spring and plan to hang dry my clothes as much as I can. With the cold, snowy winters it becomes more difficult to hang the clothes to dry, although I am sure it is possible. My only concern is that of dark clothes fading, do you have any advice? Thanks! Cindy Dorfsmith

  2. Thank you for your comment.
    I will be installing a clothes line this spring and plan to hang dry my clothes as much as I can. With the cold, snowy winters it becomes more difficult to hang the clothes to dry, although I am sure it is possible.

  3. I hang my clothes inside or on the veranda… I too avoid hanging them in the sun or outside due to the harmful UV rays which break down everything… I usually put a fan on to help dry them out, either a cieling fan, pedestal fan or both, it’s quite surprising how quickly they can dry…

  4. For outside drying: install the clothes line where the full miday sun can’t reach it – in the shadow of your house etc. Hang dark clothes inside out. Take the clothes off the line as soon as they are dry, don’t leave them hanging the whole day!
    And inside drying works just as well. Air-drying ist so much better for your clothes, your wallet and the environment!

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