It is probable that a lot of people will have no idea of what dryer balls are or what purpose they serve. A large number of people use a clothes washer and dryer to do their laundry each week, though. This is often one of the greatest expenses associated with household expenses and using the washer and dryer consume more energy than nearly anything else in the home, except perhaps heating and air conditioning. Dryer balls can cut out a good deal of the expense and save on energy.
What dryer balls are
If you look at a homemade dryer ball, your first impression will probably be that it just looks like a tight ball of yarn. That first impression is actually correct, although it is made out of wool yarn. Synthetic yarns don’t work as well. Each of the dryer balls is a couple of inches in diameter.
Use and purpose of dryer balls
Dryer balls are quite easy to use. Two to four of them are simply put into the dryer with each load of clothes that is dried. What good does that do? I’m glad you asked.
The purpose is two-fold. First, dryer balls eliminate the need for buying or purchasing fabric softener. The primary use for fabric softener is to remove static electric ‘cling’. As clothing tumbles dry, the fabrics are continually rubbing against each other, which produces static electricity, much like shuffling over a carpet does. The conventional method of combating this is to toss a fabric softener sheet in with each load that goes into the dryer.
The problem is that although the man-made chemicals used in those dryer sheets do work, the sheets are thrown away after each load, which increases the expense of doing the laundry. The chemicals also aren’t the best thing to have in the clothing that will be worn next to the skin.
Dryer balls remove the need for the anti-cling dryer sheets because wool has the property of removing and preventing static electric buildup in the clothing. Although an essential oil such as lavender can be added to the dryer balls in order to give the clothing a good scent, dryer balls don’t contain chemicals, either. Note that dryer balls can be purchased, but it is simple to make your own.
There is a second purpose to their use, though. As the drum inside the dryer rotates, the dryer balls fluff the clothes. This greatly reduces the drying time of each load that goes into the dryer.
The reason is similar to what happens when you hang clothing on a clothesline on a breezy day as compared to hanging them on a day with no wind at all. The clothing dries faster if there is wind blowing through and over them. In the dryer, clothing can dry up to or over 25% faster with dryer balls in with the load. That is a savings of 25% of the energy needed to dry the clothes, which cuts energy costs substantially, especially if you do two or more loads of laundry per week.
Making dryer balls
For the good they do, laundry balls are surprisingly simple to make. First, buy some wool yarn. It should be as close to 100% wool as possible. The yarn can be any color you want it to be.
Next, wrap the yarn into a ball, as you might do if you are knitting. The yarn should be wrapped tightly and should be about two inches or so in diameter; roughly the size of a tennis ball.
When each ball is wrapped, leave a couple of inches of yarn at the end to poke into the ball, using a knitting needle, crochet hook or similar.
Put each of the balls into a sock and tie the end of the sock. Unmated socks work great for this, but any socks or even nylons will work.
Toss the dryer balls that are inside the socks, into a load of heavy laundry, such as bath towels, and wash in hot water. Once they are washed, dry them on the high heat setting, then repeat the washing and drying.
At this point, the dryer balls should be ready for use. Simply take them out of the socks and use them in each load of clothes that go into the dryer. The dryer balls actually get even more efficient, the more they are used. They also last a long time. If you do three loads of clothes per day, the dryer balls should last about a year.
As mentioned, you can periodically add a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender, if you want the laundry to be scented. However, this is unnecessary. Still, imagine how much money you can save in a year if you don’t have to buy any fabric softener sheets and also save a quarter of the electricity that would normally be used by your clothes dryer. It is even healthier since you aren’t using chemicals that will be then worn next to the skin.
This is a great way to save money on the household expenses and the dryer balls are quite easy to make. In fact, these also are great gifts to give, along with a short description of how to use them.