Instagram Giveaway! DIY Wool Dyer Balls

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Hello dear friends! This blog is taking off at a rapid pace, so to celebrate, I’m doing a giveaway on Instagram!* Oh yea, this page has an Instagram:  SustainableCityLiving. I also have a Pinterest page so check it out! Follow the instructions on Instagram to enter to win 4 DIY Dryer Balls made by yours truly.

I’ve been wanting to make wool dryer balls for quite some time. With a little help from our old pal Google, I found a few different instructions and did a little combination of everything I read. I also went for some experimentation to see what works best.

Why use wool dryer balls?

Liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets may give the allusion that your clothes and towels are cozy and soft, but in reality, all they are doing is coating the fibers of your clothes and towels with synthetic softeners. That means that your towels, the things who’s job is to absorb water, are being coated with a substance that will inhibit how much they absorb. This is why you should never use fabric softener in your cloth diaper laundry. Wool is a natural, renewable resource. No plastic and nothing in the garbage!

Save your money! Liquid softener and dryer sheets can really add up in cost over time. I bought one skein of yarn for a few dollars and was able to make 4 dryer balls that will last pretty much forever. Look for an old sweater at the thrift store, and you’ll save even more.

How do they work?

Throw anywhere from 4-8 dryer balls (depending on how big the load is) in with your laundry as it dries. The balls do two things: they help draw moisture from your clothing, and they allow warm air to flow more easily as they bounce around. Both of these things ensure shorter dry times which saves energy. If I had a favorite “green” product it would definitely be wool dryer balls (after cloth diapers of course).

What you need:

  1.  100% wool yarn or old wool sweater
  2.  Scissors
  3.  Old pantyhose

What I did:

I made two different kinds of wool dryer balls to see if one felted better than the other. First I bought a skein of 100% wool yarn from Pat Catan’s. Make sure there is no acrylic! It has to be 100% wool, or it won’t felt properly. I also found a 100% cashmere sweater from the thrift store for $1.

The sweater I found couldn’t really be unraveled, so I just cut it into one long, thin strand, keeping part of the cuff as the middle part. Then I just wound the strand around until it was tennis ball-sized. I tied the loose end to another piece and poked it in the middle with the end of the scissors.

cut up sweater

(I’ll tell you now that the ones made from the sweater didn’t turn out great. One of them worked better than the other two. They felted a little, but not enough to keep from unraveling. I’m unsure if they needs a few more washes or if it was how I wrapped the strands. Next time I plan on finding a wool sweater that can be unraveled.)

two failed wool balls
I didn’t fail. I just found two ways that didn’t work. -Thomas Edison. And me.

I did the same thing with the yarn, and again used part of the cuff from the sweater as the “base” to wrap it around. With the yarn, I wound one ball very tightly and another loosely, but they both felted perfectly!

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset
Pre-felted.

To felt the yarn balls, put them in a leg of a pair of pantyhose, tying a not in between each ball to keep them separate. Wash on hot with some towels or other laundry that needs done, followed by a cold rinse. You’ll need to do this 3-4 times. I cringed when I saw I had to wash on hot as I always use cold, but I figured it’s just this once and the savings should outweigh all that hot water usage.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Throw your wool caterpillar in the dryer, and you’re done!

The finished product:

four finished wool balls

Don’t forget to find SustainableCityLiving on Instagram to enter for four dryer balls of your own!

*Per Instagram rules, I’m supposed to mention this is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s term of use.

Cloth Napkins: The Basics

Let’s start off our little cloth adventure slowly, shall we?

Have you ever tried wiping your hands with a paper napkin after eating chicken wings? You know how you get those little pieces stuck to your fingers? Why anyone would subject themselves to such torture is beyond me. Cloth napkins are cheap, versatile, and oh-so-pretty!

We always had cloth napkins growing up. They’re not just for fancy dinners or company you want to impress, oh no. A face stuffed with pizza and beer deserve a sustainable option too. Quit wasting those precious pennies on something you throw away!

You can easily find cloth napkins at Target or Walmart. Or if you’re feeling extra earth-conscious, you can even make your own. For my husband and I, 10 napkins are more than enough. That’s plenty to last between washing plus enough for a dinner guest or two.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Look at how pretty!

We have a laundry basket at the bottom of our basement stairs for used towels and washcloths. After each use we just throw the napkins on the pile. Once there’s enough for a load, everything gets washed. Easy peasy. The only thing I would suggest as far as washing goes is making sure any bits of food get thrown away before tossing the napkin into the laundry pile. Washing machines aren’t made to handle food, and you will end up with chunks (gross word, I know) in your machine. Just a quick shake over the trash can after use should do it.

Use those folded paper squares to make some snow flakes for the holidays instead, and invest in a nice set of super soft cloth napkins. Your face (and the planet) will thank you.