It's so easy to overhaul your washing routine with just a few materials. Find a list below with recipes and tutorials that show you how to get started!
First, a bit on why I started making my own cleaning supplies:
In elementary school I found out I was allergic to chlorine bleach and later realized I had sensitivities to detergents. Yes, I was the kid that had to sit out of school swim class and avoid parties at the waterslide. I had always tried to steer clear of anything that could cause irritations, but it was hard to avoid at the time. Later in college, when trying to save a few bucks here and there, I decided to start making my own cleaning products. Starting in the laundry room, I soon found laundry detergent to be surprisingly inexpensive and easy to make. Click here for a recipe! Even after using it the first few times, I noticed a big difference in my skin; it was suddenly less dry, itchy and I had fewer breakouts. I then moved on to eliminating dryer sheets and fabric softener. Even though I was happy to not have irritants added into my laundry, it meant more wrinkles, static and sometimes stiff clothes. I started researching alternatives and decided to give wool dryer balls a try. They've worked incredibly well for me and I love that they can be made by hand.
Benefits of using wool dryer balls to replace your dryer sheets & fabric softeners:
Let's get started!
Print Instructions or Follow Below
You will be creating 4 tennis ball sized tightly woven yarn balls to felt as a final product. If you're confident in your yarn ball winding skills, gather your materials and skip to step 18 to see prep for washing and felting.
01 Gather your materials and keep within reach. It's important to work within a kid and pet free zone. I like to work on the floor near a bright window. The sunlight makes it so easy to see what you're doing and if you accidentally drop it in the middle of wrapping, the wall will keep it from rolling apart too much.
02 (I like to use my dominant right hand to wrap and my left to wrap onto and hold yarn.) Hold the beginning of the yarn with your thumb on the inside of your four fingers and repeatedly wrap the yarn evenly around until the loops are just about to slip off your pointer finger. Approximately 20 times.
03 Gather the loops that are on your pointer finger and carefully slide them off. Hold the end of the loops with your left hand and wrap the yarn around the middle of the section 3 times.
04 With your pointer finger, touch the yarn where you just wrapped 3 times and fold the ends around your finger like a backwards 'C'.
05 Gently pull your pointer finger out, still holding onto the folded ends and wrap around the middle 3 times with yarn.
06 Repeat the fold technique. With your pointer finger, touch the yarn where you just wrapped 3 times and fold the ends around your finger like a backwards 'C'.
07 Wrap around the middle 3 times firmly.
08 Now you'll begin continuous wrapping, keeping the yarn next to each previous wrap as you slowly turn it with your left hand like a globe on it's axis.
09 Stop when you've wrapped at least one rotation and it should look similar to a mentos.
10 Hold it on it's side and gently squish the form into a uniform sphere. You're ready to begin wrapping to a desired size.
11 It's hard to explain a hold style for wrapping, so please mimic and reference the picture above for this description. When I'm beginning a rotation, I hold the sphere between my middle finger and thumb with the previous grain of the yarn running horizontally. I pin the free yarn section with my pointer finger and keep it draping over to the right. This hold helps keep the loose end secure and ensures a tight wrap, which is so important for the structural integrity and longevity of the final product.
12 Begin wrapping the yarn like lines of longitude on a globe, but keep each wrap right next to each other. Wrap as you slowly turn with your left hand. Each time I complete a full rotation, I turn it on it's axis and repeat the hold technique so the previous wrapped lines are horizontal. As it begins to get larger, the loops may begin to slip off to the side. To remedy this, I wrap them with a wider distance between them and fill in the gaps by completing two or three more rotations before turning on it's axis. If it starts to get lopsided or misshapen, take a break and gently squish into a sphere before continuing. Fill in valleys by wrapping in that spot until evenly filled.
13 I stop wrapping when they are approximately the size of a tennis ball. Use the first ball to compare and keep sizes even.
14 For the final layer, I wrap slowly and keep each wrap very tightly and neatly next to each other. Cut the final section of yarn the length of the ball. Using the crochet hook, you will tuck the yarn under each of the 3 points pictured to ensure it doesn't come loose when felting.
15 Holding the final section of yarn firmly at point 1, use the crochet hook to pull it through several sections of yarn.
16 Use the crochet hook to pull the middle section of the final piece through several layers of yarn at point 2.
17 Use the crochet hook to pull the final little piece through several layers of yarn at point 3 and tuck it down into it with the tip of the hook before removing.
18 Hold each of the spheres like a baseball in your hand as you slide them into the nylon. Your hand will keep the nylon from tugging at the yarn. Tie a double knotted bow between each of the spheres to make sure they do not move. The knot will felt, keeping it from getting loose in the washer and is easy to cut off. Wash with a load of laundry that requires hot water and dry on a higher setting as well.
Final This is what mine looked like after one wash and dry. I would recommend washing and drying with two or three loads of laundry to ensure proper felting before removing from the nylon.
Storage Place in an easy access container above your dryer when not in use. I use a pretty cotton rope basket to store mine. If desired, add 2 drops of your favorite essential oil to one prior to throwing in the dryer and use all of them for each load. These can make for a wonderful handcrafted housewarming gift when added to a pretty basket alongside homemade laundry powder, a scoop and essential oil.
As mentioned above, I recently put this pretty sample together for my mother. Instead of a paper giftbag, I found this colorful canvas bag in the dollar spot at Target that is easily reusable. I also like to keep the colorful drawstring bags that come wrapped around sheets and pillow cases to wrap handmade gifts like this. In this gift basket, I included a freshly made set of four dryer balls, handmade laundry powder, a powder scoop, lavender essential oil, distilled white vinegar and use instructions in an adorable mint storage container. It includes everything you need to keep your laundry clean without the chemicals and just happens to look amazing too!
I hope you'll give this DIY a try to not only cut down on waste, but save money and help eliminate chemicals in your household as well.