Posted: May 14, 2013

how to make homemade wool dryer balls

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

Since I learned How to Make Laundry Detergent I heard about something to help clothes in the dryer.  They are called Wool Balls.  I’ve seen them on TV infomercials and pretty much thought they were “hokey.”  Then I started talking to one of my best friends who absolutely loves them!  She makes her own and says it cuts her drying time by half.  This in turn saves her money because she runs her dryer less.  She says you put 4 in a small load or 6 – 8 in a large load into your dryer.  The balls bounce around (like shoes) with the clothes and make them dry faster.  I’m not exactly sure how they work, but my friend says they DO WORK.

She was going to make more and taught me how to do it.  We took pictures and I thought I would share “How to Make Wool Balls” .  They are simple and all you need to make them are old pantyhose (I used knee highs) and some wool.  There are printable directions at the bottom of this post.

Here’s how to do it:

100% wool

First you need to purchase your wool.  You do not have to buy colorful wool.  You can buy a one color wool.  My friend has made these before and just thought it would be fun to have some colored wool balls.  We got 2 Skeins.  These were about six inches in length.  You can buy longer ones. This colored wool was $6 a Skein.  It’s more pricey than the plain non colorful wool.

100% wool tag

The kind of wool you buy is very important.  You need it to say 100% wool.  This means there are no synthetic fibers in it.  You do not want any synthetic fibers or this will not work.  So make sure you check the label or ask someone to help you.

starting a wool ball

To start your ball just take some wool and tie a little bow or knot.  This will give you your base to start rolling the wool around itself.

wool ball starter

Then you start wrapping it around.  Just keep wrapping it around your starter piece until it starts to form a ball.

first wool ball

You do not have to be perfect.  My ball was messy looking. That is okay and will not matter for the end result.

wool ball finish

Roll the wool around itself into a ball shape until it is the size of a baseball.  Then tuck the end under to finish it off.  You can see where I tucked mine under.  It is okay if it sticks out a little.

stuff into stocking

Stuff your first ball into a nylon stocking.


Push it all the way to the bottom.

wool balls in nylon

Tie a knot and then as you make the balls add them in and tie a knot at the top.  Since I used knee highs I put two in each stocking.

boiling wool balls

Place them all into boiling water.

put on lid

Boil for 30 – 40 minutes.  Your house will begin to stink from the wool.  It reminded me of a wet dog.  I aired out my house afterwards.

drain wool balls

Remove the stocking with balls and drain.  I just put mine in a colander.  Now you need to get creative to squeeze some of the water out.  They are hot so I just used a glass and squished down on them to get extra water out.  They don’t need to be completely dry.  You just don’t want them dripping too much at this point. You can see the wool colored the water and dyed the stocking.  That’s not a big deal because I can’t use them again.

put balls in dryer

Leave them in the stockings and put them in your dryer.  This is very important.  Put the dryer on high heat.  This is the felting process.  The wool will “felt” to itself.  You dry them about 40 minutes.  Mine actually took (2) 40 minutes cycles on high heat.  They DO NOT have to be perfectly dry, but they do need to be felted.

felted wool

Take them out of the stocking and check to see if they are felted when they are mostly dry.

wool ball up close

To tell if they are felted when you hold them up close the wool around the balls looks flattened.  It reminds me of a felt board.  It’s not completely smooth, but the pieces are all basically “stuck” or “felted” together.  At this point the balls are ready to use and will not unravel.

finished wool balls

That’s it!  You are done! I didn’t make my balls very uniform.  Three I made smaller than the first.  The 2 Skeins would really only make 3 baseballs size wool balls. Now just throw them in the dryer of your next load of clothes and see how much time they cut out!

Thanks Emily for teaching me to make Wool Balls!

Here’s a printable list on how to make them:

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  • Laura C

    You can cut your drying time in half by putting a fluffly bath towel in the dryer, too.

  • Jenn

    how long will the wool balls last until you have to change them and make new ones?

    • HelperJen

      Many people say they last for years.

      • Lee A NA

        the wool balls work because the wool draws the liquid away from item.. i hiked the appalacian trail once and we wore wool socks. to prevent foot fungus. and it worked. the wool wickes away moisture. thats why it works in a dryer

  • Jennifer Bausch Karabin

    neat idea. i made some out of old tube socks and used lavender oil to make smell good clothes. Will try these too, since they always seem too roll off i like extras :)

    • Jennifer Bausch Karabin

      just to make sure,.once felted they are odorless? or do they need to air out awhile before using

      • HelperJen

        Once dried they are odorless. I have heard you can put oils on them to add your clothes smell good.

        • Jennifer Bausch Karabin

          1 more concern since u have tried using colored wool….. i noticed the color bleeds on the nylon. has there been any issue on a load of whites? sry 4 all the ??? Gonna check my local thrift store for wool yarn remenants

          • HelperJen

            They do not bleed onto clothes.

  • simi

    I remember my friends making these when I was overseas,,,thought it was funny,,,can you use a light color woo instead of that mixed one?

    • HelperJen

      Yes and it’s cheaper. My friend has made many and wanted some colored ones this time.

  • Annieblarson

    love it. I may just try this one.

  • Tessa

    If you don’t have time to make your own – visit Shep’s offers many new colors and scents too! Save $2.00 off your order added to your cart simply by clicking “like” on their site. FREE shipping too!

  • Emily Galindo

    Great job, these are wonderful. I really like adding essential oils to get a good scent, I like cucumber and melon. Have fun!

  • Adrienne

    If you use hot water whiles doing your whites you can simply add the balls to your laundry. This would eliminate the wet dog smell and the need to squeeze out the excess water.
    Then just place it into the dryer along with your laundry. I didn’t try this with colored wool.

  • Bobby

    I tried and it works! Make a ball of aluminum foil about the size of a gulf ball and put in dryer with your clothes instead of fabric softener sheets. Inexpensive and lasts about six months.

  • joe

    I made the balls and they are felted but I can’t get them dry and the still smell like wet dog! help! I put them in the dryer for 80 mins on high plus left them to dry outside for the rest of the day!

    • HelperJen

      I haven’t heard of that problem. I googled it and couldn’t find an answer either. I wonder if your dryer isn’t working right?

  • Allure Wool

    I’m surprised on how many people are interested in wool dryer balls :) DIY is great! So I made a simple and easy instruction video on how I make wool dryer balls. Thank you!

  • Sreya Sinha

    I use clean (unused) tennis balls for the same purpose. Keeps jackets and comforters fluffy in the dryer too. :)

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