D.I.Y. Wool Dryer Balls

I stopped using fabric softener many years ago after learning about all the toxic effects it has on the body and the environment. Since then, I’ve been using wool dryer balls that I had been buying online. It recently occurred to me that there was probably a way for me to make these dryer balls myself, and after lurking around online, sure enough – there is! 🙂 Before getting into how to make these wool dryer balls, I first want to talk a little bit about WHY I use these instead of fabric softener.

About 11 years ago, I got seriously ill due to a pharmaceutical medication prescribed by my doctor that landed me in the hospital for 3 months, bed bound for about 3 years after that, and then about 5 years of gnawing and clawing my way back to some semblance of health. I can proudly say that after putting in the work, I am doing much better now and consider myself recovered for the most part.

Through those years of seeking healing, I did TONS of research, and through my research, not only did I learn all about healing foods, etc. to incorporate into my life, I also learned about many things that have a toxic effect on the body that I needed to take out of my life. The worst offender of toxicity was fabric softener dryer sheets. After learning how incredibly toxic these are, I seriously even want to hold my breath anytime that I can even smell it on someone else’s clothes!

Fabric softeners are LOADED with toxic chemicals that can harm our health and the health of our children.  Children are even more susceptible to absorbing these toxic chemicals because their skin is thinner than ours is as adults.  The toxins in dryer sheets are intense and can enter your body in two ways: One – through your skin when you wear the clothes you dried using dryer sheets, and Two – through your brain by entering through your olfactory system.  So, why does this matter?  Well, let’s look at some of the toxic chemicals that these dryer sheets contain and the effect of those chemicals on the body.

  • Benzyl Acetate:  This is linked to pancreatic cancer
  • Limonene:  This is a known carcinogen
  • Ethanol: This can cause central nervous system disorders
  • Ethyl Acetate: This is on the environmental protection agency’s hazardous waste list and is a narcotic.  It can cause headaches and narcosis (stupor).
  • A-Terpineol: This can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage.  It can also cause loss of muscular coordination, central nervous system depression, and headache.
  • Camphor:  This causes central nervous system disorders, including but not limited to dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles, and convulsions.
  • Linalool: This is a narcotic.  in studies, this chemical caused loss of muscle coordination, nervous system and brain disorders, and depression.
  • Chloroform:  This is neurotoxic (toxic to the brain and nervous system), anesthetic and carcinogenic.
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled (this is why I’m tempted to hold my breath whenever I even get a whiff of fabric softener on someone else’s clothing!) It causes headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness, and depression
  • Benzyl Alcohol:  This is an upper respiratory tract irritant, and is linked to headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, depression, as well as disorders of the brain and nervous system, and in severe cases, death

Read that last one again – in severe cases, DEATH.  It’s no joke, guys, the chemicals in these dryer sheets are SO SO toxic!  After finding all this out, I told some of my friends about it, and when they stopped using dryer sheets for a month, they actually noticed that they were feeling more clear headed and energetic, and that is the ONLY thing they changed during that month.  Hopefully this list will convince you to ditch the dryer sheets, but if you’re still not convinced, try it for a month yourself, and you will see yourself feeling better and healthier.

Now, you may be asking “Then how am I supposed to have soft clothes that smell nice out of the dryer”?  Well, I’ve told you the problem, now here is a solution – wool dryer balls!  While doing my research, I found these to work the best in terms of all the different options to dryer sheets (I didn’t have a clothesline – or a backyard for that matter – to have them air dry, and I tried some different concoctions with white vinegar, baking soda, etc., but those were time consuming to put together, and my clothes never smelled the way I wanted them to even when I used essential oils because they were always mixed with the other ingredients changing their smell).  These wool dryer balls work like a charm to have my clothes coming out soft and static free, and the best part is that when I make my own, I just put a few drops of my favorite essential oil on them before throwing them in the dryer, and my clothes come out smelling AMAZING!

These dryer balls are also SO much better for the environment than fabric softeners, and you will save a TON of money not having to buy fabric softener.  Your materials to make your own will run you less than $10 total, and they will last for a really long time!  Here’s how you make them!


  • 100% wool yarn
  • an old pair of nylons or tights
  • essential oil (optional)

That’s it!  I bought two things of yarn, but only used one to make four balls (plus one tiny ball that I turned into a cat toy for our baby boy Fermat 🙂 – I put a little catnip in the center and wound the yarn around it, and he LOVED it – here is a little collage of him enjoying it!

Ha!  But I digress!  Let’s get back to how to make these wool dryer balls.


1.) Take the yarn and wrap it around your first two fingers about 30-50 times.

2.) Slide the yarn off your fingers and wrap the yarn around the middle of this bunch about 30 times.

3.) Now continue to wrap the yarn round and round forming a ball.

4.) Continue this process until your ball is about 3 inches in diameter.  Tie off the end and tuck it under one of the loops.

5.) Repeat steps 1-4 to make as many balls as you would like.  I made 4 total and a cat toy.

6.) Now that you have made your balls, you will want to felt them.  To do this, cut off one of the legs of your old pair of nylons/tights.  Put the first ball into the toe of the nylon, then tie a knot in the nylon to secure it in place.  Put the second ball into the nylon and tie another knot over that one.  Continue until all the balls are in the nylons.

7.) Now, just run your balls through the washer and dryer a couple of times.  I threw mine in with two different loads of laundry that I had to get done so I wasn’t wasting water.

8.) After they’ve run through the washer and dryer a couple of times, just cut them out of the nylons, and they are ready to use!  If you want to add essential oil, just put a few drops on the ball itself before throwing it in the dryer with a load of clothes.  You may want to do this and then let the oil dry before putting it in the dryer to make sure there isn’t any oil splatter onto the clothes (unlikely, but it could happen).  The oil scent should last for quite a few loads, but when it starts to dwindle, just add a few more drops.

Throw a couple of the balls into the dryer with your next load of laundry, and your clothes will come out smelling wonderful, feeling soft and static free, and best of all – they won’t have the potential to kill you! 😛  Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor a medical professional. The information presented on this site is for educational and entertainment purposes only. One should always consult with their doctor or medical professional before taking on any sort of major dietary or lifestyle changes.


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