Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wasteful (Solution) Wednesday - Felted Dryer Balls

Recently I was fortunate enough to get my husband to do some cleaning in preparation for the new baby. While he was cleaning in the laundry ball he found a spiky plastic dryer ball - he thought it was a dog toy. Plastic dryer balls may be a slight solution to the reusable problem that disposable dryer sheets and dryer bars create but it wasn't one I felt was really ideal.

This plastic dryer ball seemed like a good example of another plastic my life could really do without so I chose to make some felted dryer balls. Most online tutorials specifically mention the use of 100% wool for the reason that it felts. But there are other fibers that also felt.

Felted dryer balls:
Absorb moisture
Decrease wrinkles
Are safe for people with sensitive skin
Work as a natural fabric softener
Can be used with cloth diapers
Reduce static cling in your clothes
Rotate your clothes, providing better air circulation and cutting down on your total drying time
- making these an energy efficient, green product.

For years now I've had a flower vase that I have been filling with scraps of yarn that aren't really big enough to knit with so I decided to begin there.
I also had a milk crate full of yarns that are tangled and have taken on quite a bit of the dust that inhabits my MIL's house. They have been in that crate unused and untouched for years. Untangling he and cleaning these yarns wasn't really an option.
Making a ball of yarn is super simple. Begin by wrapping it around two or three fingers a good number of times. Enough times that you have a good base.

Remove the yarn from your fingers and wrap the yarn around your bundle the opposite direction.

Then just continue turning the ball and wrapping your yarn until you have a ball about twice the size of what you hope your ball will eventually be.

Some people choose to scent their dryer balls, I didn't because I didn't have any lavender oil yet. I also had plans to test these out like reusable dryer sheets and see how they work in that fashion.

I had a wide variety of fibers that I used to make my dryer balls (angora, baby alpaca, wool). Yarn brands like Noro, Manos Del Uruguay, Malabrigo, and Lamb's Pride were used. 
Place the balls into a pair of nylon panty hose,
 making sure to place a knot between balls.
Take your pantyhose and put them into a pillowcase
 and tie the pillowcase shut.
Place your pillowcase or pillowcases into the washing machine.

As I mentioned some of this yarn had a bit of dust left from being kicked up on the dirt road in front of my mother-in-law's house. So I opted to do my first wash with some of my homemade, chemical-free, laundry detergent.

I didn't want to COMPLETELY waste energy so I threw in some UnPaper towels that needed to be cleaned with them.

Set your washing machine to your hottest setting with the most possible agitation. Mine is set to hot, second rinse
 and heavy duty.
For their second trip through the washer I washed everything on the same settings and added some towels that needed to be cleaned.

For the third trip through I allowed them to be washed on their own.

The amount of efficiency these will increase your dryer by varies from dryer to dryer. Generally dryer balls help cut drying time by 30 - 50%.

Store your finished dryer balls in a well-ventilated location. Inside plastic would not only take away from the intention of reducing the plastic in your life and home but not provide enough ventilation for your dryer balls.

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