Should You DIY Wool Dryer Balls?

Wool dryer balls are an eco-friendly, all-natural, chemical-free alternative to dryer sheets and a great way to fluff your laundry.

But should you make your own dryer balls at home or buy pre-made ones? Let’s learn about the time and cost of DIY versus purchasing ready-made balls, as well as other factors like quality and convenience.

Quick links:

Is creating DIY dryer balls an interesting project?

Do handmade dryer balls last for a long time?

How to use needles to create wool dryer balls

Is roving a good idea?

How do you use luxurious alpaca fiber for your project?

Creative use of old sweaters

Useful tips for DIY wool dryer balls

Store-bought vs. DIY

If making your own sounds like a lot of work, order a pack of Smart Sheep wool dryer balls and enjoy the power of 100% pure New Zealand wool.

6-Pack Original 100% Wool Dryer Balls

Why Wool Dryer Balls?

Dryer sheets and fabric softeners may seem harmless, but research shows they can trigger skin irritation, respiratory issues, and other health problems.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that perfumes and chemicals in laundry products are common triggers for eczema, an itchy rash. Different toxic chemicals in dryer sheets can cause headaches, dizziness, and breathing difficulties too.

You don't have to choose between clean clothes and healthy skin. Wool dryer balls are a natural, chemical-free alternative to commercial softeners. As they bounce around the dryer, wool dryer balls separate clothes and leave them soft and static-free. This results in reduced drying time and a plethora of other advantages for your drying process.

Learn about all the benefits of wool dryer balls!

Reasons to DIY Wool Dryer Balls

Making your own wool dryer balls at home can save you a little money and give you the satisfaction of self-reliance. Commercially made wool dryer balls cost $10-20 for a set of 6-12 balls. If you're able to source wool yarn at a reasonable price, you could make a larger batch of balls for less.

Another advantage of DIY is customization. You can choose the size of balls that will work best for your laundry loads. Going bigger may suit larger items like sheets and towels, while smaller balls could be better for delicate fabrics.

You can also customize the type of wool: merino wool is exceptionally soft, while coarser wools like Rambouillet may have more drying power. 

To scent your laundry, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to your wool dryer balls.

You can also use Smart Sheep scenting spray—lavender, orange, and lemon will give your wool dryer balls and your loads of laundry a pure fragrance heaven!

Reasons Not to DIY Wool Dryer Balls

Making your own wool dryer balls at home takes practice and patience to master the techniques for felting and sculpting evenly shaped balls. Expect to spend hours winding wool roving into a tight core before felting and sculpting it to the desired shape.

The process can also be messy. Loose wool fibers will get everywhere as you work with the roving. Be prepared to have bits of wool all over your clothes, furniture, and floor before you’re done. Cleaning up the mess can add to the time spent.

Achieving the optimal size and dense, spherical shape is difficult without special equipment. Commercially made balls use special molds and tightly packed cores to create firm, durable balls. Doing this by hand is challenging.

Sourcing high-quality wool roving or yarn balls is another potential hurdle. Not all wool is created equal when it comes to felting properties and longevity. Finding wool that is long-staple is key.

Homemade wool dryer balls may not stand up to wear and tear over time. Without commercial felting and molding techniques, they are prone to unraveling or coming apart eventually.

How to Make Needle Felted Wool Dryer Balls

Needle felting uses a barbed needle to tangle and compact wool roving into a dense shape. It takes practice, but it allows you to sculpt smooth, round dryer balls.

Supplies Needed

  • Wool roving—Merino or other long wool fiber works best
  • Felting needle—size 36 or 38 is ideal
  • Foam block or pad
  • Optional—fine grit sandpaper, essential oils


  1. Prepare the wool by loosening and separating the roving so it moves freely.
  2. Take a small handful of roving and roll it into a loose ball about 2" across.
  3. Firmly insert the felting needle into the center of the ball, rocking the needle back and forth as you penetrate inward. This begins forming the tight core.
  4. Continue stabbing inward from all directions, turning the ball as you go. Maintain the spherical shape. The wool will begin matting and shrinking.
  5. Once the center is tightly packed, stab in from the sides to firm up the surface. The ball should start bouncing back when squished.
  6. Work the surface until it is smooth and felted. Lightly roll on sandpaper to remove stray fibers.
  7. Optional—add a few drops of essential oils by poking holes with the needle tip. Massage oils into the core.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 to make more balls, at least 3 for effective drying. Let air dry completely before using.

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls From Roving

Roving is a loose, untwisted bundle of wool fibers that is perfect for making your own dryer balls. Here's a simple technique using wool roving:

Supplies Needed

  • Wool roving—1oz per ball
  • Pair of pantyhose or thin socks
  • Non-wool yarn or string
  • Scissors (optional)


  1. Wrap roving around fingers into a small clump, then roll between palms to form a ball about 2 inches in diameter.
  2. Continue tightly winding and roving around itself until the ball reaches the size of a tennis ball.
  3. Tie off the end of roving and carefully insert the ball into the toe of a panty hose leg. Tie it securely with non-wool yarn.
  4. Repeat to make 6-8 balls per leg, tying each one off individually.
  5. Knot pantyhose tightly shut and run through a hot wash and dryer cycle.
  6. Remove the finished felted balls from pantyhose and use them in the dryer.

The winding motion and hot washing will cause the roving fibers to tangle and bind together into a tight sphere. Make multiple balls for the best results. 

How to Make Dryer Balls From Alpaca Fiber

Alpaca fiber is prized for its softness, and blending it with wool creates smooth, resilient dryer balls. It is a luxurious alternative to sheep's wool for handmade dryer balls.

Here is an overview of the process used by skilled artisans:


  • Alpaca fiber
  • Wool roving
  • Water and laundry soap


  1. Collect handfuls of a 50/50 blend of alpaca fiber and wool roving.
  2. Use water and soap to wet the fiber blend until it is damp enough to felt.
  3. Roll the fibers between palms to form a solid ball about 2.5" in diameter, adjusting pressure as needed.
  4. Continue rolling and shaping until the ball reaches the target size of 3-4" across.
  5. Allow the damp balls to air dry fully in the sunlight to lock the fibers together through felting.

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls From Old Sweaters

Give your old woolens a new purpose with this easy DIY upcycling project. Follow these steps:


  • Wool sweater (at least 70% wool)
  • Nylon stockings 
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle or crochet hook
  • Large pot for boiling
  • Washing machine


  1. Turn the sweater inside out. Snip seams to unravel panels.
  2. Unravel panels by gently pulling on edge strands. Roll longer strands into balls.
  3. Wrap yarn around fingers to start a core. Continue wrapping tightly to form a 2-3” ball. Bury ends inside.
  4. Place balls into pantyhose legs. Tie tight knots between each one.
  5. Boil pantyhose and ball chains for 10 minutes. Transfer to the hot wash cycle.
  6. Dry on high heat. Repeat the wash and dry cycle once more.
  7. Remove felted wool balls from pantyhose. Wool dryer balls are ready to use.

Tips for DIY Dryer Balls

Crafting your own wool dryer balls at home offers a rewarding way to replace fabric laundry softeners and dryer sheets with a natural, plastic-free alternative.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose high-quality wool with longer natural fibers, like Merino, for best felting properties.
  • Felt the balls properly by boiling or washing in hot water cycles to tightly bind the wool.
  • Allow balls to dry completely before use to avoid mildew formation from trapped moisture.
  • Add essential oils sparingly by rolling a few drops directly onto the core.
  • Shape balls to be 2-3 inches wide for optimal laundry lifting and separating action.

With the right supplies and methods, and a bit of patience and practice, you can make strong, long-lasting DIY dryer balls.

Store-Bought vs. DIY Wool Dryer Balls

When it comes to wool dryer balls, should you DIY or buy ready-made? Here's our take:

  • DIY takes hours—buying ready-made balls saves time.
  • Achieving a dense, spherical shape is difficult without commercial techniques.
  • Quality wool like Merino can be challenging and expensive to source for DIY.
  • Adding oils correctly and evenly is easier with ready-made balls.
  • Durability over hundreds of cycles can vary with handmade balls.

While DIY provides a fun craft, buying high-quality wool dryer balls means convenience, consistency, and less hassle. Our wool dryer balls check all the boxes and last for more than 1,000 cycles.

6-Pack Original 100% Wool Dryer Balls

Wool Dryer Balls FAQ

What kind of wool do you use for dryer balls?

Wool dryer ball makers often use coarse wool with longer fibers, like Romney or Corriedale sheep breeds. These wools have superior felting abilities, and the longer staples resist breaking down. Some brands also use Alpaca for its length and softness.

Do wool balls really work in the dryer?

Wool dryer balls work extremely well in the dryer. They are an effective natural alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softeners. As they tumble, the wool lifts and separates the laundry, allowing more air flow to reduce drying time. The wool fibers also reduce wrinkling, control static, and soften fabric. You will get soft, static-free laundry and save time and money by using just 3-6 wool balls.

What are the ingredients in wool dryer balls?

Wool dryer balls are made from natural wool roving or balls of yarn that are densely felted into spheres. The felting process uses hot water and agitation to mat and bind the wool fibers tightly. Some brands add a few drops of essential oils, but quality balls contain no other ingredients—just wool and water for felting. There are no chemical additives, plastics, or artificial ingredients.

Do wool dryer balls get moldy?

Wool dryer balls can develop mold if left damp or stored in humid conditions. Ensure the balls are completely dry before first use. It also helps to periodically wash and fully dry them, and allow them to air dry after removing them from the dryer. With proper care to dry thoroughly, mold should not develop in wool dryer balls.

How do you recharge wool dryer balls?

To recharge wool dryer balls, wash them in hot water, then dry them on high heat to refresh the wool fibers. You can also recharge wool dryer balls by adding a couple drops of essential oils and rolling them into the center. Always allow the balls to fully air dry before using them again to maximize recharging and longevity.

Can you put vinegar on wool dryer balls?

It's not recommended to put vinegar directly on wool dryer balls. The high acidity of vinegar can damage and degrade wool fibers over time. A better option is to add a few drops of essential oils to the center of the dryer ball if you want a light scent. Vinegar can be used in the washing machine rinse cycle if desired.

How many dryer balls per load?

Here are some general rules that should help you judge how many wool dryer balls to use.

  • For small to medium-sized dryer loads, 3-4 balls should be enough.
  • For larger loads, you can use 5-8 balls.
  • For extra-large loads, you may want to go as high as 9-12 balls.

Can you use foil for dryer balls?

Aluminum foil can be used as a plastic-free alternative to dryer sheets. Shape sheets of foil into balls and use in the clothes dryer to help reduce static cling. The foil mimics the heat conductivity of dryer sheets. However, wool dryer balls are longer-lasting, safer for dryers, and soften laundry better than foil.

Are wool dryer balls better than plastic?

Wool dryer balls are superior to plastic dryer balls in many ways:

  • Wool naturally softens fabric by absorbing and dissipating static charge. Plastic does not have this same softening effect.
  • Wool is a renewable, biodegradable material. plastic is synthetic and breaks down into microplastics that pollute waterways.
  • Wool balls are quieter and gentler on clothes in the dryer. plastic can make more noise and damage delicate fabrics.
  • Wool absorbs moisture and helps reduce drying time. plastic does not significantly impact drying time.
  • Wool balls are antimicrobial and resist odors. Bacteria and odors can build up on plastic over time.

While plastic balls can help separate laundry, the static reduction, softening, and other benefits of wool make it the better choice for an effective and eco-friendly dryer ball.

Are wool dryer balls a good option if you are allergic to animal fibers?

For those allergic to animal fibers, wool dryer balls are not recommended, as they are made from sheep's wool. Try plastic-free options like balls made from plant fibers instead.

What is the total time needed to make DIY homemade wool dryer balls?

With gathering materials and felting, plan on DIY wool dryer balls taking 2-3 hours total from start to finish. The active time needed is about 1 hour.

How many skeins of yarn do you need to make wool dryer balls?

The amount needed varies, but plan on 1-2 skeins of wool yarn per 3-4 balls. Buy more to make a larger batch or if you are using thinner yarn.

Which dryer balls should you use if you’re allergic to wool?

If you are allergic to wool, plastic-free dryer ball alternatives include balls made from 100% organic cotton, bamboo, or other plant fibers. These avoid wool while still being effective at softening fabrics and reducing static cling and wrinkles. Look for organic options without chemical additives.

Further Reading

Do wool dryer balls reduce static?

Can you use wool dryer balls and dryer sheets together?

Why is the dryer making my clothes smell burnt?

Will essential oils on my dryer balls stain clothes?

What is the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin?

Detergent sheets vs liquid laundry—who wins?

What is the best natural stain remover for clothes?