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DIY Homemade Wool Dryer Balls

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Say goodbye to toxic dryer sheets and use homemade wool dryer balls instead! This natural alternative is inexpensive, non-toxic and will keep your laundry smelling amazing thanks to the addition of essential oils. Once you try these dryer balls, you’ll never go back to dryer sheets again!

DIY Homemade Dryer Balls with Essential Oils

We’re back with another DIY natural cleaning product alternative to popular store-bought products. If you’re like me, you’ve likely used dryer sheets and fabric softener for years, naively believing they softened your laundry and made your clothes smell fresh and clean.

In reality, these products are toxic and harmful–just look at the EWG’s ratings for dryer sheets. Almost all of them score a D or an F, even the ones with green marketing on the box. But what does this really mean?

Table of Contents:

The Truth About Toxic Dryer Sheets and Fabric Softener

According to the EWG, fabric softener and dryer sheet ingredients can cause allergies, asthma and irritate our lungs. They coat your clothes with a layer of chemicals, most commonly “quats” (short for quaternary ammonium compounds) or “asthmagens,” as they can cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy people, according to The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, a leading international authority on asthma.

Many “quats” also have antibacterial qualities, which might sound good, but freshly washed clothes are already plenty clean. So the overuse of “quats” may spur the development of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Meaning, there is such a thing as too clean.

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What’s more? Most fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain fragrance, which (as we’ve talked about many times here before) are actually made up of hundreds of untested chemicals including toxic ingredients like phthalates, parabens and synthetic musks, which are suspected hormone disruptors and are among the world’s top five allergens.

As if that weren’t enough, many fabric softeners and dryer sheets also include human carcinogens acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, the developmental toxicants methyl ethyl ketone and chloromethane, and allergens like linalool. These substances, when used in our laundry, coat our clothes with these chemicals AND vent out into the air, further damaging our environment.

The solution: 100% wool dryer balls.

A bottle of lavender essential oil laying on a granite counter next to a wool dryer ball, towels, and green leaves.

How do Dryer Balls Work?

By bouncing around in the dryer, wool dryer balls separate and lift laundry items (works on clothes, towels, sheets, etc.), increasing hot air flow. This, in turn, reduces static, cuts down on drying time and softens laundry naturally. Plus, when you add essential oils (I recommend Lavender), you’ll get a lovely, subtle scent on your laundry that’s safe and non-toxic.

Where to buy essential oils? I love Plant Therapy, whose oils are 100% pure, free from any additives, adulterants, or dilutions. Their facility is USDA Certified Organic, and their prices are also SUPER reasonable! Get 10% off your order of $50 or more sitewide with the coupon code ROOT10!

Eight Plant Therapy Essential Oil bottles lined up in a row.

Still not convinced wool dryer balls are the way to go?

Benefits of Swapping Dryer Sheets for Dryer Balls

  • Dryer Balls are Safer: As mentioned above, dryer sheets and fabric softeners are toxic to our bodies and to the environment thanks to chemicals and synthetic ingredients. Compare that to all-natural dryer balls, which are made with just 1 ingredient (wool) and thus are safe, non-toxic and great for those with sensitive skin. Make sure you get wool dryer balls, and not the environmentally-damaging plastic dryer steamer balls. 
  • Dryer Balls Reduce Drying Time: Not only is this a convenient factor to consider, but it’s also more energy-efficient, thus saving you money and reducing your footprint on the environment. Win-win! (They’re also more eco-friendly as dryer balls are reusable and made from natural wool, rather than harmful synthetic chemicals.)
  • Dryer Balls Are Cheaper: The average cost of a box of 240 dryer sheets is $10 (based on Amazon prices)–for math nerds scoring at home, that’s $0.04/load. Compare that to wool dryer balls (I buy mine on Amazon for less than $20), which last for over 1,000 loads–that’s $.018/load. So not only do wool dryer balls save you money with their energy efficiency, they are also cheaper to purchase and use than traditional dryer sheets.
A bottle of lavender essential oil on a granite counter next to wool dryer balls and towels.

It can be scary to read about all of the harmful, toxic chemicals found in the products we’ve been using every day. But fortunately, there are some super easy, affordable swaps that can ease your mind and your wallet. Give wool dryer balls a try and let me know what you think!

P.S. If you’re concerned about your cleaning products, I highly recommend reading EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, particularly this report that answers dozens of FAQs about home cleaning products and highlights which ingredients to avoid.

5 from 2 votes
Servings: 1000 loads
DIY Wool Dryer Balls with Essential Oils
Prep Time
1 min
Total Time
1 min
Say goodbye to toxic dryer sheets and use homemade wool dryer balls instead! This natural alternative is inexpensive and non-toxic.
  1. Add 3-4 drops of essential oil to each dryer ball before doing laundry.
  2. When ready to place laundry in the dryer, add dryer balls–3-4 balls per medium load, 5-6 balls per large load. Turn on and run normally. Do not use dryer sheets or fabric softener, the dryer balls will do the job of both.
Course: DIY
Cuisine: Cleaning
Author: Kate Kordsmeier |

Toss toxic dryer sheets and fabric softeners for a natural alternative: wool dryer balls with essential oils are safe, energy-efficient, wallet-friendly and effective!

Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

Kate Kordsmeier

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20 comments on “DIY Homemade Wool Dryer Balls”

  1. This may be a silly question but, do the balls even need washing?

  2. Do you have any cruelty free alternatives to these wool balls?

    • Not that I know of, sorry! Let me know if you find one.

    • Yes, the wool dryer balls. Wool isn’t made cruelly, like leather. Sheep SHOULD be sheared because the overgrowth of their wool is uncomfortable. Wild sheep can shed their wool on their own, domesticated sheep do not.

      Here’s a quote I found from an article about PETA’s misleading campaign to claim wool is “as cruel as fur.” If you’re worried about the treatments of the animals, I’d find a dryer balls and reach out directly. If that’s unsatisfying, try calling local farms and asking about dryer balls they have or could have available.

      Here’s the quote.
      “However, the ASA said guidelines from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that mature sheep should be shorn at least once a year by “experienced and competent shearers” who take care not to cut the animals’ skin.”

      The ruling said: “We considered that [this] demonstrated that the main method of obtaining wool from sheep by shearing would not be regarded by consumers as being cruel.””

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve added 3-4 orange drops per ball and let them sit for an hour, then dried my clothes. However when the clothes come out there is NO orange scent and the balls no longer smell like orange. I used all 6 balls and have tried this multiple times. Does anyone know why this is happening?

  4. How do you keep the oils from spotting the fabrics? I wound up with oil spots on the clean clothes.

  5. I had been looking for a replacement for my dryer sheets. These balls smelled so good!

  6. 5 stars
    I am ordering some of these today. I love that you can save money, reduce waste and decrease your exposure to toxins all at the same time. Easy decision!

  7. Where are wool balls available for purchase?

  8. I love wool dryer balls but have concern about the safety of putting any kind of oils into a dryer. The fire/combustion risk is very dangerous.

    • Hey Samantha! I wouldn’t worry about the oils at all…you’re literally only putting a couple of drops onto the balls themselves, which is immediately absorbed. So there is absolutely no liquid in the dryer. If you’re hesitant, just leave off the EOs, as they’re just for scent. Hope you enjoy the wool balls 🙂

  9. wool dryer balls – would you please clarify.: Should the essential oils be added to the wool balls before each dryer time or just initially or periodically e.g. after 10 loads or such?
    Thank you for this information. I did not realize the degree of toxins in my dryer sheets and fabric softener.

    • Hi, Lorraine! Thanks so much for reading. I’m so glad you learned something from this story and that it’s inspired you to make a change. For the essential oils, I add the oils every 2-3 times I do laundry. You should be able to smell the balls and see if the scent is strong enough for you. It’s all a matter of personal preference, so you may like to add the oils every time or every 10 times. I hope you enjoy the dryer balls as much as I do! 🙂