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.

Download a free copy of R+R's DIY Natural Cleaning E-Book

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.

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

DIY Wool Dryer Balls with Essential Oils

Say goodbye to toxic dryer sheets and use homemade wool dryer balls instead! This natural alternative is inexpensive and non-toxic.
Prep Time1 min
Total Time1 min
Course: DIY
Cuisine: Cleaning
Servings: 1000 loads
Author: Olivia Johnson

Ingredients

  • 100% wool dryer balls
  • 3-4 drops essential oils , per ball (I recommend Lavender)

Instructions

  • Add 3-4 drops of essential oil to each dryer ball before doing laundry.
  • 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.

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!

20 thoughts on “DIY Homemade Wool Dryer Balls”

    1. Rhiannon Surels

      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.””

  1. 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?

    1. I wouldn’t add the oils until you are ready to toss the balls in the dryer, as most essential oils are alcohol based. Maybe the oils just evaporated. Or is there some reason that I missed we are supposed to be letting the balls sit after adding the oil??

    2. Angela Crawford

      I found that the orange doesn’t leave a lasting scent. So I switched to lemon & eucalyptus. This scent lasts on my clothes.

  2. 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!

    1. 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 🙂

  3. 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.

    1. 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! 🙂

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Tips for a healthier home

Here are some eco-friendly home care tips for a healthy and green living:
  • Switch your cleaning products to eco-friendly options. You can find many of these in the grocery store and online.
  • Use sustainable materials for furniture, such as wood instead of plastic or metal. This will help create less waste and reduce the amount of natural resources that are used to produce them.
  • Choose lightbulbs with little or no mercury. These not only create less waste but also have an impact on climate change by using less electricity.
  • Plant trees around your property. Trees benefit the environment by providing shade, absorbing carbon dioxide, and purifying the air with their leaves. They also provide fuel for firewood during colder months and a habitat for wildlife. The benefits of planting trees go far beyond what you see right in front of you!

Green cleaning products

One way to make your home more eco-friendly is by switching over to green cleaning products. These products aren’t as harsh on the environment as traditional household cleaners and are less likely to cause allergies or other health issues. Plus, you can find a variety of green cleaning products that work for every type of surface in your home.

Switching to eco-friendly cleaning products

There are many cleaning products that you can use in your home that are environmentally friendly. One of the best ways to start is by switching to eco-friendly cleaning products. Many people don’t know that there are many types of eco-friendly cleaning products on the market today, including laundry detergent and dishwasher soap. A switch to green cleaners can be a simple way to create an environmentally friendly living environment.

Safer and more environmentally friendly ways to clean your home

If you want to make your home safer and more environmentally friendly, then you can switch from using toxic cleaning products to using eco-friendly alternatives. For example, if you want to clean your toilet, then you could use vinegar instead of bleach or other harsh chemicals. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer, so it will do the job without harming the environment. You can also use baking soda as a healthy alternative to many household cleaners. Baking soda is an abrasive cleaner that breaks down dirt and grime; it’s also non-toxic, so it won’t harm people or the environment. It’s also inexpensive, so you can use it liberally without worrying about running out of supply too quickly.

Sustainable living

Most people are more aware of the environment these days and want to do their part to make it a better place. Homeowners and renters alike are doing everything from switching to environmentally friendly cleaning products, to using sustainable materials for furniture. Here are some tips for living an eco-friendly lifestyle in your home:
    • Clean with white vinegar – You can use this as a natural disinfectant that is also eco-friendly. It is also inexpensive and easy on your pipes because you won’t be putting harsh chemicals down the drain.
    • Avoid aerosol cans – Aerosol cans contain harmful chemicals that will release into the air when sprayed. Try switching to an eco-friendly product or find another way to clean.
    • Use reusable napkins – Napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, even facial tissue all come wrapped in paper (or other packaging). Reusable napkins or dish towels will give you one less thing you need to throw away every day!
    • Put up a clothesline – Even if you live in an apartment or condo where putting up a clothesline isn’t possible, there are many ways you can still dry your clothes without using electricity or gas. For example, hang them outside on a sunny day or turn your oven on low heat and hang them from the top rack.

Living with less waste in your home

One of the best ways to reduce your ecological footprint is by reducing the amount of waste that your household produces. Take a look at what you’re throwing away and try to find alternatives.
For example, instead of buying disposable napkins, use cloth napkins that you can throw into the wash. If you need face wipes for removing makeup, consider making them yourself from reusable materials like cotton rounds. And if you want to stop using plastic bags, use canvas bags or have bags made from recycled material. There are many other ideas for eco-friendly alternatives in your home as well.

Sustainable materials for furniture

Did you know that the average American generates over 4 pounds of waste every day? This means that we are throwing away a lot of furniture and other items in our homes. To stop contributing to this problem, it is best to use sustainable materials for furniture. Sustainable materials are made from recycled materials which can be up-cycled into new products. Not only are these items better for the environment, but they also save money because the items will last longer.
Sustainable materials for furniture include:
      • Recycled plastic
      • MDF
      • Plywood
      • Timber reclaimed from old buildings or driftwood
      • Bamboo
      • Faux leather (made from cotton)
The pursuit of a healthy, green and sustainable home is achievable for anyone. It will require more time and effort, but the payoff will be worth it.
Start with the small things. Make a conscious effort to recycle, turn off appliances and lights when you’re not using them, and check your thermostat. It’s easy to get into a routine of living without giving it much thought, but the more you make an effort, the easier it will be to live sustainably.
After you’ve made changes in your everyday life, look for furniture that is made with sustainable materials. You can also buy an eco-friendly houseplant for your home that requires little care.
    1. Tips for a healthier home:
      • Turn off appliances and lights when you’re not using them
      • Check your thermostat
      • Make a conscious effort to recycle
    2. Green cleaning products:
      • Switching to eco-friendly cleaning products
      • Safer and more environmentally friendly ways to clean
      • Sustainable living:
      • Living with less waste in your home
      • Sustainable materials for furniture
  • Sustainable materials for furniture:
    • Consider buying furniture made with sustainable
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