Tuesday, January 14, 2014

DIY Dryer Balls (with materials you already have!)



Do you ever get sick of throwing away all those dryer sheets and having to buy more? No, they really don't cost that much in the scheme of things, and lots of folks cut them in half to stretch them...but isn't it still kinda lame to have to throw stuff away and buy it again? It's one of my biggest pet peeves, and if there's any behaviors in my life that are "green", it's not because I care about the planet or whatever else gets people motivated (although I don't not care, per se)...it's because I get so irritated at having to pay for the same product, over and over again. It's lame.

Of course, if you want the green angle, then that's always available in the dryer sheet issue as well: they're packed with chemicals that can aggravate allergies and build up in your dryer, even potentially causing a fire at some point. Yeah, I didn't think that part sounded great either.

So here's the alternative, and in the process you can get rid of some of those old socks that are hanging around, either too worn for everyday wear or just living on top of the dryer because their mate has gone to the place where all good socks go...the secret land of Sock Narnia. Or something. I really can't come up with any other theories that make sense.

You're probably all familiar with dryer balls, right? They come in several variations, including wool, and their purpose is to bounce around inside the dryer, fluffing your clothes and eliminating static. Do they work? I have no idea. Reviews for them seem to be positive, but long before I ever tried them myself, I just decided to go the DIY route. And let me tell you, these suckers are easy, and they work. I have found that you need several in the dryer (below four and some things, like sheets, do still tend towards static), but as I have a never ending supply of old socks, I see no reason why not to use as many as it takes. They last for a long time, and even yet I've never had to replace any, just re-sew a seam now and then.

So let's get started. Here's what you need:

  • old socks
  • dry beans
  • some way to sew a seam...preferably a sewing machine for tighter stitching that holds longer

First, your socks:


This isn't rocket science, so don't make it overly complicated-- just cut off the curvy parts, the toes and heels. Honestly, you could leave everything right where it's at and just cut the socks in half, if you prefer. I just went for squared angles because I'm obsessive like that. This is what you're left with:

Sew a seam along one side. You can turn them inside out if you like, but honestly, these things will never again see the light of the day (mine live in the dryer between loads) and it's a huge pain to try and get the final seam all pretty when you're wrestling to keep beans inside. Seriously, do yourself a favor and just sew a straight line. Back-tack a good little bit on each end to make them sturdy. And the red thread? I'd like to tell you I did that so you could see the contrast, but it's not true. I just didn't care what color it was because, as mentioned above, these will be spending their lives in the dryer...

Time to pick your beans. I actually prefer smaller ones-- they seem a little denser somehow, which means more weight banging around in the dryer, fluffing your towels. But it doesn't really matter. Last time I used white beans, this time I used big kidney beans. You could used rounded gravel if you like. Don't go the small route (like sand) because you'll end up with a mess in the dryer over time...


Pour the beans into the bag, and put more in than you think you can sew around. Again, the more weight in that little bag, the better. When you're full-ish, shake the beans down so you have a little room to work with at the top. Now, you can sew at this point and just keep the beans out of your way with will power, but the easier route is to shake the beans down and put a row of pins an inch or so below the edge, to keep them out of the way of your sewing foot.

Then sew your second seam, back-tacking with a will on each end. Don't skimp on this-- in fact, feel free to stitch across the entire top twice. Trust me, it's much easier to do this now than to haul the sewing machine out later to fix one seam that you didn't put enough muscle into the first time.

And now you have a lovely [ugly] little beanbag! Thankfully looks don't matter, it's literally what's inside that matters most here. Also, if you want your laundry to smell good (since you won't have dryer sheets with scent on them anymore), drip a couple drops of your favorite essential oil on one of these suckers and toss it in. I keep forgetting to try it myself, but I've heard that a couple drops in a dryer load works smelly wonders!

By the way, do kids still play with beanbags? If you have kids and they still play with such things, maybe your dryer balls won't live in the dryer as much as they're supposed to after all...better make twice as many as you think you need.  :-D

16 comments :

  1. Ooh, Cool! I've had temporary thoughts of ditching the dryer sheets. Then I pull out a load of laundry which I forgot the dryer sheet, and nearly start a fire with all the static electricity popping all over. So I go back to using them. Chemicals or not, so far it's not worth the alternative. I'm going to make these. You said you use four at a time?

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    1. I've been using four but I consider that the bare minimum...down to three and I was getting sheet static, but not clothes. I made two more today for this post and plan on using all six of them because if four is just barely enough, six should be pretty close to perfect. :-)

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  2. I have some dryer balls I made out of scrap wool yarn, and they work well, but go missing frequently. With two boys and a cat in the house, that's probably not a surprise. I need to make them bigger, because there have a knack for hiding in sleeves and pillowcases.

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    1. You know, that's a factor in favor of these that I hadn't considered-- you can always find them, because they're big and sound like rattle-y beans. :-D

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  3. The more I read your posts, Kirsten, I realize you girls couldn't have picked a better name for your blog. You tell of doing things that remind me of how my mom did things back in the late 60's, 70's and early 80's when I was living at home. If you knew how much I admired my mom, you would know this is a BIG compliment. I only wish I didn't have to work full-time so I felt I had the time to put alot of these ideas into play in my own home.

    Betty Figarelle

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  4. This sounds like a really easy solution to that little "need for green" that keeps popping into my head. I made some of the felted ones (these take longer with several steps to making them) & they seem to work fairly well. I kind of vacillate between using some homemade liquid fabric softener & the old dryer sheet standby. I'm pinning your idea so I can check it out. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It is a nice, easy little way to keep the green gremlins in your head satisfied. :-) Good luck if you try this!

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  5. Totally doing this! I was using a dryer bar, but still getting static.

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    1. I've never used a dryer bar, but I hope these help the static issue! Let me know, I'd love to know how many problems they may or may not be solutions for. :-)

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  6. This sounds interesting - I'll give it a try!

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  7. This is such a good idea! I had read different ideas for different kinds of dryer balls, but these make the most sense to me. I'm glad you shared this at Treasure Box Tuesday! :)

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    1. Thanks for checking them out! I hope they work well for you. :-)

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  8. This is marvelous! I am honored that you shared at Home and Garden Thursday!
    Kathy

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  9. Great idea! Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again today! We have a brand new giveaway going on...be sure to enter for a chance to win!

    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2014/01/anniversary-giveaway-week-2-the-homeacre-hop-55.html

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  10. I crochet woolen coats for my dryer balls; when they start wearing out, I crochet over the old coat, They get bigger and bigger and quieter!!!

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  11. Hi! :)

    This week's edition of Wildcrafting Wednesday is all about personal care and cleaning and getting rid of the toxic and disposable items we use every day on our bodies and in our homes. This would be a great addition and I hope you'll share it with us this week on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

    Thanks! :)

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