wool dryer balls. They're awesome. I've bought a few of them and now have a grand total of 8 wool balls.
Basic questions and answers so I can get on to the fun part.
Do they work?
Yes. Very well.
I have been able to dry loads of laundry which normally took two to two and a half runs through the dryer in one to one and a half. That makes me very happy.
How do they work?
They beat the heck out of your laundry to help soften it while the wool absorbs excess moisture, thus speeding the drying process.
How many do you need?
Buddha Bunz suggests around 9 to reduce your drying time substantially, but I started with three and started noticing a reduction in drying time immediately.
Will they lint-up your laundry?
Nope. I haven't had any trouble with them doing so.
Are they safe to use with cloth diapers?
Yep. And they make it so your cloth diapers actually come out much softer, way faster.
What if I don't use a dryer so much, is it still worth it to own some?
Definitely. The kids seem to love them as much as I do. Mongoosine likes juggling with them and Snapdragon simply adores playing with them. I like that they're lightweight and soft enough that I don' tworry when the kids are tossing them about in the house.
Shouldn't I just go ahead and order them from anywhere?
Nope. I've gotten three different kinds of wool balls, and I've started experimenting with making my own, and here's what I have to say, Melinda from Buddha Bunz does 'em best. My Buddha Bunz weigh the same as my Wooltopia, but are wound much more neatly and tightly, so all the same ability to absorb, without any of the "hey, could this come apart?" worry, plus they're nearly perfect little spheres. My other ball, which I bought from a fair, though pretty with swirly black green and yellow (JabberWalky picked it out) is nice and big, but super light-weight, so not nearly as inclined to actually absorb excess moisture. As for mine, well, lets just say that if I wanted to make them as perfect as my Buddha Bunz, I'd likely give myself carpel tunnel AND an inferiority complex.
Besides, Buddha Bunz are less expensive by the time you add shipping.
There. Done. Now the fun part.
Buddha Bunz sells plain dryer balls, colored dryer balls, and even specially custom designed ones. They come scented or unscented, and she even makes ones specially as toys with la jingle bell in the center for extra kidlet amusement. Well, I like the specially designed ones a *lot* but I'm A. cheap, and B. one of those creative types who always wants to figure out how to do things myself. So, when Melinda from Buddha Bunz was having a sale on undyed wool dryer balls, I couldn't resist the urge to get some plain ones and see what I could do with them.
So, I turned to my favorite know it all, Google, and came up with these two sites on how to dye wool with common household or kitchen ingredients. No really, very common ingredients. One is on how to dye wool with kool-aid drink mix (here), and the other is on how to dye wool with vinegar and food coloring (here).
The first thing I noticed about both of these sets of directions was that they're for dying skeins of wool yarn. Well, I'm dying balls, so it's a little different.
First I decided to try to dye wool using the kool-aid drink mix, so that's what I'll show you here. I had my heart set on doing a Battlestar Galactica inspired Eye of Jupiter dryer ball, you know, because I'm a geek.
See? Pretty Eye of Jupiter?
So, I gently soaped and rinsed my pretty plain dryer ball, then wet it a bit more as per the instructions I'd read, and then I mixed the contents of a lemonade and a cherry Kool-Aid drink mix pouch in separate empty clean baby food jars with a tiny bit of water in each, and then a blue raspberry generic drink mix in a third. I started to paint on the color with a water color brush, but it didn't seem to be working well, though I admit that is likely because I started with the yellow, so I pulled out the baby-medicine syringe and sucked up the mixture into it and gently tapped the color into place until I was happy with my design. I should have taken a picture then.
So, if you're doing a 3 dimensional ball of wool, bear these tips in mind
1. if you oversaturate it, the color will settle to the bottom.
2. the directions i read said to heat set it in the microwave for 2 minutes, let it sit, then heat set it for 2 minutes... well, don't. heat it 30 seconds at a time because at 2 minutes, you start smelling something unpleasantly scorchy, well, i did.
3. if you have a lovely intricate pattern which you've carefully painted onto the ball, be sure to put that side UP when you are heat setting it, even if you're using a non-microwave heat setting method, because you'll be irritated when you open it up to find a hot ball of wool where the color has bled over the bottom half, obliterating half your design. Also, see tip 1.
See how that started out Eye of Jupiter-ish but ended up being all red on the bottom instead of nice concentric circles? Yeah. Dang it.
It's still cool, but that was a bit disappointing.
4. wear gloves
Definitely wear gloves, that way you don't have to walk around with "Red Right Hand" stuck in your head all day, night, weekend, week, month, year, however long...
Well, after I heat set it, let it cool a bit, rinsed it, resoaped it, and rinsed again then wrapped it in a paper towel and rubbed it to verify that it was color fast, I realized two more things.
A. This smelled good.
B. Melinda is better at it than I am.
Bottom line? Buddha Bunz wool dryer balls are the BEST ever, and it takes a while to wash kool aid off your fingers.
Don't worry, I'll show you what I do with my other ones too.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated at all in any way shape or form for this, and I really hope that my friend Melinda who makes the balls isn't irritated with me for sharing this. But as I said, you can have her do the messy work for you, get radder results, and not walk around with stained fingernails for a week.