How To Make Eco-Friendly Felted Dryer Balls

It seems like dryer balls are all the rage these days, and with good reason. They not only eliminate the need for chemical-soaked dryer sheets, but also save on drying time by reducing twists and clumps. Of course you can buy some from just about every supermarket or big-box retailer, but it’s fun and easy to make your own, and they can be really pretty! You can choose sustainably-sourced undyed wool to be super eco-friendly, use-up yarn from your stash, or even upcycle by making dryer balls from spent tennis balls. Anyway you look at this project, it’s fun for you and great for the planet!

There are two ways to make felted dryer balls: needle felting and wet felting. For a more thorough description about felting, check out my Felted Coasters project (click here).

Let’s start with the needle felting method:

For this method you can use any type of wool roving, or even old yarn, that you like, as long as it’s 100% wool and not super-wash. You need about 1 oz. of wool to make a 3″- 4″ diameter dryer ball, which if you don’t have a scale, is about this much (each color makes one):

roving for felted dryer balls

The first step is to roll the roving into a reasonably tight ball, which will make the felting process go faster:

roving rolled up to become a felted dryer ball

Next, start stabbing the ball of roving with the felting needle(s), somewhat evenly, all over, rotating the roving as necessary. At some point your dryer ball will go through an ‘awkward phase’ where it isn’t really round and certainly isn’t even:

partially-felted dryer ball during the awkward phase

Don’t worry, it will outgrow this phase and morph into a lovely, spherical dryer ball. Just keep rotating it and stabbing it with the felting needles until it becomes mostly-round. Once it’s mostly-round, you may want to switch to using only one needle so you can be more precise with your felting:

natural wool felted dryer balls

I like the simple color combination of these dryer balls the way they are, but it’s easy to add patterns or other colors simply by needle felting accent wool right onto them.

What you will need:

  • 1 oz 100% wool roving for each dryer ball
  • Felting needle
  • Accent wool for decoration (optional)


If you want to upcycle a tennis ball:

While tennis balls can be used on their own, without a felted covering, adding a layer of felt on top reduces the thumping noise they make when tumbling around in the dryer. It also makes them prettier and easier to identify and keep separate from the family dog’s tennis ball collection.

The first step is to wrap a layer of roving around the tennis ball and roll it around in your hands for a minute or two until it generally stays in place:

upcycling a tennis ball into a dryer ball with wool roving

upcycled dryer ball with roving wrapped around a tennis ball

Next, put the roving-wrapped tennis ball into a bowl of hot, soapy water and gently squeeze it. Keep squeezing the roving against the tennis ball so that the soap and hot water work into the roving while rolling the ball around in your hands and against the sides of the bowl. After a few minutes you will notice that the roving is loose around the tennis ball, but covers it completely:

wet felt a tennis ball covered in wool roving to make a dryer ball

If you see any tennis ball through the roving, just add a little more roving in that area. Likewise, if you want a thicker covering on the tennis ball, just add more roving as you squeeze it and roll it around.

Keep rolling and squeezing the roving until it is tightly felted around the tennis ball. You may need to change the water a few times if it gets cold. Once the roving is tight around the tennis ball, remove it from the hot, soapy water and rinse it really well. This is going to take a few minutes, and illustrates why we didn’t wet felt the 100% wool dryer balls: it would take forever to get the soap out!

Now you can decorate your upcycled dryer ball using the needle felting method:

upcycled dryer ball made from spent tennis ball

You’ll find that the needle doesn’t penetrate the tennis ball, just the roving, so it may be easier to stab the decoration wool a little bit tangentially (from the side) instead of straight-on.

felted dryer ball with scrap yarn decoration

The haze (fuzziness) around the dryer ball will diminish and the decorative felting will stick more tightly as it felts further in the dryer so don’t worry if it’s slightly loose at first.

upcyled dryer ball with felted decoration over tennis ball core

What you will need:

  • Some (maybe 1/4 oz or less) 100% wool roving for each dryer ball
  • Bowl
  • Soap (dish soap works well)
  • Hot water
  • Felting needle
  • Accent wool for decoration (optional)

Tips and tricks:

  • If you need to make a change in the decoration pattern, the yarn will pull right off before it’s fully-adhered. If there are little bits of color left behind, either scrape them off with a razor or cover them up with a little bit of the main color.
  • In addition to being a big help in the laundry room, dryer balls are great practice for making Woolbuddies (click here), which are even more adorable in real-life.

felted dryer balls with laundry

Have fun helping the planet and being creative with your dryer ball project! Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question and send photos of your finished dryer balls. Don’t forget to follow Creatorvox here, on Facebookand on Twitter for more tips and tricks between posts. Thanks for reading, and happy making!

Have any questions or comments?