How to Clean Wool Dryer Balls (Recharging and Refreshing)

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If you’ve noticed you’re wool dryer balls are starting to become dingy or worn, you’re going to love these easy methods to refresh and recharge them! Keep reading to learn how to clean your wool dryer balls.

If you've noticed you're wool dryer balls are starting to become dingy or worn, you're going to love these easy methods to refresh and recharge them! Keep reading to learn how to clean your wool dryer balls.

How to Clean Wool Dryer Balls (Recharging and Refreshing)

Wool dryer balls are many people’s go-to method for reducing laundry drying time and saving up on electricity costs. Dryer balls are also great for softening clothes and reducing static cling. However, if you’ve been using wool dryer balls for a while, their quality and effectiveness may deteriorate over time.

Dryer Balls may successfully be used in place of traditional dryer sheets and fabric softeners in your clothes dryer as a more sustainable product. They are durable, eco-friendly, and great for those with issues with fragrances or that get skin irritation from other harmful chemicals.

Dryer Balls are also great for using in loads on baby clothes or cloth diapers since they don’t contain the products that might cause sensitivities or irritate allergies.

You might have considered throwing them out after they started attracting lint or looking unusual. But what if I told you there was an easy way to clean and refresh your wool dryer balls?

— Learn more about why I love wool dryer balls and How to Make Wool Dryer Balls.

How do you clean wool dryer balls? You can clean wool balls by putting them in the washing machine and adding some gentle laundry detergent. You could also hand wash them with some soap and warm water.

Keep reading to learn more about old wool dryer balls and how to clean them.

Dryer Balls

2 Ways to Clean Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls are made of natural fibers, which can cause them to dry out over time. They will lose their ability to absorb moisture in your laundry and leave behind lint, which affects how long your laundry can take to dry.

If you leave old dryer balls uncleaned for too long, residue will build up, and they will not be as effective as you want them to be. They may collect a lot of lint, pet hair, or not be as effective in reducing the static electricity in your clothing. Keep in mind, these tips will not work to clean tennis balls that you use as a dryer ball since they are not made with wool fibers or wool yarn.

There are two methods you can use to clean wool dryer balls:

Method 1: Machine Wash

  1. Use a razor or sweater shaver to eliminate any lint or fuzz from your worn dryer balls.
  2. Put the balls into a mesh bag that will fit into your washer and secure it shut.
  3. Add a gentle detergent and turn on the machine’s dry cycles for clothes on high heat. THey need to be washed in hot water, not cold.
  4. After the cycle is finished, remove the bag and rinse the balls with cold water until they feel clean. Then, leave them to dry completely before using them again.

To protect them from the washing machine, you can place them in a mesh bag before placing them in the machine.

Method 2: Hand Wash

  1. Use a razor or a sweater shaver to remove any lint or fuzz from your worn dryer balls.
  2. Put the balls in a large bowl filled with warm water and a mild detergent. (You can make your own detergent or purchase something gentle like Woolite)
  3. Leave the dryer balls to soak for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the dryer balls from soaking and squeeze them out completely to remove all excess residue.
  5. Soak the dryer balls again for about 30 more minutes.
  6. After soaking, rinse well in cold water and use a cloth to scrub the balls with firm but gentle pressure until they’re clean. (You may need to rinse and repeat if there is still detergent residue remaining.)
  7. Let the dryer balls dry completely before using them again.

You can also add a few drops of essential oils to the dryer balls after washing them, regardless of the method, to give them a refreshing or natural scent.

— Castile Soap is a gentle, mild cleanser that would be perfect for cleaning your wool dryer balls. Find more uses for Castile Soap For Your Home & Body.

Wool Dryer Balls

How Often Should You Clean Your Wool Dryer Balls?

Generally, how often you clean your wool dryer balls depends on how often you use them. If you only use the wool dryer balls once or twice a week, then it’s best to clean them once every two to three months.

On the other hand, if you use them more than once a week, I recommend cleaning them once a month because of the build-up that can occur over time.

If you’ve purchased your wool dryer balls or gotten them as a gift, it’s always a good idea to read the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and care. Some manufacturers will include this information in their packaging or on their websites.

6 Signs It’s Time to Clean Your Dryer Balls

If you’re new to using wool dryer balls, you might wonder how they look when they are overused. Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to clean wool dryer balls:

  1. The smell of musty laundry is noticeable even when the ball isn’t being used. The smell lingers long after the load has finished drying.
  2. It takes much longer than usual for clothes to dry with the balls than without them.
  3. Your clothes feel greasy after they’ve been dried with these balls. This can be caused by the build-up of oil from the balls or over-drying.
  4. There is visible milder on the balls themselves or inside the container.
  5. They have built-up lint on the surface.
  6. They feel rough or sticky.

Another way to check whether your dryer balls are dirty is by putting them in water. If you see any residue or clumping that floats to the top of the water after 5-10 minutes then your dryer balls need to be washed.

You’ll want to make sure that you don’t use your wool dryer balls until they’ve had a chance to fully dry again.

What is “Recharging” Wool Dryer Balls?

When dryer balls are overused, the wool will start to become brittle and no longer absorbs moisture effectively. So, you will need to “recharge” or refresh them to make them effective again.

Recharging will prevent them from wearing out, which will extend their life and, in turn, save you money.

–Looking for more ways to save money with your laundry routine? Check out these Frugal Laundry Strategies.

Dryer Balls in a Dryer

How Do You Recharge Your Dryer Balls?

Your dryer balls may be less effective than usual if they have lint or fiber build-up. The best way to recharge them is to wash your dryer balls using one of the methods above, making sure there is no residue or build-up during the final rinse cycle to ensure they are totally clean.

To protect them from the washing machine, you can place them in a mesh bag before placing them in the machine.

After washing, allow the dryer balls to dry completely. You can do this in a machine on a normal cycle, with high heat. If your dryer balls aren’t squeezed out well, they could become heavy with excess moisture, so don’t worry if they take a little longer than usual to dry.

If you don’t want to use a machine, you can also set the dryer balls out in a warm, sunny place to dry.

— Read more about My Year Around Laundry Routine Without a Dryer.

Once your wool dryer balls are fully dried, you can use them for your next load of laundry.

If you want, you can add some drops of your favorite essential oil to your dryer balls after recharging them to give them a fresh scent. Some of my favorite essential oils for wool dryer balls are Lavendar, Grapefruit, Orange, and Tea Tree.

— Learn how to Organize your Essential Oils and Other Make Your Own Ingredients.

How Often Should You Recharge Your Wool Dryer Balls?

Most manufacturers claim you need to recharge your dryer balls after at least 1,000 loads, which is about 10 times over their lifetime. However, I recommend you recharge them after 100 loads.

Since you’re unlikely to keep count of your laundry loads, let me do the math for you:

If you do 4 laundry loads in a week on average, you will need to recharge your dryer balls every 25 weeks (100 loads divided by 4), which is about every 6 months.

Complicated math aside, it mostly depends on how often you use them and how many loads of laundry you do so don’t wait until your dryer balls start wearing down to recharge them.

How to Tell When Your Wool Dryer Balls Are No Longer Good?

If you take proper care of your wool dryer balls, they should last a while but if you do a lot of laundry you may find yourself wondering when it’s time to throw out your wool dryer balls and replace them.

How do you know when it’s time to throw your wool dryer balls out?

Wool dryer balls should be thrown out when they begin to come loose, shed, or have a worn-down appearance. You may also notice some wool sticking to your dry clothes after taking them out of the machine.

Once you notice your dryer balls beginning to come apart, they can no longer be recharged or cleaned. Once that happens they can no longer effectively do their job, and it’s time to toss them. But don’t worry, you can easily make your own wool dryer balls to replace them or purchase them online.

If you notice that you’re wool dryer balls are wearing out quickly, you may want to recharge them more often. You should also make sure that you are using the right amount of dryer balls for the size of your washing load. If you have a large load or extra-large loads in your laundry frequently, you should use more dryer balls than if you are running a small load on the gentle cycle.

How Many Dryer Balls Should I Use?

You can use 3 dryer balls with an average load of laundry and as many as 6 dryer balls with larger loads of laundry. It mostly depends on the size of your load, however, it’s generally recommended that you don’t use less than 3 per load.

Since it’s important that your dryer balls dry out between loads, you may want to have a second set so that you can alternate which ones you use if you do frequent laundry loads.

Dryer balls are a great way to get rid of single-use dryer sheets and other things that might contain harsh chemicals in your laundry routine. KNowing how to properly care for them will keep you saving money for many years to come!

If you love saving money and frugal living, you would love my book Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life. It features over 130 DIY recipes for households, beauty, kids, and many more frugal ideas that are perfect for your household!


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Me and KadyMerissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to the 100-acre farm and ministry on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.

This tutorial for how to clean wool dryer balls was published on Little House Living in January 2023.

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One Comment

  1. I bought dryer balls at a craft fair. No instructions included :). I tried using them a couple of times but my clothes had lots of static. Tried washing them and had the same result. Any recommendations how to help with this? Thanks, love your blog and videos!