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As a mom, I’ve done more than my fair share of laundry.
Most days, I feel like the corner in my laundry room has sprouted some evil laundry monster, its contents spilling out from the hamper(s) and over the floor.
Then there are days I feel like a DIY laundry diva because I make my own, all natural, 2 minute laundry soap. There’s also a lavender laundry soap here on Scratch Mommy. The main thing here though is to actually use the soap and do the laundry. And don’t even get me started on folding it, much less putting it away.
With all that I have going on, laundry included, I like to keep things simple. I know some people who have to have a dryer sheet or lilac scented fabric softener in every single load. I’m just not that type of person.
It might also have something to do with the fact that I’m allergic to most soap products, especially laundry detergent. I spent a full 3 weeks last December covered in hives, because I had slept in sheets washed with a fabric softener.
Your skin may not be as sensitive as mine is, but fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain some pretty scary sounding ingredients.
Bounce dryer sheets contain:
“Dipalmethyl Hydroxyethylammoinum Methosulfate, Fatty Acid, Polyester Substrate, Clay, Fragrance.” (source)
Ultra Downy Liquid starts off good with water, but then it quickly goes downhill from there.
“Water, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride, Fragrance, Starch, Ammonium chloride, Calcium chloride, Formic acid, Polydimethylsiloxane, Liquitint™ Blue colorant, Benzisothiazolinone, diethylenetriamine pentaacetate.” (source)
Fabric softeners work by coating the fabric in fragrance and chemical agents. These linger on the fabric and make direct and prolonged contact with our skin. If I can’t pronounce it, I’m not inclined to want it on my skin. And even though “fragrance” may sound like a nice and simple ingredient, it’s anything but.
“The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants… Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.” (source)
Also not something I want on my skin.
A Natural Way to Freshen Your Laundry
Instead of using conventional fabric softener to prevent static and make your laundry smell good, you can use natural alternatives.
- Add a cup of vinegar to the laundry and run an extra rinse. This makes your clothes super soft!
- For a more noticeable scent, add some essential oils to a cloth and throw it in the dryer along with the clothes.
- Use crumpled aluminum foil in the dryer to help prevent static cling.
- Use wool dryer balls.
Before my days as a Scratch Mommy, I had never heard of wool dryer balls. They’re a safe, non-toxic way to dry your clothes faster. It kind of looks like you threw your knitting in with your load of towels.
So how do you use them? Once the wool has been felted, you place the balls of yarn in the dryer along with your wet clothes. You can even put a few drops of your favorite essential oils on them to help scent your load.
How to Make DIY Wool Dryer Balls
All of these materials can be gathered from used items around the house. If you’re not the type of person to have old pantyhose and knitting lying around, then feel free to borrow some from your grandma. I seriously did get the pantyhose for this from my grandma. This is also an easy project to make while you’re watching your favorite show. Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune anyone? 😉
You will need:
- 100% wool yarn (acrylic blends won’t work) – this is an handspun, unbleached, natural wool yarn
- Crochet hook or yarn needle
- Essential oils of your choice (optional) – these are some of our favorite essential oils
Wrap the yarn around your fingers like in the picture, then continue to wrap it around, forming a ball that’s roughly the size of a tennis ball. You can make them smaller if you want, but I like this size.
Once you’ve reached the size you want, use the yarn needle or crochet hook to wrap the end of the yarn around the exterior strands of the yarn ball a few times. You want to make sure that it’s woven in well and isn’t going to unravel.
Cut the legs off of the pantyhose, unless you’re using knee-highs. Place a yarn ball into the hose and tie a knot in it. Place the next yarn ball in and tie another knot. Repeat until they’re all in, using another piece of hose if necessary.
Throw the pantyhose covered yarn balls (I know, that just sounds weird) into your washing machine and wash in hot water. I just washed them with a load of towels on hot. Now put them in the dryer on hot. I washed and dried twice to make sure that they actually felted.
Cut the dryer balls out of the pantyhose and use whenever you dry clothing. If you’re adding essential oils to scent the load, then place about 10 drops total on the balls during the last 10 minutes of drying. Lavender seems to be a popular laundry scent, but you could also try Sweet Orange for an invigorating experience.