My Dryer Ball Confession: Sometimes You Get Lucky


If confession is good for the soul, it is time for me to admit to something that I still can’t believe that I did.  After all, my actions are reasonable… most days.  Folks, it is time for a true confession.

What lead me down this path of confession is Pinterest.  Yes, I am a fan.   If I am not careful with my time, I can spend hours each day looking at beautiful photos and clever ideas.  And simply by clicking on the image, you are whisked away to a page where someone points out in carefully worded text, just how to accomplish the same project with the same results.  And to make it even more appealing, the writer usually includes photos documenting the steps.  Simple, yes?

felting dryer balls in dishwasher

felting dryer balls in dishwasher

One project kept appearing over and over.  Buoyed by comments, I felt that armed with the proper materials and a dose of common sense, that I too, could complete the project and perhaps, even simplify the process.    With a simplified process, I could contribute something of value to the blogosphere and Pinterest.  People would be sharing my page and marvel at the ease of the project.

What caught my interest was dryer balls.  Yes, I am sure you have seen the posts.  They  vary from covering scraps with wool roving to just using wool yarn.  However, one thing that all of the posts had in common was felting the wool.  Felting instructions varied by blogger.  Some of them seemed tedious or time-consuming so this step became my inspiration.  I would create an easier process so folks could go about other tasks while their soon-to-be dryer balls began to felt.

As part of the felting process, hot water is a main component.  As I brainstormed ideas on how to felt the balls, I looked around my kitchen.  Surely there had to be something that could do the job, leaving me free to go about other daily projects?  And there it was.  Unobtrusive.  Useful.  Commercially made.  Capable of producing hot water by itself. Yes… I spied my dishwasher.

Armed with more than a baker’s dozen, I placed them on the bottom rack of the dishwasher.   Oh… this would be great.  The appliance was set to an approximately 30 minute wash cycle on hot.  Once the cycle started, I walked away and onto other projects.  But when I returned after the elapsed time and opened the door, I was greeted by a sudsy mess!   You see, I bought wool sweaters at a thrift shop to make the dryer balls.  All of sweater tags stated (dry clean only), but apparently people washed their sweaters with a lot of detergent and there was still detergent residue in the wool!

I suddenly had visions of a service call made many years ago.  A friend accidentally used dish soap in my dishwasher.  We came back to a layer of suds flowing across the kitchen floor.  Then when the suds had been cleared away, the dishwasher would not work.  The dishwasher repairman stated that high sudsing detergents were not meant for the dishwasher and could result in a few things happening.  One was that the suds would leak out around the door of the dishwasher.  And the second and more costly outcome (in this case) was that a vacuum had formed in the drain hose because of all of the suds.

I immediately removed the wet dryer balls.  Then with fingers crossed, I shut the dishwasher door and set a cycle.  Much to my relief, the dishwasher started without a hitch.  Whew!  Crisis averted.   I was glad that I would not have to explain to my spouse why a repairman had been called to the house, a charge debited to our account, and more importantly… why I had decided to use the dishwasher to felt wool balls.

Okay… this was not my brightest moment.  But I am so thankful that in my quest to save some time and effort, that I did not end up with a several hundred-dollar repair.  Now while the dryer balls are destined as presents, they are not worth the price of an expensive repair.

Learn from me and my confession.  Use your common sense and save the shortcuts to someone else.


13 responses »

  1. I’m glad you didn’t wreck your dishwasher. I tie my dryer balls in old socks and put them in my washer when I’m washing other clothing. That always does the trick for me.

  2. I think this sounded like a great idea. Who would realize that the wool would contain so much detergent residue? Thanks for posting this mistake and saving others from calamity. We have as much to learn from failure as we do from success.

    • I was certainly surprised! With ‘Dry Clean Only’ labels I thought that I would not have to worry about that… fortunately, I am lucky that I did not end up with a repair bill.

  3. It was a good idea though! I’m glad it didn’t end in disaster with your dishwasher! My Dad once got tired of washing carrots in the sink at our farm and put them in the washing machine! That actually worked! Thanks for sharing your dryer ball adventure!

  4. Pingback: Homemade Laundry Soap and Dryer “Sheets”

  5. Have you thought about washing them in a low water hot cycle in your washing machine with no soap added? I don’t know if it would work, but it would be worth a try. Maybe a round or two in the washer would do the trick if not it would at least get the soap out so you could use your dishwasher.

    Don’t feel bad I have weeks like that also.

    • I had thought about the washing machine, but was afraid that the agitation would warp the shape of the dryer ball (I didn’t have any pantyhose to place the dryer balls in). My lesson that I learned from this adventure is that people don’t follow clothing tag instructions. With the dry clean only sweater that I bought… people still washed them with detergent. Thankfully, I did a lot so I won’t need to worry about making more for a while. 🙂

  6. It must be the week to post our ditzy ‘true confessions’! Love knowing there are so many of us out there 🙂 So happy the damage was minimal and crisis averted. I must confess, I thought it a grand idea when you started the story……..

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