Dear Sara: I recently bought a new washing machine without realizing that it doesn't have a fabric softener dispenser. Now I'm left with a whole bottle of softener.
Short of running to the basement and trying to catch the rinse cycle, is there any way I can use this stuff? Is it possible to make your own dryer sheets?
I tried one of the balls that you fill, but it didn't release the softener. I wonder if it has anything to do with the way the new machines are designed to save water. Any help would be appreciated. -- Beverley M., Massachusetts
Dear Beverley: You can dilute liquid fabric softener or cheap hair conditioner with water and use it to fill a spray bottle or plastic container, such as a baby-wipes container.
Use the spray bottle of softener and spritz a washcloth, or soak a cloth in the plastic container, wring it out and toss it into the dryer. If you miss the scent, add a few drops of essential oil.
You can reuse aluminum foil by wadding it into 3-inch diameter fabric softening balls and use a few to reduce static in the dryer, too.
Reuse a tennis ball, or make your own dryer balls from wool. I suggest wool over the tennis ball because the rubber from the tennis ball could smell over time due to the high heat.
To make a wool dryer ball, use 100 percent wool-felting yarn. Acrylic yarn doesn't felt, and don't use super-wash wool because it's treated not to felt. Make a few small yarn balls, approximately 5 inches around.
Wrap the yarn tightly. Pull the yarn end through the yarn ball to prevent unraveling. You can add drops of essential oil for scent, too.
Place the balls in pantyhose, tying a knot between each ball, or tie a piece of yarn or a rubber band in between so it resembles sausage links.
Place the pantyhose chain of yarn balls into a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to prevent lint. Toss this into the washing machine and wash it in hot water. Once washed, run it through the dryer to felt the yarn balls. Remove the yarn balls from the pantyhose and you'll notice they will have shrunk a bit.