Around 125 million tennis balls end up in U.S. landfills every year, taking up to 400 years to decompose, according to RecycleBalls, a Vermont nonprofit dedicated to recycling tennis balls.
If you’re an avid tennis player, you’ve probably accumulated a stockpile of tennis balls that long ago lost their bounce. But that doesn’t mean those neon-colored balls must wind up in a landfill.
You’ll love these ways to use tennis balls around the house, all of which I tested out (except for the one for swimming pools).
1. Scuff mark and cobweb remover
Stick a tennis ball on a broom handle to remove scuff marks on hardwood, tile or linoleum floors. It’s effective for even “the largest, toughest scuff marks,” according to Signature Custom Flooring of Wisconsin.
You can also use a tennis ball at the end of a broom handle to sweep away cobwebs from ceiling corners and crown molding.
Carefully cut an “X” in a clean tennis ball. (A dirty one can scratch or stain your floor, Signature Custom Flooring notes.) Then, stick the ball on a broom handle, and you’ve got a nifty cleaning tool for at least a couple of jobs around the house.
2. Valuables hider
Want to hide money and valuables from burglars or workers coming into and out of the house?
Take an old tennis ball and cut it carefully along one side so that the ball opens when you squeeze. Then hide money, jewelry or other small items you’d like to keep out of sight.
3. Garage parking guide
Worried about your front bumper knocking against lawn chairs, coolers, tools or other items at the front of your garage? Hang a tennis ball to mark the spot where it’s time to put your vehicle in park to avoid knocking stuff over or dinging your bumper.
Mark the ceiling or beam where you need to hang the ball so that when it gets near your windshield, you know to stop. Then carefully cut a small “X” or drill a hole in the ball and place the knotted end of a string, attached to the ceiling, inside the tennis ball.
4. Bottle and jar opener
How many times have you broken a sweat trying to open the tightly sealed cap on a bottle of iced tea or another beverage? Keeping half a tennis ball on hand may be just what you need, since the rubber inside a tennis ball works as a handy gripper.
To make a bottle and jar opener, carefully cut a tennis ball in half. Then keep the ball in a kitchen drawer or car glove box for help opening super-sealed lids and caps.
5. Laundry fluffer
Tennis balls bouncing around in the clothes dryer are great for fluffing down-filled comforters and pillows that can flatten over time, according to Real Simple editors who themselves have been using tennis balls for this purpose for years.
Adding tennis balls to the dryer can also keep wrinkles from setting in by keeping T-shirts, jeans and other clothes items circulating and speeding up drying time.
6. Pool cleaner
Does your backyard swimming pool surface oily from sunscreen and other body oils during the summer? Toss a few new tennis balls into your pool or debris-filtering skimmer basket to clear up the water.
Tennis balls have properties that soak up oils from your body, sunscreen and makeup that can build up in the water, according to Dolphin Pools & Spas in Salt Lake City.
7. Packing material for shipping
When tennis balls lose their bounce, don’t just throw them away. Clean a bunch of tennis balls in the washing machine and use them as packing materials. Tennis balls can fill in the gaps around breakable items and keep books, electronics or other items from sliding during shipping.
8. Foot and back massager
Rolling a tennis ball beneath your foot, from toes to heel, relieves ligament and muscle tension and stimulates circulation, according to Pioneer Podiatry in Queensland, Australia, which offers step-by-step instructions.
There’s no need to stop at your feet, either. Place a tennis ball between your body and the wall or floor to massage sore spots and trigger points in your back, hips, glutes and calves. Then slowly roll the ball up and down or from side to side.
Note: Always make sure you get clearance or advice from your doctor, chiropractor or another practitioner specializing in back pain before trying any kind of back self-massage.