Picture of 10 Unusual Uses for Tennis Balls
Tennis balls are ubiquitous and inexpensive. They're great for tennis... for a little while. Then they lose that carefree, Tigger-like bounciness and become dog toys.* But what if you don't have a dog? What can you do with some tennis balls?
  • Laundry? Yeah, tennis balls.
  • Household cleaning? Yep.
  • Parking? Got you covered.
  • Sensual self-massage? You bet your felted fluorescent balls.
Don't you worry, baby birds. I have chewed on this wooly problem for a while now, and I am ready to regurgitate my knowledge into your cheepinig little maws. So let's help you fledge the nest and unlock the McEnroe/MacGyver potential you have buried deep inside your life-hacking soul.

Go grab some balls from the bushes behind the local tennis courts. Intercept a lobbed ball at the local dog park. Begin training as a Wimbledon ball-boy. Do whatever you need to do to get a hold of these magical golden orbs.

*According to small, panicky corners of the Internet, tennis balls may be bad for your dog's health. That fuzzy yellow coating might be ruining Fido's teeth. They're choking hazards for large dogs. They could randomly explode.
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Step 1: Protect Your Floors

Picture of Protect Your Floors
Refinishing a floor is a messy, time-consuming, and expensive task. It sucks, and you probably don't want to do it. I've done it professionally and it's not even fun when you're being paid for it.

Protect your precious floors by capping chair legs, walker feet*, and pirate pegs that might need to consistently slide or tap across your floor.

Just cut an X into the top of a tennis ball and insert the offending leg into the warm embrace of the tennis ball. Done.

*You've probably seen this trick at the local senior hang-out. Probably alongside a rousing game of shuffleboard or aqua-robics. Walker feet covered in tennis balls facilitate safe sliding and are easier to replace/cheaper than little rubber caps.

Step 2: Laundry

Picture of Laundry
I like my towels to be fluffy and absorbent, but I hate the smell and texture of clothes that have been laundered with fabric softening dryer sheets. In an attempt to ditch the dryer sheets, I decided to just go without. My clothes were fine, but my towels just weren't fluffy enough.

To fluff those towels, I decided to toss in a tennis ball. Or three. Just to see what would happen. Would they have the same effect as those made for TV dryer balls? Would they destroy the dryer? Would my neighbors complain about the thunking noises?

Turns out, tennis balls make a GREAT replacement for dryer sheets with regard to fluffification. Static prevention and scent, not so much. But those aren't necessary for my towels. Or comforter. Or any of my other giant linens that require fluffiness.

Step 3: Garage Penetration Indicator

Picture of Garage Penetration Indicator
Sometimes it can be difficult to pull into one's garage without crashing into the back wall. Even with daily practice, pulling into the garage can be a nerve-wracking experience. Sure, it's not landing an F-16 on the deck of an aircraft carrier, but it can be a tricky maneuver. Particularly for guest drivers. Or teens. Or anyone else who is secondary on your insurance forms.

To keep those fragile boxes full of Christmas decorations and 6th grade soccer participation trophies safe, why not dangle a tennis ball from your garage ceiling to mark where you should stop?

Here's a way to do it*:
  • Hang a string from where you think it will hit the center of your windshield or the spot right in front of the driver.
  • Park better than you ever have before.
  • Using a stick, laser pointer, friend, or your eyeballs, determine where you should hang your tennis ball.
  • Put a screw into your sweet spot, then tie on the string.
  • Attach the string to the tennis ball.
Then just remember to stop when you hit the tennis ball as you drive into your garage.

*You could also make a dowel/tape/nail contraption to stick the string to the ceiling all in one go. Or just send a lanky friend onto the roof of your car. Or tie a string to a spear gun. There are other options, is all I'm trying to say.

Step 4: Pool Cleaner

Picture of Pool Cleaner
Now that the summer swimming season is just about winding down, I can share this little fact with you: Swimming pools get nasty. The more people who swim in them, the thicker and more disgusting the slick of human grease that floats to the top of the pool. Those kids who are retrieving various weights from the bottom of the pool? They're avoiding the BP* oil sheen at the surface.

Tennis balls can help absorb some of that people oil. The felted surface collects the nasty goop from the surface of the water. Toss in a few balls if your private pool is looking a little shiny.

This will not help in giant, public pools. Unless you make your own tennis ball floaties. (Which you might want to do, just in case you are afflicted with a case of prose-inspired hypochondria.)

*Buttery people.

Step 5: Remove Floor Scuff Marks

Picture of Remove Floor Scuff Marks
Any school janitor worth his salt knows that there's no need to scrub the floors like Cinderella just to remove some scuff marks. There's an easier way. A faster way. A better way.

In the irony of ironies, tennis balls remove scuff marks. I know! I'm sure you've been playing a match at the local courts and have seen the signs that say, "No black-soled shoes." The signs are there to prevent the court from looking like a flat, green skate park, police academy driving range, or something else that is all scuffed up.* And to think, the tools to remove those scuff marks are RIGHT THERE.**

To remove those scuff marks, just put a tennis ball on a stick. Rubbed vigorously on top of a scuff mark, tennis balls act as an eraser. The felt has a good texture for removing the scuffs: rough without being too abrasive and gentle enough for special surfaces. Just like a school janitor.

*Ran out of similes.
**Well, maybe. If any budding David Foster Wallace***-types want to write up an explanation of the scuff-removal qualities of tennis balls, I'm sure we'd all appreciate it.
***I'm open to other suggestions of literary tennis players. Or tennis-playing literati.****
****Sorry this was so self-referential. No po-mo.

Step 6: Massager

Picture of Massager
After a long day of pushing a giant rock up a hill, I imagine that Sisyphus gets tired. Maybe he could use a massage. But he's doomed to an eternity of solitude. What's a lonely man to do if he needs some immediate relief in his sore muscles?

Grab a tennis ball, Sissy. Rub it over your boo-boo till it feels better. In fact, you can even lie down on that tennis ball to get a great back massage. Carleyy demonstrates this significantly better than I can in her Tennis Ball Back Massager instructable.

A tennis ball against the wall works for me. Just place it near the epicenter of pain, then wriggle around until it feels like I am no longer in jeopardy of suddenly separating into two halves like an earthworm. An earthworm with aspirational vertebral issues.*

(This also works on other muscle groups. It will not, however, work as a "personal" massager. Unless you are WAY into tennis.)

*Chordata ain't all it's cracked up to be, my little friend. Unless you have tennis balls.

Step 7: Childproof Corners

Picture of Childproof Corners
There are few scenes scarier than seeing a child bleeding profusely from the face. Especially if that child is rapidly losing blood in YOUR home.

If you're going to be hosting toddlers, or anyone else prone to running into sharp corners with the tender parts of their heads, try putting tennis balls over the nastier corners. If there's a bit of pipe jutting dangerously into your living space, pop a tennis ball on there. It'll deflect all but the most self-destructive of blows, and it'll give your home that "tennis pro" look that never goes out of style.

Step 8: Sand Curves

Picture of Sand Curves
Under most circumstances, sanding is a necessary but unpleasant task. When you're sanding a curve that needs to stay curvy, try wrapping a tennis ball with sandpaper. It'll prevent the flat spots and unevenness that you might get if you only sanded by hand.

Pros can generally sand any shape without sanding down corners or otherwise permanently affecting the shape of their project. If you're failing to get a smoothly rounded shape, try a tennis ball.

Step 9: Jar Opener

Picture of Jar Opener
Has this ever happened to you?

You've just finished a particularly sweaty tennis match, and you reach into your bag for a delicious and refreshing jar of pickles. But the lid seems to be glued to the jar. Not even He-Man (nor the other masters of the universe) could get that thing open. No pickles for you!

Not so fast. A tennis ball cut in half can easily pop those lids off. Just cut along the seam of the tennis ball. That'll leave you with a bulbous little green friend, coated with rubber on the inside. You can get a great grip just by using the modded ball to get a handle on the lid.

Big thanks to fungus amungus for this awesome use of tennis balls. Check out his full-on Instructable for this use here.

Step 10: Photo Mount

Picture of Photo Mount
Your pictures are probably wobbly. It's not your fault. You're a full-sized human being operating a camera the size of a pack of gum with a super-sensitive image sensor. If you breathe, you've ruined the shot. And you like breathing. So much so, in fact, that you will do it even while performing photography.

Like any good Instructaballer, you know that a tripod will make a world of difference. Perhaps you, like me, do not own a tripod. Perhaps you have a surplus of tennis balls. Perhaps you do have a tripod, but require a counterbalanced ball mount for steadiness off the 'pod.

Here are some great options for the budding photographer and flagging tennis stars out there.*

  • Lftndbt put together this tennis ball camera stabiliser, the iSteadii 2.0, which uses a tennis balls and some hardware to deaden any movement fluctuations that'd ruin your pictures.
  • iectyx3c made a simple tennis ball tripod that you can use as a sort of Gorillapod-type base that can be placed on a variety of surfaces for stability and support. Optional mounting holes allow you to incorporate velcro, bungee, or suction cup attachments. 


Step 11: Put Stuff Inside

Picture of Put Stuff Inside
Tennis balls are hollow and easy to cut into. This makes them perfect vehicles for intra-office correspondence, hiding precious valuables at the gym, or any other activity that might require ballistic containment.

Just cut a slit into the side of the tennis ball. Cram in your message. Hurl it to your intended recipient.


Cut a slit into the side of the tennis ball. Cram in your cash. Stuff it under some dirty socks in your gym bag next to the Tinactin.

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CaseyCase3 years ago
Door knob used to hit a wood post in my basement--drywall screw and tennis ball solution!

When I was younger (in my teens) my older brother and I were rough on the dry wall behind doors. My dad would a version of this on those doors.. I won't go into the punishment we got on top of having to fix the dry wall. Anywho, he would cut an X on the back and put the tennis ball over the door handle. He also did the same to put over his trailer hitch to protect it and make it more visable.

wilgubeast (author)  CaseyCase3 years ago
Awesome! I can't believe I missed this one. I've seen this done with the tennis ball placed over the doorknob, but this seems a lot better.

For posting another use and a pic, have 3 months of pro membership.

Wrap a ball with each corner of a tarpaulin : the bulge thus made will allow you to tie the latter very taut without the risk of seeing the lines slip from the tarpaulin's corner as it happens too often. You can use soft rocks too …

Pro membership? Thanks! I appreciate your kindness.
lknowles3 years ago
Put the ball in a long sock or stocking, throw it over your shoulder, and you can move it around while rolling against a wall. It doesn't drop every time you move.
kachek4715 days ago

sanding curves with these things is genius, I never would have thought of it

doo da do2 months ago

I have seen them used also for small nut & bolts

doo da do2 months ago

Nice idea

VisionW3 months ago

childproof corners... are u kidding me ... which kid would leave the tennis ball there as is as a child proof corner

cool idea about the chair who knows might slide more easy

mshupe14 months ago
I've found that for incredible stress relief in the back, say, between shoulder blades, an extremely tough area to get massaged, properly, is to take a tennis ball, cut a tiny slit, insert a dowel, I use 7/16th by 28-48 inches. Then, I can manipulate the ball precisely when leaning against a wall. The relief is so wonderful and as hard, or soft as you would like. An absolute necessity for me around my house. Dowels are 48-65¢ at any wally world, or may be hacked for anything cheaper, or more readily available.
Hometalk1 year ago

make a slit, drop in dog treats, awesome doggie toy!!

Wolf321 Hometalk4 months ago

My dog loved that toy.

Good idea, I never would have thought of that lol.

slimtb1 year ago
One more use is for boxing or martial arts training. Hang them on strings from the ceiling (or tree limbs outside), swing them, and dodge them to practice head movement or punch/kick them to practice striking.
slimtb1 year ago
One more use is for boxing or martial arts training. Hang them on strings from the ceiling (or tree limbs outside), swing them, and dodge them to practice head movement or punch/kick them to practice striking.
fossilsue21 year ago

Put two tennis balls in a sock & tie. Place on either sides of the
spine under your neck. This helps neck tension and headaches. For
migraines place at the base of your skull and slowly work it up the

imboredalot3 years ago
Or you can play a game where you hit the ball with a racket to the opponents side of the net in the goal of making your opponent miss the ball.
wilgubeast (author)  imboredalot3 years ago
Never heard of anything like that. Pics?

what in the work is that peculiar game???!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Safeguard a sliding glass door with a tennis ball.

All you have to do is suspend a tennis ball so that it hangs in the door frame and prevents the door from closing all the way. When you do want to close the door, just pull the ball out of the way and close the door on the string.

You can cut them in half and use them like little obstacle cones on pavement for stuff like soccer practice.

OH MY GOSH!!!!!! My grand parents have a tennis ball hanging in there garage!!! I thought no one else did that!!
If you hang the line from the garage door itself to a hook on the ceiling, the ball will go up as you close the garage door. If you ask, I can add pics.
Really sorry didn't see the post under mine :P
izzikienzle2 years ago
I've unlocked cars w/ tennis ball :3
dexterford3 years ago
On using hanging TBs as a parking aid:

Just had a brainstrom/squall/fart.

To make the tennis balls disappear when you don't need them, rig them with string to the top of your (automatic) garage door. Lead the string through eyelets directly above where they should hang. When the garage door goes up, the balls come down automatically—then disappear up toward the ceiling when the garage door goes back down.

Might be tough to get the heights exactly right. A knot or other obstruction on the string, just upstream of the ceiling eyelet, would limit travel and get the hood-height just right.
"Brainstrom"? Is that like a mental maelstrom? Or did you have one while typing? Hee hee. :]
Good idea about the garage door.
If you are that good at judging distances, you will not need this device.
Brilliant! I've been using a tennis ball on a string for years, and I have occasionally bumped into it, and once even caught it in the door of the car. A "retractable" indicator is a nice improvement on the concept.
That's actually a pretty interesting modification of the traditional tennis ball vehicle position indicator. Personally, I tend to use the 550 paracord in a neon color along with the tennis ball so that it is VERY noticeable for my S.O. when she parks her SUV in the garage. The only concerns that I would have with attaching it to the moving garage door would be that it adds one more failure point into the system and if the garage door does not return to the EXACT place each time it is opened, it would affect the position of the ball, possibly resulting in you hitting something at the back of your garage.

When I tie a tennis ball for a vehicle position indicator, I thread the paracord through the tennis ball 3 times so that I have 4 cord "legs" 90 degrees apart and then tie it back to the line going to the ceiling on the top side of the ball. Some people just pull it through once and tie a knot in the cord at the bottom, but it would be too easy for someone to pull the ball off the line using that method, so I over-engineer it a bit.
JTMLB262 years ago
I hang a plastic golf ball in my garage in stead and didn't think other people did that until about a year ago my friend down the street had one . . . works great and thanks!
hey! i have those same chairs! IKEA rocks!
Moem3 years ago
Sew three or four tennis balls into the back of your partner's jammies. It keeps hirm from sleeping on hirs back, and thus, from snoring.

(In lighter cases, marbles do the trick, but some of us need harsher measures.)
austinbacak3 years ago
Here is another great use for tennis balls.

I once was playing tennis and upon finishing I went to my car to realize that I had locked my keys inside. I took a tennis ball and cut a quarter-sized hole into it. I placed the hole over my car door key-hole and hit the ball with my hand sending a burst of air into the key-hole and watched as my door lock popped up. I was in my car in seconds.

This worked every time on my 1999 Toyota 4runner, I have not tried it on any other vehicles.
I second the Mythbusters comments others have made. What's more, I can only assume your lock is busted for that to work as all the key locks I've ever opened require a twisting motion after all the tumblers have been correctly lined up by the key. Blowing air into the lock is not an unlocking method that would fill me with, um, belief.
Would you post a video of you doing this without someone in the background operating a remote? I'd love to see this proved possible (but see Mythbusters). If you post your address, perhaps some local 'ibles members could come over and test the idea while you're asleep (better leave the car somewhere accessible). : ]
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