Introduction: DIY Floating Lint Trap for Washing Machines

Several months ago, I purchased the most bestest thing in the world: a portable washing machine.

Have you even seen the dry spin cycle on these sunnuva’s? Force and speed fling away the water and clothes come out very nearly dry. Oh, and they clean your clothes too.

One minor caveat is that the lint traps in these things are small. They will catch what they can quite well, but you still get lint on your clothes. No biggie though, you can buy separate traps that float with your clothes, and they do their job very well too. I even bought one.

Yet here we are on Instructables...


I’m going to leave this blank as I feel this project can be tackled in multiple ways. You’ll see what I chose to use in the photos.

Step 1: The Gathering

I’ll be using bath toys for this. I recommend "previously loved" as this keeps them out of the landfill. Just be sure to clean them well with bleach, especially if they are the kind with a hole on the bottom or squirt through their mouths; while the former will come in handy later, the latter is not necessary. A quick web search will show how to clean them.

I will make these two ways: hook and clip. Hook, as you might have guessed, for the hole in the bottom, and clip for the ones that don’t. Since the hook is metal I will have to spray a coating on it to keep it from rusting, but their are hooks available for purchase that already have a protective coating (or encased in plastic) this if you prefer that route.

Step 2: Trial and Error

I sacrificed a reusable produce bag but you could easily make your own. I chose zip ties because they are flexible but also won’t collapse. Just feed through where the string resides (leave the string!).

Make sure you don’t leave the opening too big, as we want to catch the lint and keep it there; trial and error will help decide the best diameter (I think mine is approximately 3 1/2 inches), just remember that with zip ties you can always go smaller but not bigger. I also recommend the longer zip ties for obvious reasons...

Step 3: Adhesive

It took me longer than I’d like to admit to realize, “Duh, Sugru!” I tried super and Gorrila in the beginning, and they cracked easily. Obviously not pliable enough to hold on to soft plastic toys.

The hook version is ridiculously easy: screw it on and seal/glue it in place. The clip is still easy, just an extra step where you spread a layer of Sugru on the bottom of the toy. Press the clip firmly in place and then apply more Sugru around the edges.

It ain't pretty, but it'll do.

Step 4: You Spin Me Right Round

Here’s a boat load of videos demonstrating each one. I think this is a successful test and with minor tweaking could be improved upon if desired.

You’ll notice that sometimes a vortex is created and will completely submerged the toy and knock it about before it eventually returns to the surface. This is common with the commercial lint traps too. I had bought a large one made of hard plastic and it made an awful noise when that happened. That’s one of the other reasons why I decided to try a softer plastic. Trust me, this is no where near the rattle my commercially bought version made. There’s also a soft foam version you can buy, and in the next step I’ll give my two cents on what could potentially be used as alternatives.

Step 5: Thoughts

Like I've said, there are multiple ways to go about this. I'll make a few notes/observations:

  • Size may matter: I've noticed the larger, heavier toys make a little more noise when they get knocked about on the sides and bottom of the washing machine. I'm not to worried about any damage being done as they are a quite soft plastic compared to the machine itself, and especially compared to the lint trap I had bought; they might work best in a conventional machine. Harder plastic could still maybe work so long as they are small (perhaps fishing bobbers?).
  • At one point the bag scrunched a little during it's round about. I secured it back in place by slipping it over the cut edge of where I had trimmed the zip tie to size, and it seems to be sticking. Doesn't seem to have hindered the process and it still did it's job.
  • You have to make sure if you use the hook method to tighten the string as it can come off. I did consider this as I was making it, but it only slipped off once and otherwise I think it still works. The clamp is definitely easy.
  • Size of the netting might be overkill, but it did get the job done. May or may not shorten that at a later date.

As for softer alternatives, I did consider (cannot guarantee how sensible):

  • Part of a pool noodle
  • Small flip flop(s) could leave as is or cut into shapes
  • Small balloon
  • Cork

Please share your ideas/critiques!

Step 6: Updates Go Here

3/21/2020: My silly face forgot to show the final product combined before being tossed into the washer. Photos have been added. You'll notice I've since cut the original mesh bag in half, so it's not quite so large now; I've currently closed the bottom of it with a rubber band for now, but plan on sewing it later. The bag was big enough that I can make a second one out of it. I have also shortened the zip tie so the hole is smaller now.

Trash to Treasure Contest

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Contest