11 Smart Uses for Old Tennis Balls

By: Alia Hoyt  | 
tennis ball in pool
Tennis balls can help absorb nasty stuff like sunscreen, hair oil and makeup in your pool. Allexxandar/Shutterstock

Playing tennis is fun, but constantly replacing balls? Not so much. It's not only a pain — it's bad for the environment. The average can of tennis balls may last just one to four weeks for recreational play and only one to three hours for competitive or professional play! Every year, 125 million tennis balls end up in landfills in the U.SA.

These ubiquitous fuzzy yellow balls are primarily made from rubber that comes from specific rubber trees in Thailand. Although they will eventually decompose, these balls take a whopping 400 years to go back into the earth. During this time, they produce a whole lot of methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.


Instead of opening a can for a match and then tossing 'em in the trash, help tennis balls achieve their full potential in one of these 11 creative ways.

1. Stabilize Walkers

tennis balls on chairs
Tennis balls are great for stabilizing walkers and padding chair legs. Phichat Phruksarojanakun/Shutterstock

Walkers can be slippery, which is frustrating for the people who rely them to get around. A popular hack is to cut tennis balls and put one each on the walker's legs. Check out this YouTube video to see exactly how it's done. Even if you don't know someone who uses a walker personally, gather used tennis balls up and drop them off at a senior center or assisted living home that can reuse them. You can also use tennis balls on the legs of wobbly outdoor chairs, or even to prevent indoor chairs from scratching up hardwood floors.


2. Open Jars

Jars can be notoriously difficult to open with bare hands. Tennis balls are made of rubber, which gives them excellent grip potential. To take advantage of this, cut a ball in half. Then place it on top of a jar and twist. The jar should pop right open.


3. Help Clothes Dry Faster

Sure, you could buy dryer balls, but why bother if you have some tennis balls? A couple of clean tennis balls in the dryer help clothes dry quicker because they bounce around and keep garments separated. This saves your dryer energy and time. You can also use these balls when drying anything that you want to be extra-fluffy, like towels, blankets or pillows. Tennis balls will even reduce wrinkles and static in the dryer.


4. Make Your Toilet More Efficient

Each toilet flush costs an average of 1.3 cents, which might not sound like much but really adds up over time. Lessen the bill and put a tennis ball or two in the toilet tank. This reduces the water needed for every flush — better for both the planet and your bank account! That's a convenient win/win for everyone involved.


5. Use as a Massage Tool

tennis ball massage
Lying over a couple of tennis balls can help to massage your back. fizkes/Shutterstock

All it takes is a sock with two tennis balls to get a much-needed impromptu massage. Place the balls inside the sock, then knot it at the end. Lie down on top of the sock and roll the balls under your body weight to loosen up those tight muscles and feel generally better. It's a whole lot cheaper than a professional, plus you can do it at home in a few minutes.


6. Target Lower Back Pain

People struggling with lower back pain can actually get some relief by rolling a tennis ball around. Put the ball under your foot, then roll it from heel to toe and back again. Try to apply extra pressure on the inside arch of the foot when doing this. This should stretch out the calf and hamstring, as well as loosen up the lower back, hopefully ending any lingering pain.


7. Hide Valuables

At home or on the go, cut a slit into a tennis ball to store valuables like jewelry or money. The average robber isn't going to look closely at an old ball to see if it's been tampered with. Just make sure it's not in a place where it'll get accidentally get thrown away by a helpful declutterer! An opened tennis ball is also ideal for storing cash or car keys in your bag while you're at the gym.


8. Hold Gift Cards

Tired of putting gift cards inside predictable greeting cards? Instead, fashion a tennis ball into an adorably whimsical gift card holder. All you need are some googly eyes, a knife/box cutter, glue and any other embellishments to jazz it up.


9. Improve Your Garage Parking

Spare your car from unnecessary dings. Avoid pulling up too far in the garage by hanging a tennis ball from the ceiling. The ball should at the right height to lightly tap the windshield once you've pulled the car in far enough to avoid getting hit by the garage door, but not so far that you hit the garage wall.


10. Keep Cables in Check

Chargers and cables and cords are everywhere these days, and they threaten to get tangled up in your home or office. Plus, they just look messy. Keep cables in line by cutting slits on both sides of a few tennis balls. Thread the cables through, and everything will stay where it's supposed to.

11. Clean the Pool

This won't take the place of a pool's filter/cleaning system, but it will add an extra layer to it. Tennis ball fuzz is very absorbent, so place a few in the pool and in your skimmer bucket. The balls will absorb oily stuff like sunscreen, makeup and hair products, making your water cleaner and crisper. Just be sure to change them out regularly because dirty balls won't do much good.