You Should Keep a Tennis Ball in Your Kitchen — Here’s Why

updated Sep 4, 2019
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Credit: Amelia Lawrence/Kitchn

In my last two homes, I’ve battled mysterious marks on my floors. And in both places, the struggle took on near-obsession levels. It’s one thing to have dirty floors, but it’s quite another for the floors to still look dirty after copious cleaning.  

Kitchen floors are the hardest-working floors in the house. Not only do they get bathed in any number of splashes and spills, but because kitchens tend to see more foot traffic than any other room in the house, they’re also the most trod-upon floors. 

Credit: Amelia Lawrence/Kitchn

One type of particularly tricky mark is scuff marks, which can be caused by any type of rubber that gets rubbed across the floor. This includes the soles of athletic shoes, rubber toys, rubber tips of furniture or ladder legs, or rubber-bottomed rugs or mats. Hard leather soles can also leave scuff marks. 

Scuff marks won’t come off of floors with regular cleaning, even mopping. And using heavy chemicals or abrasive products can damage your floor’s finish and still migh not remove the mark! But the good news is that scuff marks, unsightly as they are and as difficult as they seem to be to remove, won’t permanently damage your floors. Rather, they are remnants of the rubber sitting on top of your floor’s finish. With the right technique, scuff marks will lift off of your floors and leave no trace behind. 

Credit: Amelia Lawrence/Kitchn

A tennis ball is actually one of the easiest ways to remove scuff marks, and because your kitchen floor has a high probability of being traversed by sneakers and black rubber tips (like the ones on your step stool), it makes sense to keep a tennis ball right there, accessible, in your kitchen. Fun fact: Tennis balls are safe for use on any type of flooring. 

Here’s what you need to know when it comes using a tennis ball to buff out scuff marks.

First off, you’ll be better off if you grab a new one for your kitchen, so that you won’t have to deal with any dirt that’s clinging to it. (A used one is okay too, as long as you slough off any sand or dirt.) Once you have your ball, you can either use it as is, by getting down on your hands and knees. If you’d rather stand, use a box cutter to cut an X into the tennis ball and slide the top end of a broom or mop handle into the cuts. This will help save your knees and give you some leverage while you work. Sweep or vacuum the area and then use the fuzzy ball to buff out any scuff marks you see. Don’t you just love-love this tip? (That’s a tennis reference for anyone who didn’t notice.)