Thinking up uses for dryer lint is not as crazy as it might sound at first pass, especially if you have a large family or have access to a commercial laundry. Dryer lint is light, already clean, often slightly scented, and is easy to obtain. It has uses in crafts, animal control, shipping, gardening and remodeling. It adds texture and strength, reduces weight, decreases the need for more expensive materials and pads items from damage.
Mix 2 cups dryer lint with 1 to 2 cups plaster of Paris and you have instant filler for large cracks and holes in your walls. The dryer lint provides a matrix to hold the plaster in place until it dries. Before the invention of drywall or sheetrock, people added any available fiber, usually animal hair, into powdered gypsum and lime mixed with water. They smoothed the resulting mixture, called render, over hazel or willow branches that had been split and woven.
Stuffing and Packing Material
Stuff handmade dolls, animals and pet beds with dryer lint instead of using polyester fiberfill. Fill spaces in packages to prevent shifting of contents during shipping.
Mix dryer lint into 1 quart liquid starch until it makes a milkshake-thick slurry. Pour over a 9-by-12-inch fine-mesh screen and allow the liquid to drain. Lay a 9-by-12-inch polyester cutting sheet on top of the slurry on the screen. Use cinder block pavers or other heavy, flat objects as weights, to compress the dryer lint onto the screen. After three to five days, remove the blocks and carefully peel your felt sheet from the screen.
You use essentially the same process for paper as you do for felt, but you add paper pulp. Make the pulp in a blender. Fill the blender within two inches of the top with torn strips of old newspaper and add water. Blend into a slurry a little thicker than a typical smoothie. Pour the paper pulp slurry into a 5-gallon bucket or other suitable mixing container and add dryer lint until the mixture is difficult to stir. Pour everything over screens as you did when making felt, cover with plastic cutting sheets and weights. Trim your paper after it dries or use it as-is.
Mix dryer lint into melted beeswax. Pour into muffin tins and allow to harden. Wrap in squares of newspaper tied with twine. Place on top of your kindling and light from underneath. The wax will melt over your kindling while the dryer lint provides fuel until the kindling ignites.
Hang onion or potato bags filled with dryer lint, string and small twigs near wooded areas and along the edges of your property in early spring to help songbirds find nesting materials. The larger holes in the bags allow birds to pluck lint and fly away before they attract predators.
Mix dryer lint into acrylic paint to create dimensional effects on ceramic, plaster or resin molds, plaques and ornaments. This works especially well with white paint, for snow along roof overhangs of Dickens houses, and when mixed with green paint, to create evergreen branches.
Decorative Garden Plaques
Stir a 5-gallon bucket of dryer lint into Portland cement mix before you add water according to package directions. Use it to cast ornamental garden plaques. It is not recommended for stepping stones, though, as it weakens the concrete.
Press dryer lint into a 1-cup measure until no more will fit. Add to 1-cup wet tissue paper in a shallow plastic storage container, along with 2 1/2 cups joint compound, 1/4 cup white craft glue and 2 tbsp. linseed oil. Stir together until well-mixed. Makes a 24-oz. ball of papier-mache clay. This clay stores in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid for up to one week.
Add dryer lint to liquid starch until the mixture is too stiff to continue stirring. Pour into pie pans lined with plastic wrap and allow to dry for 5 to 7 days. Remove from pie pans and place in shallow ceramic or plastic containers in hanging baskets, to serve as a moisture-retaining medium for air ferns and other epiphytes, which are plants that do not need soil.
Use dryer lint from cotton or other natural-fiber clothes only. Synthetic fibers will not decompose into the soil and could leach undesirable chemicals into your fruits, vegetables and berries. Rake lint into heaps around tender perennials to provide protection against extreme winter temperatures.
Armatures are wire, cardboard or wooden framework used to create miniatures and clay sculptures. Wrap dryer lint around any parts that need bulk, such as the belly area on an armature for a human figure of Santa Claus, or the legs, arms and torso of a dragon frame.
- Photo Credit Doug Menuez/Photodisc/Getty Images
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