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10 Brilliant Ways to Reuse All Those Cardboard Tubes

Before you toss all of those empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes, check out these genius ways to reuse them around your home.

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toilet paper roll small cord storageFamily Handyman

Small Cord Organizer

In today’s high-tech homes, keeping track of small cords can be challenging. Almost every electronic device has a cord that goes with it: cameras, smartphones, computers and the list goes on. Rather than tossing them in various drawers throughout your house, where they can get tangled or forgotten, try this simple and inexpensive solution.

Find a small box (a shoe box works perfectly) and fill it with as many empty toilet paper rolls that will fit vertically. Then place a single cord in each toilet paper roll. Next time you need one of your small cords, you’ll know where to find it, and it’ll be free of tangles! Next, check out 100 more items you should never throw out (and how to reuse them).

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toilet paper roll wrapping paper sleeve

Wrapping Paper Sleeve

One roll of wrapping paper can usually last a long time. So storing wrapping paper after opening it is common in most households. Many people just stick a piece of tape on the loose edge to keep it from unwinding while it’s stowed away. But when you try to remove the tape the next time you need to wrap a present, the paper rips and you have to cut a new clean edge. The following simple hint will fix that—no more wasted wrapping paper!

Cut an empty toilet paper tube lengthwise and wrap it around the roll of wrapping paper. Cinch up the tube as tight as possible and secure it in place with a piece of tape. Then when you need to use the wrapping paper again, just remove the toilet paper tube. You may rip the tube, but your wrapping paper will remain intact! These are our handiest hints for your home workshop.

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HH Handy Hint Plant seeds in toilet paper tubesFamily Handyman

Cheap Seed Starters

For an easy and green way to start seeds, save your toilet paper and paper towel tubes. Cut the tubes into 2 in. lengths and set them in a waterproof tray. Fill the tubes with potting soil and plant your seeds. When the seedlings are ready to move to the garden, plant them right in their cardboard tube. The cardboard will decompose. Be sure to keep the tube below the soil surface, so it doesn’t wick moisture away from the roots. We’ve got more frugal gardening tips here.

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DIY Lint Fire starterFamily Handyman

DIY Fire Starter Log

To properly build a fire, you need to have tinder (easy-lighting material), kindling (finger-size sticks) and fuel (logs). We all have a readily available supply of tinder: dryer lint! To make fire starters, I stuff empty toilet paper tubes with dryer lint. My dryer lint “logs” light quickly and easily burn long enough to light up the kindling. And I don’t have to resort to lighter fluid! Have you ever heard of a Swedish fire torch?

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toilet paper roll hair band storage

Hair Band Holder

If you live in a house with someone who has long hair, you know that those elastic hair bands seem to show up everywhere—scattered in drawers, on countertops, in the bathroom sink, all over the floor, etc. It’s a little aggravating, right? Well, here’s a solution:

Slide the hair bands onto a couple of empty toilet paper rolls. The small cardboard tubes will hold the pesky hair accessories in once place while still keeping them accessible. Plus, the rolls tuck nicely into a bathroom or bedroom drawer, which keeps the hair bands out of sight!

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hanging pants on paper towel roll hanger hack

Keep Dress Pants Crease-Free

Don’t buy expensive padded hangers to keep your clothes crease-free. Try this hanger hack instead.

Use sharp scissors to make a cut down the length of an empty paper towel roll; then slip the cardboard tube over the horizontal bar of a hanger. It will protect your dress pants from getting a big crease where they drape over the hanger.

To keep the paper towel tube from slipping off of the hanger, it helps to add a couple pieces of tape to close the opening around the hanger.

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stuffing plastic bags in paper towel roll

Sleek Plastic Bag Storage

There are many uses for plastic grocery bags in the workshop. You can use them to seal up brushes and rollers during a painting project, so you don’t have to wash so much stuff between coats. They make great miniature trash bags during cleanup, etc. The point is, it’s worth keeping a handful of plastic grocery bags on hand in the workshop, and here’s a great tip for storing them:

Stuff as many plastic grocery bags as possible into an empty paper towel roll. Then toss the roll in a drawer or cabinet. The cardboard tube keeps the bags contained, and it’s easy to pull one out at a time when you need it. Plus: Check out 16 bungee cord hacks you’ll get hooked on.

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paper towel roll boot shaper

Keep Boots in Shape

Before packing up your tall boots and storing them away for the season, slide one or two empty paper towel rolls inside each boot. This will keep the tops from flopping over and causing creases in the ankle area or wrinkles in the fabric.

Then when next fall rolls around, you won’t have to spend time reshaping them; they’ll be ready to wear right out of the storage bin.

Here’s another tall boot storage tip: Save those hangers with pinchers on the ends that you often bring home with a new pair of dress pants. Then hang one boot from each pincher (so a pair of boots per hanger). This will help keep your boots off of the floor and in good shape.

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Simple DIY Vacuum Extension

Simple DIY Vacuum Extension

To make it easier to clean hard to reach spots use a left over wrapping paper tube as a vacuum cleaner extension. Now you have 3 extra feet to clean ceiling fans and cobwebbed corners.

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paper towel roll cord storage

Corral Cords

Small extension cords are necessary to have on hand, especially when hanging holiday lights or adding a floor lamp to an empty corner of the living room. But when you aren’t using them, they can be a pain to wrangle and stow.

Here’s a solution: Store them individually inside empty paper towel rolls. Fold the cords neatly before slipping them inside the cardboard tubes, where they’ll stay contained and untangled until you need them again.

You can even use a marker to label each tube, indicating what the cord is used for, such as “holiday lights” or “floor lamp.” Ready for more? See our favorite zip tie hacks here.