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21 Nifty Ways to Reuse Plastic Jugs and Bottles at Home

Give those otherwise useless plastic jugs and bottles new life in your home or workshop. And the best part, these super-resourceful ideas don’t cost a thing!

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Family Handyman

Make a Paint Tray with a Handle

For small paint jobs, I find that a 4-in. paint roller works great with an old gallon-size iced tea jug serving as a disposable roller tray. I just cut out part of the plastic to create a place to dip the roller. It even has a built-in carrying handle. When I’m done, I just throw the empty gallon jug away. — reader Fred Thies. Plus: Check out these best-kept secrets of professional painters.

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HH Milk Jug Funnel Wood Glue

Simple Skinny Funnel

If you’re in need an easy to make disposable funnel, we have the perfect solution for you.

Simply cut off the handle from a gallon water (or milk) jug, and use this to serve as a disposable funnel. This funnel will help you to drain anything from your left over wood glue to the old oil in your leaf blower. This handle funnel will help you get to hard to reach places and small bottle openings. When using this funnel to drain old oil, it directs the oil to the drain pan without spilling a drop. It’s also smart to use this disposable funnel for messy projects because you can just throw it away once you are done. It’s so simple and effective! Click here to see the step-by-step photos for creating this funnel.

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sodaFamily Handyman

Soda-Bottle Bee Trap

My husband stumbled on this cheap, effective bee and wasp trap. (Never thought I’d be glad he drinks soda all the time.) Cut the upper one-third off the top of a 2-liter plastic soda bottle with a utility knife. Pour a few ounces of soda pop into the bottom, then invert the top of the bottle and nest it inside the bottom part. Bees and wasps are attracted to the sweet smell and find their way through the bottleneck but can’t find their way out. Eventually they get exhausted, fall into the water and drown. — reader J. Chamberlain

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The Family Handyman

Tangle-Free Twine Storage

Can’t find your twine to bundle that pile of recyclables? Try reader Norm Hoch’s slick solution. Cut the bottom 4 in. off a 1/2-gallon plastic milk or orange juice jug and load the container with a fresh spool of twine that unwinds from the middle. Then thread the twine through the jug opening and tape the jug back together. Cut an “X” in the cap with a utility knife to keep the twine from falling back into the jug. Plus: These small workshop storage solutions that will change your life!

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Portable Storage for Free

Portable Storage for Free

You can drop a few bills buying storage totes for supplies like nails, screws and plumbing parts. Or you can make your own with laundry detergent jugs and a utility knife. They're big, tough and mobile—and they'll make your workshop stink nice.

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Touch-Up Paint BottleFamily Handyman

Touch-Up Bottle

When there’s only a little bit of latex paint left in the can and I want to save it for touch-ups, I put a half-dozen marbles in an empty water bottle and pour in the leftover paint. When I’m ready to do a touch-up, I shake the bottle and the marbles mix the paint. A roll of tape with a rag draped over it helps hold the bottle steady while I pour the paint into it. Just be sure to use a funnel or you’ll have a mess on your hands. — reader Ron Hazelton

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jugArina P Habich/Shutterstock

Protect Sprouting Plants

If you cut an empty gallon jug (like a classic plastic milk jug) about two-thirds down the bottom, you can create an effective enclosure to protect planted seeds and new shoots from birds and rodents, which is faster and more effective than trying to use sprays and traps. For busy gardens, get a marker and write the name of the plant on the jug so you know what’s growing beneath without needing to check your seed packets: Remember to eventually take the jugs off as shoots develop to avoid mold. Check out more tips for larger backyard projects!

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oil bottle toteFamily Handyman

Oil Bottle Hardware Storage

Here’s a fun little project to keep your screws, nails, nuts and electrical whatsits handy and neatly organized. Click here for the full step-by-step plans for this nifty project.

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milk jug scoop for pet footFamily Handyman

Pet Food Scoop

I’ve read many hints that advise the reader to cut off the tops of gallon-size plastic jugs and use them for funnels. I’ve found that if you replace the cap after cutting the top off, you can use the top for a scoop for handling potting soil, fertilizer or pet food. The no-scratch plastic also makes the jug/scoop ideal for bailing water out of your boat. — reader Ray Dean

For this scoop, we used an empty half-gallon milk jug and angled the cut so that the side opposite the handle is slightly longer, more like a scoop than a funnel. However, as Ray notes above, this scoop can also be used as a funnel by simply removing the milk jug cap. It helps to draw the cut line with a marker first, and then clean up any sharp or rough edges with the scissors after the initial cut.

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Dish Soap Glue Bottle

Dish Soap Glue Bottle

Reuse an empty dish soap container as a refillable glue bottle. The small size and screw-on top with attached cap are perfect for squeezing out wood glue. Be sure to rinse the inside of the container thoroughly (including the lid) and let it dry completely before filling it with glue.

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Milk Jug Furniture Movers

Milk Jug Furniture Movers

When you have to move heavy furniture on carpeting, don't just drag it around. That's hard on carpet and you might damage the furniture legs. Make the job easier with these homemade moving pads. Cut the bottoms off four plastic water or milk jugs with a utility knife and rest each furniture leg on its own slider. The rounded, slippery bottoms make them perfect for furniture moving. Yes, you can buy fancier versions of these things—for 15 bucks or more! But these work just as well, and best of all, they're free! Click here for more furniture-moving ideas.

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twineFamily Handyman

Laundry Detergent Twine Dispenser

Prevent balls of twine from tangling up by making a twine dispenser from an empty plastic detergent jug. Cut the bottom off the jug and drill a hole in the cap. Screw the jug to your shop wall with the spout facing down. Drop the ball of twine into the jug, thread it through the hole and screw the cap on. — Paul Chupek

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furniture stripping discard helper

Furniture Stripping Helper

When stripping old paint or varnish, how do you get rid of the stuff once it’s on your putty knife? Cut a semi-circular opening in the side of an empty gallon jug, then clean the loaded scraper on the flat edge of the hole. When you’re done, and you want to reuse some of the stripper, upend the jug and use the neck of the jug as a funnel to pour the stripper into another container.

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Plastic Bag Dispenser

Plastic Bag Dispenser

To make it easy to stow and reuse plastic bags, make a dispenser from a discarded 2-liter soda bottle. Cut off the top and bottom with a razor knife. Trim any jagged edges so you don't tear the bags when you pull them out, then screw the dispenser to a cabinet door or closet wall (or attach with hook-and-loop tape). Click here for more kitchen storage ideas.

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nail pouch

Water Bottle Nail Pouch

Make a nail holder from a plastic beverage bottle. Cut the top off an empty bottle, leaving a 3-1/2 in. tall container. File off any sharp edges or cover them with tape. Cut two 1-1/2 in. vertical slits 1 in. apart in the center of the side. Slide the end of your belt through the slots for a homemade nail pouch. — R. B. Hines. Hardware Storage: DIY Tips and Hints

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Laundry Jug Watering CanFamily Handyman

Laundry Jug Watering Can

Instead of throwing away empty laundry detergent containers, rinse them out thoroughly and then recycle them for watering plants. Drill 1/8-in. holes in the top of the cap, and a 1/2-in. hole just above the handle to relieve pressure so the water flows freely. Click here for more watering tips.

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Family Handyman

Out with the Mustard, In with the Glue

I no longer put up with the messy “over-designed” carpenter’s glue dispensers. Instead, I use old mustard bottles; they don’t clog and they easily reseal between uses. — reader Richard Painter

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plastic milk jug flower plantersPhoto: Courtesy of Croydon Food Swap

Plastic Jugs

Those plastic milk jugs can be cut and used as planters. Try hanging them from a fence with wire coat hangers, as shown here. To read about the project, click here.

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Better Bucket StorageFamily Handyman

Better Bucket Storage

Stacked 5-gallon buckets fit together so tightly that it's almost impossible to pull them apart. Prevent the problem by placing a large plastic pop bottle (with top on) or milk jug between each pair of buckets. You can still nest the buckets together, but they won't stick together anymore. Here are 17 more nifty ways to store tools.

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new glue bottle cap

Better Glue Bottle Cap

Screw the flip-up, 1-in. inner dia. cap from your shampoo or liquid cleanser bottle onto your glue bottle. The 1-in. cap fits on every glue bottle we tried. Now:

  • You can’t lose the little cap.
  • Glue stays fresher because the cap snaps shut.
  • The cap’s small round hole makes it easier to control the size of the glue bead.
  • Glue doesn’t harden in the cap and require clearing before use. — reader Dorothy Nanchu

Plus: Check out our 45 BEST gluing tips and tricks.

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Instant Tool Holder

Instant Tool Holder

Store chisels, files, large drill bits, screwdrivers and other long tools so they're both visible and close at hand. Simply cut off the top from a clear 2-liter plastic soft drink bottle, leaving a flap for hanging. Use smaller bottles, which are extremely common household items for smaller tools.