Sure, we close up chip bags and other snacks with rubber bands, but there are so many other clever ways to put those stretchy ties to work! From replacing an earring post in a pinch to keeping clothes on their hangers, these uses for rubber bands will save you from life’s little annoyances. Plus, they’ll stop you from buying unnecessary tools and knick-knacks to solve household problems.
Keep a cut apple fresh.
You love having pre-cut apples for a snack on the go, but they always seem to turn brown before you can enjoy them! To keep them looking fresh, secure the pieces back together with a rubber band after cutting. Since fruit-browning occurs when the flesh is exposed to air, the band keeps the sliced apple “whole” so the flesh remains air and brown-free. (And if you need to store your apples for longer than a day, check out this tip for storing ripe apples.)
Wipe off a paintbrush.
When working on a painting project, scraping the brush against the can’s edge to remove excess paint can create drips on the outside of the can and the floor. The save: Stretch a big rubber band vertically over the can and swipe the side of the brush against the band — any extra paint will fall right into the can.
Replace an earring post.
Oh no! While getting dressed for a meeting, you accidentally dropped the back of your earring and it’s nowhere to be found. The in-a-pinch fix: Cut a small square from a rubber band and secure it to the earring’s metal post. The rubber will hold the jewelry piece in place, giving you peace of mind all day. To make sure you’re prepared for next time, keep cut-up bands in your jewelry box as spares.
Child-proof your cabinets.
Your grandbabies are visiting for a long weekend, but you worry about them getting into your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. The easy way to keep the kids out of harm’s way: Stretch a thick rubber band between two adjoining cabinet knobs. (If doors can still be opened, wrap the band around a second time.) The bands create resistance, stopping kids from opening doors, but they can be easily slipped off by adults when needed.
Ensure clothes stay on hangers.
You snagged a great blouse for a steal, but because the garment has a wide neck, it keeps slipping off the hanger. What can help: Wrap rubber bands around both ends of the hanger to create grip for the top to “grab on.” This ensures the shirt stays on the hanger and off of the floor!
Prevent a spoon from sliding.
Did you let go of your mixing spoon while baking only to find it drowned in a bowl of batter? Next time, wrap a rubber band around the spoon’s handle, right above where it touches the bowl’s rim. The rubber will catch on the side, ensuring the spoon remains upright.
Easily move a stripped screw.
Argh! You need to tighten the screw on your office chair, but the grooves in the head of the hardware are worn down. Rubber band to the rescue! Just place it flat over the screwhead, then press the tip of your screwdriver right into the band and into the groove. The rubber will fill in the gaps in the screwhead, providing the traction needed to turn the screw.
Make pump soap last longer.
If it seems like your family goes through hand soap faster than it can be replaced, it may be because most liquid dispensers give you too much at a time. To cut down on waste, try this: Wrap a rubber band between the pump and the cap. It acts like a stopper to keep the dispenser from being pushed down too far, so only about half the amount of soap (which is all you really need!) will come out.
Elevate recipes to eye level.
Smartphones make it a cinch to search for new recipes, but it can be tough to follow along when you have to keep glancing down. The solution? Use a rubber band to create a phone stand. Just stretch the band around the back of a bottle’s neck, pull the ends forward, then slip your phone (screen facing forward) through the loops to hold it up in place. Problem solved!
Help hold a tea bag in place.
This time of year, you love sipping on a steaming cup of your favorite tea. The only problem? You often have to fish the bag’s string out of your hot mug when it’s done steeping. To prevent this, place a rubber band around the cup, then slide the string of the tea bag underneath. This will ensure the string stays put for easy removal when ready.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.