Life Hacks

10 Brilliant Uses for Paper Bags

They're good for more than carrying groceries — just ask your cat!

Do you have a pile of paper bags taking up space in your pantry, mudroom, or garage? If so, you’re in luck, because we found almost a dozen creative ways to use them up. From organizing your linens and removing stuck-on wax to entertaining your cat and baking perfect cookies, these unexpected uses for paper bags are sure to surprise and delight you!

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Freshen up stinky sneakers.

Oops! You got caught in a rainstorm while running errands, and now your sneakers are getting rank. Eliminate the unwanted odor by stuffing the shoes with crumpled brown paper bags and letting them sit overnight. By morning, the fibers in the paper will have absorbed the odor-causing moisture and sweat, leaving your kicks smelling nice and fresh.

Create a perfect gallery wall.

The secret to making a stress-free gallery wall with your photos and art? Paper bags! Here’s how: Trace each frame on a paper bag and cut out. Place the pieces where you’d like the pictures to hang, attaching with pins or clear tape. Once you’re happy with the arrangement, tap in nails, remove pins or tape, tear away the paper, and mount your photos.

Extend the life of garlic and onions.

Seems like onions, shallots, and garlic cloves often sprout or rot before you use them up. Try this: Use a hole punch to punch holes all around a brown paper bag, then fill halfway with the savory foodstuff, using a separate bag for each. Label each bag and close with a chip clip. The holes will allow just enough air to circulate to keep these veggies from rotting.

Get windows clean and clear.

The next time you go to clean windows and mirrors, forget about paper towels, which can leave behind fuzzy streaks. A better way: Spritz cleaning solution onto a crumpled-up paper bag, then wipe away as usual. The bag’s thick and sturdy fibers knock off and absorb grime without falling apart.

Entertain your kitty for pennies.

No need to spring for pricey cat toys to keep your fluffball amused! Simply cut some holes in a paper bag, sprinkle some catnip inside, and leave it open on the floor. Kitty will be attracted to the catnip and the bag’s crinkly sound, plus will love playing hide-and-seek with the bag’s holes.

Ensure linens stay organized.

Rummaging around a linen closet to find matching sheets and pillowcases is so frustrating! Spare yourself the stress and mess by using paper bags to store complete linen sets. Place one set inside each bag and stash in your closet. Add a dryer sheet for freshness!

Spray-paint sans mess.

You scored a couple of knick-knacks at a yard sale and want to give them new life with a coat of spray paint. Here’s an easy way to get creative without a messy cleanup: Set each item in a large paper bag and spray inside. Once your treasure is dry, you can simply toss the bag.

Bake up perfect cookies.

On rainy weekends, you love to whip up your famous chocolate chip cookies for your family. To guarantee your goodies are extra delicious, enlist the help of a paper bag. To do: Slice open a paper bag and lay it on the counter. After removing treats from the oven and letting them cool a minute or two, place them on top of the bag and let them sit for 30 minutes. The paper will absorb any excess butter, resulting in just-right cookies that aren’t too greasy. Yum!

Keep delicates smelling sweet.

No need to splurge on pricey sachets to ensure your undergarments or bathing suits have a pleasant aroma. Instead, toss a handful of soap slivers into a paper bag, poke a few small holes in the sack, and staple the top closed. Then slip the bag into the drawer with your clothes. The soap’s fragrance will freshen the items while the bag protects them from residue.

Remove stuck-on wax.

Argh! The candles you used for your al fresco dinner dripped all over your tablecloth. To effortlessly remove the residue, just place a piece of a paper bag over the spot, then glide over it several times with a warm iron (no steam). As you move it over the area, the wax will melt and be absorbed by the paper, quickly removing it from the fabric.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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