Sure, paper clips end up floating around junk drawers and clutter desk tops, but they’re good for more than just organizing papers. These bendy wires can be quite handy in pinch — and they can make a number of tasks easier, from nixing a dog’s barking habit to displaying photos without damage. We rounded up 15 uses for paper clips that show how these little guys can do some heavy lifting!
1. Paper clips add pizzazz to an at-home manicure
Give your nails some extra flair during your next DIY manicure with the help of a paper clip. To do: After painting your nails a solid color and letting them dry, dip the tip of an unfolded paper clip into a different color of polish. Then use it to dab on dots, lines or other designs. The clip’s thin tip will make it a cinch to create professional-looking results. (Click through for the best at-home nail designs of 2023.)
2. They extend the life of toothpaste
To squeeze out every last bit of toothpaste and save yourself some money, plus a trip to the grocery store, try this simple trick: Slide a paper clip over the bottom end of the tube, then gently push it toward the tube’s opening. The force of sliding the clip will push all the remaining paste to the top of the tube.
3. Paper clips can replace a missing bread tie
If you discover you’ve accidentally tossed out the bread tie after making your sandwich, use a paper clip. Simply twist the bag closed, then slide a paper clip over the plastic (where you would normally use the tie). The clip will seal the bag tight so your bread stays soft and fresh.
4. They help avoid a fashion faux pas
“A smart use I’ve found for paper clips involves fashion and quick fixes,” says Greg Wilson of budget saving site Cha Ching Queen. “If I ever have a sudden hem failure, a paper clip can serve as a temporary fix, holding my hem in place until I get a chance to sew it.”
5. Paper clips make it easy to remove the pits from cherries
Whether you need to use the fresh fruit for a dessert recipe or just want to snack on cherries, getting the pits out can be a hassle. The mess-free trick: Unfold a clean paper clip into an “S” shape. Insert the clip’s smaller end into the cherry, jiggle it around to loosen the pit, then gently pull out. The pit will easily come out with the clip’s tiny “hook.” (Once you’ve removed the pit, put your cherries to delicious use with these cherry-chocolate brownie recipes)
6. They lift dirt from a keyboard
You’re careful not to snack over your laptop, but dirt, crumbs and other debris still end up getting lodged in the keyboard. “Unfolded paper clips are useful for cleaning confined locations,” shares Jack Williams, founder of Handyman Reviewed. “To remove dirt from even the smallest crevices and crevices, just wrap a paper towel around the end of a paper clip.” The narrow clip will fit into all of the small spaces in the keyboard so you can dislodge the gunk with ease. (Click through for more tips on how to clean a keyboard.)
7. Paper clips teach Buster not to bark
Your pal gets so excited when guests arrive that he barks nonstop. To quiet him, fill an empty soda can with a handful of paper clips; tape closed. When he barks, shake the can. The noise will startle him into silence. Soon he’ll associate the rattling with your call for calm and he’ll settle down with a single shake.
8. They keep a suitcase from opening
You pulled out your luggage for a weekend trip, but your suitcase lock is nowhere to be found. The in-a-pinch fix: Close the suitcase with the two zippers side by side and slip one end of a paper clip through one zipper. Loop the other end of the clip through the second zipper to hold the zippers together so your suitcase stays shut.
9. Paper clips fasten a bracelet with ease
To close a bracelet when no one’s around to help, unfold a paper clip into an S shape. Slide one end into a link on the non-clasp side of the bracelet, then hold the other end of the clip to bring the bracelet around your wrist and close it.
10. They help you decorate a cake like a pro
Creating small details or writing on a cake with icing can be tricky! To ensure a neat design, reach for a paper clip. Open a clean clip and use the tip to etch your message into the frosting. This will give you just enough control to space the letters out right, and when you’re happy with your work, you can trace over the outline with colored frosting.
11. Paper clips safely display precious photos
You want to add some family photos and other fun items to your kitchen corkboard, but don’t want to poke holes in your keepsakes. The solution: Secure a few paper clips to the board with pushpins, then slide your photos or other paper items into each clip. The clips will make it easy to swap out your mementos while ensuring they stay safe from damage.
12. They free up needed closest space
Even after cleaning out a lot of items in your closet, things are still a bit crowded. To free up space, enlist the help of paper clips. Simply insert a hanger through the outer loop of a paper clip, then slip a second hanger through the clip’s inner loop. This creates “double hangers” that will increase your closest space. Plus, it’s a great way to keep outfits together for easy access!
13. Paper clips quickly mask car scratches
Eek! You just noticed a tiny door ding in your car’s paint. The fix: Dip the tip of a straightened paper clip into matching touch-up paint and apply it to the center of the blemish. The paint will spread and camouflage the damage.
14. They ensure perfectly brewed iced tea
A glass of fresh-brewed iced tea always hits the spot. The one hassle: When you make a batch, the tea bags’ paper tabs and strings often sink to the bottom of the pitcher and it’s tough to fish them out — but if you leave them in, you end up over-steeping the beverage. Next time, use a large paper clip to gather the tea-bag strings together and secure them to the side of the pitcher before pouring in the hot water. No more lost bags! (Click through for a recipe for weight-loss iced tea.)
15. Paper clips help you remove an SD card
You want to swap out your cell phone’s SD card for a new one to add more storage room, but getting it out of the compartment can be easier said than done. What can help: “I often use paper clips as the key to eject the SD card from my phone,” says Christen Costa, CEO of Gadget Review. “It’s small enough to fit in the little hole.” Poking the end of a clip into the slot will cause the SD card to eject so you can swap it out for a new one.
For more brilliant life hacks, keep reading!