Sure, we use them to close up chip bags, hold together loose packs of cards and bind cables, but you’d be surprised at the many off-brand ways uses for the household staple known as rubber bands. From preventing soap bars from getting soggy to keeping pet dishes in place, these stretchy wonders can solve a multitude of problems in a pinch. Keep scrolling to find easy uses for rubber bands and how they can make your life easier!
1. Rubber bands ensure delicates stay on hangers
Though plastic hangers are an affordable option, their slick surface means your shirts and blouses often end up on the floor. “For those slippery clothes hangers, a quick wrap around the ends with rubber bands ensures garments stay put,” says Ivo Iv, founder of Décor Home Ideas. This will create grips for the top to “grab on” so it doesn’t slip off the hanger.
2. They 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 creating too big a space for the screwdriver to gain traction. A rubber band to the rescue! Just place it flat over the screw head, then press the tip of your screwdriver right into the band and into the groove. The rubber will fill in the gaps in the screw head, providing the traction needed to turn the screw.
3. Rubber bands prevent soap from getting soggy
If the soap in your powder room always ends up creating a gooey mess in your soap dish, try this trick: Wrap two rubber bands vertically around the soap dish, then place the bar of soap on top of the elastics. Soap gets slimy when it sits in the puddle of water that forms in the dish, but the rubber bands will keep the bar elevated so it doesn’t touch the water. Problem solved!
4. Rubber bands make it a breeze to open a stuck jar
You need to start heating the marinara sauce for your spaghetti bolognese but can’t seem to get the jar open. To the rescue: rubber bands! Simply secure two or three bands (or one thick band) around the lid, then twist counterclockwise. The easy-to- grip material will provide just enough traction for your fingers so you can pop the lid open with ease. (Click through for more tips on how to open a jar.)
5. Rubber bands stop a door from closing
Whenever you’re hauling groceries into the house from your attached garage, the inside door to the house always closes on you, forcing you to set all of your bags down to open it again. The easy fix: Before you leave for the store, twist a large rubber band into an X and loop the ends over both doorknobs, with the crossed portion of the band sitting over the center of the latch. The door will open with a simple nudge!
6. They guarantee a cut apple stays 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.)
7. Rubber bands create a beautiful manicure for less
No need to shell out to get your nails done at a salon: You can get professional looking results at home with a rubber band! “If you are looking to execute a DIY French manicure, you can tie a rubber band over your cuticle right below the tip and then paint the tip with your desired nail paint,” shares Sarah Roberts, founder of A Beauty Edit. “Use your other fingers to hold the band tightly in place as you apply the nail polish and ensure that it’s sitting straight so that the manicure comes out perfectly.” Repeat this trick with each of your nails, then finish with a top coat on each once the initial polish has dried. You’ll get gorgeous results for less.
See a tutorial in the video below:
8. They 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, hold the phone (screen facing you) in front, then pull the band up and over the phone and back around the bottle. Problem solved!
9. Rubber bands 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.
10. They 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.
11. Rubber bands child-proof your cabinets
The little ones in your life 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.
12. They remind you to apply sunscreen
You know you’re supposed to reapply sunscreen every two hours, but it’s hard to keep track on a busy afternoon. To make an easy reminder, grab a few thick rubber bands and write the times you’ll need to apply (10 am, 2 pm, 4 pm), then wrap the bands around the bottle (times facing out). Every time you slather on sunscreen, simply flip the rubber band over so you know you applied. So easy!
13. Rubber bands 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. “You can use rubber bands to help limit the amount of liquid hand soap in your kids’ bathroom by placing a rubber band around the stopper on the pump,” explains home improvement expert Forrest McCall, co-owner of Mama Needs a Project. Just wrap the 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.
14. They slip-proof pet dishes
Buster gets so enthusiastic during meal time that his food bowl ends up sliding across your floor. What can help: Using scissors, snip a few wide rubber bands to create several flat strips, then super-glue the pieces across the bottom of your pet’s bowls. The no-slip rubber surface creates friction between the dishes and the floor, keeping your pup from pushing (and sloshing) his food and water across the room.
15. Rubber bands help secure wobbly candles
Your guests are due to arrive any minute when you realize the taper candles you wanted to use are too thin for your candle holders, so they won’t stop wobbling. The save: Wrap a few rubber bands around the base of each candle until it fits snuggly in the holder. The bands will widen the candle’s base, plus the rubber will provide traction to keep the tapers upright.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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