Most of us toss the cork in the trash after we finish a bottle of wine. After all, who needs it? But it turns out these bottle stoppers can be put to good use later on! From sealing snack bags to helping houseplants thrive, leftover corks can solve a multitude of problems — for pennies. Below you’ll find 18 surprising uses for wine corks.
1. Uses for wine corks: Guarantee lush houseplants
The secret to keeping your leafy green plants happy and healthy even in dry indoor heat: corks! Simply cut eight to 12 natural corks in half, grind them up in a food processor and mix the bits into your plants’ topsoil. Whenever you water your greenery, the air-filled cork cells will absorb the excess and slowly release it as the plant dries out, ensuring it stays regularly hydrated.
2. Silence noisy cabinet doors
If your kitchen cupboards make a racket every time someone closes them, use a wine cork to create “bumpers.” To do: Slice a cork into several 1⁄8″-thick rounds and glue onto the inside corners of each cabinet door. The cork’s spongy material will cushion the doors so they close without a sound. Problem solved!
3. Uses for wine corks: Ensure food bags stay sealed
Next time you’re in need of more chip clips than you have available, reach for wine corks! Simply use a knife to carefully cut a slit into the end of a cork and slide over a closed (and folded bag). The cut cork will act as a clamp, guaranteeing the bag stays closed and the food stays fresh.
4. Get a fire roaring quickly
Nothing beats an evening curled up in front of a cozy fire. To start it in a flash, put natural corks in a closed jar filled with rubbing alcohol. (Store away from the fireplace.) When you’re ready for a fire, place a cork under the kindling and light with a fireplace match. The flammable alcohol will help the cork catch quickly and stay lit to ignite the wood.
5. Uses for wine corks: Entertain kitty for pennies
Save yourself a trip to the pet store (and the expense) by making cat toys at home. To do: Take a wine cork and use a nail to widen the hole made by the corkscrew. Then thread a few pieces of string or yarn through the hole and tie a few tightly around the cork’s center, knotting twice to keep in place. Mittens will have a ball batting and chasing them around!
6. Safely store knives in a drawer
The easy way to ensure helping hands in the kitchen stay safe when grabbing a knife: Cut a slit into the side of a cork and carefully slip it over the tip of the blade. (Use more than one cork to cover the whole blade.) When someone reaches into the drawer for a knife, the cushiony cork will keep their hand from getting cut by the sharp blade.
7. Uses for wine corks: Easily cap knitting needles
When you need to take your knitting supplies on the go, the last thing you want is for your handiwork to fall off the needles. What can help: sticking the sharp ends into a wine cork. The stopper will help block the yarn from falling off the needles’ slick ends, so you won’t have to double back on your stitch later.
8. Uses for wine corks: Ward off earbud tangles
You always take your earbuds along in your purse — if only the wires didn’t end up jumbled! To prevent it, use a small nail to poke a hole in one end of a cork. Then use a sharp knife to make a narrow slit in the other end. Insert the earbud plug into the hole, wrap the wires around the cork and slide the ends into the sliver. This handy trick will help ward off tangles, and the small cork will make it easy to stash the whole thing away.
9. Protect a counter from hot pots
When you’re prepping a large meal, you often run out of trivets to put hot pots and pans on. Rather than spending money on more, make your own with corks. “Cork has a low thermal conductivity, which means it does not conduct heat well,” says food influencer Thanh Dang, founder of Food Senpai. “This helps to insulate and slow down the transfer of heat, so when used as a trivet or hot pad, cork can effectively protect surfaces from the heat of hot pots and pans. All you have to do is hot glue several corks together in a square or rectangular shape to create a heat-resistant trivet or hot pad.” Note: Wrap a string around the bundle to ensure they stay together. Once dry, the heat-resistant corks will protect counters and tabletops.
Watch how to make a trivet in the video below:
10. Uses for wine corks: Keep sewing needles organized
To avoid accidentally poking yourself with a loose needle when digging through your sewing box, try this: Stick all of your needles and pins into a cork or two. The makeshift pincushions will firmly secure the needles, keeping your sewing box neat.
11. Avoid overpouring expensive oils
The new bottle of pricey olive oil you bought has such a wide spout that you keep pouring out too much every time you use it on a dish. The save: Cut a 1⁄4″-wide wedge down the length of a cork and slip it into the bottle’s neck. This slimmer gap will prevent overflow when pouring, helping you preserve every last drop.
12. Uses for wine corks: Replace a missing pot lid knob
While prepping the casserole for a potluck, you find the knob to your pot’s lid is missing. The in-a-pinch, heatproof replacement: a cork! Simply push a sharp, pointed screw through the hole of the pot lid and carefully twist the cork onto the hardware until it’s secure.
13. Effortlessly buff stainless steel
There’s no need to bring out harsh chemicals to get your appliances to sparkle. Instead, dip a wine cork in olive oil and dab at any smudges or fingerprints, then wipe off with a clean, dry cloth. The cork’s textured surface will buff away buildup without damaging the stainless steel while the olive oil imparts shine.
14. Uses for wine corks: Keep earring pairs together
You like to bring along your favorite earrings when you travel, but worry about the pairs getting separated or lost in your luggage. The solution: Store the jewelry by poking the back of the earrings into wine corks. You can easily remove the baubles when you’re ready to wear them and make sure pairs stay stored together.
Earring missing a back? Corks to the rescue again! Just slice a small sliver off a cork and push it onto the back of the earring. The cork will keep the bauble securely in place on your ears.
15. Ensure recipe cards stay clean
Your mom handed down her famous dessert recipes and you’re ready to start baking. The easy way to safeguard the handwritten cards from splatters: Hold a cork upright and carefully cut a slit in the top, then slide the recipe card into the opening. The cork will keep the index card safe from any spills on the counter. Plus, elevating the card makes the recipe easier to read at a glance.
16. Uses for wine corks: Prevent dried-out caulk
It’s common for half-used bottles of caulk to get tossed in the trash since there’s no cap to keep them fresh. What a waste! The trick to preserve it: Simply drill or cut a small hole, about 1″ deep, in the end of a wine cork, then slide it over the tube’s opening. This creates an airtight seal that keeps the caulk from drying out until the next project.
17. Guarantee a dog’s bowl stays put
Buster loves gobbling food out of his new bowl— if only it didn’t slide around the floor and make a mess. To the rescue: a cork! Slice an old wine cork into four circular pieces and use hot glue to attach them to the bottom of the dish. The cork rounds will provide traction and ensure the dish stays in place while your beloved pet enjoys mealtime.
18. Uses for wine corks: Stop a slipping tea bag
One of your favorite way to unwind is with a steaming cup of your favorite tea. But it can be frustrating when the string of the bag falls into the mug and you have to fish it out. Rather than buying tea bag holders, create your own with a wine cork. “Make small cuts into the top of the cork to create a slot where you can place the string of a tea bag, keeping it in place and preventing it from falling into your mug,” says Evelyn Boyer, author of the Always Time for Tea blog. First use your knife to carefully cut a large slit into one end of the cork (big enough to fit over the rim of a glass or mug). Then cut another slit in the other end. Once you slip the cork onto the mug, you’ll have a perfect spot in the top of the cork to hold your tea bag string. (Click through for ideas on what to do with your used tea bag when you’re done!)
For more brilliant life hacks, keep reading!