Make a sheath Flatten a paper towel tube, duct tape one end shut, and you have a perfect sheath for a picnic/camp knife. Use toilet paper rolls for smaller cutlery.
Make a fly and pest strip Get rid of pesky flies and mosquitoes with a homemade pest strip. Just cover an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll with transparent tape, sticky side out, and hang where needed.
Use as kindling and logs Turn toilet paper and paper towel tubes into kindling and logs for your fireplace. For fire starter, use scissors to cut the cardboard into 1/8-inch (3-millimeter) strips. Keep the strips in a bin near the fireplace so they’ll be handy to use next time you make a fire. To make logs, tape over one end of the tube and pack shredded newspaper inside. Then tape the other end. The tighter you pack the newspaper, the longer your log will burn.
Make boot trees To keep the tops of long, flexible boots from flopping over and developing ugly creases in the closet, insert cardboard mailing tubes into them to help them hold their shape.
Make a plant guard It’s easy to accidentally scar the trunk of a young tree when you are whacking weeds around it. To avoid doing this, cut a cardboard mailing tube in half lengthwise and tie the two halves around the trunk while you work around the tree. Then slip it off and use it on another tree.
Protect important documents Before storing diplomas, marriage certificates, and other important documents in your cedar chest, roll them tightly and insert them in paper towel tubes. This prevents creases and keeps the documents clean and dry.
Start seedlings Don’t go to the garden supply store to buy biodegradable starting pots for seedlings. Just use the cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper. Use scissors to cut each toilet paper tube into two pots, or each paper towel tube into four. Fill a tray with the cut cylinders packed against each other so they won’t tip when you water the seedlings. This will also prevent them from drying out too quickly. Now fill each pot with seed-starting mix, gently pack it down, and sow your seeds. When you plant the seedlings, make sure to break down the side of the roll and make sure all the cardboard is completely buried.
Store knitting needles To keep your knitting needles from bending and breaking, try this: Use a long cardboard tube from kitchen foil or plastic wrap. Cover one end with cellophane tape. Pinch the other end closed and secure it tightly with tape. Slide the needles in through the tape on the taped end. The tape will hold them in place for secure, organized storage.
Store fabric scraps Roll up leftover fabric scraps tightly and insert them inside a card-board tube from your bathroom or kitchen. For easy identification, tape or staple a sample of the fabric to the outside of the tube.
Store string Nothing is more useless and frustrating than tangled string. To keep your string ready to use, cut a notch into each end of a toilet paper tube. Secure one end of the string in one notch, wrap the string tightly around the tube, and then secure the other end in the other notch.
Keep linens crease-free Wrap tablecloths and napkins around cardboard tubes after laundering to avoid the creases they would get if they were folded. Use long tubes for tablecloths and paper towel or toilet paper tubes for napkins. To guard against stains, cover the tubes with plastic wrap first.
Keep pants crease-free You go to your closet for that good pair of pants you haven’t worn in a while, only to find an ugly crease at the fold site from the hanger rack. It won’t happen again if you cut a paper towel tube lengthwise, fold it in half horizontally, and place it over the rack before you hang up your pants. Before hanging pants, tape the sides of the cardboard together at the bottom to keep it from slipping.
Keep Christmas lights tidy Spending more time untangling your Christmas lights than it takes to put them up? Make yuletide prep easier by wrapping your lights around a cardboard tube. Secure them with masking tape. Put small strands of lights or garlands inside cardboard tubes, and seal the ends of the tubes with masking tape.
Protect fluorescent lights Keep fluorescent light tubes from breaking before you use them. They will fit neatly into long cardboard tubes sealed with tape at one end.
Make a kazoo Got a bunch of bored kids driving you crazy on a rainy day? Cut three small holes in the middle of a paper towel tube. Then cover one end of the tube with wax paper secured with a strong rubber band. Now hum into the other end, while using your fingers to plug one, two, or all three holes to vary the pitch. Make one for each kid. They may still drive you crazy, but they’ll have a ball doing it!
Make a hamster toy Place a couple of paper towel or toilet paper tubes in the hamster (or gerbil) cage. The little critters will love running and walking through them, and they like chewing on the cardboard too. When the tubes start looking ragged, just replace them with fresh ones.
Preserve kids’ artwork You want to save some of your kids’ precious artwork for posterity (or you don’t want it to clutter up the house). Simply roll up the artwork and place it inside a paper towel tube. Label the outside with the child’s name and date. The tubes are easy to store, and you can safely preserve the work of your budding young artists. Use this method to hold and store your documents, such as certificates and licenses, too.
Make English crackers Keep the spirit of holiday firecrackers but cut out the dangers associated with burning explosives. Use toilet paper tubes to make English crackers, which “explode” into tiny gifts. For each cracker, tie a string about 8 inches (20 centimeters) long around a small gift such as candy, a balloon, or a figurine. After tying, the string should have about 6 inches (15 centimeters) to spare. Place the gift into the tube so the string dangles out one end. Cover the tube with bright-colored crepe paper or tissue and twist the ends. When you pull the string, out pops the gift.