9 Extraordinary Uses for Paper Towels

Paper towels to the rescue! These home tips will have you reaching for the roll every time you're in a fix.

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1. Clean silk from fresh corn

istock/Emilie Duchesne

If you hate picking the silk off freshly husked ears of corn, then you'll love this paper towel trick. Dampen one and run it across the ear. The towel picks up the silk, and the corn is ready for the boiling pot or the grill.

2. Strain grease from broth

istock/anandaBGD

Use a paper towel to absorb the fat that surfaces on the top of broths and soups. Here's how: Place another pot in the sink. Put a colander (or a sieve) in the new pot and put a paper towel in the colander. Now pour the broth through the towel into the waiting pot. You’ll find that the fat stays in the towel, while the cleaner broth streams through.

3. Keep produce fresh longer

istock/littleny

Don’t you hate it when you open the vegetable bin in the refrigerator and find last week’s moldy carrots mixed with the now-yellow lettuce? Make your produce last long enough so you can eat it by lining your vegetable bins with paper towels. They absorb the moisture that causes your fruits and vegetables to rot. Makes cleaning up the bin easier too.

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4. Clean a can opener

istock/Nick M. Do

Have you ever noticed that strange gunk that collects on the cutting wheel of your can opener? You don’t want that in your food. Clean your can opener by “opening” a paper towel. Close the wheel on the edge of a paper towel, close the handles, and turn the crank. The paper towel will clean off the gunk as the wheel cuts through it.

5. Keep frozen bread from getting soggy

istock/paolaroid

Here's how to freeze—and thaw—your bread so it tastes just like fresh. Place a paper towel in the bag of bread before you freeze it. When you’re ready to eat that frozen loaf, the paper towel absorbs the moisture as the bread thaws.

6. Cook bacon—without the mess

istock/MichaelRLong

Layer two paper towels on the bottom of your microwave. Lay slices of bacon side by side, on the paper towels. Cover with two more paper towels. Run your microwave on High at 1-minute intervals, checking for crispness. It should take 3 to 4 minutes to cook, then toss the towels for easy clean-up.

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7. Keep cast-iron pots rust-free

istock/billnoll

Stop rust from invading your prized collection of cast-iron pots. After they’re clean, place a paper towel in each to absorb any moisture. Store lids separately from the pots, separated by a lining of paper towels.

8. Test viability of old seeds

istock/13015954

You’ve just found a packet of watermelon seeds dated two years ago. Should you bother to plant them or has their shelf life expired? To find out for sure, dampen two paper towels and lay down a few seeds. Cover with two more dampened paper towels. Over the next two weeks, keep the towels damp and keep checking on the seeds. If most of the seeds sprout, then plant the rest of the batch in the garden.

9. Clean a sewing machine

istock/Ufku Meydan

After you tune up your sewing machine, don't worry about residual grease harming your sewing project: Use this paper towel trick. Thread the sewing machine and stitch several lines up a paper towel first. That should take care of any residual grease, so you can resume your sewing projects.


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