Recycle Newspaper Around the Home

Try these resourceful tips for reusing your old newspapers.

from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things

Deodorize luggage and containers

Do you have a plastic container or wooden box with a persistent, unpleasant odor? Stuff in a few sheets of crumpled newspaper and seal it closed for three or four days. You can also use this technique to deodorize trunks and suitcases (using more newspaper, of course).

Dry wet shoes

If your shoes get soaked after walking through the rain or slogging through the snow, stuff them with dry, balled-up newspaper to prevent any long-term damage. Place the shoes on their sides at room temperature so the moisture can be thoroughly absorbed. For severe sogginess, you may need to replace the stuffing a few times.

Remove oven residue

They may call it a self-cleaning oven, but when it’s done cleaning, you always have to contend with mopping off that ash-like residue. Don’t waste a roll of paper towels on the flaky stuff; clean it up with a few sheets of moistened, crumpled newspaper.

Pick up broken glass shards

Okay, so everyone breaks a big glass bowl at least once in a lifetime. It’s no big thing. A safe way to get up the small shards of glass that remain after you remove the large pieces is to blot the area with wet newspapers. The tiny fragments will stick to the paper, which makes for easy disposal. Just carefully drop the newspaper in your garbage can.

Unscrew a broken lightbulb

To remove a broken lightbulb, wad up several sheets of newspaper, press the paper over the bulb, and turn it counterclockwise. (Make sure you’re wearing protective gloves and that the power is off.) The bulb should loosen up enough to remove from the socket. Wrap it in the paper and toss it into the garbage.

Slow-ripen tomatoes in late fall

Is there an early frost predicted and you still have a bunch of tomatoes on the vine? Relax. Pick your tomatoes and wrap each one in a couple of sheets of newspaper. Store them in airtight containers inside a dark cabinet or closet at room temperature. Check each one every three to four days; they will all eventually ripen to perfection.

Use as mulch

Newspaper makes terrific mulch for veggies and flowers. It’s excellent at retaining moisture and does an equally fine job at fighting off and suffocating weeds. Just lay down several sheets of newspaper. Then cover the paper with about 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) of wood mulch so it doesn’t blow away. Warning: Avoid using glossy stock and colored newsprint for mulching (or composting); color inks may contain lead or harmful dyes that can leach into the ground. To check your newsprint, contact your local paper and ask about the inks they use; many papers now use only safe vegetable-based inks.

Add to compost

Adding moderate amounts of wet, shredded newsprint — printed in black ink only — to your compost heap is a good and relatively safe way to reduce odor and to give earthworms a tasty treat.

Adios, earwigs

If your garden is under siege by earwigs — those creepy-looking insects with the sharp pincers on their hindquarters — get rid of them by making your own environmentally friendly traps. Tightly roll up a wet newspaper, and put a rubber band around it to keep it from unraveling. Place it in the area you’ve seen the insects, and leave it overnight. By morning, it will be standing room only for the bugs. Place the newspaper in a plastic grocery bag, tie a knot at the top of the bag, and toss it into the trash. Repeat until your traps are free of earwigs.

Protect windows when painting

Don’t bother buying thick masking or carpenter tape when painting around the windows of your home. Simply wet several long strips of newspaper and place them on the glass alongside the wood you’re painting. The newspaper will easily adhere to the surface and keep the paint off the glass or frames, and it is much easier to remove than tape.

Roll your own fireplace logs

Bad winter on the way? Bolster your supply of fireplace logs by making a few of your own out of old newspapers. Just lay out a bunch of sheets end to end, roll them up as tightly as you can, tie up the ends with twine or wire, and wet them in a solution of slightly soapy water. Although it will take a while, let them dry thoroughly, standing on end, before using. Note: Do not use newspaper logs in a woodstove unless the manufacturer specifies that it is okay.

Put traction under your wheels

Unless your vehicle has four-wheel drive, it’s always a good idea to keep a small stack of newspapers in the trunk of your car during the winter months to prevent getting stranded on a patch of ice or slush. Placing a dozen or two sheets of newspaper under each rear wheel will often provide just the traction you need to get your car back on the road.