16 Surprising Uses for Toothpicks

Think toothpicks are only good for picking teeth or checking cake? Think again. Check out these toothpick tricks in the kitchen, around the house, and in the garden.

Adapted by Alyssa Jung from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things (Reader's Digest Association Books)
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Keep pots from boiling over

We've all done it--turn the burner on high, walk away, and before you know it, water is boiling over the sides of your pot. Avoid a messy stovetop by sticking a toothpick, laid flat, between the lid and pot. This small space will let steam escape, which prevents the pot from boiling over. 

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Control the use of your salad dressing

Never pour half a bottle of dressing on your salad again! Instead, leave the foil seal on a brand new bottle in place and use a toothpick to punch holes in it. This helps prevent a dressing avalanche, which will make it last longer and save you some calories, too!

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Microwave potatoes faster

Next time you make a baked potato, give it toothpick legs. Stick four toothpicks in one side, which will suspend it and allow it to cook much faster since the bottom, top, and sides are all exposed.

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Clean your phone

When dirt, dust, or grime gets between the buttons of your phone or keyboard, dip a toothpick in alcohol and run it through the area. You can also use this trick in any hard-to-reach crack or crevice. 

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Light candles easier

Don't burn your fingers trying to light a candle's hard-to-reach wick. Instead, light a wooden toothpick and then use that to reach the burned down wick.

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Mark the start of a tape roll

Finding the beginning of a tape roll is a waste of time, not to mention frustrating. Next time you cut a piece of tape, wrap the end around a toothpick when you're done. 

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Touch up paint jobs

The secret to a good paint touch-up is to use as little as possible, which is why toothpicks work perfectly. Dip the end of a toothpick in paint and dab it where you need it. Unlike with a brush, you won't apply more paint than you need and also won't have a brush to clean.

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Keep track of everybody's meat

Keep track of who wants what on the grill by using multicolored toothpicks to color code the meat by doneness--rare, medium, well done. 

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Cook sausages evenly

It can be hard to cook sausage evenly when it rolls back in forth. Connect pairs of sausages with toothpicks, which will keep them in place and make flipping them easier.

Keep track of garlic in a marinade

If you marinate foods with garlic cloves, stick a toothpick through the clove so you can easily remove it when you're ready to serve.

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Repair a bent plant stem

If the stem of your favorite plant has folded over, it's not doomed. Straighten the stem and support it by placing a toothpick against the stem and wrapping it with tape. Keep your eye on it and the stem should regain its strength. When this happens, be sure to remove the splint so you don't strangle the stem.

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Repair small holes in wood

Did you drive a nail into the wrong spot in your pine project? Don't panic. Dip the tip of a toothpick into white or yellow glue, then stick it in the hold and break it off. Sand the toothpick flush to the surface and you'll never notice the repair.

Fix a leaky garden hose

If your garden hose springs a leak, don't go out and buy another one. Find the hole, and insert a toothpick. Break off the excess part of the toothpick and water will make the wood swell, plugging the leak every time.

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Repair a loose hinge screw

Have you ever encountered a stripped hole that prevents a screw from properly tightening, the after-effect of removing a door or hinge? Solve this problem by putting some glue on the end of a toothpick and sticking it in the hole. Break it off and add one or two more until the hole is tightly filled. Re-drill the hole and you're ready to screw the hinge in place.

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Apply glue to sequins

If your craft project calls for sequins or buttons, toothpicks will leave you with less mess. Squirt a little glue on a piece of paper, dip in a toothpick and use that to apply dabs of glue.

Make sewing easier

Make sewing projects faster and easier by using a round toothpick to push fabrics, lace, or gatherings under the pressure foot as you sew.

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