Practical Secrets for Plastic Bags

These plastic bag uses are so innovative!

Line a cracked flower vase

Grandmother’s beautiful flower vase is a sight to behold when it’s filled with posies. The problem is the vase leaks from a large crack that runs its length. Line the vase with a plastic bag before you fill it with water and add a bouquet, giving fresh life to a treasured heirloom.

Stuff crafts or pillows

There are a number of ways to stuff a craft project: with beans, rice, fabric filler, plastic beads, pantyhose, and so on. But have you ever tried stuffing a craft item or throw pillow with plastic bags? There are plenty on hand, so you don’t have to worry about running out, and you’re recycling.

Drain bath toys

Don’t let Rubber Ducky and all of the rest of your child’s bath toys get moldy and create a potential hazard in the tub. Instead, after the bath is done, gather them up in a plastic bag that has been punctured a few times. Hang the bag by its handles on one of the faucets to let the water drain out. Toys are collected in one place, ready for the next time.

Make a laundry pocket pickin’s bag

You may think that the laundry’s all done, until you open the dryer to find a tissue paper left in someone’s pocket has shredded and now is plastered all over the dryer drum. Hang a plastic bag near where you sort laundry. Before you start the wash, go through the pockets and dump any contents in the bag for later sorting.

Store extra baby wipes

Shopping at the warehouse grocer, you picked up a jumbo box of baby wipes at a great price. You’ve got enough wipes to last for several months, as long as they don’t dry out before you can use them. To protect your good investment, keep the opened carton of wipes in a plastic bag sealed with a twist tie.

Collect clothes for thrift shop

If you’re constantly setting aside clothes to give to charity, but then find them back in your closet or drawers, try this solution: Hang a large garbage bag in your closet. That way, the next time you find something you want to give, you just toss it in the bag. Once it’s full, you can take it to the local donation center. Don’t forget to hang a new bag in the closet.

Cover clothes for storage

You’d like to protect that seersucker suit for next season. Grab a large, unused garbage bag. Slit a hole in the top and push the hanger through for an instant dustcover. This is what really happens to recycled plastic. 

Store your skirts

If you find you have an overstuffed closet but plenty of room to spare in your dresser, conduct a clothes transfer. Roll up your skirts and place them each in a plastic bag. That will help them stay wrinkle-free until you’re ready to wear one.

Keep purses in shape

Ever notice that if you’ve changed purses and leave an empty one in your closet, it deflates and loses its shape? Fill your purse with plastic bags to retain its original shape.

Tip: Storing Plastic Bags

All those shopping bags are spilling out of the utility drawer in your kitchen. Here are some better ways to store them:

  • Stuff them inside an empty tissue box for easy retrieval.
  • Poke a bunch down a cardboard tube, such as a paper towel or mailing tube or even a section of a carpet tube.
  • Fill a clean, empty gallon (4-liter) plastic jug. Cut a 4-inch (10-centimeter) hole in the bottom. Stuff with bags and hang by its handle on a hook. Pull the bags out of the spout.
  • Make a bag “sock.” Fold a kitchen towel lengthwise with the wrong side facing out. Stitch the long edges together. Sew 1/2-inch (1.25-centimeter) casings around the top and bottom openings and thread elastic through them, securing the ends. Turn the sock right side out, sew a loop of ribbon or string on the back to hang it up, stuff bags into the top opening, and pull them out from the bottom one.

Protect hand when cleaning toilet

When cleaning your toilets with a long-handled brush or a shorter tool, first wrap your hand in a used plastic bag. You’ll be able to do the appropriate scrubbing without your hand getting dirty in the process.

Prevent steel wool from rusting

A few days ago you got a new steel wool pad to clean a dirty pot. Now that steel pad is sitting useless in its own pool of rust. Next time, when you’re not using the pad, toss it into a plastic bag where it won’t rust and you’ll be able to use it again.

Line the litter box

Nobody likes to change the cat’s litter box. Make the job quick and easy by lining the box with an open plastic bag before pouring in the litter. Use two bags if you think one is flimsy. When it’s time to change the litter, just remove the bags, tie, and throw into the trash.
Cover a cookbook

You’re trying a new recipe from a borrowed cookbook that you don’t want to get splattered during your creation. Cover the book with a clear plastic bag. You’ll be able to read the directions, while the book stays clean.

Scrape dishes

Your extended family of 25 has just finished their Sunday dinner. Time to clean the dishes. Here’s an easy way to get rid of the table scraps: Line a bowl with a plastic bag and scrape scraps into it. Once it’s full, just gather up the handles and toss. Place the bowl in a prominent place in your kitchen so everyone can scrape their own dishes when bringing them to the sink.

Crush graham crackers

Don’t spend hard-earned grocery dollars on a box of pre-crushed graham crackers or a ready-to-fill graham cracker crust. It’s much cheaper and a real snap to crush graham crackers yourself. Just crumble several graham crackers into a plastic bag. Lay the bag on the kitchen counter and go over it several times with a rolling pin. In no time, you’ll have as many graham cracker crumbs as you need, plus the remainder of a box of crackers to snack on as well.

Ripen fruit

Some of the fruit from that bushel of peaches you just bought at the local farm stand are hard as rocks. Place the fruit with a few already ripe pieces or some ripe bananas in a plastic bag. The ripe fruit will help soften the others through the release of their natural gas. But don’t leave them for more than a day or two or you’ll have purple, moldy peaches.

Protect plants from frost

When frost threatens your small plants, grab a bunch of plastic bags to protect them. Here’s how: Cut a hole in the bottom of each bag. Slip one over each plant and anchor it inside using small rocks. Then pull the bags over the plants, roll them closed, and secure them with clothespins or paper clips. You can open the bags up again if the weather turns warm.

Start poinsettia buds for Xmas

You want that Christmas poinsettia to look gorgeous by the time the holidays arrive. You can speed up Mother Nature by placing the poinsettia in a large, dark garbage bag for several weeks to wake up the plant’s buds.

Clean a grill easily

That neighborhood barbecue was a blast, but your grill is a sorry mess now. Take the racks off and place them in a garbage bag. Spray oven cleaner on the grill and close up the bag. The next day, open the bag, making sure to keep your face away from the fumes. All that burned-on gunk should wipe right off.

Cover garage-sale signs

If you’ve gone to the trouble of advertising your upcoming garage sale with yard signs but worry that rain may hurt your publicity campaign before even the early birds show up, protect the signs by covering them with pieces cut from clear plastic bags. Passersby can still see the lettering, which will be protected from smearing by the rain.

Store outdoor equipment manuals

Your weed-whacker spindle just gave out and you have to replace it. But how? Stash all your outdoor equipment’s warranties and owner’s manuals in a plastic bag and hang it in your garage. You’ll know exactly where to look for help.

Pack your shoes

Your next cruise requires shoes for all types of occasions, but you worry that packing them in the suitcase will get everything else dirty. Wrap each pair in its own plastic bag. It will keep the dirt off the clothes, and you can rest assured you’ve packed complete pairs.

Stash your wet umbrella

When you’re out in the rain and running to your next appointment, who wants to deal with a soggy umbrella dripping all over your clothes and car? One of those plastic bags that newspapers are delivered in is the perfect size to cover your umbrella the next time it rains. Just fold the umbrella up and slip it into the bag.

Cover ceiling fans

You’re painting the sun porch ceiling, and you don’t want to remove the ceiling fans for the process. Cover the blades with plastic bags to protect them from paint splatters. Use masking tape to keep the bags shut.

Store paintbrushes

You’re halfway through painting the living room, and it’s time to break for lunch. No need to clean the paintbrush. Just stick it in a plastic bag and it will remain wet and ready to use when you return. Going to finish next weekend, you say? Stick the bag-covered brush in the freezer. Defrost next Saturday and you are ready to go.

Contain paint overspray

If you’ve got a few small items to spray-paint, use a plastic bag to control the overspray. Just place one item at a time in the bag, spray-paint, and remove to a spread-out newspaper to dry. When you’re done, toss the bag for a easy cleanup.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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