Freeze a washcloth for a cold pack
It’s hard to predict when someone in your household will next suffer a burn, teething pain, or another bump or scrape. Be ready. Freeze a wet washcloth in a sandwich or freezer bag. Pull it out of the freezer the next time someone needs some cold care.
Protect your padlocks
When the weather is cold enough to freeze your padlocks on the outdoor shed or garage, remember that a sandwich bag can help. Slip one over the lock and you’ll avoid frozen tumblers.
Display baby teeth
Your daughter has lost her first tooth and wants to show it off. You don’t want to lose that precious memento of this important rite of passage. Place it in a sealable plastic bag. She can easily display it, and you won’t worry about the tooth getting lost.
Make baby wipes for pennies
You could buy the outrageously expensive baby wipes at the store or purchase some in bulk and hope they don’t dry out before you use them up. Or you can just take the thrifty parent’s way out: Make your own baby wipes by placing soft paper towels in a sealable bag with a mixture of 1 tablespoon gentle antibacterial soap, 1 teaspoon baby oil, and 1/3 cup water. Use enough of the mixture just to get the wipes damp, not drenched.
Starch craft items
You’ve just completed that handmade Christmas stocking for your grandchild. But the last fabric ornaments to attach need to be starched. Throw them in a sealable plastic bag that contains a bit of starch. Shake until covered, remove, and let dry. Save the starch in the bag for your next craft project.
Feed the birds
Be kind to the birds in your yard during the lean winter months. Mix some birdseed with peanut butter in a sealable plastic bag. Seal the bag and mix the ingredients by kneading the outside of the bag. Then place the glob in a small net bag or spread on a pinecone. Attach to a tree and await the grateful flock.
Store grated cheese
Pasta or pizza is always better with a dash of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. But who wants to bother with getting the grater out every time you want that taste? Instead, take a wedge of Parmesan cheese, grate the whole thing at once, and then double bag it in two self-closing bags to protect the freshness. Or stick the grater in the bag with the cheese wedge and pull it out for a short grate when the pesto gets to the table. That way you won’t have to clean the grater after each use.
Make a pastry bag
Pastry bags can be cumbersome, expensive, and hard to clean. Stop scrounging around the kitchen drawer for the pastry bag tip. Place the food to be piped, be it deviled-egg mix or decorating frosting, into a sealable bag. Squish out the air and close the top. Snip off a corner of the bag to the size you want — start conservatively — and you are ready to begin squeezing.
Dispose of cooking oil
Unless you want the plumber for a best friend, don’t clog your kitchen drain with used cooking oil. Instead, wait for it to cool, then dump it in a sealable plastic bag. Toss the bag into the trash.
Color cookie dough without stained hands
Experienced bakers know what a mess your hands can be after coloring cookie dough. Here’s a clean idea: Place your prepared dough in a bag, add the drops of food coloring, and squish around until the color is uniform. You can use the dough now or stick it in the freezer ready to roll out when the next occasion arises.
Store extra ice cubes
It’s a common experience. You open the freezer to grab some ice cubes from the ice cube maker and they’re all stuck together, sometimes clogging the ice cube dispenser on the front of the fridge. When your tray fills up, toss the cubes in a sealable freezer bag. They won’t stick together and you’ll have easy access to the ice.
Soften hard marshmallows
You’re about to pull out that bag of marshmallows from your kitchen cabinet to make s’mores around the dying grill when you notice that the once-fluffy puffs have turned hard as rocks. Warm some water in a pan. Place the marshmallows in a sealable plastic bag, seal, and place in the pan. The warmth will soften them up in no time.
Melt chocolate without a mess
Melting chocolate in a microwave or double boiler leaves you with a messy bowl or pot to wash. Here’s a mess-free method: Warm some water in a pan (do not boil). Place the chocolate you want to melt in a sealable freezer bag. Seal and place the bag in the pan. In a few moments, you have melted chocolate, ready to bake or decorate with. You can even leave the bag sealed and snip off a bottom corner of the bag to pipe the chocolate onto a cake. When you are done, just toss the bag.
Grease your pans
If you’re never quite sure how to handle shortening and butter when greasing a cake pan or cookie sheet, here’s a tip: Place a sandwich bag over your hand, scoop up a small amount of shortening or butter from the tub, and start greasing. You can leave the bag in the canister of shortening for next time.
Use as kids’ gloves
There’s nothing more welcome than helping hands in the kitchen. But when they’re little hands that tend to get dirty and leave prints all over the place, then something must be done. Before they start “helping” you make those chocolate chip cookies, place small sandwich bags over their hands. These instant gloves are disposable for easy cleanup.
Make a funnel
That handiest of kitchen tools, the funnel, can be replicated easily with a small sandwich bag. Fill the bag with the contents you need funneled. Snip off the end and transfer into the needed container. Then just toss the bag when the funneling is done.
Protect your fragile breakables
There’s a precious family heirloom, a statue, a vase, or a trinket that needs some extra padding when storing. Here’s what to do: Place it gently in a self-closing bag, close the bag most of the way, blow it up with air, then seal it. The air forms a protective cushion around the memento.
Save your sweaters
You’re about to put away that pile of winter sweaters for the season. Don’t just throw them in a box without protection. Place each sweater in a sealable plastic bag and seal. They’ll be clean and moth-free when the cold weather rolls around again. Save the bags for next spring when the sweaters need to be stored again.
Create a sachet
If your drawers are starting to smell musty, a sealable bag can be your dresser’s best friend. Fill the bag with potpourri — for example, flower petals along with a few crushed fragrant leaves and a couple of drops of aromatic oil. Punch a bunch of small holes in the bag. Then place in the drawer. Your drawers will smell fresh again soon.
Add cedar to your closet
Cedar closets smell great, and, more important, they repel moths. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a cedar closet, you can easily create the next best thing. Fill a sealable bag with cedar chips — the kind you buy at a pet store for the hamster cage. Zip it closed, then punch several small holes in it. Hang the bag in your closet (a pants hanger is handy for this) and let the cedar smell do its work.
De-clutter the bathroom
Here’s a quick cleanup solution: Guests are coming over and the bathroom is strewn with Hubby’s razor, shave cream, and more. Quickly gather up all the supplies in one clear sealable bag. That way, he will know where his shaving supplies are and you don’t have to deal with them. Now, if we could just do something about the whiskers in the sink!
Organize your makeup
Many of us have scads of makeup. Pats of ill-advised eye shadow and samples of powder and blush from department stores fill our makeup cases. Problem is, there are only a few cosmetics we really use every single day. Stash those favorites in a sealable plastic bag so you don’t have to hunt around for them every morning.
Stash dirty clothes
Chocolate ice cream is careering down your child’s white Sunday-best shirt. If you can keep the stain from drying, it will be a lot easier to get out. Change your child’s shirt and spray the stained shirt with stain remover if you have a small bottle handy or just soak in water if you don’t. Then seal the shirt in a sealable plastic bag, and it will be ready for the wash when you get home.
Hold spare clothes
Toilet training a child? Need to be ready for meal mishaps? Put a change of clothes for your son or daughter in a sealable plastic bag, and keep it in the trunk of your car. You won’t have to think twice the next time you have an “accident.”
Carry wet washcloth for cooling off
Going for a long trip on a hot and sticky day? Use a sealable bag to take along a wet washcloth that has been soaked in water and lemon juice so that everyone can get a refreshing wipe-off. This is a good trick for fast on-the-road face and hand cleanups anytime.
Keep your valuables dry and afloat
Whoops! You tipped the canoe and got dunked. No biggie, until that sinking feeling hits — your car keys and cell phone are at the bottom of the lake. Avoid this disaster by putting your valuables in a seal-able bag. Blow air into it before you seal the bag so it will float. A sealable bag is perfect for keeping valuables dry at the water park or beach too.
Create a beach hand cleaner
You’re sitting on the beach and it’s time for lunch. But before you reach into your cooler, you want to get the grit off your hands. Baby powder in a sealable plastic bag is the key. Place your hands in the bag, then remove them and rub them together. The sand is gone.
Cure car sickness
The last thing you need in your car is a child throwing up. Make your child feel better and head off the mess and stench. Place a few cotton balls in a sealable plastic bag. Squirt in 2 drops lavender oil. If motion sickness strikes, the child can open the bag and take a few whiffs of the oil.
Use as a portable water dish
Your furry best friend has happily hiked alongside you during your trek in the great outdoors. You take a break, and he gives you one of those longing looks as you draw on your canteen. No problem. You pull a sealable plastic bag full of water from your pack and hold it open while Buddy laps his fill.