Most of us tend to throw out cardboard tubes. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t any use for it. From making kindling logs to using it as plant guards, there’s actually a lot you can do with cardboard tubes. Here are 20 really fun alternatives to throwing it out.

1. Make a fly and pest strip

Get rid of pesky flies and mosquitoes with a homemade pest strip. Just cover an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll with transparent tape, sticky side out, and hang where needed.

2. Use as kindling and logs

Turn toilet paper and paper towel tubes into kindling and logs for your fireplace. For fire starter, use scissors to cut the cardboard into 3-millimetre strips. Keep the strips in a bin near the fireplace so they’ll be handy to use next time you make a fire. To make logs, tape over one end of the tube and pack shredded newspaper inside. Then tape the other end. The tighter you pack the newspaper, the longer your log will burn.

3. Make boot trees

To keep the tops of long, flexible boots from flopping over and developing ugly creases in the closet, insert cardboard mailing tubes into it to help it hold its shape.

4. Protect important documents

Before storing diplomas, marriage certificates and other important documents in a chest, roll them tightly and insert them in paper towel tubes. This prevents creases and keeps the documents clean and dry.

5. Preserve kids’ artwork

You want to save some of your kids’ precious artwork for posterity (or you don’t want it to clutter up the house). Simply roll up the artwork and place it inside a paper towel tube. Label the outside with the child’s name and date. The tubes are easy to store, and you can safely preserve the work of your budding young artists. Use this method to hold and store your documents, such as certificates and licences, too.

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6. Make a plant guard


It’s easy to accidentally scar the trunk of a young tree when you are whacking weeds around it. To avoid doing this, cut a cardboard mailing tube in half lengthwise and tie the two halves around the trunk while you work around the tree. Then slip it off and use it on another tree.

7. Start seedlings

Don’t go to the garden supply store to buy biodegradable starting pots for seedlings. Just use the cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper. Use scissors to cut each toilet paper tube into two pots, or each paper towel tube into four. Fill a tray with the cut cylinders packed against each other so it won’t tip when you water the seedlings. This will also prevent it from drying out too quickly. Now fill each pot with seed-starting mix, gently pack it down, and sow your seeds. When you plant the seedlings, make sure to break down the side of the roll and make sure all the cardboard is completely buried.

8. Store knitting needles

To keep your knitting needles from bending and breaking, try this: Use a long cardboard tube from kitchen foil or plastic wrap. Cover one end with cellophane tape. Pinch the other end closed and secure it tightly with tape. Slide the needles in through the tape on the taped end. The tape will hold it in place for secure, organised storage.

9. Store fabric scraps

Roll up leftover fabric scraps tightly and insert it inside a cardboard tube from your bathroom or kitchen. For easy identification, tape, or staple a sample of the fabric to the outside of the tube.

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10. Store string

Nothing is more useless and frustrating than tangled string. To keep your string ready to use, cut a notch into each end of a toilet paper tube. Secure one end of the string in one notch, wrap the string tightly around the tube, and then secure the other end in the other notch.

11. Keep linens crease-free

Wrap tablecloths and napkins around cardboard tubes after laundering to avoid the creases it would get if it was folded. Use long tubes for tablecloths and paper towel or toilet paper tubes for napkins. To guard against stains, cover the tubes with plastic wrap first.

12. Make a DIY speaker


Yes, you read that right. No need to pay for a brand new speaker as you can easily make one out of an empty Pringles can. Just follow the instructions on Sandy Toes & Popsicles, then sit back and enjoy!

13. Keep pants crease-free

You go to your closet for that good pair of pants you haven’t worn in a while, only to find an ugly crease at the fold site from the hanger rack. It won’t happen again if you cut a paper towel tube lengthwise, fold it in half horizontally, and place it over the rack before you hang up your pants. Before hanging pants, tape the sides of the cardboard together at the bottom to keep it from slipping.

14. Keep Christmas lights tidy

Spending more time untangling your Christmas lights than it takes to put it up? Make yuletide prep easier by wrapping your lights around a cardboard tube. Secure it with masking tape. Put small strands of lights or garlands inside cardboard tubes, and seal the ends of the tubes with masking tape.

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15. Protect fluorescent lights

Keep fluorescent light tubes from breaking before you use it. It’ll fit neatly into long cardboard tubes sealed with tape at one end.

16. Make a kazoo

Got a bunch of bored kids driving you crazy on a rainy day? Cut three small holes in the middle of a paper towel tube. Then cover one end of the tube with wax paper secured with a strong rubber band. Now hum into the other end, while using your fingers to plug one, two, or all three holes to vary the pitch. Make one for each kid. It may still drive you crazy, but they’ll have a ball doing it!

17. Make a guinea pig toy

Place a couple of paper towel or toilet paper tubes in the guinea pig cage. The little critters will love running and walking through them, and they like chewing on the cardboard too. When the tubes start looking ragged, just replace them with fresh ones.

18. Make a cord organiser


Are your cords always tangled no matter how hard you try? A couple of cardboard tubes can help solve that problem. Follow the tutorial on Our Thrifty Ideas to create these fun and colorful cardboard tube organisers.

19. Make Christmas crackers

Use toilet paper tubes to make Christmas crackers. For each cracker, tie a string about 20 centimetres long around a small gift such as candy, a balloon, or a figurine. After tying, the string should have about 15 centimetres to spare. Place the gift into the tube so the string dangles out one end. Cover the tube with bright-coloured crepe paper or tissue and twist the ends. When you pull the string, out pops the gift.

20. Make a toilet roll dinosaur

If you have young children, they will definitely love this activity by The Craft Train. You also probably already have all the materials you need inside your home, so no shopping trip necessary. All you have to do is enjoy this time you’re spending as a family.

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