Whole Living Daily

5 Reasons to Love Toilet Paper Tubes

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As an organizing expert committed to living green, I’m always looking for uses (and reuses) of common items around the house—not only because it keeps them out of the trash (and landfills) but because it saves you money.

I figure why buy an organizing solution like a box when most of us already has one at home we can simply re-purpose. So I say shop from home or from a good friend’s house to find something you can use before considering buying new.

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1 My TP roll all jazzed up (neutrals on one tube/colors on the other).

2 My snag-free sandaltoe pantyhose.

3 Kitchen tongs contained in a tube.

4 A tube cuffed around the gift-wrap.

5 A 15' extension cord slipped in a tube.

Use #1: Hair-Accessory Organizer
It started with a hunt for a scrunchie to tame my frizzed-out hair. Quite simple, I couldn’t find one (except for the neon green one, which I never wear). I decided I needed to organize my hair accessories drawer—stat!

I found the ideal tool—the cardboard tube that’s left when the toilet paper is gone. On first glance it might not look like much but just look at all you can do with these useful leftover tubes…

Jazz it up: Because a cardboard tube is a little boring I jazzed it up by rolling it in some leftover gift-wrap. Then I slid my scrunchies on it and popped it in the vanity drawer. The next time I reach for a scrunchie I'll be able to find something other than the fluorescent green one.

I can find a clever use or re-use for just about anything, in fact my rule is use (almost) everything twice. So what else can Jamie do with a TP tube? Well I'm glad you asked! Here are my four other favorite uses:

Use #2: Protect Pantyhose
I must admit I don’t wear pantyhose all that often, but when I do I prefer ones without snags in them. Keep yours snag free by tucking them in TP tubes. You can even label the tubes so at a glance you can tell navy from black.

Use #3: Store Cooking Tongs
That's right, no more having your tongs spring open in the drawer preventing the drawer from opening until you squeeze your hand in to push them down.

Use #4: Tame Wrapping Paper
You know how once you open a roll of gift-wrap it unravels and you end up having to cut off those crinkled edges. No more wasting time fumbling with a rubber band that never works anyway or wasting money throwing out torn paper. Simply cut the tube long ways and cuff it around the roll of wrapping paper.

Use #5: Corral Cords
If you enjoy spending ten or fifteen minutes undoing the knots in an extension cord or holiday lights then this tip isn’t for you. That’s because TP tubes also keep cords and lights from tangling. Just weave the cord back and forth then slip it in the tube. Whenever I remember I write the length of the cord directly on the tube so I can easily differentiate between the 12' and the 15' extension cord.

And now for the fine print: As useful as cardboard tubes from the center of toilet paper rolls are, this is not a license to hoard each and every tube you get! I promise you’ll finish more rolls and get more tubes.

Until next time, have a clutter-free week!

Jamie Novak, The World’s Most Relatable Organizer, is author of "Stop Throwing Money Away: Turn Clutter to Cash, Trash to Treasure--And Save the Planet While You're at It." Please visit her website at JamieNovak.com.

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Comments (16)

  • What do you think of these clever re-uses? Vote for your favorite idea when you post your comment now...

  • And to think I've been throwing them out all these years! Thanks for these great tips, Jamie. I'm going to put them to use as soon as I can collect a few rolls.

  • I love the idea of using toilet paper rolls to store pantyhose, especially knee-highs. I never seem to be able to find a matching pair! Now it will be easy. Thanks. Great idea.

  • These are great ideas that I hadn't thought of! As a chiropractor I go through lots of rolls like this from the headrest paper and used to save them for teachers to use in crafts. They are sturdy and I will repurpose them myself now!
    Oh - we also use them for our little hamsters to hang out in.

  • I've always felt quite virtuous as I thrown these into the blue box. However I agree that re-using is one step up from recycling in this case. Thanks for the tip! And by the way, I loved your latest book! Reading it was just like sitting with you and having a conversation!

  • I love the idea of using TP tubes for extension chords. The back of my desk is filled with chords, some are in use and others are not... I intend to save a bunch of TP tubes and get organized!

  • Go for it Ellen! I love organizing cords. Let me know how it works...Jamie

    Oh and don't forget to write on the tubes so you know which is which :)

  • As you can imagine, I don't have too much use for hair accessories or pantyhose, so I vote for corralling cords. In fact, I'd be even more specific and note strings of Christmas tree lights. It seems the lights spend their summer in the attic tying themselves in knots after we carefully put them away.

  • Hey Bernie! I'm so with you on the lights tangling themselves!

    So I have to ask, if you have those self-tangling lights do you also have those self-multiplying piles? You know the kind, you put one thing down and it multiplies into a huge pile of stuff?

  • Anyone who has guinea pigs or other small "chewing animals" can use toilet paper or paper towel rolls. We have 2 guinea pigs who are chewing machines, and I have friends and family handing over their tubes for our pets to chew on.

  • I save my empty tp rolls and when there is a party I fill them with wrapped hard candy and little trinkets, gift certificates or even spare change. Whatever you have or want to give away. Then I wrap them with colorful tissue paper or wrapping paper and tie both ends with curling ribbon. They make lovely surprizes or thank you favors for the guests. Both kids and adults love to receive them. It is all in the surprize. Enjoy!

  • Sharon thanks for the reminder. I had a guinea pig growing up, his name was Chex. I'd forgotten about that but you are right, he loved chewing on them.

  • Madeleine thanks for posting this idea- I love it! We have a family party coming up and I'm thinking of how I can fill these...thanks!

  • An expansion of the cords idea: I use one tube on the cord of my flat iron, and one on the iron itself to keep it closed in the drawer [granted, it's a narrow-shaped model].

    I use tubes to organize the excess lengths of the myriad cords under my computer desk so they're not knotting up with each other; each tube labeled, of course.

    Also good for storing ODD BITS OF ROPE like the electric cords. Collapse the tube and wind long lengths of string and cord around the outside. I WIND HOOK & LOOP GARDEN TIES AROUND THE OUTSIDE of the tube when I harvest the various lengths from plants during the fall clean-up so I can re-use them in the spring by just peeling them off.

  • Thanks for the ideas Jane! I know I'll try them. Keep those good ideas coming...

  • [...] Several good ideas from Whole Living Daily [...]

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