9 More Ways You Should Be Using Paper Towels Around the House

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Paper towels are a mess-cleaning staple in most homes. And that’s fine–they do well enough holding their own as the undisputed champion of the quick clean-up; but did you know they can do so much more? From actually preventing messes to chilling drinks quicker, here are several other things you can (and should) do with paper towels when you’re not wiping up a spill.

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If you’re struggling to get that last bit of dirt or broken glass into your dustpan, stop. The easiest way to collect dirty bits that are playing hard-to-get is by dampening a paper towel, placing it on the floor, and sweeping the mess over it with your broom. The moisture grabs onto the debris, making it easy for you to scoop up the towel and chuck it all in the trash.

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Dampen a paper towel and place it over your leftovers when reheating them in the microwave to prevent not only major messes, but also add a little moisture to your day-old food. I used to do this with dry paper towels and found it totally ineffective (they just blow around), but switching to damp ones changed the game–and saved my poor microwave from its being an endless splash zone.

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Want to chill a canned beverage quickly? Wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in the freezer, where the paper towel will help it get nice and cold in about 10 minutes.

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If remembering to water your indoor plants is a challenge for you, call in a paper towel to do the work. Set a glass of water a few inches from the plant, roll a paper towel tightly into a long straw shape, and set one end in the water and the other across the soil. Now, go back to forgetting about it for a while.

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Forgot to check your grocery list and ended up running out of coffee filters? No worries, as long as you have a paper towel. Lay it in the coffee machine as you would a regular filter and you’ll be brewing in no time. Note, though, that this works better with higher-quality towels, so if you’ve been buying the cheap stuff, be warned.

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We all buy fresh fruits and veggies with the best of intentions, only to throw them out once they’ve gone bad. You can extend the amount of time they stay fresh, though, with paper towels–maybe even long enough to actually eat them. Line your produce drawer with paper towels to absorb moisture and you can get a few extra days out of your goods.

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Your sewing machine has grease and oil inside of it, which helps it function, but which can also transfer to new projects if the machine has been sitting for a while. Before starting a new project, throw a few stitches into a paper towel to catch any grease that would otherwise have transferred to your fabric. (Bonus: You can do the same thing with a can opener! Just pretend the paper towel is a can lid, clamp it down, and degrease.)

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Think of all the things you use in your kitchen that slide around at the worst moments, from cutting boards to big bowls. Slip a paper towel under them for some much-needed traction to will keep you safer and your counter cleaner.

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Whether you’re moving or just need to conserve space in your cupboards, stacking your pots and pans or your ceramics is a risky move. They can scratch each other and end up worse for wear–but not if you layer some paper towels between them. This is also great for absorbing moisture and keeping your cookware rust-free.