My father always carries a couple rubber bands with him wherever he goes. You can find them in his car, wrapped around pages in his planner, or simply hanging around his wrist. Recently, I asked him why he always seems to have a rubber band at his disposal. He said, “They’re damn practical, that’s why!”
This got me to thinking… What are some interesting, practical applications for the ordinary rubber band? I got a few tips from my father, wandered around my house on a rubber band experimentation mission for an hour, and did a little research online.
Here’s the full bag of tricks:
Keep Food Fresh – Simply wrap a rubber band around a bag of chips, salad, or baking flour to seal in the freshness.
Act as a Reminder – Wrap a rubber band around a specific page in your planner (and also around the front cover to prevent bending) or around your wrist as a reminder to get something done.
Rubber Padding – Wrap a couple rubber bands around a TV remote or ash tray to prevent it from sliding and scratching the table’s surface.
Hold Various Objects Together – …like pencils or index cards. This one is obvious.
A Bookmark – Wrap a rubber band around the front cover and through the middle of the book to whatever page you finished on. Next time you pick up the book the first page that isn’t rubber-banded will be the page you left off on.
A Hair Tie – Perhaps you could make a ponytail.
A Paper or Poster Scroll – Roll it up and put a rubber band around it. It’s ready for storage.
A Safety Strap for Eye Glasses – Break a rubber band in half and tie each end to the part of the glasses frame that sits over your ears. You can secure the glasses to your face if you make the rubber band short enough.
Finger Exercises – Bunch all your fingers together and place them through the center of a rubber band. Spread your fingers out and let them contract. Or, wrap a rubber band from your index finger to your pinky and move your index finger away from the other fingers. Repeat this process for the other fingers.
A Handle Grip – Wrap several rubber bands around the end of a pole or stick to create a handy grip.
Secure a Lid onto a Container – If you don’t want the contents to spill, put a rubber band around it.
Quick Tagging – Are these batteries at the bottom of my bag charged or uncharged? Tag your batteries with rubber bands so you never have to guess. You can differentiate between various groups of objects by tagging each group with a certain color rubber band, or a specific number of visible rubber bands.
Stress-Relieving Rubber Band Ball – If made soft enough, a rubber band ball can make for a perfect stress relieving squeeze toy. It helps out when you’re in a fidgety mood.
Mark the Level of Liquid Remaining in a Solid Color Container – Take a paint can for instance… before you pound the top back on, wrap a rubber band around the outside of the can at the same level as the paint remaining in the can. Next time you need it you’ll know exactly how much you have left in a single glance.
Slingshot / Catapult – Every kid’s favorite thing to do with a rubber band, but if you think hard enough, I bet there are some practical uses for making one of these.
Simple Art – Take a pegboard and stretch different color rubber bands in various shapes until every peg has been used at least once. Fun, creative and simple.
Strap an Injured Finger – Use a rubber band to strap an injured finger to a firm stick or piece of cardboard until it can be properly casted.
Melt and Use as an Adhesive – It’s not glue, but a melted rubber band does make a darn good adhesive.
A Distraction – Pull the famous rubber band gun trick and shoot a rubber band across the room. Try to hit something that makes a sound, or just catch your victim’s attention. As soon as they look the other way, make your move.
Tie-Dye – The style may have died in the seventies, but who really cares… a DIY tie-dye project can be a blast. If you have kids, it’s a cheap, creative way to entertain.
Prevent the Mixing Spoon from Sliding into the Bowl – Wrap a rubber band around the upper part of the spoon’s handle just above the point at which the spoon touches the rim of the bowl. Now the spoon can’t slip and slide in.
Insulate Electrical Current – Rubber bands can act as insulators for low wattage electrical current. Wrap a rubber band around an exposed region of a wire (before the wire is live).
Design Fancy Easter Eggs – Wrap several rubber bands in different directions around the eggs before dunking them in the Easter egg dye. This will create interesting designs on the dyed eggs.
A Pencil Eraser – Fold a rubber band in half a few times and use it to erase pencil markings. It works surprisingly well.
Keep those Files IN the Manila Folder – Manila folders are a great tool for filing papers until you accidently drop a one. Since a manila folder is nothing more than a sleeve, the files will spill out everywhere. A rubber band can fix that problem in jiffy.
Kitty-proof or Puppy-proof Your Toilet Paper – Kitties and Puppies love to shred things. Toilet paper is one of their top 10 favorites. Wrap a rubber band around the roll of toilet paper to avoid the dangling temptation.
Grip that Jar Lid – Place a thick rubber band around the rim of a jar lid and use it to grip the lid while you twist it off.
Limit Soap Dispenser Output – Put a rubber band around the neck of pump-style soap dispensers to limit the amount of soap dispensed per pump.
A Car Visor Receipt Holder – Wrap a few rubber bands around your car’s driver-side sun visor. Conveniently slip all your miscellaneous receipts, parking stubs, etc. under the rubber bands until you have time to sort them out.
Keep Wires or Yarn Untangled – Wrap a rubber band around it before the mess gets out of control.
Toddler-proof the Cabinets – Stretch a few rubber bands tightly between the left and right cabinet knobs to lock them in place.
Rubber Band Motor – Create Kinetic energy with a rubber band. I’ll let PBS explain this one: The Rubber Band Motor
Draw a Straight Line – Stretch a rubber band out and trace that perfectly straight line.
Paint Brush Wiper – Stretch a rubber band around an open paint can from top to bottom so it crosses over the opening just above the paint. Wipe the excess paint off on the rubber band instead of getting the side of the can all messy.
Break-in a Baseball Glove – A brand new baseball glove is stiff. First, it must be broken-in to be an effective tool for catching balls. Bend the leather, beat on it with a rubber mallet, apply shaving cream all over the glove, put a ball in it and wrap a rubber band around the whole glove. Let it stand for awhile to mold the shape of the ball. Repeat every few days as necessary.
Keep a Sliced Apple Fresh – This one may seem bizarre, but I tried it and it works fairly well. Slice and apple into wedges. Then place all the wedges back together and wrap a clean rubber band around them so the apple looks whole again. It will keep the apple wedges from browning about 50% longer than just tossing the wedges in a standard sandwich bag.
Cure an Overbite – When stretched between opposite ends of the upper and lower jaw over a period of time, the force of a rubber band can correct a minor overbite. Orthodontists typically employ this method in conjunction with braces.
A Wallet Replacement – Is you wallet always bulging out of your pants pocket? Get rid of it. Instead, wrap your cash around your ID and credit card and then wrap a rubber band around the outside of the cash.
Revive an Old Broom – Are the broom’s bristles a bit worn? Tighten them up. Wrap a thick rubber bands halfway up the broom’s bristles to hold them in place.
Create Traction Between Two Flat Surfaces – Spread out several rubber bands between two flat surfaces to create traction between them.