New Uses for Old Things: How to Reuse Toilet Paper Rolls

As a busy, penny-wise mama, I’m on an ever-present mission to find new uses for things that may otherwise end up as trash. So when I was recently faced with a growing pile of paperless rolls left over from paper towels and toilet tissue, I polled my budget-conscious parent friends for tips on new ways to use these things.

Try these ideas if you’re looking to reuse leftover toilet paper rolls:

Get Organized

Toilet paper rolls are a wonderful way to keep electrical cords tangle-free. Fold the cord and slide it into the roll before plugging it in. Get bonus decor points by covering the roll with colorful tape.

And what about those tangled Christmas tree lights? Keep them in holiday-ready shape by wrapping them around a tube before storing for the year. Cardboard tubes can also be used to protect important documents or kids’ artwork: Roll the papers, slide into the tube (or tubes, if the artwork is long) and stash in a drawer or box.

Get Cozy 

Fill a cardboard tube with dried leaves and wrap in newspaper for an easy and accessible fire-starter. Stock a basket with these homemade starters during chilly months, and even the most hesitant of fire-makers will be ready to start a bonfire for some backyard summer fun.

Get Crafty

Cardboard tubes of all sizes are the ideal foundation for kid-friendly crafts. Paint the tube with stripes or dots and glue on feathers, or fur plus ears and a tail, and you’ve got a quick and cute handmade animal.

For the mini musician in your house, tape one end of a toilet paper tube with masking tape, fill with dried beans or rice, tape the other end closed, and you have a homemade maraca. Increase the fun factor by decorating it with bold paint and glittery glue.

Get Creative

Kids love pretend play: Try gluing two toilet paper rolls together horizontally and decorate with paint and stickers for a pair of homemade binoculars. Pretend you’re on safari in search of wild animals or a spy on a dangerous mission.

You can also turn empty tubes into fire-free candlesticks: Simply turn the rolls upright and outfit them with orange and yellow paper flames. Decorate them in festive colors (like orange and black for Halloween), or encourage your children to go exploring by ‘candlelight.’