Is there any limit to the versatility of duct tape? It has a permanent place in popular culture thanks to the number of memes and comedy sketches it has inspired, but its real value is in the inspiration it brings every day to ordinary people with a problem. Necessity may be the mother of invention, as the saying goes, but duct tape may well be the midwife. Here are a few less-common duct tape hacks that might surprise you.
1. Heavy-Duty Lint Roller
Humans have a deep love for pets, and pets have a deep love for plush furniture. Unfortunately furniture and clothes have a way of hanging onto pet hair, and that's a lot harder to love. Vacuuming the fur away is a real chore, except on the smallest of furniture, and the lint roller you use to get fur from your clothing is just not big enough to tackle a full-sized couch or love seat. As it happens, duct tape can make a seriously efficient lint roller. Wrap it around a paint roller brush with the sticky side facing outward, starting and ending with a full loop so the tape sticks to itself and stays on the roller. The jumbo roller will collect the fur from your furniture in a hurry, and it's a lot less effort than hauling out your vacuum.
2. Open a Stubbon Jar Lid
A stuck-on jar lid is certainly one of the most frustrating situations you may face in the kitchen. No jar opener? No problem. Simply attach some duct tape on top of and around the perimeter of the lid, leaving a "tail". Pull the excess piece and the hold of the tape's adhesive should allow your jar to open in a flash.
3. Prepare Your Windows for Extreme Weather
When the forecast calls for an unusually severe storm, duct tape can form an important part of your emergency preparations. One frequent cause of damage in storms is your windows breaking under the wind's battering, which leaves your home filled with both water and broken glass. Taping them from corner to corner with duct tape can help limit the damage. It won't protect them from breaking the way a sheet of plywood would, but it does make them more resilient and, more importantly, means that if they do break, they'll fall in large pieces instead of shattering.
4. Simple Dust Pan Hack
Sweeping up dust and dirt isn't always as easy as it should be, especially if the mess you're cleaning up is extra-fine. No dust pan makes perfect contact with the floor, and fine dust, dirt and sediment will slide underneath when you're trying to sweep it into the pan. When you lift the pan, there'll be a tell-tale line of dirt left behind to mark the spot. To clean up those awkward messes, tear a strip of duct tape that's the width of the dust pan. Tape the front edge of the pan to your floor — which will make a perfect seal — and easily sweep up those last few stubborn bits of dirt. Peel the tape from the floor, empty your dust pan, and you're done.
5. Make Neater Cuts and Holes
Serious DIY projects tend to involve a lot of cutting and drilling. Most of the time you'll get a nice, clean edge, but occasionally, you'll need to worry about cracking or splintering. That's especially a concern when you're working with brittle materials or those with a finished surface, from plastics and pre-finished wood to laminates. If you want to be certain of cutting or drilling those materials without damage, tape over the work area with duct tape. Your drill or saw will still cut through it handily, but the tape will protect the surface and immobilize it so you get clean cuts and holes with smooth edges.
6. It's a Shiny Grey Medical Kit
There won't always be a first-aid kit within reach when you need one, but duct tape is almost as good. A clean piece of fabric or gauze held in place with duct tape is an effective emergency bandage, and you can use thin strips of duct tape as butterfly bandages to hold a long cut together until you can get to the doctor. Duct tape and a stick can splint a broken limb or sprained joint, and duct tape can be used to improvise a functional sling for that same limb. It's good for minor stuff, too: A wart will eventually die if you keep it covered with a small patch of duct tape, and the tape's adhesive can pull fine splinters from your finger more effectively than tweezers.
7. Tape Down Cords and Wires for Safety
Most homes have a few trip hazards in them, from kids' toys to awkward steps, and those are pretty unavoidable. Others, though, like extension cords or the wires for a complicated home entertainment system, can be managed to make them less of a risk. When you're working on a project or setting up holiday decorations, use duct tape to gather the cords together and tape them to the floor where they'll be less in the way. If you're running wires to speakers or entertainment equipment, choose a colored duct tape that matches or complements your decor and use it to secure them along your baseboards or floor.
8. Use the Roll As a Cup Holder
Most cars come with ample cup holders, but they're in short supply in most of our other living spaces. Cleaning up spilled coffee — or tea, or wine, or green smoothie — is nobody's idea of a good time, so there's definitely a niche in the world for some sort of universal cupholder. Well, guess what...a roll of duct tape is exactly that. Whether you're settling in at your computer or out in the workshop, put down a roll of duct tape and set your cup or glass in the middle. It's high enough, and heavy enough, to stabilize your cup and help protect it from tipping or being knocked over accidentally.
9. Take It Camping
There's only so much you can bring along when you're camping, but duct tape should always be on your shortlist because of its versatility. Use it to patch a leak in your tent, waterproof your footwear or re-seal your food between snacks to keep it fresh. A twisted-up length of duct tape can become an emergency bootlace, a belt, or an improvised guy line for your tent. Break one of your tent poles? No problem, just duct tape it together (use a stick as a "splint" if you need to). It'll even work as an improvised clothesline, if you've gotten wet and need to hang some clothes to dry.
10. Repair Lawn and Deck Furniture
Deck and patio furniture often consists of a durable aluminum or plastic frame, with webbing stretched across it to make up the seat and back. That webbing is pretty sturdy as well, but it won't last nearly as long as the frame itself. Rather than discarding a perfectly good chair once the webbing gives out, replace it with duct tape. Start with a loop around one edge of the frame, then run to the back, and double back so the tape sticks to itself for strength. Repeat until the whole chair is covered. The tape comes in plenty of colors and patterns to make the chairs look appealing.