25 Unexpected, Brilliant Uses For Bubble Wrap

iStock
iStock

Bubble Wrap is known for being a go-to shipping material, but it’s useful for more than just protecting packages. In honor of Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, celebrated on the last Monday of each January, consider these oddball but proven ways to reuse leftover wrap long after a package has arrived.

1. KEEP YOUR FRIDGE CLEAN (AND EFFICIENT).

eggs on bubble wrap
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Tired of tossing bruised fruit, or cleaning out bulky refrigerator drawers? Bubble Wrap can help. Cut pieces to the size of produce drawers, using them as liners to keep drawers clean. The puffy pieces will also protect fruit and vegetables from bruising, and can provide extra insulation to keep contents chilled. If the Bubble Wrap gets dirty, just peel it out and replace it with another layer—no drawer cleaning necessary.

2. MAINTAIN SHOE AND HANDBAG SHAPES.

woman with box, shoes, and bubble wrap
iStock

Purses and shoes often come with foam or paper padding that gets tossed out with the box. But Bubble Wrap can be rolled, stuffed, and molded into almost any form that helps these accessory investments maintain their superb shape. Larger pieces of wrap can be used to help knee-high or riding boots stand tall in the back of your closet, and wrapping bags both inside and out with Bubble Wrap can help them keep their form while protecting them from moisture and dust.

3. KEEP FROZEN FOODS FROSTY.

woman laughing and throwing bubble wrap
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Simple cloth grocery bags get an easy upgrade with Bubble Wrap, turning them into insulating bags that keep takeout hot or groceries cold. Simply cut the plastic and slip it inside.

4. UPGRADE YOUR TOILET TANK.

a sheet of bubble wrap
iStock

Toilet tanks can get pretty sweaty when house temperatures fluctuate, but Bubble Wrap can save the day. Cancel out condensation by adding Bubble Wrap to the inside of the emptied tank and gluing with a silicone sealant. Then, refill the tank for an insulated commode that is no longer mysteriously moist.

5. SAFEGUARD PLANTS FROM FROST.

plants in bubble wrap
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Anxious gardeners can protect plants from unexpected frosts and harsh weather with spare wrap. Cut and mold Bubble Wrap around taller plants, or blanket groundcover and small seedlings in the plastic to protect against snow, frost, or extreme winds. Bubble Wrap also can be used as a mini greenhouse to keep plants and soil warm until average temperatures increase.

6. MAKE CAMPING ADVENTURES MORE COMFORTABLE.

Bubble wrap on black background
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Make camping more comfortable with Bubble Wrap—just place a larger sheet under your sleeping bag for comfortable insulation that keeps you dry and slightly warmer.

7. PREVENT DISHWARE SCRATCHES.

Set of blue dishes with bubble wrap
iStock

Nesting pots, pans, and dishware can lead to scrapes and scratches that impact their lifespan and performance. Cut squares of Bubble Wrap to create lightweight pads that sit between each dish, and in less than five minutes, you’ll have a happier kitchen.

8. BANISH WINDOW DRAFTS.

Bubble wrap used for insulation in winter
iStock

Bubble Wrap makes a great stand-in for plastic window covering kits, and can help save on your home winterizing budget. Cut the air-pocket plastic to the size of the window and adhere with double-sided tape for a quick hack that saves on your heating bill.

9. PUT A STOP TO BLISTERS.

bubble wrap
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Using wooden or plastic hand tools, such as rakes and brooms, can lead to blisters. To take the pain out of yard work, wrap tool handles with Bubble Wrap and secure with tape or a rubber band for extra cushioning that makes cleaning a bit more comfy.

10. KEEP PIPES FROM FREEZING

bubble wrap
iStock

Bubble Wrap is good at protecting breakables and not-so-fragile piping from winter cold. Swath large, thicker sheets of the plastic around vulnerable pipes to protect from freezing weather that could lead to a burst.

11. UPGRADE YOUR WINDOW LINENS.

bubble wrap
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Bubble Wrap’s original purpose was interior decorating, and while that didn’t work out, don’t be discouraged if you like the aesthetic. Bubble Wrap curtains make for lightweight sheers that let in light while insulating windows from outside heat. Plus, the sheer plastic also can be used in place of a shower curtain.

12. HEAT YOUR GREENHOUSE

bubble wrap
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While Bubble Wrap is a great tool for keeping cold winds out, it can also help to keep warm temps in. Lining greenhouse walls with Bubble Wrap allows incoming light to be trapped and retained, creating a warmer greenhouse for seedlings without the need for expensive plastic construction materials or a supplemental heater.

13. ADD SOME CHAIR SUPPORT.

Chair covered in bubble wrap
iStock

Need some additional lumbar support for long drives or days at the office? Remove worn-thin padding from cushions and replace with multiple layers of Bubble Wrap for an easy (and cheap) fix that’ll have you sitting on air.

14. COUNT DOWN THE DAYS.

Hourglass
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If you’re one of those people who crosses out each passing day on a calendar, consider this use an upgrade. For a little more office fun, turn excess Bubble Wrap into a wall calendar that lets you pop each day gone by—and maybe relieve just a little workplace stress until those vacation days roll around.

15. PROTECT FURNITURE FROM DUST.

Woman relaxing on bubble-wrapped couch
iStock

Heading out on vacation, or perhaps preparing a retreat to your winter estate? You’ll want to cover furniture to protect it from dust, and you can do it with Bubble Wrap. Simply swap out sheets or large pieces of fabric for the bubbly plastic to wrap and protect upholstery from dust. The Bubble Wrap can be shaken out or hosed off whenever you return, you fancy pants you.

16. MAKE A TO-DO LIST.

A person cutting Bubble Wrap with scissors.
iStock

Checking a completed item off a to-do list and popping Bubble Wrap are two of life's most satisfying activities. What if you combined them? All you need is a picture frame, dry erase self-adhesive sheets, a hole punch, and, of course Bubble Wrap. You can find instructions here.

17. CONSTRUCT COMFY PET BEDS.

dog wrapped in bubble wrap
iStock

Bubble Wrap can help insulate pet bedding for both indoor and outdoor pets in cooler months, and provide extra comfort year-round. Placing layers of the air-filled plastic underneath bedding (where it’s not easily accessible to dogs and cats with chewing obsessions) can help retain heat while adding some extra padding that your pet pal will thank you for.

18. CREATE PERFECT CIRCLE STAMPS.

kids playing with bubble wrap
iStock

Upgrade home linens or painting projects by turning spare Bubble Wrap into a stamp. Wrapping plastic bubbles around a paper towel roll creates a painting rolling pin that’s easy for kids to use. For a more adult approach, apply bubbles facedown onto a thin surface of paint (best created with a brayer or paint roller) before using the stencil on your medium of choice.

19. CURL YOUR HAIR.

woman with curly hair
iStock

Speed up your morning routine with curled hair that’s ready for the day, all thanks to Bubble Wrap. To create these puffy rollers, cut and roll small pieces of Bubble Wrap into tubes, then wind hair around them. Pro tip: Begin setting hair after putting on pajamas since the air-filled plastic will be hard to pull a shirt over.

20. SCARE OFF GARDEN PESTS.

woman popping bubble wrap
iStock

If deer keep invading your garden, it’s time to roll out the wrap. Instead of using deer netting, which is often a hazard for insects and birds, lay Bubble Wrap at garden entry points (stapling it to plywood can prevent flyaway situations). When covered with grass, hay, or leaves, this camouflaged deterrent will spook deer that attempt to cross it.

21. DECORATE YOUR DESSERT.

chocolate pie
iStock

You don’t have to be an expert cake decorator if you have a roll of Bubble Wrap. Instead of filling messy piping bags (that are a pain to clean), use Bubble Wrap as a stencil to make decorative imprints on a cake or as a mold for chocolate decorations. You can do the same with pies, creating a honeycomb look that works well on chiffon-style or mousse pies.

22. ADD TO YOUR JEWELRY COLLECTION.

bubble wrap
iStock

Let Bubble Wrap make its way into your jewelry box with a pseudo-shell necklace made from melted plastic. Layers of plastic can be fused together with an iron, then cut into discs that are strung together. This DIY has a finished mother-of-pearl look without the cost, and no one will know it was made from leftovers that came with your mail.

23. CREATE GARDEN AND HABITAT STRUCTURES.

kid playing with lizard pet in bedroom
iStock

Whether you’re raising radishes or reptiles, Bubble Wrap can be used to create sculpted pieces that add extra oomph to your indoor or outdoor habitat. Since it’s easily moldable, Bubble Wrap can act as a mold for concrete, clay, and other materials that harden into yard art. Plus, the clean-up is easy—just peel the wrap away and toss.

24. SEND PERSONALIZED MAIL.

bubble wrap envelope
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Picking up padded envelopes at the post office comes with a price, especially for extra large or oddball sizes. Create your own padded mailers using cardstock and spare Bubble Wrap to help save money while adding your own flair to special packages.

25. SAVE ON DEFROSTING TIME.

ice on windshield
iStock

No one likes scraping a windshield on a cold winter morning. Luckily, Bubble Wrap is the ultimate defrosting tool. Each night, place a sheet of Bubble Wrap on your car’s windshield to collect overnight snow and ice. Then, simply pull or roll away each morning for an instantly clean windshield. This hack is an ode to Bubble Wrap’s ingenuity—saving both your valuable packages and time.

7 Top-Rated Portable Air Conditioners You Can Buy Right Now

Black + Decker/Amazon
Black + Decker/Amazon

The warmest months of the year are just around the corner (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), and things are about to get hot. To make indoor life feel a little more bearable, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the top-rated portable air conditioners you can buy online right now.

1. SereneLife 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner; $290

SereneLife air conditioner on Amazon.
SereneLife/Amazon

This device—currently the best-selling portable air conditioner on Amazon—is multifunctional, cooling the air while also working as a dehumidifier. Reviewers on Amazon praised this model for how easy it is to set up, but cautioned that it's not meant for large spaces. According to the manufacturer, it's designed to cool down rooms up to 225 square feet, and the most positive reviews came from people using it in their bedroom.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Black + Decker 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner and Heater; $417

Black + Decker portable air conditioner
Black+Decker/Amazon

Black + Decker estimates that this combination portable air conditioner and heater can accommodate rooms up to 350 square feet, and it even comes with a convenient timer so you never have to worry about forgetting to turn it off before you leave the house. The setup is easy—the attached exhaust hose fits into most standard windows, and everything you need for installation is included. This model sits around four stars on Amazon, and it was also picked by Wirecutter as one of the best values on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Mikikin Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $45

Desk air conditioner on Amazon
Mikikin/Amazon

This miniature portable conditioner, which is Amazon's top-selling new portable air conditioner release, is perfect to put on a desk or end table as you work or watch TV during those sweltering dog days. It's currently at a four-star rating on Amazon, and reviewers recommend filling the water tank with a combination of cool water and ice cubes for the best experience.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Juscool Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $56

Juscool portable air conditioner.
Juscool/Amazon

This tiny air conditioner fan, which touts a 4.6-star rating, is unique because it plugs in with a USB cable, so you can hook it up to a laptop or a wall outlet converter to try out any of its three fan speeds. This won't chill a living room, but it does fit on a nightstand or desk to help cool you down in stuffy rooms or makeshift home offices that weren't designed with summer in mind.

Buy it: Amazon

5. SHINCO 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $320

Shinco portable air conditioner
SHINCO/Amazon

This four-star-rated portable air conditioner is meant for rooms of up to 200 square feet, so think of it for a home office or bedroom. It has two fan speeds, and the included air filter can be rinsed out quickly underneath a faucet. There's also a remote control that lets you adjust the temperature from across the room. This is another one where you'll need a window nearby, but the installation kit and instructions are all included so you won't have to sweat too much over setting it up.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Honeywell MN Series Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier; $400

Honeywell air conditioner on Walmart.
Honeywell/Walmart

Like the other units on this list, Honeywell's portable air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier or a standard fan when you just want some air to circulate. You can cool a 350-square-foot room with this four-star model, and there are four wheels at the bottom that make moving it from place to place even easier. This one is available on Amazon, too, but Walmart has the lowest price right now.

Buy it: Walmart

7. LG 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $699

LG Portable Air Conditioner.
LG/Home Depot

This one won't come cheap, but it packs the acclaim to back it up. It topped Wirecutter's list of best portable air conditioners and currently has a 4.5-star rating on Home Depot's website, with many of the reviews praising how quiet it is while it's running. It's one of the only models you'll find compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and it can cool rooms up to 500 square feet. There's also the built-in timer, so you can program it to go on and off whenever you want.

Buy it: Home Depot

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Drop Everything! Netflix Just Dropped 15 Classic Episodes of Supermarket Sweep

Lifetime Television
Lifetime Television

In 1965, grocery shopping got a high-octane upgrade with the premiere of Supermarket Sweep on ABC. Now fans have a chance to relive the high stakes and questionable food safety of the game show. As Hypebeast reports, 15 episodes of Supermarket Sweep are available to stream on Netflix.

The show's appearance on Netflix follows news of a new reboot. Earlier in 2020, ABC, the show's original network, picked up a revamped version of Supermarket Sweep hosted and executive-produced by Saturday Night Live-alum Leslie Jones. A release date for the revival hasn't been announced.

The show has been rebooted several times, and the episodes currently streaming on Netflix date back to the 1990s. In every version of the show, contestants compete in a combination of trivia games and speed shopping challenges to take home a cash prize.

If you can't think of anything more entertaining than watching people in Dickies fight over expired produce, you can head to Netflix to start binge-watching all 15 episodes. For more behind-the-scenes secrets from the show's production, check out these facts about Supermarket Sweep.

[h/t Hypebeast]