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
iStock

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
iStock

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
iStock

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
iStock

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
iStock

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
iStock

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
iStock

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
iStock

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
iStock

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.

11 Boredom-Busting Classes and Activities You Can Do at Home

A good workout is just one way to pass the time while socially isolating.
A good workout is just one way to pass the time while socially isolating.
jacoblund/iStock via Getty Images

Staying home as much as possible is the best way to stop the spread of novel coronavirus, according to health experts. If you’ve already taken this step to protect yourself and your community, you may be faced with a different problem: the crushing boredom that comes with spending all your time indoors. Fortunately, there have never been more ways to keep busy on the internet. In an effort to lift spirits and stimulate minds in isolation, businesses, artists, and institutions have found new ways to keep people connected from afar. From virtual field trips to free workout classes, here are the best boredom-busting activities to check out.

1. Take a free workout class with the YMCA.

Your local gym may be closed, but that doesn’t mean you have to postpone your workout routine for the foreseeable future. The YMCA has launched a new series of free, online fitness classes for people stuck at home. The on-demand videos include barre, bootcamp, yoga, tai chi, and weightlifting. After breaking a sweat for 30 minutes, you may even forget you’re not at the gym.

2. Meditate with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s jellyfish.

Taking care of your mental health is as important as maintaining your physical health while social distancing. If you want to start your day in a good head space, tune into the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s morning “MeditOceans” on YouTube. After closing to the public, the California aquarium started uploading 10- to 15-minute guided meditations set to soothing footage of marine life or scenes from nature. We recommend starting with their video of undulating jellyfish.

3. Take a virtual field trip to a National Park.

Combat claustrophobia by taking a virtual tour of some of the country’s most majestic national parks. The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks project from Google Arts & Culture offers virtual, 360-degree tours of five National Park System sites, all guided by real park rangers. The diverse destinations include the Kenai Fjords in Alaska; Hawai’i Volcanoes in Hawai’i; Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico; Bryce Canyon in Utah; and Dry Tortugas in Florida. You can view all the properties from your phone or computer, and if you have a virtual reality headset, you can transport yourself out of your home with an immersive experience.

4. Take an Improv Class from Second City.

Improv comedy is difficult to do alone. With Second City, you can take a class with other students and master instructors from the comfort of your home. Second City has helped launch the careers of such comedy heavyweights as Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey. Even though its physical theaters in Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles are closed during the coronavirus crisis, comedy classes will continue online. In addition to improv, students can take virtual lessons in comedic songwriting, pitching TV shows, stand-up, sketch comedy, and more from Second City’s pro teachers. If you’re not willing to pay $195 to $295 for a four- to eight-week online course, you can take a one-time drop-in improv or stand-up class for $25.

5. Learn about Women’s History with The New-York Historical Society.

Whether you’re teaching someone home from school or looking to educate yourself in your spare time, there are plenty of remote resources online. The New-York Historical Society is sharing its expertise in the form of a free digital curriculum on women’s history in America. The online course materials cover the period from 1920 to 1948, starting with the flappers of the Jazz Age and ending with women in the postwar era. You can view the entire unit, which includes archival photos and documents, on the NYHS’s website.

6. Join the D.C. Library’s quarantine book club.

If you already plan on reading a ton of books in isolation, you can turn the solitary activity into a social one by joining a quarantine book club. The D.C. Public Library recently announced its book club D.C. Reads is going digital, and now anyone can participate from home. This month’s pick is With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. If you have a Washington, D.C. library card, you can use it to download the e-book for free. Book club discussions will take place on March 28 and April 4 at 2 p.m. through the library’s Twitter account.

7. Draw with Wendy Macnaughton.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by wendy macnaughton (@wendymac) on

Whether you consider yourself a novice or a Picasso, you can benefit from making art with others. Every weekday at 10 a.m. PST, Wendy Macnaughton (illustrator of the cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat) hosts drawing classes in her Instagram Stories. All participants need is paper and a pencil. Artists of all ages can draw along, though Macnaughton states classes are just long enough to keep kids occupied for parents “to get a little work done or take a shower and take a couple deep breathes.”

8. Tour the American Museum of Natural History.

As long as you have an internet connection, the impressive halls of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City are just a few clicks away. Every day at 2 p.m. EST, the institution is sharing tours of its exhibits and collections as Facebook Lives. Some special sneak peeks published to the AMNH Facebook page so far include a tour of the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians and a look at its trilobite collection led by curator and trilobite paleontologist Melanie Hopkins.

9. Take a cooking class with Milk Street.

Not sure what to do with your quarantine food supply? Taking a cooking class is a great place to start. Through the end of April, Milk Street (from America’s Test Kitchen co-founder Christopher Kimball) is making its online culinary lessons free to everyone. Topics include baking, cooking without a recipe, and using certain kitchen tools. After a few weeks of classes, you’ll know your way around everything from a chef’s knife to an Instant Pot.

10. Get Creative with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

While it’s closed, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is using its social media to keep followers engaged with their creative sides. Every Tuesday on Instagram, the institution will post a new challenge to its Stories. This week’s challenge is finding something to read and posting about it to Instagram to help the museum compile the ultimate reading list. Past challenges have included setting aside 30 minutes to make art and sharing photos of pets wearing wigs.

11. Learn guitar with Fender.

At the risk of driving your quarantine-mates crazy, you can use isolation as an opportunity to get in touch with your inner rockstar. Fender is giving the first 100,000 users who create a new account on Fender Play three months of free online lessons. The instructional videos led by talented musicians are high-quality, and you can access them from your phone, tablet, or computer. And if you don't have a guitar at home, the program also includes lessons for bass guitars and ukuleles.

9 Classic Board Games You Can Play Online

This man may have just sunk his opponent's biggest ship on the Battleship app.

This man may have just sunk his opponent's biggest ship on the Battleship app.

Ryan Herron/iStock via Getty Images

An energetic round of Monopoly, Catan, or another classic board game is a great way to bond with friends and family. Crowding around a coffee table, on the other hand, isn’t a great way to practice social distancing. Luckily, many of the best board games have been adapted for smartphones and other devices, so you can still indulge in all the thrills of a family game night during isolation—read on to find out about nine of our favorites.

1. Catan Universe

Catan (The Settlers of was dropped in 2015) has been giving serious board gamers a chance to show off their strategy skills for 25 years, and the Catan Universe app has the same appeal. You and two friends can play the basic version of the board game for free, but there are also several other versions—including the “Cities & Knights” and “Seafarers” expansions and a stand-alone challenge called “Rise of the Inkas”—that you can purchase within the app if you’re looking for new adventures.

Download: iOS, Android

2. Boggle With Friends

With the virtual version of Boggle, you can hone your word search skills in single-player mode until you’re sure you’ll come out on top against your friends and family. Not only will you not have to rearrange all those cubes each round, you won’t have to keep score, either—the program does it all for you.

Download: iOS, Android

3. Clue

If anybody knows how it feels to be sequestered in a house with increasingly tense and anxious housemates, it’s Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard, and the rest of Clue’s classic cast of characters. Wander the ominous rooms of Tudor Mansion to find the truth about Mr. Boddy’s untimely demise with the beautifully animated $4 Clue app. 

Download: iOS, Android

4. Battleship

For just $4 or $5, depending on your device, you can play the classic version of Battleship and a “Commander’s Mode,” where each commander comes with special abilities that shake up the tactical options for sinking your opponent’s ships. The app also features animated effects and nautical backdrops that really help bring your heroic maritime fantasies to life.

Download: iOS, Android

5. Monopoly

Embrace your entrepreneurial spirit and become the business mogul you were always meant to be—with absolutely no real-world stress or consequences—by investing in the $4 Monopoly app. It’s almost exactly the same as the game you know and (maybe) love, but there are a few additional features that might make your virtual game night even better, including customizable house rules and a “quick mode,” which promises a round that lasts no longer than an hour.

Download: iOS, Android

6. Scattergories

If you can text faster than you can write, you might actually prefer this free online edition of Scattergories to the original one. Fill the virtual room with friends or family and earn points for typing a city that starts with G, an element that starts with C, or any number of other category-letter match-ups. The app has autocorrect capabilities, so you don’t have to worry about losing the round over a spelling error, and you can also dispute the app if it rejects a response that your group considers acceptable.

Download: iOS, Android

7. Risk: Global Domination

The free Risk: Global Domination app offers the thrill of the original game without the necessity of sitting huddled around a tiny world map for hours (or days) at a time. Recommended for anyone whose favorite film scenes are those where generals in tight pants and three-cornered hats are plotting out ambushes with wooden figurines on a giant table.

Download: iOS, Android

8. Scrabble GO

Few things are as uniquely satisfying as landing a triple word score with quiz, quartzy, or another high-scoring Scrabble word—even if it’s no longer than two letters. The free Scrabble GO app gives you the chance to get that feeling from the comfort of your own secluded couch, no calculator necessary.

Download: iOS, Android

9. The Game of Life

It’s never too late in Life to earn an advanced degree or become a brain surgeon, and it’ll only cost you $3. The layout of the board is pretty similar to the one in the real-life game, and the app even includes animated versions of those beloved sphere-topped blue and pink player pieces.

Download: iOS, Android

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER