10 Effortless Uses for Yesterday's News (and 1 Challenge)

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The printed newspaper industry may be on the decline, but even in the age of widespread digital news, newspapers can still play a vital role. Flipping through the Sunday paper may not be an essential weekend activity for you, but here are 10 things newspapers can be used for after their contents are old news.

1. Shoe freshener 

Get rid of bad smells around the house with crumpled up newspapers. You can stick them in smelly shoes, drawers, cabinets, refrigerators, or anywhere else where they can soak up moisture as well as the ensuing odor. 

2. Wrapping paper

Just like aluminum foil, newspapers can come in handy as a last-minute gift wrap. Might we suggest using the comics section?  

3. Disposable broom

When sweeping up cobwebs (or cat hair, for that matter), cleaning the broom becomes as much of a chore as the sweeping. Gross tendrils of dusty spider silk get stuck in the fibers of the broom. Instead, use a rolled-up newspaper with the ends frayed, so that you can toss it out with the cobwebs once you’re done. The same rationale goes for using a newspaper baton to kill house flies/terrifying spiders (yes, spiders are awesome and important, but we’ll be the first to admit they inspire irrational terror).

4. Cushioning material

Instead of using packing peanuts, you can pack with Peanuts. Crumple it up to keep the box’s contents from sliding around, without having to use precious bubble wrap. Warning: Just like it stains your fingers, newspaper print can come off on whatever you wrap with it, so don’t use it to protect your best white china. 

5. Fruit ripener 

Place a layer of newspaper over your unripe fruit to get it to that delicious stage just a bit faster. The paper traps ethylene, the gas that stimulates ripening. It’ll speed up the process for tomatoes, pears, avocados, and any other ethylene-producing food.   

6. Fire starter 

Roll up newspaper sheets into tight cylinders, and tie them with string or yarn (remember that you’ll light this on fire, so best to avoid plastic), or stick them inside a paper towel roll. To keep the newspaper burning longer, you can melt down some candle wax from tea lights and coat the cylinders in it. 

7. Hat plumper 

Don’t want to be that one guy wearing a fedora on the plane? Put your hat in your luggage where it belongs. Stuff it with newspaper first, and it won’t get crushed. The same advice goes for keeping your boots standing upright in your closet.

8. Broken glass cleanser

Clean up little pieces of broken glass using a piece of wet newspaper. Wrap the bigger pieces in one section of the paper to prevent them from ripping the trash bag. For smaller chunks of glass, wet the newspaper and use it like a paper towel—the shards will stick to it. 

9. Light bulb removal 

Newspaper is good for other broken-glass woes, too. If a bulb breaks in the socket, wrap your hand in a wad of newspaper so that you can twist it free without injuring yourself. (Make sure the power is off!) 

10. Weed killer

Line your garden beds with newspaper to keep weeds from growing. The paper prevents weeds from getting sunlight. Just lay the papers down and wet them to keep them from blowing away. Then cover them with leaves or compost

Bonus - Kids' Challenge: Chair

Here's a challenge from the PBS Kids show Zoom: Build a chair that can support a child's weight out of nothing but newspaper and tape. (Pro tip—tight rolls seem to be the best way to go.)

All images from iStock.