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25 Unexpected, Brilliant Uses For Bubble Wrap

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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travel
LaGuardia Airport Is Serving Up Personalized Short Stories to Passengers
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In between purchasing a neck pillow and a bag full of snacks, guests flying out of the Marine Air Terminal at New York City's LaGuardia Airport can now order up an impromptu short story. As Hyperallergic reports, Landing Pages is an art project that connects writers to travelers looking for short fiction written in the time it takes to reach their destination.

The kiosk was set up as part of the ArtPort Residency, a new collaboration between the Queens Council on the Arts and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which sponsors different art projects at the Marine Air Terminal for a few months at a time.

Artists Lexie Smith and Gideon Jacobs set up the inaugural project at the terminal earlier this month. To request a story from Landing Pages, travelers can visit the kiosk and leave their flight number and contact information. While the passenger is in the air, Smith and Jacobs churn out a custom story, in the form of poetry, illustration, or prose, from their airport terminal workspace and send it out in time for it to reach the reader's phone before he or she lands.

The word count depends on the duration of the flight, and the subject matter often touches upon themes of travel and adventure. As Smith and Jacobs continue their residency through June 30, the pieces they complete will be made available at Landingpages.nyc and in hard copy form at the airport kiosk.

Landing Pages isn't the first airport service to offer à la carte short stories. In 2011, a French startup debuted its short story-dispensing vending machine at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport. Those stories come in three categories—one-minute, three-minute, and five-minute reads—and are printed out immediately so travelers can read them during their flight.

[h/t Hyperallergic]

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats 'Blep'?
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As pet owners are well aware, cats are inscrutable creatures. They hiss at bare walls. They invite petting and then answer with scratching ingratitude. Their eyes are wandering globes of murky motivations.

Sometimes, you may catch your cat staring off into the abyss with his or her tongue lolling out of their mouth. This cartoonish expression, which is atypical of a cat’s normally regal air, has been identified as a “blep” by internet cat photo connoisseurs. An example:

Cunning as they are, cats probably don’t have the self-awareness to realize how charming this is. So why do cats really blep?

In a piece for Inverse, cat consultant Amy Shojai expressed the belief that a blep could be associated with the Flehmen response, which describes the act of a cat “smelling” their environment with their tongue. As a cat pants with his or her mouth open, pheromones are collected and passed along to the vomeronasal organ on the roof of their mouth. This typically happens when cats want to learn more about other cats or intriguing scents, like your dirty socks.

While the Flehmen response might precede a blep, it is not precisely a blep. That involves the cat’s mouth being closed while the tongue hangs out listlessly.

Ingrid Johnson, a certified cat behavior consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the owner of Fundamentally Feline, tells Mental Floss that cat bleps may have several other plausible explanations. “It’s likely they don’t feel it or even realize they’re doing it,” she says. “One reason for that might be that they’re on medication that causes relaxation. Something for anxiety or stress or a muscle relaxer would do it.”

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If the cat isn’t sedated and unfurling their tongue because they’re high, then it’s possible that an anatomic cause is behind a blep: Johnson says she’s seen several cats display their tongues after having teeth extracted for health reasons. “Canine teeth help keep the tongue in place, so this would be a more common behavior for cats missing teeth, particularly on the bottom.”

A blep might even be breed-specific. Persians, which have been bred to have flat faces, might dangle their tongues because they lack the real estate to store it. “I see it a lot with Persians because there’s just no room to tuck it back in,” Johnson says. A cat may also simply have a Gene Simmons-sized tongue that gets caught on their incisors during a grooming session, leading to repeated bleps.

Whatever the origin, bleps are generally no cause for concern unless they’re doing it on a regular basis. That could be sign of an oral problem with their gums or teeth, prompting an evaluation by a veterinarian. Otherwise, a blep can either be admired—or retracted with a gentle prod of the tongue (provided your cat puts up with that kind of nonsense). “They might put up with touching their tongue, or they may bite or swipe at you,” Johnson says. “It depends on the temperament of the cat.” Considering the possible wrath involved, it may be best to let them blep in peace.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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