25 Unexpected, Brilliant Uses For Bubble Wrap

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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
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
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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.

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
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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
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
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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.

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
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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.

kids playing with bubble wrap
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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.

woman with curly 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.

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
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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.

kid playing with lizard pet in bedroom
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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.

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.

8 Fun Bookmarks to Keep Your Place

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iStock

Why settle for a torn piece of paper or receipt when you can have something way more exciting? These bookmarks are for readers who want to add some extra whimsy to their reading routine.

1. Sprouts; $12.50

These ingenious silicone markers don’t work like normal bookmarks. Shaped like adorable sprouts, they fit inside your book and mark the exact line you’re at on the page. Because they’re made with a flexible material, you can close the book easily with the sprout inside and it will spring back to shape when you open the book again. The sprouts come in sets of six. For a little luck, check out the four-leaf clover iteration.

Find it: Amazon

2. Butterflies; $10


If you've ever wanted to have a real Disney princess moment, consider buying these bookmarks, which will make it look like butterflies have perched on your books. The set comes with 10 pieces in a variety of designs.

Find it: Amazon

3. Crocodile; $13

These clever placeholders create the illusion that a crocodile is lurking on top of your book. When you lift up this intimidating bookmark, it shows the reptile’s sharp teeth, warning others not to dare lose your place. (If mammals are more your style, there is also a hippo option.)

Find it: Amazon

4. Lamp; $13

Let this lamp-shaped bookmark illuminate where you left off. The lamp shape sits on top of the book while the yellow light-beam fits snuggly between the pages. It comes in three colors: white, red, and gray.

Find it: Amazon

5. Literary Feet; $24

Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz when the house fell on the Wicked Witch of the East and only her feet stuck out? You can recreate that iconic movie scene with a bookmark. Even better, the design isn’t restricted to just the witch: You can get all kinds of famous book character feet to stick out of your book. Just some of the literary legs available include Alice from Alice in Wonderland, a direwolf from A Song of Ice and Fire, and a magician from Harry Potter. There are also some non-book selections, like animals, ballerinas, and Yoda.

Find it: Amazon

6. Food; $30

Let some of your favorite food keep your place. The plush bookmarks feature a slice of pizza, ice cream, coffee, and an ice cream sandwich.

Find it: Amazon

7. Magnetic pals; $5

You’ll be even more motivated to read if you have a small buddy smiling at you from the side of your book. You can attach them to any place on the side of the page, so you know exactly where you are in the story.

Find it: Amazon

8. Pointers; $7

These bookmarks also mark the exact place in the book, but without the help of magnets. Instead, they come with stretchy loops that wrap around the entire book. A hand pointing can pinpoint the exact word, in case you’re the type that stops reading mid-sentence. They come in packs of three.

Find it: Amazon

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16 Soothing Facts About Muzak

Keith Brofsky/iStock via Getty Images
Keith Brofsky/iStock via Getty Images

Whether you know it as background music, elevator music, or, as Ted Nugent once called it, an “evil force causing people to collapse into uncontrollable fits of blandness,” Muzak has ruled speakers for the better part of a century. Press play on your favorite easy-listening album and scroll on for some unforgettable facts about the most forgettable genre of music.

1. Muzak is a brand name.

Much like Chapstick, Popsicle, and a certain type of vacuum-sealing plastic food container, Muzak is a registered trademark. It began as the name of the company that first produced the easy-listening instrumental tunes that played in factories, elevators, and department stores. As its popularity grew, people started to use Muzak as a generic term for all background music.

2. Muzak was invented by a U.S. army general.

Major General George Owen Squier
Library of Congress // Public Domain

During World War I, Major General George Owen Squier used electrical power lines to transmit phonograph music over long distances without interference. He patented this invention in 1922 and founded Wired Radio, Inc. to profit from the technology. The company first devised a subscription service that included three channels of music and news and marketed it to Cleveland residents for $1.50 per month. When Squier and his associates realized their product was a little too close to regular (free) radio, they started pitching it to hotel and restaurant owners, who were more willing to pay for a steady broadcast of background music without interruptions from radio hosts or advertisements.

3. The name is a portmanteau of music and Kodak.

In 1934, Squier changed the name of his business from Wired Radio to Muzak, combining the first syllable of music with the last syllable of Kodak, which had already proven to be an extremely catchy, successful name for a company.

4. Muzak has been releasing instrumental covers of pop songs since its inception.

The first-ever original Muzak recording was an instrumental medley of three songs performed by the Sam Lanin Orchestra: “Whispering,” by John and Malvin Shonberger, “Do You Ever Think of Me?” which was covered by Bing Crosby, and “Here in My Arms,” by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers from the 1925 Broadway musical Dearest Enemy.

5. Muzak was briefly owned by Warner Bros.

The sound of Muzak was wafting across the country by the end of the 1930s, which caught the ears of Warner Bros. The company bought Muzak in 1938, fostered it for about a year, and then sold it to three businessmen: Waddill Catchings, Allen Miller, and William Benton (Benton would later publish the Encyclopaedia Britannica and serve as a U.S. senator for Connecticut).

6. Muzak was designed to make factory workers more productive.

Muzak manufactured soundtracks, based on a theory called “stimulus progression,” that consisted of 15-minute segments of background music that gradually ascended in peppiness. The method was meant to tacitly encourage workers to increase their pace, especially during the productivity lulls that often occurred during the late morning and mid-afternoon.

7. Muzak helped calm anxious elevator passengers.

Since more advanced electric elevators diminished the need for elevator operators in the mid-20th century, passengers were often left alone with an unsettling silence that made them all too aware that they were hurtling upward or downward in a steel box. Soft, calming Muzak played through speakers offered the perfect distraction.

8. There’s a reason Muzak's tempo is slower in supermarkets.

Just like factory workers might move faster while listening to fast-paced tracks, you might slow down while shopping to slower-tempo Muzak—which is exactly what supermarket owners want you to do. The more time you spend in a store, the more likely you are to toss a few extra snacks in your cart. (It's unclear whether the slower music might inhibit the productivity of supermarket workers.)

9. More than one U.S. president endorsed Muzak.

Muzak was installed in the White House during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration, but he was arguably only the second biggest presidential fan of the genre. Lyndon B. Johnson actually owned Muzak franchises in Austin while serving as a U.S. Senator from Texas.

10. Andy Warhol was also a fan of Muzak.

Andy Warhol
Graham Wood/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Pop culture aficionado Andy Warhol supposedly said, “I like anything on Muzak—it’s so listenable. They should have it on MTV.”

11. Ted Nugent offered to buy Muzak for $10 million to “shelve it for good.”

In 1986, the Whackmaster put in a bid to purchase Muzak from parent company Westinghouse just to shut it down. According to the Ottawa Citizen, he called it an “evil force” that was “responsible for ruining some of the best minds of our generation.” Westinghouse rejected the bid.

12. Muzak didn’t formally introduce vocals until 1987.

As part of a rebranding campaign to modernize Muzak, the company started adding voice-accompanied tunes in 1987. Before that, Muzak broadcasts had only featured voices twice. The first was an announcement that Iran had freed American hostages in 1981, and the second was as part of a worldwide radio broadcast of “We Are the World” in 1985.

13. 7-Elevens blared Muzak in parking lots to chase off loiterers.

7-Eleven storefront at night
Mike841125, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1991, 7-Eleven parking lots in Southern California became well-trafficked watering holes for youth who evidently had no place else to go. To deter them from loitering with skateboards, beer, and lots of teen angst, the stores blared Muzak—and it worked. “It will keep us away,” one young loafer told the Los Angeles Times. “But they’re torturing themselves more than us because they have to sit inside and listen to it.”

14. Seattle is the capital of Muzak.

Though it's well known as the birthplace of grunge, Seattle also had a thriving elevator music scene. Muzak based its corporate headquarters there in the 1980s, and three other leading background (and foreground) music corporations opened in the city over the years: Yesco Foreground Music, Audio Environments Inc., and Environmental Music Service Inc.

15. Kurt Cobain wanted Muzak to cover Nirvana songs.

When an interviewer told the Seattle-based rock star that Muzak didn’t recreate Nirvana tracks because it found them too aggressive for its purposes, an amused Cobain said, “Oh, well, we have some pretty songs, too. God, that’s really a bummer. That upsets me.”

16. It’s no longer called Muzak.

In 2013, an Ontario-based sensory marketing company called Mood Media acquired Muzak. The company, which provides music, smells, signs, lights, and interactive displays to businesses to achieve a certain mood, consolidated all of its services under the Mood brand, effectively killing the Muzak name (at least officially).

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