DIY Repurposing

14 Clever New Uses for Old Newspapers

Reading the morning newspaper is a relaxing ritual for many people, but unfortunately, this admirable habit results in the waste of a lot of paper. Rather than simply tossing your old newspapers in the garbage pail (a very environmentally unfriendly approach), or even putting them in the recycling, you can let your trash save you some cash by using your old papers as a substitute for store-bought cleaning, lining, and packaging products. Here are some of our top ideas for repurposing those daily broadsheets.
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Polish Glass Surfaces

Next time you’re cleaning windows, don’t reach for expensive paper towels! Newspapers excel at cleaning glass surfaces, including mirrors, glass-top tables, and oven doors. Simply spray the glass surface with a solution of vinegar and water, or your favorite over-the-counter cleaner, and rub briskly with crumpled-up newspapers to achieve a streak-free shine.

Related: The Window, Reinvented: 6 Features That Changed Everything

Deodorize Your Belongings

Old newspapers are great at naturally deodorizing tight spaces. Stuff newspapers in wet, smelly shoes or boots overnight to dry them out and refresh them. Line cat litter boxes with several layers of old newspaper to absorb odors and moisture. You can even place crumpled newspapers in suitcases or storage bins for a few weeks to remove stale smells.

Related: 10 Instant Cures for Any Kitchen Odor

Prevent Packing Mishaps

Recycled newspaper can be an effective substitute for bubble wrap and other pricey packing materials. To pack fragile items, wrap each piece individually, then place them all in a box surrounded by crumpled newspaper. Make sure to fill in any extra spaces between the bottom and sides of the box, taking care that all items are separated by the paper. You can use the same approach to wrap and store Christmas ornaments.

Related: 5 Things to Do with… Newspaper

Keep Shoes in Shape

Keep shoes, boots, hats, and handbags in pristine condition by stuffing them with newspapers. Your recycled reading material will help maintain the natural shape of your footwear and accessories, and keep them odor-free.

Related: 11 Different Ways to Use a Single Sock

Clean Grill Grates

Newspapers can keep your barbecue grill grates clean and ready for action. After grilling, wait for the appliance to cool down slightly. Then, while the grates are still fairly warm, soak newspapers in water, lay the sheets over the warm grates, close the lid, and let sit for about an hour. Remove the newspaper, wiping the grates clean of any residual debris. You can use the same procedure for cleaning your indoor oven racks as well.

Related: The Top 8 Ways to Hack Your Grill

Banish Weeds from Your Garden

Use old newspapers as a natural weed killer or DIY garden mulch! Cover your flower or vegetable garden beds with several layers of old newspapers, layering the paper right up to the base of the plants you want to protect. Thoroughly soak the newspaper with water and cover with a thin layer of compost or mulch. The paper will smother the weeds, and it can be tilled into the soil when the season is over. While you’re at it, add a few handfuls of wet shredded newspaper to your compost heap to give earthworms a tasty treat.

Related: 19 “Zero Dollar” Garden Hacks

Make Seedling Pots

To create DIY biodegradable seedling pots, form sheets of newspaper into three-inch-high cups and fill them with potting soil. Then, plant seeds in the center of the soil-filled cups. Once the seedlings are ready to move outside, place the newspaper pots directly into the ground, where they will eventually disintegrate.

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Shield Plants from Frost

Protect your sensitive plants from unexpected cold snaps in the spring and fall by covering them with a layer or two of newspaper. Make a small “tent” with the newspaper sheets and secure them to the plant stems or edges of plant pots with clothespins. 

Related: Liven Up Your Winter Porch with 8 Cold-Loving Plants

Keep Produce Fresh

With a few copies of the Sunday paper, you can ripen and preserve fruits and vegetables. Here are some ideas: Wrap green tomatoes in sheets of newspaper, layer them in a box, and put a lid on top to slowly ripen them. Or, encase apples and pears in newspaper and store in a dry location to keep them from rotting. For another smart reuse, place several sheets of newspaper in the crisper drawer of your fridge to absorb any mess from rotting produce and keep the drawer free of odors.

Related: How To: Grow Fresh Produce from Your Leftover Groceries

Create an Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap

This holiday season, repurpose old newspaper as an eco-friendly DIY gift wrap. Use colorful sections of the paper, such as the Sunday comics and advertising circulars, to make the packaging pop. Then, cut thin strips of newspaper to create decorative tassels or bows to place on top.

Related: 13 Better-Than-Gift-Wrap Ideas for Packaging Presents

Kindle Bonfire Flames

Used newspapers make wonderful fire starters for bonfires, campfires, or charcoal grills. To make your own, bunch sheets of newspaper into loose balls and place in the fire pit, then put a few pieces of wood or charcoal on top and light the flame. As an alternative, you can twist a few pages of newspaper into a spiral shape and insert into a discarded toilet-paper roll. 

Related: Weekend Projects: 5 Quick DIY Fire Starters

Protect Your Household Surfaces

Layers of old newspapers can create a budget-friendly deodorizing shelf liner for cabinets, pantries, dressers, or bathroom shelves. Similarly, you can place several layers of newspaper beneath the tablecloth on your kitchen or dining room table to protect the surface from spills or damage.

Related: 14 Ways to Pull Off a Double-Duty Dining Room

Keep Dirt at Bay

Keep your home and car dirt-free with just a few days’ worth of newspapers. As an alternative to car mats, place several layers of newspaper on the floor of your vehicle to absorb moisture and mud. You can also craft an impromptu shoe and boot mat to sit by your home’s doorway, so nobody will be tempted to track soiled shoes all over your floor.

Related: 10 Things You Never Thought to Keep in Your Car

Prevent Seasonal Drafts

Don’t shell out loads of cash for insulation this winter. Instead, recruit old newspapers for the task! Stuff folded sheets into the cracks along window and door frames to prevent drafts, or use them to fill any large air spaces around water pipes. You can also wrap the pipes themselves in several layers of newspaper and secure with wire twist ties, tie wraps, or duct tape.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Today’s Most Popular Insulation