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15 Ways to Use Old Newspapers in the Home and Garden

The secret to saving money isn’t just hunting down sales and being frugal. One of the best ways to cut down on your spending is putting everything to good use and repurpose as many items as you can multiple times. Take the newspaper, for example. After reading your favorite periodical, what do you do with it? Toss it straight into the recycling bin?
We say save up a stack or two of the day’s edition, as there are countless ways you can reuse newspapers in your home and garden. Since you can basically replace paper towels with newspapers, the possibilities are pretty much endless, but here are 15 clever ideas to get you started.

1. Get rid of odors

Newspapers Uses newspaper

Paper has absorbent properties which all of us could put to good use while cleaning. Here is one such case. When a jar, plastic container, or kitchen cabinet retains the smell of things you used to store in them, you can banish the lingering odor with a few sheets of newsprint. Simply ball up a few sheets of newspaper, cover the container with a lid or seal the area that doesn’t smell right, and leave it for a couple of days.

The smell will be gone because both paper and ink have absorbent qualities. The same trick works well with smelly shoes, garbage cans, old thermoses, and even cabinets that smell stale or moldy.

2. Clean windows and mirrors

Don’t have any microfiber towels or cleaning cloths on hand? Instead of using paper towels to clean glass, metal, and mirror surfaces, grab a few sheets of newspaper. Unlike paper towels, the sports section will not leave any lint on the surface and works like magic at erasing all streaks too. Don’t worry, the ink will not transfer.

The trick is to only use one crumpled-up sheet of paper at a time and replace it with a new one the moment it gets damp. Simply spray the surface with the cleaner of your choice, then polish it clean and shiny with a dry piece of newspaper, and you’re done!

3. Make seedling pots

Newspapers Uses seedling pots

You can never buy enough seedling trays or single-use pots when you’re propagating plants from seeds or multiplying them through cuttings. Luckily, you can easily make your own newspaper pots by simply wrapping the paper around a jar or any other container of your choice, and shaping the paper into a cup. Newspapers make an excellent temporary container for tiny plants until they’re ready to into their permanent spot in your indoor or outdoor garden.

The video tutorial below shows you another way to fold seedling pots out of newspaper:

4. Pick up broken glass

Broken glass is notoriously difficult to clean up. The little shards of glass can be virtually undetectable and impossible to pick up with the broom or vacuum. But if you have some newsprint on hand, you can easily pick up even these little shards and be able to walk barefoot in your home again.

To do so, fold a sheet of newspaper into a square several times; it should be several layers thick. Then, dampen the paper a bit, and blot the area with the broken glass shards, and they'll lift instantly. Once all the stubborn tiny pieces of glass are gone, carefully toss the paper in the trash.

5. Make an insect trap

Newspapers Uses pile of papers

Certain garden pests, such as earwigs, pillbugs, and slugs love to shelter under a wet newspaper overnight. We’re not sure ourselves if it’s the breaking news of the day or the damp environment that attracts these nocturnal pests, but you can use your favorite periodical to dispose of these annoying pests for good. Simply dampen a roll of newspaper and leave it on the floor near the bug-infested area at night. In the morning, you’ll notice bugs congregating in the newspaper roll. Carefully discard the paper, preferably into the outdoor trash can.

Related Article: 6 Ways You Didn't Know You Could Use Paper Towels

6. Protect shelves with newspaper liners

No need to buy special shelf liners for your pantry, garage shelves, and kitchen cabinets. You can protect the shelves from stains and grime with yesterday’s news. Of course, you can use more aesthetically appealing liners under kitchenware, but your cleaning supplies, spice collection, and the bins where you keep potatoes or other vegetables that are prone to rot will do just fine with newspapers underneath. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about washing these “liners” - simply discard and replace them with new ones whenever you want. After all, it’s free!

7. Wrap up fragile items

Newspapers Uses wrapping in paper

Are you packing up holiday decorations? Or maybe, you want to make sure that your fancy glassware is safe in storage? Whether you need to pack up anything fragile, use newspaper as cushioning. Craft paper or any other old paper you have will do the trick too. You can also try shredding or cutting the paper into strips and use it as a substitute for packing peanuts or bubble wrap. Simply crumpling up some newspaper and filling any loose gaps in a box with it works as well.

8. Keep the cat’s litterbox clean

If you share your lovely home with a feline (although we all know it’s actually the other way around), cleaning the litter box is part of your daily routine. Just a few sheets of yesterday’s news can make this arduous task much easier. Lay down a couple of sheets under the kitty litter, and the actual litterbox will stay cleaner for longer. You also make use of newspaper instead of a plastic bag for dirty kitty litter in a pinch - it’s more eco-friendly too!

9. Add newspaper to your compost bin

Newspapers Uses compost

We’re about to prove to you that composting is real science. If you notice that your compost smells strongly of ammonia, dropping a few periodicals into the mix can help neutralize the unpleasant smell. The ammonia smell occurs due to an excess of nitrogen that comes from kitchen and garden scraps. Newspaper (or any kind of paper, really) is rich in carbon, and it will offset the nitrogen-rich mix, thereby getting rid of the odor. Just make sure to mix and layer everything well.

10. An easy barbecue cleaner

Cleaning the grill after a barbecue is a separate kind of “fun.” If you prefer to enjoy your afternoon or evening instead of scrubbing the grill for hours, try this trick. First and foremost, let the barbecue cool down a little. Then soak a few periodicals in water and spray the sheets over a slightly warm grill. Then close the lid of the grill and let it soak up the grime for an hour. As the last step, discard all the paper and wipe down the grill - easy peasy!

11. Keep a stack of papers in your car for wheel traction

Newspapers Uses stack of papers

The cold months come with a lot of surprises, and we’re not talking about Christmas presents. If you’re not careful, your car can easily get stuck in the mud, slush, or ice patch. For cases like these, we recommend keeping a stack of newspaper in the trunk, and placing a few papers under each rear wheel when your can needs a little extra wheel traction. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting the car back on the road.

Related Article: 11 Surprising Uses for Wax Paper

12. Wrap plant bulbs in newspapers during the winter

If you want to save flower bulbs over winter, you don’t have to buy peat moss or straw for storage. Your dahlias or any other bulbous plants will survive the frots just fine wrapped generously in some newspaper. The best time to dig up bulbs is when the foliage of the plant has died back considerably. Usually, this is about 6 weeks after they stop flowering.

13. Make fruit and vegetables ripe faster

Newspapers Uses banana on newspapers
Waiting for an avocado or banana to ripen can take an annoyingly long time, even you’re blessed with the patience of a Buddhist monk. This gets especially problematic in the fall and winter when the indoor temperature is considerably lower.
If that’s ever an issue for you, wrap up that avocado or tomato in the sweet embrace of the news digest and store it in a dry dark place. The paper will trap the natural gases produced in the ripening process, and exposing the fruit to more of them will speed up the ripening.

14. Speed up the drying process of waterlogged shoes

Newspapers Uses shoes and newspapers

It doesn’t matter if you got caught in the rain and got your favorite tennis shoes wet, or you were just a bit too thorough in cleaning your shoes, newspaper is your best friend when it comes to soaking up water from shoes. Ball up a few sheets of newspaper, pull out the insoles of the shoes, if possible, and fill your shoes with the paper.

Make sure to fill the heels completely, as those are usually the hardest to dry. Let the shoes in a dry and well-ventilated area, replacing any wet balls of newspaper with a freshly crumpled-up dry sheet. This way, your shoes will dry out much faster and have a lower chance of warping as a result of water damage.

15. Help shoes and bags keep their shape

When it’s time to retire your shoes and purses for the season, it’s crucial to make sure that no mold will get to it while it’s in storage. Some handbags and shoes can also warp or become misshapen in storage. To remedy both of these concerns, fill up the empty bags and shoes with loosely crumpled newspaper and put them in their respective boxes. This will help your favorite accessories and shoes maintain their shape, and it will remove any excess moisture and unpleasant odors too!

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