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14 Practical Ways to Upcycle Toilet Paper Rolls

Unless you have a bidet, you likely have a constant stream of toilet paper rolls coming through the home.

While you can certainly recycle them or tear them up to feed the compost, there are also a slew of practical uses for these free little cardboard tubes.

Here are 14 ways to get a little extra from the humble toilet paper roll:

1. Seed Starter Pots

Hang on to a few toilet paper rolls to make little biodegradable seed pots for starting seeds in spring.

Simply cut a few slits in the bottom and fold them up to create a container of sorts, fill with soil, and carefully place your seeds within.

Once the seedlings are ready to go outside, you can plant the cardboard tubes directly in the soil.

Rural Sprout author, Tracey, shows you how to make your own – as well as more upcycled seedling starter pot ideas.

2. Insect Hotel Filler

Building a bug hotel near the garden gives beneficial insects a place to overwinter and lay their eggs come spring.

Bees, ladybugs, lacewings, spiders, wasps, butterflies, moths, and more, are frequent guest of the bug hotel.

When the frame has been built, it needs to be filled with natural materials like sticks, pine cones, wood shavings, hollow reeds, lichen, and the like, to create “rooms” for different insect species.

One easy to source filler is toilet paper rolls, stacked with hollow ends facing out.

3. Bird Feeder

Smeared with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed, toilet paper tubes are transformed into a quick and easy bird feeder.

Hang them directly on the branch, like so. Or make a few holes in the top and bottom of the tube to hang with string or ribbon and then add sticks as a perch below, like this.

4. Fire Starter

Newspaper, dryer lint, and toilet paper tubes make for an excellent eco-friendly kindling to get fires blazing quickly.

To make, stuff toilet paper rolls loosely with dryer lint. Fill the roll halfway and add a few drips of melted wax (this will help slow the burning process and allow time for the wood to catch fire).

Finish stuffing the roll with lint and then roll the tube up in newspaper, tucking the paper ends into the tube.

When ready to use, place the fire starter at the base of the fire and add small twigs in a teepee formation over the roll. Light the fire starter and gradually feed the fire with larger and thicker pieces of wood until it’s roaring.

5. Fly Trap

When flies become a nuisance in the home, this quick trick will put an end to their bothersome buzzing in no time.

To make, wrap toilet paper tubes with double sided tape. Give it a spritz of apple cider vinegar as a lure, and hang it up with a string in your problem areas.

6. Pen Holder

Keep pens, pencils, and office supplies well organized and accessible by covering toilet paper rolls with pretty paper.

Stand them on end and tie together with string or paperclips.

Get the tutorial from Mommy Moment here.  

7. Electrical Cord Organizer

Prevent your collection of extension cords, USB cables, and chargers from becoming a tangled mess with some toilet paper rolls.

For storage in between uses, slip neatly tied cords into the tubes and place in a box.

To deal with too-long cords when in use, toilet paper tubes can also help keep cords from looking messy – just unwind as much cord as you need and leave the rest in the tube, tucked away.

Add a label to each tube to keep things even more organized.

Get the tutorial from Instructables here.

8. Yarn holder

Knitters and crocheters can wrap their last bits of yarn around the toilet paper tube to store with their stash, or avoid knots and tangles while they work.

Get the tutorial from Sew Licious here.

9. Pin Cushion

With some creative scissor cuts, a humdrum tube of toilet paper can be transformed into an adorable and useful pin cushion.

For this project, you will need a little bit of fabric and batting, a small flat pebble, and some paint.

Get the tutorial from Michele Made Me here.

10. Air Freshener

Fix offending odors in the basement or bathroom with this toilet paper tube air freshener.

Cut the tube in half and stuff with a few sheets of toilet paper or cotton balls. Add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil to the inside.

Cover with colored paper to dress it up a bit and replenish oils once they lose their aroma.

Get the tutorial from Twitchetts here.

11. Jewelry Tray

A brilliant upcycling idea for exhibiting and storing rings, earrings, pendants, and other jewelry, this DIY utilizes several toilet paper tubes nestled snugly in an empty tissue box.

Covered with felt, paper, or fabric, slip your adornments between the rolls for a spectacular display of your bling.

Get the tutorial from Blah to Tada here.

12. Eyeglass Case

To make a protective eyeglass case, all you need is a cardboard tube and some scrap fabric. You can use the rolls from toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper.

Since the fabric is glued to the cardboard, no sewing skills are needed!

Get the tutorial from Carolyn’s Homework here.

13. Phone Stand

Need a quick fix to keep your phone upright and stable? All you need is a toilet paper tube and push pins!

Finish by decorating with washi tape and you’ll be good to go for hands-free video chats.

Get the tutorial from Easy Peasy Creative here.

14. Coasters

Artsy and practical, these drink coasters are made by slicing up rolls of toilet paper and bending, twisting, and rolling them into a beautifully intricate floral pattern.

Glued together and finished with a coat of silver spray paint, the visual tutorial shows step by step how to make these amazing shapes come together.

Get the tutorial from Surprise DIY here.

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Lindsay Sheehan

I am a writer, lifelong plant lover, permaculture gardener, and unabashed nature nerd. I’m endlessly fascinated by the natural world and its curious inner workings – from the invisible microbes in soil that help our plants grow, to the hidden (and often misunderstood) life of insects, to the astonishing interconnectedness that lies at the heart of our forests. And everything in between.

My gardening philosophy is simple – work with the forces of nature to foster balanced ecosystems in the landscape. By taking advantage of 470 million years of evolutionary wisdom, suddenly the garden is more resilient and self-sustaining. By restoring biodiversity, we get built-in nutrient cycling, pest control, climate regulation, and widespread pollination. By building healthy soil and supporting the food web, we can have lush gardens and do a small part in healing our local biomes, too.

On my own humble patch of earth in zone 5b, I’m slowly reclaiming the land and planting it densely with native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees. I also tend a food forest, herb garden, and an ever-expanding plot of fruits and vegetables, where I abide by the old adage, ‘One for the mouse, one for the crow, one to rot, and one to grow’.