Unusual Uses for Paper Towel Tubes

This cheap product comes in handy in a variety of situations.


The humble paper towel tube—a pipeline of convenience—has many uses. Cardboard tubes can be used for frugal travel, art projects, and other household uses.

Wet laundry

You can collect plastic grocery bags, fold them up, and store them in empty cardboard tubes. Nearly two dozen plastic bags can be stuffed into one paper towel tube—a traveling solution that saves space in compact suitcases. The recycled grocery bags are used for carting wet swim suits and dirty clothes during vacations. What’s more, the plastic bags are handy for dealing with motion sickness and other messy travel emergencies.

Dry storage

During a month-long journey through Scotland, Greenland and Iceland, a woman named Toby filled individual Ziplock bags with coffee, spices and other nonperishable food items. The storage bags were stuffed into the tubes and then packed in her luggage. This system enabled her to travel with a portable supply of kitchen ingredients. With that inventory, she saved money by preparing a few meals while staying in rented homes in Europe. (See also: 40 most useful travel websites that can save you a fortune.)

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Art files

Cardboard tubes are ideal for storing files and projects from school-age children. Art projects, school certificates and other documents can be tightly rolled and then stored in towel tubes. This do-it-yourself storage system resembles the packing options frequently used by art galleries to transport posters. To stay organized, label and date the tubes with a marker. Once labeled, the tubes can be stored in cabinets, drawers and boxes, thereby creating an organized system that saves space and recycles cast-off cardboard tubes.

Cardboard paper towel tubes can be used for a wide variety of arts and craft projects at school or at home. Collect paper towel tubes, empty egg cartons, plastic beverage containers and other items, which can be donated to teachers for use on different school projects.

Sharon Harvey-Rosenberg is a special financial news contributor for Wise Bread. She is the author of "Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money” and a contributing author to ”10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.”