16 Genius Uses for Newspaper You Never Thought Of

person using newspaper to clean a window

The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak

The world is increasingly going digital, but sometimes there is nothing better than sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee, reading a real newspaper. Once you are done, chances are that day’s edition will find its way into a recycling bin. Before you put your old papers out to pasture, how about giving them a new use? Try some of these ideas on news(paper) you can use. 

1. No Streak Here

It might sound counterintuitive, since they are filled with ink, but newspapers actually do a great job cleaning up. Spray a mixture of vinegar and water on your mirrors, oven door, or glass cooktop and scrub well with a bunched-up ball of paper. The ink doesn’t transfer; you just end up with a beautiful shine without streaks. Not only are you reusing newspaper, you are also cutting down on the use of expensive paper towels.

person using newspaper to clean glass

The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

2. Wrap it up

Newspaper is, after all, paper. With some basic instructions and a little time, you can create unique gift bags to impress all your Mother Earth-loving friends and family. Read all about it at Guide Patterns. You can even tailor your newsy gift bag to the lucky recipient by using the Sunday comics for a child’s present, a food section for your fave foodie and so on. If you are short on time, use your old news to wrap goodies just as you would regular wrapping paper. Fun, unique and practical!

presents wrapped in newspaper

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3. Shelf saver

Why buy fancy rolls and take a lot of time to measure and cut when you can quickly place yesterday’s news under your spice collection? Save a few pages to tuck under your cleaning supplies. You can keep spills off your shelves and easily replace with a new “liner” as needed.

4. Shoe and purse shaper

Handbags and boots tend to fold in on themselves a bit while waiting patiently for you to choose them again. To help them hold their shape, crumple up some newspaper and stuff into your empty purses and toes of your shoes. And bonus: newspaper will also absorb moisture and odor, help you conquer footwear funk.

5. Send odors packing

Shoes aren’t the only items that can benefit from a little time with some newsprint. How many times have you grabbed a plastic container out of the cabinet to store some leftovers and caught a whiff of past meals? Ball up some newspaper, put on a lid and leave it alone for a day or two. Then you are free to pack up your leftovers or tomorrow’s lunch without a side of unwanted scents.

6. Good to grow

Keep a little more plastic out the trash can by trading the little black seedling trays for do-it-yourself newspaper pots. These simple containers protect your precious plants until they grow large enough to move into their more permanent growing home.

newspaper planter pots for seedlings

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7. Cat’s meow

If your home is feline-friendly, you know that changing out the litter box is just part of the package. Put a few sheets of the sports section underneath the litter to keep your actual container cleaner so you won’t have to scrub it out as much. You also can use newspaper instead of litter if you choose to go green. If you don’t have cats, consider donating your pile of papers to a local shelter if they accept them.

8. Crafty cleaning

No matter how much you clean, you are going to get dust on your furniture and, well, everywhere. Sure you could use a cloth to wipe off surfaces, but why do that when you can whip up a duster out of some newspaper and tape? Even better, do this craft with the kids and have them take over the dusting.

9. That’s bananas!

If your tomatoes or bananas are taking their sweet time ripening, wrap them in some newspaper and put them in a dry, dark place. The paper traps the gases given off by ripening fruit and speeds up the process.

wrapping bananas in newspaper to help them ripen

Ewelina Kondratowicz / EyeEm / Getty Images

10. Handle with care

Whether you are putting up your holiday ornaments or packing up precious items for a move, you don’t want to break anything. Use newspaper to cushion everything from glassware to picture frames to plates.

person wrapping dishes in newspaper

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11. Now you’re cooking (and cleaning)

Grilling is a national pastime in U.S. Burgers, steaks, veggies and more just seem to taste better prepared in the great outdoors, no matter the season. Everyone loves the fabulous food, but nobody wants the job of cleaning the mess left behind. Newspaper to the rescue to clean the grill grate! Check out the directions here and save yourself a lot of elbow grease.

12. Light it up

Newspaper is perfect kindling. Crumple up a few pages and pack between the logs in your fireplace to get the fire going. You can even roll up a few sheets, tie them in a knot and keep them in a bin nearby so you have a stock to use all winter long.

13. Vanquish broken glass

When you have the misfortune of shattering a glass or dish, it seems almost impossible to pick up every little shard. Even a vacuum can leave a tiny piece for your bare foot to find later. Next time you drop a breakable, grab some newspaper. Fold the sheets into a square, several layers thick, wet the paper and gently blot the area to pick up the tiniest pieces.

14. Dinner table defender

Padding under a tablecloth protects your table scratches and from hot food. It also helps the tablecloth hang nicely and muffles noise. For a much less-expensive alternative, spread a few layers of newspaper on your table, then top with your favorite tablecloth. Once dinner is done, simply throw the paper away.

Tablecloth on a table, with newspaper underneath to shield from hot food

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15. Draft dodger

When the temperatures drop, you might feel a chill in the air. Sometimes, that chill is inside, especially in older homes. Roll up a few sheets of newspaper, tape the ends and push against the bottom or doors or windows to block the breeze. 

16. Funnel on the fly

Keep a few sections of newspaper in your trunk. You can use it to fashion a makeshift funnel if you need to add oil while on the go.