Johan Vaaler, a Norwegian from the town of Sandvika is credited with inventing the paper clip and in celebration of this simple invention, the town has a 7-meter high paper clip statue.
The humble paper clip has found its way around the globe and has far more uses than its inventor probably ever imagined. However, Vaaler’s design was a bit different from the ubiquitous paper clip we use in offices and homes today.
The first patent for that design was granted to Samuel B. Fay, an American, in 1867, but then it wasn’t intended for paper but for fastening tickets to fabric without making holes in it like a pin would.
I think it’s safe to say we know what paperclips are; some of us use them on a weekly or daily basis.
So, what if I told you that there were more uses for paperclips than just clipping sheets of paper together? Would you believe me? If not, well, prepare to have your minds blown! We’re looking at 110 uses for paper clips you may not have thought of.
1: DIY Zipper
There are very few things in the world of fashion that can be as frustrating as a zipper. This is especially true when the zipper gets stuck or breaks. A stuck zipper can be fixed with a bit of elbow grease, sure, but what about when the zipper in question breaks?
Well, believe it or not, this is a very easy thing to fix – as long the only thing broken is the pull-tab and you’ve got a paperclip handy.
Simply slide the paperclip through the hole where the original tab snapped and you’ve fixed your zipper.
2: Un-Clog Spray Bottles
This is one that we’ve probably all used at one stage or another. Spray bottles are easily clogged. They’re left to sit for a while and the tube fills with whatever liquid is in the bottle and they are then unable to function properly.
So how do we fix this? Well, straighten a paperclip (i.e. unbend it), and thread the straightened clip through nozzle to clear it.
3: DIY Cleaning Brush
Is there gunk in your keyboard? Do you want to get rid of it? If the answer is: “yes” then all you need is a paperclip and some tissue paper or gauze (cotton works too).
Wrap the end of the clip in the gauze (or whatever you’re using), and you’ve got a mini cleaning tool to get between the letters on your keyboard to get rid of all the gunk and grime.
4: Resetting Your Phone/Tablet
This is a more…common use for a paperclip but I thought it deserved a mention due to how helpful this little tip is.
Simply unbend a paperclip and slip it into the little reset button’s nook on whatever device – be it your phone or tablet – and press gently on the button.
5: DIY Phone Stand
Sticking with the devices for a moment, we have a DIY phone stand fashioned out of a, you guessed it, paperclip! This is so cool!
It doesn’t look all that sturdy but it’s still a cool idea. Basically, you straighten the clip slightly before bending it into a U-shape and creating a cradle to hold the phone.
6: Dyeing Easter Eggs
The best way to grab attention is through bright colors.
That said, using food coloring can be messy; it stains your hands, and takes forever to come off. A simple fix is to bend a clip into a sort of spoon to dip the eggs in the food coloring without staining your skin.
This allows the color to cover the eye unlike using a spoon which will block some of the egg from the color.
7: Fix your Glasses
Fixing your glasses can be a problem. Those tiny little screws are easily lost. Screwdrivers are also not usually available in the correct size.
With that in mind, you can use a paperclip as a makeshift screwdriver. The tip of the clip can be used to turn the screws.
8: Mark the End of Tape
Whenever we work with something like tape, one of the most frustrating things that we have to deal with is when we lose our place. So, how do we change that problem? We slip a clip in place to mark the end of the tape.
9: Marshmallow Sticks/Skewers
This is kind of obvious but if you straighten a paperclip you can have a makeshift skewer for marshmallows, kebabs or other skewer-related food/snack.
Just beware of those with plastic coatings – use a plain wire clip if it’s going to be heated.
10: Lock Pick
Using a paperclip as a lock pick is something that you see in films and on television, but it’s not really a fantasy. If you know what you’re doing, then you can use a straightened paperclip as a lock pick without much difficulty.
This is an odd one that I found while researching this article. Apparently, you can fashion a paperclip into an aerial for your cell phone to boost your signal if you need to make an emergency call in an area with poor/no signal.
You can also fashion an antenna/aerial for your television. Of course, I’m not sure how useful this trick is but it’s still a cool little life hack.
12: Fishing Hook
If you’re a fisherman then this may be a pretty obvious fix for those times when you need a spare hook.
I think I should point out that I’m not too familiar with fishing myself, but I looked this one up because it was a simple enough idea but I wasn’t sure how you’d go about making a paperclip into a fishing hook.
Well, for starters; you unbend the hook. You then bend one section into a curve so that you have ‘J’ shape, and then twist the other end into a ring/loop. There you go, you have an easy-to-make, cheap, and replaceable fishing hook!
13: DIY Splint
Okay, right off the bat I feel I should point out that using a paperclip as a splint is only meant for fingers and toes. As flimsy as these clips may look, however, you can use them as a splint for your fingers and toes.
I’d imagine it’d be a temporary fix until you got to a doctor who could put a proper splint on the fracture but it’s still a good thing to know.
14: Phone Lanyard
Phone pendants/charms were all the rage around about five or ten years ago and they haven’t really died off. That said, they are relatively unique in general but a paperclip can add a bit of extra originality to the concept.
We’ve already seen that paperclips can be changed into a variety of things so it stands to reason that style is another area where these little wire clips would be useful.
You can twist these things into any shape you like, and attach it to your phone via a piece of string, and make yourself stand out with something cool and interesting.
Continuing with the ‘style’ area for a bit, we come to an entry that I don’t know that I’d recommend.
Jewelry is a popular status symbol but, let’s face it: a ring or bracelet isn’t exactly cheap. Unless, of course, you make it yourself out of paper clips! Rings and bracelets formed by bending and/or linking clips together are a nice, interesting project.
Where I draw the line, however, is with earrings. Yes, you can make earrings too but considering the horror stories I’ve heard about infections and such; I think it’s clear why I wouldn’t necessarily recommend making earrings from paperclips.
16: Chainmail Shirt
Okay, this one will take a lot of time, patience, and many, many paper clips. How many clips?
Well, enough to make a chainmail shirt. I looked it up and found that one person had to use 22,100 rings (steel rings) to make a proper chainmail shirt.
There’s obviously a difference between using galvanized steel rings and paperclips but you’ll need at least enough clips to make around 22k rings. All of those rings then have to be put together to form the shirt.
If nothing else, this will certainly be a project to keep you busy over long stretches.
When it comes to bookmarks, I’ve used pretty much anything and everything to mark my place in a book. I don’t think I’ve ever used a paperclip but it’s an easy fix that involves simply slipping a paperclip over the top of the page.
Attaching a ribbon or some paper animal to one end of the clip makes it easier to see where you’ve marked and adds an element of flair to your DIY bookmark.
18: Open an Envelope
You can use a paperclip to open an envelope without making tears in the paper. You unbend the clip, and slide it along the underside of the paper.
19: Remove Hair from your Hairbrush
Unbend a paperclip, and you can use it to remove hair from your hairbrush without much difficulty. Simply run the clip along the brush and let it hook the hair; allowing for quick, easy removal.
20: Hide Bra Straps
Now, I’ve never worn a bra, but I can understand wanting to keep a look consistent. By pulling the back straps together and securing them with a paperclip, you can keep a look consistent.
21: Cleaning Fingernails
Cleaning the underside of your fingernails is easy enough when you’ve got a paperclip on hand. Unbend the clip and you can slide the end under your nails to easily remove the dirt.
Note: Be careful when doing this, it’s easy to push the clip too far, which is often very painful.
22: Mini Clothes Hangers
Obviously, a clothes hanger fashioned from a paperclip won’t be much good for your shirts and jackets but if you have a daughter you can make mini clothes hangers for her dollhouse.
Another obvious one, but a paperclip can be used as an emergency hairclip when you need to get your hair out of your face in a hurry.
24: Improvised Key Ring
Loose keys are easy to lose, and if you want to keep track of your keys or attach them to something else they’ll need to be on a key ring. Lacking a key ring, the tough, spring steel of your average paper clip works well enough as an improvised version.
All you’ll need to do is unwind and straighten out the paper clip before rewinding it around the barrel of a pen or a thin dowel rod to form a smooth, concentric, and overlapping ring.
Then slide your keys on it as normal before crimping the free ends down with pliers or another heavy object. Voila! New key ring.
25: Hang Ornaments
Hanging ornaments is something that everybody does at some stage. Slide one end of the clip through the ornament loop and use the other end as a hook on which to hang your ornament.
26: Remove Pits from Cherries
Did you know you can scoop pits out of cherries with a paperclip? No? Well, you do now!
Simply unbend the clip into an S-shape, and use it to scoop out the pits.
27: Seal Bags of Food
I’ve seen this done with clothes pegs, but I didn’t think you could do it with paperclips too…the more you know, I guess.
Anyways, when you want to seal a bag of chips or cereal; slipping a paperclip over the bag is a quick, easy way to do it.
28: Close Bread Packets
When you open a packet of bread, the problem then becomes how do you keep your loaf of bread fresh? That’s obvious, isn’t it? Close the bag. This is where the paperclip comes in.
If you want to seal a bread packet, unbend a paperclip into a U shape; then twist the two sides of the ‘U’ together to seal the packet.
29: Hang Photos
Fastening paperclips to photos of family and friends provides you with an easy way to display your favorite memories for all to see, without sticking pins in them. Put the clips on the photos then use the pin through the bend of the paper clip to fasten to the board.
30: Wire Crafts
This is something that would require a lot of patience and creativity on your part. Making wire shapes out of paper clips is an interesting way to put those excess clips to use.
It’s also a good way to test the limits of your imagination. A couple of people on a swing chair or a guy riding a bicycle… the possibilities are endless.
31: Nail Art
If you’re into fancy nail art or you have kids who like that sort of thing then this is the tip for you. Use a paperclip as a pen to create fun nail art.
How? Simply unbend a paperclip, and dip the end of the straightened clip into your nail polish. You can go from there to draw whatever intricate designs you like.
32: Emergency Button
Similar to the zipper tab, you can also use paperclips as makeshift, temporary shirt buttons.
33: DIY Hooks
Find a large paperclip, and bend it into an S shape, you can then use it as a makeshift hook on doors, drawers, or other ledge-type surfaces.
34: DIY Awl
Awls are used for a variety of tasks, cleaning spray paint nozzles, punching holes, etc. You can make an awl out of a paperclip by cutting it at the bends on either side so that you have a straight piece.
Grab a file and file a good, sharp point on one end, and voila! You have an awl.
35: Sewing Needle
Making a sewing needle from a paperclip is just as easy as making an awl. You go through the same process of making the awl.
Then take a hammer and flatten the unsharpened side of the awl. From there you take a small hand drill and drill a small hole into the flattened side.
Congratulations, you’ve made a needle. On the other hand, it may be just easier to go get one.
This is a strange one but it also makes a weird sort of sense. When you’re out hiking, there’s always a risk that some of your kit (first aid stuff, whistle, map, etc.) could go missing on the trail.
If your compass disappears that can cause a serious problem, you could mitigate that with just a leaf, water, and a trusty paperclip.
So, to do this; you’ll need to cut a straight piece out of a paperclip and magnetize it. You can magnetize your piece of clip by striking it (towards the pointed end) with a piece of steel i.e. from your Swiss Army Knife 50 – 100 times.
Once it’s magnetized, place the clip piece on a leaf and set the leaf in a cup of water; the ‘needle’ will then find true north. Cool, right?
Note: It doesn’t have to be a leaf, a small bottle cap will do fine; use whatever is available.
37: Makeshift Safety Clip
You know what safety pins are, right? Well, you can make a safety clip out of a paper clip if needed.
It will take a bit of time, patience, and practice but in the end, you’ll have a clip that can hold a surprising amount of weight.
38: Securing Cables
Computer cables can be a nightmare to store. Scratch that; cables, in general, are a nightmare to store! They always tend to unwind, right? Well, with a paperclip and an elastic/rubber band that problem is solved.
Here’s how: you’re going to loop the band through the clip and pull it tight. This leaves you with a rubber band attached to a paperclip, so what?
You can now wind up your cables and stretch the band around them; using the clip as a hook to keep them secure.
39: Makeshift Notebook Binding
This is a cool one. You’ve probably seen those A-4 size exam pads at your local stationary shop. These pads can last a while but they can also fall apart pretty easily; scattering pages everywhere in the process.
To solve this problem, you attach a rubber band to a paper clip and slip the clip through one of the two punched holes in the page. Thread the rubber band end through the other hole and stretch the band over the clip.
40: Securing Bags
When you travel, your bags will usually have two zippers with a padlock loop; this is so that you can secure your bag, and prevent people from rifling through your things.
If you don’t have a padlock you can use a paperclip; simply thread the clip through the padlock loop and there you go. You can do the same thing with the zipper pull tabs, and secure your bags that way if you don’t have a padlock loop.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend this as clips aren’t as strong as proper locks.
41: Keep your tie in place
Slip a paperclip over the narrower portion of your tie, and clip it to your shirt to keep it from getting in the way/showing at formal events.
42: Keep your Shirt Sleeves/Pant legs in place
We’ve all been in positions where we’ve had to roll up our sleeves or jeans at one point or another. They tend to slip out of place every now and then, and it’s very irritating. Keep them in place by rolling up your sleeves, and slipping a clip over them.
43: Jewellery Clasp/hook
Securing a bracelet can be murder when the pieces are small. You can use a paperclip to help with this problem by either making it into a hook to hold one side in place while you secure the clasp or, if you prefer, fashion the clip into a clasp to hold your bracelet in place.
44: Webcam Shield / Cover
Yes, this is a thing that exists. In a time where everyone’s scared of their devices being hacked and used without their knowledge, this is one way of keeping yourself from being recorded without your knowledge and/or consent.
Take a pair of needle-nose pliers and bend the clip into a sort of chair shape. From there, wrap the front ‘leg’ of the chair in black insulation tape (most of the videos I saw used black tape, but I’d imagine you could use any color).
This can be placed over your webcam when it’s not in use and removed when you need it.
45: Notebook Dividers
Attach bits of colored tape to a few paper clips, and thread the clips over pages in your notebook for a set of DIY dividers.
46: Money Clip
Use a paperclip or two to help keep your money organized neatly in your wallet.
Something else you can make with a paperclip is a slingshot. You’re going to start out by straightening the clip and then bending it again into the shape of a two-pronged fork.
The upper sections of the prongs should be bent slightly. Tie a rubber band across the prongs and make sure it can’t move around. Voila! You’ve got a slingshot.
Note: It’ll have to be a thick rubber band so that it won’t snap when you stretch it.
48: Spinning Top
You can bend a paperclip of any size (larger clips are usually more stable) into a circular shape with a top and bottom… erm… I guess you could call it a ‘leg’ if you like.
This is seriously cool! I grew up playing with spinning tops of all kinds and the fact that I could’ve been making them at home for virtually nothing makes me kinda sad about how much I spent buying the darn things!
Bend the middle part of the clip upward at a 45-degree angle. Halfway down the end, you’ll add a 90-degree bend, which you bend again to touch the other side of the clip. Now wrap in electrical tape to form a ‘shelf’, and voila!
Use a few tiny balls of crumpled tin foil as ammunition and have fun!
50: A Bouncing Clip
Bend the clip out on both sides to form a V. From here bend the two ends out to form a triangle. Bend one of the ends slightly upwards (this is to create tension) and secure one end under the other.
The clip can now be bounced on a table, the tension on the clip acting like a spring of sorts, providing ample amusement for you and your kids.
We’re not done with toys yet ladies and gentlemen! What would you say if I told you that it was possible to make a helicopter toy out of a paperclip? Probably something like: “Greg, you’re crazy!” or “That’ll never work!” Well, my friends, I give you a paperclip helicopter!
Straighten the outer loop of your clip as much as possible. Bend the other loop upwards at a 90-degree angle; fold it over again to have a double loop.
Now, fold a bit of electrical tape (a small square is best) over the straight end. Hook the double loop over an elastic band, pull, and let ‘er fly!
52: Fidget Spinner
How many of you have fidget spinners? These little toys first popped up on my radar back in late 2018 on an episode of the EDC Weekly on YouTube (great show).
For context: EDC stands for everyday carry and people submit photos of their EDCs to the EDC Weekly to be commented on. These spinning toys appeared in several photos.
Now, granted, the spinners I was seeing were, more often than not, custom jobs made from titanium or some other material that probably cost a pretty penny. So, how does a YouTube web series figure into a list about uses for paperclips?
Well, I’m a writer who is easily distracted and the only ‘fidget toy’ I’ve got on hand is a Rubik’s Cube. I considered picking up a spinner just out of curiosity to see what the hype was about; now I might just make one.
Standard fidget spinners are probably around $15.00. If I can save money and still get some sort of fidget-factor going, I’m going for it. This project requires a paperclip and two sewing bobbins.
Bend the two ends out into a V-shape. Slide the bobbins into the loops and close the loops slightly so that the bobbins can’t fall out. Congratulations, you’ve made a fidget spinner!
53: Bead Clip
This isn’t the weirdest thing on the list and the name isn’t all that interesting but I didn’t know what else to call it so we’re calling it a bead clip. It’s a paperclip that’s had 5 or 6 beads threaded onto it.
That’s literally all you have to do. I guess it’s some sort of fidget toy, in which case I definitely want to try it and see how fidgety it really is.
Considering how flexible and affordable these things are, is it any wonder you can make a variety of ornaments or sculptures?
You can make whatever your mind can imagine and test the limits of your creativity without breaking your bank account. How cool is that?
55: Precision Carving Tool
If you celebrate Halloween and are looking to make your Jack O Lanterns more… intricate, this could be the trick for you.
Straighten one side and sharpen it to a point. You can use the point like a pencil, and create a range of patterns in your pumpkins – the looped end can be used to scoop out more material to enhance your pattern.
It may surprise you to read this but I’ve actually tried something similar with a piece of wood and an old nail – it’s not the same thing but I’d imagine you could scratch a pattern into a piece of wood as well. You’d probably have to sharpen it several times though.
56: Save Wrapping Paper
Christmas is almost here and that means wrapping paper. I know, I know, it’s chaotic – especially when you don’t have wrapping paper and have to rush around to find some.
This is why many people prefer to save paper over the years (saving a lot of money in the process). Unfortunately, however, saved paper tends to unwind over time. So…how do you stop this from happening?
Yep, you guessed it: a paperclip! Sliding a paper clip over the roll of paper on both sides keeps everything together nice and neatly so that you don’t have to worry about sorting through a mess of wrapping paper every year.
57: DIY Motor
Please note: this is a small motor that’s mostly meant for small-scale science experiments. A few clips, pins, and tape and you can build a motor.
This is definitely a cool idea; I don’t remember doing any ‘motor’ experiments as a kid but I’d love to have tried a few.
58: Battery Heater
Similar to the motor idea this is a science experiment that fascinates kids when it comes to electricity-related experiments. You need a 9-volt battery, a battery connector, and, of course, a paperclip.
Expose the copper wires on the black wire on the connector and wrap it around the clip. With the battery connected to the clip, it starts to heat up.
59: Shaker Instrument
So… how many of you lovely readers have played with shaker instruments? A shaker instrument is a simple, fun thing for kids to play with.
Throw a few paper clips into a small can, and voila! You have a musical instrument… or a noise maker.
60: Guitar Pick
I’ve played guitar on and off since I was about 14 years old, and I’ve always preferred using a pick to using my fingers. That said, I didn’t know you could use a paperclip as a pick if you needed to. The more you know, right?
61: Remove Flaky Skin from your Feet
This is kind of a gross one, so I’m going to get through it quickly. You can use a paperclip (presumably straightened) to scratch the flaky skin off of your feet.
Here’s a creative one: you can straighten a paperclip on one side, and bend it at a 90-degree angle. You can then use it as a sundial to tell the time when you don’t have a watch on you.
63: Lifting the Keys from your Keyboard
I’ve been watching a lot of DIY stuff on YouTube recently and this is one of the coolest ideas – a custom keyboard.
Basically, the default keys are removed and modified (i.e. painted, sculpted, etc.) before being returned to their rightful place on your board. You can use a paperclip to pry the keys off.
64: Bird Ladder
If you’ve got birds, you may know that they’re very inquisitive and love to explore.
If you’ve got a few paperclips on hand you can use them to make a ladder for your birds to use and play with whenever they like.
Instead of the little beads that an abacus usually sports, why not throw some paper clips onto the abacus instead? Yeah, you can do that. It makes for some very interesting conversations and some unique stationery.
Come on, admit it; you pop the bubbles on bubble wrap. I’m almost 27 years old and there’s something amazingly satisfying about popping bubble wrap.
That said, it can hurt your fingers after a while so why not take a paperclip and pop bubbles with a paperclip?
It’s a fun party game to give kids equal size squares of bubble wrap and give a prize to whoever pops all the pockets in their square first. It also keeps them concentrating quietly for a few minutes of peace.
67: Circuit Maze Game
Okay, so…have you ever played the circuit maze? It’s a maze board with a tiny electrical charge going through it. The object of the game is to thread a rod of some sort through the maze without touching the sides.
When you touch the sides it sets off a buzzer and you’ve got to start over! It’s fun and frustrating at the same time and I’ve only ever gotten it right, maybe, twice.
So, what’s all this got to do with paper clips? Well, you can straighten a paperclip and use it as a rod to play.
68: Pixel Stamp
Paperclips can be used to make a pixel stamp when you want to make a pixelated image stamp.
Much like with Halloween carving, you can use a paperclip as a makeshift scraping tool. You can scrape paint off of surfaces, grime out of hard-to-reach cracks, and dirt/nail polish off of your finger and toenails.
70: Memo Hanger
If you’re the type who forgets things easily, this hack might solve that problem for you. You attach a paperclip to a piece of string and put it where you’ll see it. You can now hang memos and to-do lists in plain sight so that you don’t forget them.
71: Scratching Hard-to-Reach Places
If you’ve ever broken your arm or leg, you probably know what it’s like to have your arm in a splint or a plaster cast. You can’t move your arm or hand too much and when it itches it drives you crazy!
A paperclip can be very useful for reaching those itchy places under the cast/splint – especially if you straighten it first.
You can use paper clips to secure a tarp or sheet across tree limbs to create a canopy. This is perfect for in the summer when you want to be outside without dealing with the heat from the sun.
73: Papier Mache Porcupine Quills
If you’ve ever seen a porcupine, you’ll know that they’re covered in incredibly sharp quills, which they use for self-defense and as a general “don’t mess with me” signal.
Papier Mache sculptures are much safer than actual porcupines. You can straighten a couple of paper clips and use them to make the quills on your paper porcupine.
74: Golf Tee
I’ve played mini-golf a couple of times but I don’t have many fond memories of the games – apart from socializing with friends and family. If you’ve lost a golf tee (the thing the ball sits on before you whack it with the club), you can make one using a paperclip.
75: Moving Specimens under a Microscope
When you’re using a microscope, you don’t want to disturb the specimen and risk damaging it. So, to solve this problem you just use a paperclip. This reduces the risk significantly, and you can observe the specimen without accidentally contaminating it.
76: Props for Models
If you build models you can use paperclips to make props like goalposts or something similar to add a bit of flair to your piece.
77: Educational Numbers and Letters
Not really a surprise, but you can bend paperclips into letters and numbers, and teach your kids the alphabet and mathematics.
78: Magnetize non-magnetic stationery
Wrap a paperclip around things like pencils or crayons. You can now attach them to magnets and keep your workspace relatively neat – just don’t put the magnets near your computer.
79: Population Pins
Here’s a disaster movie trope for you; population counts. A group of men in suits is gathered in front of a map and someone is telling them how much trouble they’re in; using pins to show fatalities or something similar. You can do the same thing with paperclips.
80: Sushi Sticks
Apparently, this is a thing… I don’t know why I didn’t expect this one. You can straighten a pair of paperclips and you’ve got sushi sticks.
I’m no good with sushi sticks in general, I’d probably be worse off with these ones.
81: Chinese Hair Sticks
If you like to experiment with different hairstyles you’ve probably seen something that you want to try.
With that in mind, if you’re looking into doing buns then you may need hair sticks. When you don’t have hair sticks, then you can unbend a paperclip or two and have a pair of makeshift sticks.
82: Open DVD/CD Drives
You can use a paperclip to open DVD and CD drives when they’re stuck.
83: Getting through Glue and Paint Skin
Okay, so ‘skin’ in this instance refers to a filmy substance that forms on the surface of your paint or glue after remaining unused for a while. The skin can be a nightmare to get through but a paperclip can be used to break and remove the skin.
84: Toffee Stick
Do you like toffee? Of course you do! It’s sweet and sticky and is best eaten off of a stick when warm. If you’re out of sticks, use a straightened paperclip, and enjoy the sticky goodness that is toffee.
85: Glass Etching
Straighten a paperclip and use it to etch patterns into pieces of glass and unleash your creativity.
86: Mosaic Cleaning
Mosaics are fun, right? You mix your grout and adhesive and you put bits of colored glass together to create a pattern. Cool, but what if you need to remove excess grout?
Well, you can use your finger to wipe it off but, if you want to keep your hands clean, just use a paperclip and scrape the excess grout off.
87: Remove Earwax
Gross but you can use the rounded portions of a paperclip to remove earwax and massage the entrance to your ears.
Please note: Don’t stick a paperclip in your ear when doing this, the clip isn’t meant to go all the way in, it’s just supposed to clear the opening to the ear.
88: Remove Excess Plaque
A paperclip can be used – with extreme caution – to remove excess plaque from your teeth if and/or when it’s necessary, when you don’t have access to a proper toothbrush.
89: Concrete Art
Okay, I don’t think I need to tell you that the concrete has to be wet for this to work but I just did and it’s true. You can take a paperclip, and scratch patterns into wet concrete for a unique piece of artwork.
90: Tying Your Trash Bags
You can use a paperclip to tie your trash bags shut. Straighten a paperclip and twist it around the bag’s opening. You can do the same thing with wires and cables if needed.
91: Blow Darts
This is one idea that I’ve got mixed feelings about. We all know what a blowgun is, right? It’s a long, narrow tube into which you load a small dart. The dart is fired when you blow on one end of the tube.
If you run out of darts, you make more by straightening a few paperclips, and sharpening one end of each to a point. I’d imagine you’d have to make some kind of fletching (feathers) for each one although; I’m not sure how you’d attach them.
There’s also the risk of accidentally inhaling the needle by mistake – especially if the blowgun is poorly made.
If you need a toothpick, straighten a paperclip and you have a makeshift toothpick. This is another thing that requires serious caution!
93: Locking Pet Cages
If the latch on your pet’s cage breaks, it’s possible to fashion a temporary latch from a paperclip. This will save you the trouble of chasing your pets around if they get out of the cage.
94: Belt Buckle
I’m not sure how this would work but you could possibly use a paperclip as a belt buckle – at least temporarily – when/if needed.
95: Lifting small Items
How many of you lovely readers have seen CSI? I’d reckon a fair few, but for those who haven’t, the concept is simple enough; a team of investigators try to solve crimes (big shock, right?) with cutting-edge forensic science.
Now, while the show might be a sci-fi nerd’s tech paradise; there are some real-life concepts here. One such concept is that the evidence cannot be contaminated. See where this is going?
They can’t get their own fingerprints on the evidence (hence they wear gloves) but they also can’t risk accidentally removing suspect prints. This means that when dealing with small items (i.e. bullet casings), the team will use pens or tweezers to lift the item.
You may not be lifting shell casings off the floor, but you can use a paperclip to lift small, lightweight items when you’d prefer not to touch them – for example, if your hands are sticky.
96: Game Pieces
This is pretty obvious, but you can use paperclips as game pieces if you need extra pieces.
97: Plant Hanger
Bending a clip into an S-shape allows you to hang light plants.
98: Opening Boxes
This is one that I thought of while I was putting this list together. It’s not mentioned on the lists I’ve found online but it seems pretty obvious to me.
If you can use a paperclip to open an envelope, why would you not be able to open a box? Think about it: when you order a package from Amazon it comes in a box that’s usually covered in tape.
So, just like with the envelope, you can use a paperclip to break through that tape. You’d have to straighten it slightly so that you have something to puncture the tape with but it should work fine.
99: Bird Spikes
If you’re looking to stop birds from landing in specific places, you can partially straighten a few paperclips and insert them into pieces of plywood – secure them with glue.
This gives you a set of spikes to keep the birds away. I don’t know about you guys, but this seems to be a bit…cruel…is it just me?
100: Remove Sim Cards
Partially straightening a paperclip gives you a tool with which to remove a sim card from your phone.
101: Twist paper clips into cloth to make tie-dye designs, or use them as they are and fold the fabric and secure them with the paper clip before dipping them into the dye.
102: This is a fun prank to fool people into thinking the ‘rattlesnake eggs’ inside a packet have hatched!
An obvious one that I probably could’ve put at the start of the list but at least it’s here now. You can join several paperclips together to form a chain.
We talked about earrings earlier, so let’s talk about rings. As has been demonstrated on this list, paperclips are nice and flexible; you can do just about anything with them. There are a few things you can do with this particular project.
Straighten a single paperclip (a large clip would probably work best), and then bend it into a circular shape while rounding off the ends as much as you can – if needed – to avoid cutting/scratching yourself. You’ve just made a simple, plain band.
Alternatively, you could straighten a few clips and braid them together into whatever pattern or configuration you want before closing the design into the circular band. The only limit is your imagination – and your patience but that’s another story altogether.
105: Necklace Pendants
Creating a pendant from a paperclip is a simple, cheap, and unique way to add some flavor to your jewelry box.
We know we can create shapes from paperclips, so why not straighten a clip and wind it around a semi-precious stone – if you’ve got semi-precious stones – and create something unique?
I did this once, and admittedly I wasn’t too good at it but the point stands; you can make very…interesting jewelry with paperclips.
Yet another jewelry project and this one is probably my favorite among the jewelry-based projects on this list – if you have one on your arm at least you have paper clips ready to use for various projects.
You can make a chain or straighten and then bend a single clip around your wrist or if you’ve the patience for it, straighten and twist several clips together into a pattern before bending it around your wrist. Once again, the possibilities are endless.
This is my personal favorite because it’s something that I’ve actually done a few times as a kid, and I almost always managed to get something interesting out of it.
107: Fastening labels to fabric…
…to indicate the right side of the fabric when sewing with fabrics where it is hard to tell the right from the wrong side. Unlike pins, they do not leave holes in delicate fabrics.
108: If notebooks or diaries don’t come with those little colored ribbons to mark your place I use a large paper clip pinned to the left side and with a ribbon fastened to it to keep my place – with it on the left it doesn’t interfere with forward planning, and paging through quickly to find a future date.
109: Unclogging the holes on a salt shaker. If you don’t want to be doing this on a regular basis add some grains of rice to the salt shaker.
110: When you have an event and there are leftover fancy serviettes secure the leftovers with a large paper clip and a card with the number of serviettes by design and store, so when you have another event – breakfast for 4 or dinner for 8, a barbeque for 12, you don’t have to scratch – just check your stash and take out the appropriately numbered bundle of the same print or color.
111: Keep calendars looking neat by securing the bottom corners with two paper clips so they don’t curl upwards or flap in the slightest breeze.
112: Create your own black resist scratch papers by letting kids use colored crayons on paper, paint with black paint, then use a paperclip to scratch out designs and patterns.
113: Clean car air vents by using a large paper clip and covering one end with a piece of a car cleaning wipe – this way you can reach right in and clean those vents making the car look shiny and new.
114: Clean elaborately carved furniture that has a build-up of wax and dust in the crevices by either using a straightened end of a paper clip alone, or putting a piece of disposal furniture cleaning wipe over the end.
115: Potato stamps are usually cut quite coarsely with a knife, but the straightened end of a large paper clip can allow you to carve in quite intricate designs that go beyond the kindergarten-style potato stamps.
116: Instead of buying expensive ceramic carving tools, the straightened end of a paper clip as well as the curved piece allow for carving relief designs into clay pieces before they are fired.
117: When you have antique or well-used china items like teapots, sugar bowls, cups, and mugs, they tend to collect gunk around the place where the handle joins the body of the object.
Use the straightened end of a paper clip with a small piece of cloth to cover the point, dipped in a solution to vinegar and baking soda to loosen that gunk and make them look newer.
118: Use to hang up your meat when making biltong (link to biltong post), by shaping it into an S shape, hooking through the meat, then hanging it onto the grid or bar at the top of the biltong-making box. These can also be used when hanging up small fish to be smoked or sundried.
119: If you’re out camping or picnicking and someone hauls out a tin of smoked mussels or oysters, use a paperclip with one end straightened to make a cocktail stick so you don’t have oily fishy-smelling fingers.
120: Sometimes those little pieces of fruit or flowers on the edge of cocktail glasses will not cooperate and stay put – use a paper clip, bent to fit the edge of the glass, and secure the decoration.
121: Scratch your name or an initial in an inconspicuous place on frequently ‘borrowed’ stationery items at school or in the office, so you can prove it is yours.
122: Have to hang up polystyrene ornaments and don’t want big holes or obvious hanging cords? Straighten a large paper clip and stab the holes through, then thread fishing line through the holes and hang.
123: I don’t know about you but coins or nail files sometimes slip into cracks when you open the compartments on the dashboard of a car and nothing seems small enough to slide the item out. The straightened end of a paper clip does the job perfectly.
124: Use a paper clip to attach price tags to clothing by slipping under a button, or through the label on the neck of a garment, so there is no risk of people being hurt by safety pins that open, or straight pins.
125: Glue the rounded part behind letters and use the straightened part to stick into a cake to create someone’s name or a message.
126: Become an artist and etch a drawing onto glass using the sharpened end of a paper clip.
127: Straighten one end of a colored paper clip to use as an olive swizzle in a martini, bend the curved end so it hooks over the glass.
128: Instead of getting frustrated with those vinegar and tomato sachets that come with fast food, and don’t seem easy to open, use a straightened paper clip to poke a hole in the sachets.
129: Scratch your name in an inconspicuous place on car batteries with a straightened paper clip, so you know if one is replaced with a junked one by dishonest workshops.
130: Use a string of paper clips and two pencils to create concentric circles for drawing a mandala if you don’t have a compass at hand.
131: Wire Tie / Twist Tie
Paper clips, depending upon how thick their wire is and how difficult they are to bend, might make the perfect wire tie or twist tie for securing everything from hoses to bags.
Using nothing more than a paperclip or two and perhaps some needle nose pliers, you can securely fasten what you need to fasten.
Keep in mind you should never use a paperclip in place of a genuine wire tie in any application where proper operation must be guaranteed, or where the price for mechanical failure could be a disaster!
132: Paintbrush Cleaner
Anytime you have a little bit of paint or other gunk drying on the bristles of your brush, your brush is going to lose its effectiveness and risk ruination.
If you didn’t do a very good job of rinsing it out or cleaning it, you can use a paperclip as an improvised pick to hopefully loosen the debris from the bristles without damaging them.
Simply unbend a paperclip into a tight u-shape, almost like a fork, and then use it as a sort of comb to gently scrape the residue from the bristles of your brush, particularly near the end of the bristles where they meet the ferrule.
133: Pen or Marker Lanyard
Sometimes you need to attach a pen or marker to a clipboard or countertop in order to keep people from walking away with it, or just to prevent loss.
You can easily use a paperclip to help with this task by tightly wrapping an unwound paperclip around the body of your pen or marker.
Then you can simply tie a string around one end of the paper clip and the other to your anchor point or to a hole on your clipboard to attach the two together.
134: As a Pin Punch
For removing small, fine pins from various mechanical implements and devices a sturdy, thicker paper clip might be just the ticket.
The trick with a punch is that it needs to be long enough for you to hold and maneuver, but only just, as longer punches are more prone to slipping when struck.
I like to unwind a paper clip so that it can reach the pin while still allowing me to grasp it firmly with about another finger width or two to spare so that I can gently tap on it with a hard object.
All hail the might of the ever-useful paperclip! May it live long and prosper!
All jokes aside, I’m genuinely impressed with what I found while doing this list. I took on this project out of curiosity and while I initially found it daunting; it’s been a great thought experiment for me.
My curiosity is well-satisfied and I’m sure there are many, many more that I didn’t see.
I hope you guys enjoyed this article, and that it gave you some ideas about what to do with any excess paperclips you may have lying around. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you for the next one!
Greg spent most of his childhood in camping grounds and on hiking trails. While he lives in suburbs nowadays, Greg was raised on a small farm with chickens. He’s a decent shot with a bow, and a knife enthusiast.