Every time I pop open a bottle of bubbly, I stash the cork someplace safe. Since they’re lightweight, rot-resistant and inexpensive, I've found 10 new uses for these kitchen cast-offs.
1. Make a ready-to-use fire starter
I turn my corks into ready-to-use fire starters. First, stuff a handful of corks into a mason jar. Then, pour in 90% rubbing alcohol, which should cover the top layer of the corks halfway, and screw on the lid. It's best to let the corks soak for a week, but if you need them in a pinch, they can be used within two days.
Safety Tip: Because the corks have been soaking in rubbing alcohol, they will ignite quickly. Always handle each cork with a pair of tongs, light it, and carefully put it in your fireplace where it won't roll.
2. Quiet your furniture
To hush up my cabinet doors, I slice corks into thin discs and hot glue two pieces inside their corners. You also attach the cork circles to the bottoms of furniture to prevent them from squeaking across and scuffing the floor. To keep doors from slamming shut, you can make your own doorstops from cork. First, cut the cork in half vertically. Then slice the vertical piece in half diagonally.
3. Exercise your green thumb
I grind up 12 corks in my high-speed food processor for 10-15 seconds and sprinkle them on my garden bed. The cork holds in moisture, which prevents my plants from wilting.
You also can use corks to make space-savvy plant starters. You'll need to hollow the corks out halfway with a drill or sharp knife and add a dash of dirt and water. Then squeeze in a baby plant or seed.
4. Clean and store knives
Instead of using an abrasive cleaning pad on my high-carbon kitchen knives, I scrub them with a cork and a dab of detergent. I also store my knives in a holder made from corks. To make your own, glue several corks together into a row. Then make slots in the top of each cork. Next, stick your knives blade-down in the corks' slits and slip them into your silverware drawer.
5. Slow your spout
If your bottle of oil or vinegar pours too quickly, control the flow by vertically slicing a small wedge out of a cork and jamming it into the bottle's neck.
6. Impress your guests
I recycle corks into name tag and recipe card holders. First, slice a cork in half with a sharp knife. Then, score the bottom of it, so it doesn't roll. Using the edge of a cutting board as a guide, make a deep cut into the top of your cork and pop in a business-sized card. Put your calligraphy skills to the test for a more personal touch, or print your cards on cardboard paper straight from your computer.
7. Make a floatation device for your glasses
I love to be in the pool every chance I get. I love swimming indoors and especially outdoors, but I never seem to be able to keep up with my sunglasses. To keep your glasses from drifting in the deep-end, drill a hole into 2 corks and thread them onto an eyeglass cord. Now they float.
8. Craft a cork keychain
I no longer have to worry about my keys sinking to the bottom of the ocean, the pool, or even the toilet—which is my two-year-old nephew's latest obsession—because my cork keychain floats. To make a float for your keys, twist in a loop screw and put a smidgeon of glue around it. Then thread the key chain onto the loop screw.
9. Easily display and create artwork
I use corks destined for the trash bin to show off artwork around my house. To display photographs on your refrigerator, you'll need to cut your wine corks in half vertically and hot-glue magnets to them. Plus, you can keep pictures from tipping off-center by gluing thin strips of cork to their corners.
You can use wine corks to make your own stamp sets too. Draw your designs on the wine corks with a sharpie and carve them out with an X-ACTO knife. Then dab them with ink, and give your letters, envelopes, and photos a decorative touch. You can use this method to personalize baby blankets, backpacks, and canvas tennis shoes by dipping these homemade stamps in fabric paint.
10. Create an irresistible cat toy
I've transformed an old wine cork into my kitty's favorite plaything. Simply drill a hole into the cork, fill it with catnip, and tie a string around its middle. Then you can roll it up and down the halls for hours of bonding time.