Silence is golden, duct tape is silver


What do MacGyver, astronauts, and writers have in common?

We all keep rolls of duct tape in our backpacks, our cars, our boats, our spaceships, and our homes.

Ah, the sticky stuff.  That super-adhesive, water-repellant, ultra-durable, handyman-staple:  Duct tape.  I love the sound it makes coming off the role.  The slightly synthetic smell.  But mostly I love the many ways it can be used.  Is there anything in the universe more versatile?  I imagine aliens in every galaxy find it as useful as we do…

Today, we celebrate duct tape and its many uses.  Here’s just a handful of the ways this substance can improve your life.  Did we miss one?  Tell us about it at the end!

Fix Something

1. You can use duct tape to patch darn near anything!

  • Backpacks, tents, shoes, hats, or any other leaky piece of equipment.  Duct tape sticks to itself as well as it sticks to anything else.  Put a piece on the inside of the hole, and another on the outside, and stick the pieces together through the hole!  Problem solved.
  • Also, ski pants.  I fall a lot on my skis.  I use duct tape at the hems to patch up the rips caused by my edges cutting into the sides of my ski pants every time I tumble.
  • Bathtub leaking?  My aunt’s tub has a crack in the floor.  She just taped it over with a strip o the sticky stuff.  That tube probably has another ten years of good use now.

2.  Cover up worn out handle bars or bike seats.  The plastic, or gel, or whatever it is they put in bike handles hasn’t stood up well to my many tumbles.  Yes, I fall biking too…  I taped ‘em up with duct tape and haven’t noticed since!

3.  Broken car window?  No problem, for some.  Here’s a funny story about a couple who broke a car window and patched it up with duct tape for the drive home.

4.  Fix the binding on a book.  Use duct tape to reinforce a weak binding on your favorite field guides.

5.  Fashion a splint.  50 miles from nowhere with a broken leg and some duct tape?  Tape your leg to a straight stick and hobble on outa there.

6.  Get rid of a wart.  So they say… never tried this myself, but apparently keeping a wart wrapped in duct tape for a week or so will cause it to fizzle and go away.

Protect Something

7.  Cover a blister:  Worked like a charm for me on a back country ski trip a few years ago.  For the extra tender ones, I first put on a bit of mole skin, and then held it down with duct tape.  For the hot spots, I just wrapped the duct tape around my foot so that my boot would slide over the duct tape instead of my skin.

8.  Protect a book:  Duct tape can also be used to create a water-proof book cover (fold paper around the book, including inside the front and back covers, then cover the paper completely with strips of tape, wrapping it around the inside covers as well).

Make Something

9.  Make a handle.  I don’t know if I’m the only one that laments the lack of handles on my water bottles, but years ago, I started fashioning my own.  I stick a shorter piece of duct tape to the middle of a longer piece, sticky sides together.  I tape this over the top (or bottom) of my water bottle, using the sticky longer pieces hanging out on either side of my tape strip.  Then I reinforce where it sticks to the bottle by wrapping tape around the bottle a whole bunch.  The added bonus is, if I ever need duct tape, I can peel it off my water bottle to use!

10.  Build a sailboat completely from duct tape, and a little wire.  Then put a cannon on it; also made from duct tape.  The MythBusters have an entire episode dedicated to duct tape.  In the episode, they build a sea-worthy sailboat and float it around the San Francisco bay.  Separately, they make a cannon, which apparently fires as good as any ordinary cannon would!

11.  Make a bucket drum.  Why?  Because you can.


12.  Make a laptop carrying case.  The first laptop I ever owned was a gift.  I was a poor college student who couldn’t afford one of those expensive carrying cases.  So I made my own.  I cut up a cheap sleeping pad (the 15 dollar piece of foam you can buy at any store with a sporting goods section) and taped it into a lidded box, using duct tape.  It worked like a charm for many years.  The only problem was its unfortunate resemblance to a bomb, when I went through airport security…

13.  Make a wallet, dress, or purse.  My brother-in-law used to have a wallet made entirely of duct tape.  I was so jealous.  If I’d been smart, I would have countered with a duct tape purse.  And maybe a matching dress.

Do something

14.  Quiet a small child.  Just kidding.

15.  Lint removal.  Unsightly dog or cat hair clinging to your favorite fleece?  Wrap a piece of duct tape loosely around your hand, sticky side out.  Tape the ends together.  Roll your hand, with the duct tap, along your fleece, and watch the hair separate from the fleece!

16.  Lift a car off the ground.  That same episode of MythBusters where they made the sailboat and cannon also showed them lifting a car off the ground!  Check it out in these two videos, part one, taping up the car; part two, lifting it off the ground.

17.  Build an all-wheel drive car.  I love Red Green.

Oh yeah, or you could just tape something.

18 Comments so far

Comments Feed
  1. Sus

    It’s also great for super-hero Halloween costumes. I seem to recall a pair of red super-hero boots made entirely out of red duct tape. Oh, remember? We made Alex a beer holster out of it too!

    • Sus: Doh! I totally meant to put this use in, and completely spaced it. I even had picture-proof of the super hero boots! I also used it to make a cake-cover the other day. Cookie sheet, upside down salad bowl, duct tape. Bam. Cake is ready for transport. =)

  2. I have a 2 1/2 year old who firmly believes that he is stuck in his carseat, and that being stuck is somehow a huge, terrible, grave mistake he must escape from. We had such a problem with him escaping from the straps (yes they were tight)….until my husband wrapped a thin swatch of duct tape on the strap itself, right underneath the chest buckle, preventing him from sliding the buckle down and escaping.
    It worked like a charm, and he hasn’t escaped since.
    So much better than yelling at the toddler to get back in his carseat while your driving on the interstate…after you’ve already pulled over 15 times to put him back in.

    • Sarah. You made me laugh out loud! The thought of wrangling a two year old back in to his car seat while managing the interstate is hilarious! Duct tape to the rescue! Though I’m sure your son hates the stuff now… evil duct tape, keeping him strapped in that terrible no-good car seat. ;)

  3. Awesome post. :) We always used it during cross country ski races in AK in high school on our cheeks to ward off frostbite! :)

    • Amelia: That’s such a great use I never ever would have thought of! Thanks for sharing that one. I’ll just keep that bit of info in the back of my mind in case I’m ever suffering from frostbite…

  4. Well, you covered all my uses! LOL! Blisters, fixing things – I carry some in my car and some in my 10 essentials kit while hiking. Our alternative school has a duct tape fashion show every year, where they learn to make clothing and accessories from the stuff and then show it off. Pretty cool.

    • Hiker mama: I LOVE the idea of a duct tape fashion show! What a perfect and easy way for kids to get creative! I totally forgot to put costumes on there–I used duct tape and a cereal box one year to fashion a very stylish pair of super hero boots….

  5. Love it! We’re huge duct tape users around here. If it were up to my husband we would fix everything with the stuff. I was also pretty tempted to use it for use #14 today!

    • Bring the Kids–#14 would come in handy in so many situations. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just slap a strip over the mouth of anyone saying things we don’t want to hear! =)

  6. Now that duct tape comes in all colors the kids make ties & wallets out of it and sell their creations at school. Also, my 10 yr old hip hopper puts it on the bottom of his sneakers to slide better on carpets.

    My husband has it wrapped around his ski pole cuz u never know when u might need it out there back country skiing.

    Gotta love that duct tape!!

    • Jillian, I forgot the duct tape on the ski pole–that’s as good as around a water bottle, and every skier should do it! As for sliding across carpets–I wish I’d known 20 years ago… there would have been no stopping me! Great suggestions both, thanks!

  7. Use duct tape to hem dresses that are too long for your little girl. I worked the nursery at our church one day and a little girl’s dress was hiked up. After investigating, I realized that the mom had duct taped the hem and it had stuck to her diaper. I thought it was a great idea!

    • Tiffany: That’s genius! And easy enough that I could do it! Thanks for sharing.

  8. […] Duct tape – Please see our post on duct-tape. […]

  9. […] frisbees make great plates and obviously provide other fun functionality as well, and always have duct tape on you… whether car camping or backpacking. It’s easy to have a bit of it wrapped around your […]

  10. Glen

    Great article.

    If you want to reduce to space your roll of tape takes up in your Olivia Bag, wrap your required length around an old store card or piece of flat plastic. Works a treat.


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

    I don't blog alone! Meet outsidemom contributer Olivia