PSA: You’ve Only Tapped 1/15th of Sandpaper’s Full Potential

published Mar 22, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Some single-use gadgets and home tools just take up space versus regularly make our lives easier. It’s hard to purchase an entire device that just de-pills sweaters, for example, when you know it will wind up languishing in your cabinet or drawer. Which is why it’s great to discover multiple handy uses for ordinary objects and materials you already have lying around the house. Today’s unsung household hero: sandpaper. After you’ve refinished all the furniture and sanded all the paint, hold onto smaller pieces and scraps for these 14 clever reasons.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Open Jars: Keep a piece of sandpaper in a kitchen drawer, and pull it out when you’ve got a stubborn lid that just won’t twist open. The gritty side will give you that little extra gripping action you need.

Maintain Old Wooden Cutting Boards: If you pick up vintage cutting boards from the thrift store, or yours has seen better days, you can easily refinish them to get rid of knife marks and food stains. Finish it off with some food-safe mineral oil.

Clean Cast Iron: For cast iron enthusiasts, this might be a little controversial. But if your pots and pans have rust, try a little sandpaper to clean them off and make them cook-worthy again. Or, if you want to break in a new cast iron pan, sand down all the little bumps to help the seasoning process.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Make Shoes Anti-Slip: Nice new shoes have unblemished soles that are as smooth as butter. And if you’ve ever walked on butter, you know that it’s pretty slippery. Before you take a spill in public, scuff up the soles and give your kicks a little more traction.

Remove Sweater Pills: You can use sandpaper on even your finest of sweaters to keep them pill free. Just rub your sweater with the sandpaper in one direction to remove all the little fuzzy bits. With a few quick light strokes, your sweater will look good as new.

Restore Suede: Unlike leather, suede already has a little bit of a nap, so you can use sandpaper to lightly buff out marks and stains. Start lightly, and check your progress as you go.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Hone Scissors: If your scissors are dull, or covered in sticky stuff after years of doing craft projects, use sandpaper to clean them up and get them all ship shape. Simply cut through the material like you would regular paper, and all that grit will both sharpen the blade and remove any residue.

Remove Rust: Similarly, you can get rid of rust on metal tools by buffing them with fine grit sandpaper. It might take a little bit of work, and go slower than with coarser grit, but you are also less likely to damage or scratch your tools.

Sharpen Pencils: If you didn’t keep your pencil sharpener from your old school days, you can use sandpaper in a pinch. Wrap a piece around the tip and twist back and forth until you get a good sharp point.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Refresh Grout: Sometimes no amount of cleaning will remove certain stains. If your grout has seen better days, or darkened in spots, fold a piece of sandpaper in half and use the folded edge to get in between the tiles and scrub. Take care not to scratch the tile itself. To prevent future stains, seal your grout.

Get Rid of Stains: Although you’re less likely to own this stuff, extremely fine micro grit sandpaper (also called sanding film) can be used to remove stains on enamel and porcelain, and buff out scratches. Use it wet on your old tub or toilet.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Help Seeds Sprout: Sometimes Mother Nature needs a helping hand. Before you plant seeds in the spring, scuff up the exterior shells with a bit of medium-grit sandpaper. It will help break down the seed’s outer coating and let water penetrate a little faster, and speed up the germination process.

Repel Slugs: For the gardeners out there who struggle with slugs damaging plants, cut a piece of sandpaper to size and place it under planters (make sure it’s a little larger than the diameter of the pot’s bottom). Slugs will avoid it like the plague.

Deter Cats: Apparently, cats don’t particularly care for the sensation of walking on gritty surfaces either. If you don’t want them on your counter, or they won’t leave your sofa arm alone, stick some strategically on there temporarily until they learn not to misbehave.