16 Creative and Practical Uses for Cardboard Tubes

There are so many uses for those cardboard tubes you get from rolls of toilet paper and paper towels. And also wrapping paper and boxes of aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Find out all the ways you can repurpose these tubes before recycling them.

Toilet paper cardboard tubes laying on table

1. Seedling Starters

Starting your garden indoors with seedlings is an excellent way to get a jump start on the season. Toilet paper tubes can be transformed into biodegradable seedling starters easily by cutting them into shorter lengths, folding one end to create a base, filling them with potting soil, and planting your seeds.

Once the seedlings are ready to be transplanted outside, simply plant the entire tube into the ground as it will eventually decompose.

2. Cable and Cord Organizers

Tame your cable clutter by repurposing cardboard tubes as cable organizers. Cut notches along one side of each tube so you can slip cords in and out with ease. Label each tube if necessary, then place them inside a box or drawer to keep your charging cables, headphones, and other small cords neat and tangle free.

3. Bird Feeder

Invite birds to your backyard by transforming a cardboard tube into an eco-friendly bird feeder. Simply spread peanut butter or honey on the surface of the tube and roll it in birdseed until fully coated. Hang it from a tree branch using twine or string for an instant snack station for feathered friends.

4. Gift Wrap Storage

Keep your wrapping paper organized and prevent unraveling by slipping spent cardboard tubes over loose ends of gift wrap rolls. You can either cut a slit down one side of the tube or carefully slide it over the wrapping paper like a sleeve.

5. DIY Napkin Rings

Add a touch of personal flair to your table settings by creating custom napkin rings from cardboard tubes. Cut them into approximately 1-inch-wide segments and decorate the exterior with paint, fabric, ribbon, or other embellishments. Slide rolled napkins through the rings for an elegant dining experience.

6. Fire Starter

Cardboard tubes make excellent fire starters for your fireplace or camping trips. Stuff the interior with dryer lint or crumpled newspaper, then add a few drops of wax (from melted candles or crayons) to help it ignite more easily. To use, simply place the fire starter beneath kindling and light it up.

7. Art Supply Storage

Keep your art supplies organized and accessible by repurposing cardboard tubes as storage containers for colored pencils, markers, paintbrushes, and other small items. Use toilet paper rolls for shorter supplies or cut down larger tubes to fit your needs. Place them upright inside a box or decorative container to keep everything tidy and within easy reach.

8. Cat Toy

Entertain your feline friend by turning a simple cardboard tube into an interactive cat toy. Cut holes along the length of the tube just large enough for your cat’s paw to fit through, then insert their favorite treat or toy inside the tube. Your cat will have fun trying to retrieve their prize while also getting some exercise.

9. Christmas Decorations

With a little creativity and some basic crafting materials, you can turn cardboard tubes into festive holiday decorations like ornaments, wreaths, and even mini Christmas trees. Create unique designs using paint, glue-on accents such as sequins and beads, or patterned paper for a one-of-a-kind decoration that’s both eco-friendly and budget-conscious.

10. Homemade Kazoos

Channel your inner musician by making homemade kazoos out of cardboard tubes! Punch a hole about an inch from one end of the tube, then cover that end with wax paper secured by a rubber band. Hum into the open end while placing your finger over the hole to create different pitches and sounds.

11. Guard for Baby Trees

If you’ve got small trees that it would be easy to accidentally mow down, you can put cardboard tubes around them to protect them. This works better with the sturdy tubes from paper towels and boxes of tin foil than the more flimsy ones from toilet paper.

12. Crease-free Tablecloths and Napkins

Folding table linens leaves them with creases. Instead of folding them, wrap them around cardboard tubes instead. Longer tubes from rolls of wrapping paper are perfect for tablecloths, while the tubes from paper towels and toilet paper are great for storing napkins.

13. Use as a pen holder

Turn toilet paper roll tubing into pen holders. They are a creative and eco-friendly way to repurpose empty rolls. To make them stiffer and nicer-looking, decorate with washi tape, paint, gesso, ribbons, beads, etc. To make a bottom for the holder, cut a small circle from cardboard slightly larger than the diameter of the roll and glue it to the base of your decorated roll.

You can glue several of them together to make a desk organizer.

14. Store crochet and knitting needles

Take a long, sturdy cardboard tube from your foil or plastic wrap. Close one end of it with a small piece of cardboard to form a bottom.

Put your needles in it. Pinch the top closed, punch small holes in either side of it, and run a piece of string or yarn through it. Tie the yarn in a bow to keep it closed, and loosen the bow to open it and let the needles out.

15. Make a Pest Strip

Cover a cardboard roll with transparent double-sided tape and hang it wherever the insects and mosquitoes like to gather.

16. Store scraps of fabric

Take any excess fabric pieces, roll them tightly and insert them into a cardboard tube from either your bathroom or kitchen. For clear identification, attach a piece of the fabric to the outside of the tube using tape or staples. 

So Many Ways to Reuse Cardboard Tubes

Cardboard tubes have so much potential for repurposing beyond their original use. Making more use of them reduces waste, saves money, and gives you a creative outlet. So next time you finish a roll of toilet paper or paper towels, think twice before tossing that tube in the recycling bin!