In the world of DIY and repurposing everyday items, it’s hard to beat the paper clip in terms of versatility. Ubiquitous in nature, the paper clip is virtually everywhere you go, making it one of the first items to be looked at when you need a quick life-hack. Need a tiny makeshift screwdriver or a way to start a fire? No problem, the paper clip has you covered.
In fact, since paper clips can serve so many different purposes in our day to day lives, there is an actual term for thinking up alternative uses for the unassuming item. It’s called Divergent Thinking, where a person can look at an item and find multiple uses for it that are unrelated to its intended purpose. Paper clips are at the heart of divergent thinking, as scientists will test your capability to come up with these various functions by having you list every possible use you can think of for a paper clip.
On average, most people can only produce between 10-15 different ideas on how a paper clip might be used. Those who fall under the category of divergent thinkers, though, can come up with 200 or more ideas on how to use this unassuming office supply. Here we have compiled a list of 35 of the most compelling uses for the paper clip. See if your ideas are already on the list!
1. DIY Mini Sculptures
If you like crafting and find yourself with a good amount of time to spare, you might try your hand at mini-sculpting. Paper clips make the perfect material for crafts like this, as they are crazy bendy, come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes, and they only cost pennies on the dollar. Just use your imagination and the sky’s the limit.
2. Make-Shift Cell Phone Stand
Getting tired of holding your phone out so you can show someone that hilarious video you found? Or maybe you’re trying to follow a recipe you found on Pinterest, but you have to wash your hands every few seconds to scroll to the next step. Well, that’s no problem if you’ve got a paper clip or two lying around. With a couple of quick bends to the small wire, you can have a makeshift phone stand in a matter of seconds.
3. DIY Antenna
Another fantastic use for paper clips is to use them as antennas. If you’ve gone on a camping trip but need to make an emergency phone call, you could well be out of range to get a signal. With just one simple paper clip, you can boost your signal enough to make your call. You can also drastically cut cable costs by making a TV antenna to get some HD channels, though don’t expect HBO to be on the list.
4. DIY Bookmark
Believe it or not, unless you’re using junk mail or scrap paper, bookmarks can get pretty expensive these days, especially the cute ones. The good news is that you can make any number of adorable bookmarks on the cheap by using paper clips. With just a touch of hot glue or a few minutes wire-wrapping, you can create a bookmark that will rival the best of them.
5. Paper Clip Toe And Finger Splint
One of the absolute BEST parts of repurposing an item is when you can use it to help yourself in an emergency. That being said, a small box of paper clips should always be included in your survival gear, as the uses are nearly endless. One of these uses to make an emergency toe or finger splint. That way, you can keep your toes and fingers intact and prevent yourself from further injuring them until you can get some medical attention.
6. Impromptu Sewing Needle
You never know when you’re going to have to put some stitches in something…or someone. If you find yourself in a situation meant for the sewing needle, but don’t have one, you can create one using a paper clip. Depending on the size of your paper clip, this can be especially useful for sewing canvas material, like your tent, or thicker materials like the soles of your shoes.
7. Emergency Fish Hook
If you’ve just lost your last hook but aren’t ready to give up on your fish dinner, check and see if you’ve got any paper clips to hand. If you’ve got two of them and a bit of paracord, you can fashion your own treble hook. Not only is this good for fishing, but it can also be used to grab small, hard to reach items. Ideally, pliers work best for straightening and rebending the paper clip into its desired shape, but you can also do this with your fingers in a pinch!
8. Precision Vegetable Carving Tool
With Halloween right around the corner, ’tis the season for all things pumpkin. It’s also the time to pull out all your carving gear. If you plan on keeping up with the Joneses in your wonderful yet creepy carvings, though, you better be prepared to work the details. Fortunately, for the finer lines and holes in your carving, a paper clip will work better than most knives, giving you more control and a more finished look to your squashy masterpiece. Simply sharpen one end of the clip to a fine point for small lines and holes, and use the looped end to scoop out thicker, shallow lines in your pattern.
9. Make Your Own Sling Shot
If you want to pay your sibling back for all the times they’ve messed with you over the years, help your niece or nephew make a paper clip slingshot! With just a couple of twists to some heavy duty paper clips and a bit of rubberband, you can help them hone their aim and nail their target. If their parents want to yell at you for being a bad influence, just explain that it’s an exercise in their fine motor skills and a strong assessment of their depth perception!
For all of the intricate workings of a lock, many of them can still be picked with the simplest and most common of tools; the paper clip. Their bendable wire allows you to shape them in almost any way that you need to get the job done. So, if you’ve locked yourself out of your home-safe, or maybe just the bathroom, you probably have the fix lying in your junk drawer. Just don’t use it to get into someone else’s safe, or you might have bigger problems on your hand.
11. Fashion A Safety Pin
For all the times you needed a safety pin but could only find a paper clip, this hack would have been nice to have. If you’ve got some pliers in your tool belt, you can make a couple of simple modifications to make your own safety pin that works just as well as the premanufactured ones. If you need it to be sharp, that’s no problem either. Just sharpen it with your pocket knife.
12. Clean Your Fingernails
If you’re at the office and realize you’ve accumulated more dirt under your nails than you’d like, the answer is probably lying right on your desk. The thinness of the paper clips allows you to easily slip it beneath your fingernail and scoop out that gunk. You can even straighten the clip out a bit and use the blunt end to reach those stubborn spots, like along the side of your nails.
13. DIY Egg Dipping Tool
If you want to use up last year’s egg dying supplies this Easter but somehow managed to lose the egg dipping tool, a paper clip will come to your rescue. Simply straighten out the clip, and then bend the bottom portion into a loop shape. If you’d like a longer handle, you can easily straighten another paper clip and twist it around the handle portion of the first to give you that extra bit of reach.
14. Secure Wrapping Paper
Wrapping paper is arguably one of the most expensive parts of Christmas. You generally tend to need a lot of it, and most people like a multitude of colors under the tree to give it a more festive feel. Needless to say, saving your extra wrapping paper at the end of the year is a must if you want to make your money stretch, but it can often rip and slip when you go to store it. Put an end to those torn and crinkled edges by slipping a paper clip over the roll at each end, and save yourself money in the process.
15. Fashion A Racerback Bra
Is there anything more annoying than going to put on a favorite new shirt, just to realize you don’t have a bra that goes with it? Well, that won’t be an issue anymore if you’ve got a paper clip handy. By slipping a strap into each end of the clip, you can quickly turn your standard bra into a racerback bra. Now you have both the support and the look you wanted for only a penny!
16. DIY Motor
Bring out your inner McGyver with this nifty paper clip hack. This is definitely a more intricate use for paper clips, but SO worth it if you’re trying to teach the kiddos about electrical currents and materials. With a few paper clips, pushpins, nails, and electrical tape, you can build a functioning motor that will have your kids in awe. Depending on their age, though, just make sure your kids know not to tinker with these projects without an adult around.
17. Battery Heater
Another, more simple way to display electrical currents using a paper clip is to create a battery heater. You only need three things; a 9V battery, the battery connector, and a paper clip. By simply wrapping the exposed copper in the black wire to one end of the paper clip, then that of the red wire to the other end, the clip will rapidly begin to heat up.
18. Cord And Cable Organizer
There are a couple of ways to go about organizing your cords and cables with paper clips. Of course, you can always straighten the paper clip out and use as you would a twist-tie. However, if you’d like a tidier look, you can use a rubber band with the paper clip. Just push part of the rubber band through the paper clip width-wise, then take the other end and push through the loop created in the rubber band and pull until tightly wrapped around the clip. Use the long loop of rubber band left over to wrap around your cords, then fasten the makeshift organizer by slipping the paper clip through the loop, and the width of the clip will hold it in place.
19. DIY Paper Clip Heart Earrings
Get whimsical with these DIY heart-shaped earrings. All you need is some red thread, two paper clips, and two earring hooks (which you can also make with a paper clip if you don’t have any lying around). Then all you have to do is bend the paper clips into hearts, and wrap any way you like with the thread before attaching them to the hooks.
20. DIY Jewelry Clasp
If your bracelet or necklace clasps break, don’t worry. There’s a hack for that. A paper clip makes for a fantastic jewelry clasp in a pinch. Just slip the paper clip through a link at each end of the bracelet, and voila! You’re good to go. This also works if you just need a bit of extra length on the item, just pick out a size that best suits your needs.
21. DIY Floral Wire
Crafting bouquets of flowers can be fun for all seasons. Unfortunately though, with the onslaught of DIY videos and crafting websites, floral wire has gone up in price over the years. While it isn’t exactly expensive, when you’re using a lot of it, or if you only need a very little and don’t want to add to your overflowing craft drawer, it can seem like a hassle to have to purchase a whole bundle of the stuff. Fortunately, paper clips work just as great as floral wire, and you probably have plenty of them lying around the house.
22. Keep Gloves Together
There is hardly anything worse than reaching for your gloves on your way out into the cold, only to find that you only have one glove handy. A paper clip can easily solve future problems like this. Simply slip a paper clip over both cuffs of your gloves or socks to keep them together. Now both gloves will always be right where you need them (together) and you can grab them in a hurry.
23. DIY Picture Hanger
With the invention of the digital camera, people have more photos now than ever before. Unfortunately, purchasing frames can get expensive pretty quickly, and what fun are photos when they’re just sitting, forgotten, in an old photo album? Well, with some wire or fishing line and a box of paper clips, you can put all your photos on display with this charming paper clip photo hack. It also knocks the socks off of birthday and celebratory banners, by putting favorite memories on display.
24. Reset Your Electronics
Granted, it’s indescribably annoying that the reset button on most electronics is a tiny button inset in an equally tiny hole. Look at the bright side though, if it were a large button near the surface, you’d probably be resetting your phone or tablet a lot more than you’d like, and lose important data every time. Thankfully there is a way to easily reset those electronics of yours without taking it to your local electronics geek; use a paper clip. All you have to do is straighten an end out and you’ve got the perfect size pokey for all your wired needs.
25. Clean Your Keyboard
Has your keyboard seen better days? So has most of ours. If you’re finding that dust in your keyboard to be more sticky than in other areas, you can use a paper clip to clean it. Just wrap some tissue, cloth, or even a bit of tape around the end of the clip to easily clean between those narrow cracks in your keyboard and it’ll be good as new.
26. Use A Paperclip To Put On Bracelets
Every woman who has ever tried to dawn their favorite bracelet without having someone there to fasten knows the struggle is real. Those women will be glad to know that a simple paper clip is the answer to their wrist-ware problems. Just bend the inner loop of the paper clip upwards and hold it while using the other “hook” to keep your jewelry in place while you bring the opposite end of the bracelet around and fasten it.
27. Start A Fire
One of the most important bits of knowledge to have while out in the wilderness is that of how to start a fire. While it’s true that you technically canstart a fire by rubbing two sticks together, there are easier ways of going about it if you’ve got the right materials. Fortunately, a paper clip and a double or triple A battery are enough to do the trick and small enough to keep with your hiking gear.
28. Clean Your Headphone Jack
One of the greatest conundrums in modern tech has to be the question of the headphone jack. Why, why, wouldn’t they put some sort of rubber plug or cover over the jack to keep it clean?! Questions aside, the good news is that you can easily clean it out right at your desk with a paper clip and a piece of tape twisted around the end, sticky side out. The blunt end of the paper clip is small enough to slip inside the jack, and the adhesive on the tape will easily pull away any dust or gunk stuck on the inside.
29. Substitute For Flathead Screwdriver
Don’t you love it when you go to change the batteries in something, only to find you need a special screwdriver to get the job done? Yeah, us either. Well, if you happen to be one of those strange folk who doesn’t carry around screwdrivers in their pockets, hopefully you at least have a paper clip. You can easily use one of the hoop-shaped ends to substitute as a flathead screwdriver, or the blunt end to use on screws for eye-ware.
30. DIY Wind Chime
Get crafty with all those extra paper clips lying around by making a DIY windchime. You can clip them together to make chains, and take advantage of their flexibility by bending them into different shapes or around baubles and gemstones that don’t have any holes in them, and they fit perfectly through most openings on bells or beads. Alternatively, you can use the same idea to make a cool rain chain.
31. Survival Compass
This one is at the top of the list because it could be a real life-saver. If you’re ever lost in the wilderness without all the right gear, you can find your way out again by turning that stray paper clip in your pocket into a compass. All you need is a leaf, paper clip, knife, and water and you’ll be headed north in no time flat.
32. Paper Clip Rings
Get twisty with your paper clips and make beautiful rings for you and your besties to wear. This works especially well for costume jewelry because you can get whatever look you want without breaking your wallet. All you need are some pliers and some wire-cutters to get the job done, and you can make them in a matter of minutes.
33. DIY Cherry Pitter
If you aren’t an avid baker or confectioner, chances are you don’t have a tool exclusively for pitting cherries sitting in your kitchen. Before you go out and spend a bunch of money on something you’ll rarely use, try fashioning your own cherry pit removal tool out of a paper clip. It’s easy to do and will get the job done just as well. Just bend out the inner loop and use the “hook” to scoop up the pit.
34. Mark Your Tape Edge
Save yourself the stress and wasted time you spend searching the roll of tape for the edge with this simple paper clip hack. Before you cut or tear a piece of tape, adhere a paper clip to the inside edge of the tape right next to where you plan to make your tear. This will make it easy for you to peel the next piece by preventing the end of the tape from sticking to the roll.
35. Get Organized
Last but not least, one great and simple use for paper clips is organization. There are tons of different colored paper clips on the market now, and they can make color-coding tasks or items super easy. For instance, you can use a paper clip to seal your seed packets and organize them by using one color for veggies and another for fruits. Alternatively, you can clip your coupons and use one color for healthcare products, one for cleaning, and another for groceries etc., making it easy to find what you’re looking for in a hurry.