Thursday, January 27, 2011

Creative Re-Use: Cork & Sponge

We've all done it: thrown away an old dish sponge. What else do you do with it?

First of all, you can clean sponges: make sure the sponge is a bit wet and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds, run with your dishwasher, or wash with your kitchen rags in the washing machine. Barring that sort of reuse there are a few other reuses.

Got a perfectly good sponge but need some scrubbing action? Wrap it in the plastic mesh that onions and other produce often come packaged in, secure with a bread or twist tie and you've got a scrubby sponge.

If you have a particularly thirsty plant you can use worn out sponges and scraps in the bottom of a pot to retain moisture for your needy little flora.

Worn out sponges also work well for kids craft projects (as stamps, for clean-up, or for paint texture), painting tools (especially for touch-ups and clean-up), for buffing and polishing shoes or silver, and finally, for cleaning other areas of the house.

Even more cost saving but very useful? Use your sponges as bottle brushes. Bottle brushes cost a pretty penny and rarely do you find on that isn't a mix of mediums - bristles and cloth - to actually just clean a bottle or glass.

Bottle Cleaners
Super fast, super easy bottle brushes:

1) Using kitchen scissors and cut your sponge into strips:
  •  For a thin bottle brush - best for cleaning things like fluted glasses or smaller necked bottles, cut strips length-wise.
  • For a more larger bottle brush - best for cleaning things with a wider neck, baby bottles and jars, cut strips width-wise.
2) Using a chopstick with a more pointed end (some are more blunt), pierce the sponge strips:
  •  For a thin bottle brush - pierce one long strip and slide along length-wise. This takes a big of patience so don't go too fast!
  • For a larger bottle brush - pierce strips through the middle width, 3-5 or so, like you might do with a kebab, turn pieces in alternate directions.
Cork Tip
3) For either version: if you are concerned about the sponge staying put, take a cork and slice a quarter inch round with a serrated knife. Place the cork on the table then pierce with the chopstick - you can go all the way through or just stick on the end, your choice.

Note: I've tried this both with wet and dry sponges. For me the project was easier with a dry sponge.

Cork Rounds

But now you've got a cork with an end missing. What to do with that? I've use cork rounds for a few applications and I'm sure you can think of more.

Continue cutting rounds from the cork. Use the rounds on the back to secure slippery coasters by affixing with hot glue. Use the cork rounds to stabilize furniture or prevent it from scratching floors. If you're really in a pinch you can cut them down even smaller and use then on a high heel that's needing to be repaired.

If you are particularly crafty you can use cork rounds to create some pretty amazing jewelry as well!

Cork Reuse Placecards

Or use whole corks as place card/escort card/business card holders:

1) Again, using a serrated knife (or a very small saw, if you like) cut the length of the cork to make a more stable surface, and so the cork won't roll around.

2) Not lay the cork on the flat side and use the knife to create a slit across the top, as deep (or shallow) as you like. Voila! Slide a card in and you are all set!

For a fast and fun hostess gift take a piece of thin cardboard, cut into equal rectangles, coat with chalkboard paint, slip cards into a muslin bag with a piece of chalk and a matching number of cork holders and tie around a wine bottle. Quick, easy, useful, and a little more than just a bottle of wine!

Kids Sponge Ball

This idea, from the August 2009 issue of Family Fun magazine uses the same idea of cutting sponges down - only this time to make a fun summer toy for the kids, or a fun bath time toy for kid who just can't get enough of bubbles!

Other bath time ideas? Cut x's and o's out of your sponges and use them to play a game of tic-tac-toe, in the tub with bath crayons. Cut a slit in the end of your sponge and slide in a small bar of soap (from a hotel or nearly done): now your kid has soap and a sponge in one!

What other creative re-uses and tricks do you use for your sponges or corks?


Anonymous said...

Well that's nifty. Hum, I seem to have a lot of corks....

Krystal said...

my jaw just dropped at the cool cork idea, seriously!!

Jodi said...

I love the cork idea. I am going to use it to hold pictures!! Fabulous!