Tuesday, July 14

19 Everyday and Fun Uses of Rubber Bands

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Rubber band se kya banaye

If I were to name one elusive household product that seems to vanish when the need arises most, and reappear when nobody’s looking for it, I’d attribute it to ’em rubber bands.  We pick up countless packs of them, yet find it hard to keep track of where they have been used until a wiggly loner is spotted in an obscure corner of a drawer.  If you ask me, the rubber band has been among the most versatile of items for domestic use.

From being used as a catapult to attack unsuspecting chameleons to keeping hair efficiently bound in a ponytail, it has played a part in every person’s existence.  When the scrunchy became a rage, it dispensed with the use of the traditional rubber band which, however, continued to form the basis of its cotton-wrapped new world cousin.

Seemingly innocuous, the humble rubber band has uses that can “stretch” into a lengthy list.  However, I’d prefer to put down just those uses that aren’t commonly known.  Or ones that may be common but whose benefit has particular relevance to me.

It was during the process of preparing kulfi at home that I discovered an excellent way to keep the mouth of the moulds firmly closed in the freezer was to cover them with foil/ polybag cutouts secured by rubber bands.  Of course, not having the right kulfi moulds and its unavailability during lockdown was one of the reasons for resorting to this alternative.  This set me thinking about the pliability of these bands and recalling the diverse areas of its use at home.

Like for instance, making one’s own anti-skid remote with a few rubber bands can help hold its position which even an earthquake perhaps couldn’t ‘remote’ly shake.

Also the case of holding straggly old brooms together which cost-conscious maids insist on.  Perhaps there’s a sentimental attachment before a new broom makes a’ clean sweep’.

I’ve also noticed many an inspired vacuum cleaner salesmen who attribute more uses to the appliance than what it is originally intended for.  In fastening stockings to the gadget, with the help of rubber bands naturally, they swear to have found more lost items from nooks and crannies than dust alone.

Well, you may want to find that box of rubber bands to help take stock of my list which has been created primarily to serve as a benefit to you than to crack your sides.  If it keeps you comically engaged, that is fine too as long as its use is greater.  Now that you are equipped with an arsenal of rubber bands, it is time to dive into the list of places where you can use a rubber band effectively.

Everyday uses of rubber bands

1. Effortless opening containers

Have you ever had to request a brawny neighbour to open your oh so stubborn sauce bottles?  Or waited an entire day to elapse before the “man of the house” returned home to help open a resisting container, or hoped for a “He-Man” to swoosh in to your aid?  Well, you may now have solace in doing it on your own, in merely having a rubber band fastened around the lid of the container.  The steady grip allows you to give it an easy twist and voila, the jam jar is no longer “jammed”.

2. Keep tab of the quantity

How do you take stock of opaque containers, of the quantity of content inside them?  Do you have to perform the “shake-and-open-and-check” test on them as you can’t see through to the ingredient levels inside?  Well, a rubber band can help you quickly ascertain the quantities at a glance, in binding them around the containers to mark the content levels from its last use.  With an ingenious mind, you could even get more inventive; in colour-coding the packs/ jars to keep track of its expiry dates – like red bands for those threatening to expire sooner and green for those having a longer shelf life.  Of course, sealing opened ingredient packs like cornflour and such is common knowledge.

3. Don’t let the spoons swim in the gravy

There can be exasperating moments during cooking escapades when stirring spoons slide down into the depths of a gravy.  How to “spoon out” a spoon for God’s sakes.  Don’t let such slides vex you anymore; for in fastening a rubber band to the end of the spoon handle, the spoon is sure to stay in place without an urge for a swim.

4. Keep the grip

With old age comes a loss of grip in the fingers, especially with the arthritic lot.  Walking sticks can slide from loose handgrips, which can make senior citizens susceptible to falls.  Binding rubber bands around walking stick handles and even pencils and similar paraphernalia can help offer a better “grip over the situation“.  Don’t let butter fingers cause a slippery situation anymore.

5. Your handy bookmark

Whether you’re using a cookbook which is common in the lockdown phase, you may want to keep the book open at a specific page/ recipe.  Or you may want to mark the place you’ve last read.  If you don’t have bookmarks readily available, the rubber band will do the job just as well.  Just part the book, and secure the pages on one side with a band running through the length of the book to serve as a page holder.

Try gifting a pack of rubber bands to your bibliophile friends, with a printout of this article.  It could prove more useful than perhaps a fancy paperweight or a readymade bookmark.

6. On the go

Talking about books, there are books you may want to carry on a long-distance trip – much after the lockdown when travel bans are lifted.  There’s a ready reckoner, a travel guide and a novel in your bag.  You’d want to keep them together, instead of having them take a tumble in your suitcase.  Just wrap a thick rubber band or two around it – horizontally.  Or criss-cross if you’re fastidious (like I am).

7. There’s always space in the bag

Frequent travellers know that packing and unpacking forms a significant part of a trip.  Trying to fit in the clothes needed from those for “just-in-case” occasions and “what-if-something-goes-wrong” instances.  They’d just need to roll their clothes neatly and secure the bundles with rubber bands.  Some rolls easily stay in place, but chiffons and satins tend to play truant and can only be disciplined with rubber bands.  The rolls will keep the clothes wrinkle-free too, besides giving breathing space in the bags.

8. Seal the lotions on a plane

No one can forget the unholy mess of a first-time plane trip, at least from hair gels and body lotions.  Even if the caps are screwed on tight, there is a good chance of the cabin pressure playing pop with the caps.  And so – this hack which has been an age-old remedy with me – of covering the cap with a plastic sheet or even a polybag and fastening it with a rubber band will keep the spill in check.  Should the lotion open up in flight, it still won’t run into your clothes but stay ensconced inside the rubber band fastened polybag.

9. Keep the peace

Getting into arguments on who’s using whose charger at home?  Well, am sure you’ve been there, and if it hasn’t already occurred to you, the rubber band comes to the rescue again.  Why not have colour coded rubber bands to maintain a track of ownership.  Red for dad, green for mom, blue for brother and pink for sister.  Of course, you needn’t fall into stereotypical colours of gender.  It was just a manner of saying.

And yes, if the charging cords are inordinately long – the rubber band can bind the length in half and save more than just your water bottle from toppling over.  It could save your laptop from being damaged from a possible water spill.

 

10. Keep the clothes on a hanger

If you’re one suffering from obsessive-compulsive “order”, oops “disorder” – you’ll want your garments to hang in an orderly fashion in your wardrobe.  The wide-necked top won’t just stay in place, without slipping off a clothes hanger’s edges.  So what do you do – tie its sleeves around the neck?  Nah, there’s a better way to circumvent these “slips” by lopping rubber bands on both sides of the hanger to hamper a possible clothes glide down the edges.

11. Bind us together

Keeping spring onions, asparagus, coriander togetherwrapped up in absorbent tissues and rubber bands – is again a common way to keep the vegetable tray looking neat, apart from keeping the greens from interspersing into the other.

 

12. Keep the cash rolling

The best use of keeping cash wads together – or currency denominations – is seen at toll plazas where the use of lower denomination currency is called for.  Nothing like Rs. 50 notes, Rs 10s and similar denominations – kept “under wraps” (no pun intended).  These wads wrapped in same currency denominations could be pulled out in a moment, as soon as it’s your turn to pay the toll.

There are wages to be paid too – to the domestic help, cook, laundryman, driver, car washer and others in your employment.  The notes could be rolled with rubber bands, together with post-it stick-ons indicating the name of the payee.

13. Unscrewing a tight screw

Old pieces of furniture and fixtures may have screws that have been there too long for comfort.  These can make moving them for a bi-annual spring cleaning or even home renovation arduous.  Not for long, if you can get hold of a toolbox and a few rubber bands.  Bind them around the tight screws and between the screw head and the screwdriver the rubber band could render it easier to unscrew.

Fun uses of rubber bands

1. Tight jeans no more

With the lockdown binge eating, it is not surprising if trousers/jeans have grown tighter.  If the top button can’t get into its buttonhole, there’s no need to fret.  Safety pins can help, but they can split open with pressure, and their prick’s not exactly pleasant.

Wrapping a stout rubber band around the button and buttonhole will not just keep the waist in place but also give breathing space, quite literally.

2. Keeping your tools handy

This idea is somewhat inspired by Hometalk, which suggests tying tools like pliers and spanners to the wrist to keep a grip on them while climbing to the top lofts/attic.  This reduces frequent ups and downs on the ladder.  Of course, common sense must prevail with every innovative idea in that heavy hammers and such can’t obviously be tied to the wrist strap.

3. A makeup pencil holder

For ones who have heaps of cosmetics, including eye and lip pencils of varying hues it’s not possible to keep a separate holder for every colour.  If you criss-cross a few sturdy rubber bands around say a fancy mug, you could get several sections to put the pencils in.  Red & copper hues could go into one, yellows & golds in another, and so on.  The same technique could apply to makeup brushes – powder, blush, eyebrows etc.  The advantage is that you can pick up the colour of your choice in an instant, especially when rushing to an occasion.

4. French manicure and nail art at home

Nail art, using rubber bands

With the lockdown, it isn’t easy to get a French manicure for the simple reason that salons are closed.  Your handy rubber band is all you need with the nail polish.  Just wrap it around the fingernail tip, separating the tip from the rest of the nail bed on which a coat of pale pink may be applied.  Not that the application of polish is a task per se, but there’s no chance of overstepping the nail boundaries into the tip area which needs to stay white and separate.  The white coat application on the tip would come easier after the main coat has been done.  I bet you’re already thinking up creative ways to design your nails with the help of rubber bands.

5. Making a key ring

Tired of clunky keychains that make not just the handbag heavier but hard to search among a set of clunkier items inside?  Take, for instance, the house keys, the car keys, the multiple office drawer keys – all in three different key chains.  Using a single rubber band to loop all three keychains together or merely replacing them with bands would make it lighter on the go.  Perhaps you could loop just one key, one that opens to a single drawer inside which the keys to the rest of the drawers may be placed.

6. Fidgety fart

Timepass with rubber bands

I’ve known of restless types who can’t seem to keep their hands together, without fidgeting.  They keep rubber bands handy, just for the feel of it.  They wrap their fingers around it and twang on it all day long.


You may want to give back to the rubber band what you take from it.  What better way than to increase their life by storing them in a covered, cool and dark place.  Some even suggest placing them in a refrigerator, but that’s a theory I haven’t put to use so far.  If kept open, rubber bands can display symptoms of being orphaned.  They get sticky and even crumbly owing to exposure to light.

You may want to treat your rubber bands well, by not overstretching them beyond their limits.

 

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About Author

Carmelita is an Economics major and is employed with a private sector bank. She holds a diploma in journalism, but that's not the reason for her creative writing skills exhibited in a few freelancing feature writing assignments with a leading daily and also her blog. Her blog falls under the Top 25 of the Best Mumbai Blogs to Follow, by Feedspot.com ranking. She has an eye for offbeat travel, having visited seven continents and seeing more than what meets the average eye. Though not a cook per se, her tips on smart cooking are a thing to reckon in her food and cocktail recipes. As if this is not enough, she dabbles now and then in studio singing assignments which have gained her a sizeable fan following. That she is an avid reader is but natural, with a bent for literary classics which in turn have lent its influence in her blog writing panache.

10 Comments

  1. Your first tip reminded me of our school days when we would do the same with our fountain pens to fill ink in the barrel – wrap a rubber band just above the nib and twist it open.
    Priya

  2. SMILEY DCOSTA on

    HI MY DEAR MELI,
    WHEN I SAW UR THIS URL ON RUBBER BANDS, I THOUGHT THAT I DID KNOW ALL ABOUT THESE LITTLE RUBBER BANDS BUT NO, I DID NOT. U HAVE PROJECTED A NUMBER OF WONDERFUL USES OF THE RUBBER BANDS. WHAT I
    DID NOT KNOW, AND HAVE NOW LEARNT IS POINTS [3], [5], [7 to 12]; and IN THE FUN PART, NUMBERS [1], [2], [3], [5]. AWESOME, SIMPLY AWESOME. MELITA DEAR U R GREAT, LOV U. HAVE A GREAT DAY. VIVA.

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