Beyond the Mouth: 14 Uses for Dental Floss

Photo: Rob Boudon

It’s a common staple in a bathroom cabinet, well-stocked purse, or occasionally the center console of a very hygienic person’s automobile. We’re talking dental floss, and while it’s not as cheap per inch as your typical household string, its uses can be almost identical. In addition to using it to tie things together in a pinch, I’ve found over a dozen additional unique ways to use this wonderful stuff. (See also: 19 Money-Saving Uses for Mouthwash)

1. Unstick Stuff

If you’ve discovered your old photos have become stuck together by moisture or spills, you might try prying them apart gently with some clean floss, running the floss between the two photos. This trick also works for postage stamps; you’ll get the best results if you work while they are still wet.

2. Hang Pictures

This Old House credits floss for keeping wall hangings where they belong. (Their general contractor, Tom Silva, likes to use it in place of braided wire; it won’t scratch wall paint!) Floss can also be used to hang up holiday ornaments or decorations in your window.

3. Close Connections

Tom also recommends it as a cheaper alternative to Teflon tape, which is commonly used to seal gaps in screwed-together pipe pieces. Simply “wind a length around the fitting’s threads half a dozen turns before screwing it on.” That’s handy!

4. Tie a Trunk

The same This Old House article swear by floss as a way to keep trunks from flying up if overloaded with shopping goods or tools. It’s recommended that you give it at least 10 loops for added strength. (I also suggest taking it easy on the way home.)

5. Sew a Button

Floss can be easier to work with than thin thread. Keeping it in a small envelope, along with a needle with a large eye, just may save the day the next time you lose a button. Stash the envelope in your purse or wallet in case of emergency!

6. Cut the Cake

Growing up, my great aunt used dental floss to cut perfect pieces of cake. It’s great for multi-layer desserts; the lines are clean, and it can be tossed when everything is divvied up! Simply wrap each end of the floss around your fingers, and apply even pressure as you press down on the dessert. This also works for soft cheeses and hard-boiled eggs.

7. Hang Your Dainties

While most hotel rooms come equipped with pull-out clothes lines over the shower, some still haven’t made the upgrade. Get around this oversight with your own DIY line — tie it from the shower rod to a high-placed towel bar or cabinet knob.

8. Save Your Baked Goods

If your well-done cookies have a tendency to crumble, use a gentler technique than a spatula to pry them from the cookie sheet. Slowly slide dental floss under the edge of your cookie or biscuit, and work it back and forth between the pan and your baked creation. It takes a bit longer than traditional scraping methods, but should keep your goodies intact.

9. Shut a Suitcase

Zippers and locks are known to fail — especially on luggage while in the airport. To keep your stuff together in a flash, dental floss can be used to string together flaps and pockets that otherwise won’t snap or clasp. With new TSA regulations that make it more difficult to “lock” your carry-on bags, dental floss can be a lifesaver for those unexpected “valet” checks that can occur as you board. Use it to add an extra layer of protection for your gear.

10. Crafting for Kids

Little hands have a difficult time making jewelry and beaded arts with standard beading wire or thread. Give small crafters a hand by equipping them with extra-waxy floss. It’s easier to grip, and kids can safely make their own lengths with the cutter on the box.

11. Put Your Hair Up

If you find that your hair tie has broken unexpectedly, or a windy day has left you in need of a way to contain, consider Gomestic’s tip of tying it back with floss. It won’t rip or pull like an office rubber band. It will also be less noticeable than a gaudy off-color scrunchie.

12. Help Deliver a Baby

While you’ll likely never have to use it to tie off an umbilical cord, it’s good to know floss can do the trick. (This woman likely could have benefited from a clean length of floss.) Floss can also be used in stopping bleeding by cutting off blood flow — if nothing else will work, of course.

13. Support Stems

Plants that grow faster than their stems can keep up with may slump over. To keep plants from breaking off, use dental floss to tie them to a stick or stake firmly planted in the ground next to the plant. (You can also keep vines in place on a trellis or awning with this method.)

14. Tie Up the Turkey

If you don’t have any kitchen twine, and the thought of using your “household” string grosses you out, consider a cleaner option — dental floss! Yahoo! suggests using it the same way you would your culinary variety to tie up turkey or chicken legs for perfect roasting or broiling.

Floss can almost always stand in for string, but it may not be more affordable or prudent to do so. For those times away from home or when “standard” string isn’t clean enough, consider floss the ultimate solution.

How have you used floss in a unique way?

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Julie Rains's picture

Floss is tough stuff. My use is like #5 without the needle. Several years ago I took a new bathing suit to the beach and one of the back straps broke on the second wearing -- yikes! Without anything else around to use, I tied it back together with dental floss. That worked great and lasted much longer than the manufacturer's material.

Linsey Knerl's picture

OK. I'm impressed. I can barely sew with a needle, much less "macgyver" anything without. Thanks for the tip, Julie!

Guest's picture

Use it to slice blocks of cheese! Unless, of course, it's mind flavored. Who wants minty cheese?

Guest's picture

Dental Floss is the best for repairing wetsuits since it is Waxed the thread works well for the abuse a wetsuit gets in the water

Guest's picture

Some of these are pretty funny but make complete sense.