9 Clever Paper Towels Uses That Aren’t Just Cleaning

Beyond wiping down your counters and drying dishes, there are several outside-the-box paper towel uses you may not know about.

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Washed salad in sieve
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Keep Greens Fresh

Wrap salad greens or herbs in a paper towel before storing them in the fridge. The sheet will absorb excess moisture, helping them stay fresh longer.

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Smiling woman in kitchen taking jar from kitchen cabinet
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Soften Brown Sugar

If your brown sugar resembles a brick, you can reconstitute it by placing it in a bowl covered with a damp paper towel. Place the bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds, and the moisture will soften the sugar again.

(Learn more tricks for how to soften brown sugar!)

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Hands of person slicing leeks on white cutting board, healthy eating concept
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Keep Cutting Boards in Place

Some plastic cutting boards don’t have anti-slip grips on the bottom, which means they’ll slide around the counter as you try to chop. Simply place a paper towel underneath the board for improved traction.

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Prevent Microwave Messes

If you’re heating up something in the microwave and think it might pop or splatter, place a paper towel over the food to minimize the mess. (Here are several other microwave tricks everyone should know.)

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Boy (4-5) peeling corn cob
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Remove Silk From Corn

When shucking corn, you can quickly remove any lingering pieces of silk by wiping down the produce with a damp paper towel. It will grab the stringy pieces, allowing you to start cooking faster.

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Three iron pans in different sizes
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Protect Stacked Pans

Many people warn against stacking pots and pans for storage, as it can lead to dings and scratches. However, if you have to stack your cookware, put paper towels between the pieces to serve as a protective barrier. This is especially useful for cast-iron pans, as the towel will also absorb excess moisture and protect the pan’s seasoning.

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can opener opening can of tomato sauce
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Clean Can Openers

When was the last time you cleaned your manual can opener? If it’s been too long, you can simply clamp it down on a paper towel and twist the handle. The blades will spin, wiping off any gunk onto the disposable sheet.

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Loaves of bread wrapped in plastic, to avoid going to the market every day to buy in times of corona-virus. Spain, Europe
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Keep Frozen Bread Fresh

Frozen bread often gets soggy as it thaws, but if you put a sheet of paper towel into the bag, it will absorb the moisture, helping to keep your bread dry and delicious.

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A woman pouring coffee from a pot through a paper filter.
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Serve as a DIY Coffee Filter

If you need a caffeine fix but don’t have any filters, a paper towel will work in a pinch. Just use it to line the basket of your coffee maker, and it will strain out the grounds.

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn is a freelance lifestyle writer and product tester with eight years of experience testing hundreds of kitchen, home, garden and pet products. She brings her hands-on insight to the Taste of Home table and tests kitchen appliances, grills, home organization tools and more. Her tried-and-true product reviews appear in top lifestyle publications, such as The Spruce, Epicurious, Bon Appetit and People. Offline, she manages a small Rhode Island homestead where she tends to her gardens and furry animals.