Introduction: Unusual Uses for Duct Tape

Picture of Unusual Uses for Duct Tape

Look beyond duct tape wallets and bags and discover some really unusual uses for everyone's favorite adhesive tape. The name suggests that the tape is for use on air ducts, like what you would find in your basement, however creative people soon figured out there's loads more applications possible for this sticky stuff.

Duct tape has exploded over the last decade or so due to its availability, and the recent introduction of color variations. Though there's new uses and applications for this ubiquitous tape, it has a very neat origin story.

The idea for what became duct tape came from Vesta Stoudt, an ordnance-factory worker and mother of two Navy sailors, who worried that problems with ammunition box seals would cost soldiers precious time in battle. She wrote to President Roosevelt in 1943 with the idea to seal the boxes with a fabric tape, which she had tested at her factory. The letter was forwarded to the War Production Board, who put Johnson & Johnson on the job. The Revolite division of Johnson & Johnson had made medical adhesive tapes from duck cloth from 1927. This division of Johnson & Johnson developed a new adhesive tape (duct tape), designed to be ripped by hand, not cut with scissors. -source


Through testing it's been determined that duct tape isn't all that great at sealing ducts, failing after normal conditions and becoming brittle. There's now specialty HVAC tape that's recommended now over duct tape. However, the humble duct tape has found a new home with creative makers. Though still used as a general adhesive tape around the home (and space!) there's new and unusual uses being dreamed up all the time.

Check out these unusual uses for duct tape and see if you can come up with your own!

Step 1: Clothes and Forms

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From dresses and vests, to hats and ... viking helmets?. Duct tape is truly versatile wonder.

Though it's going to be hot wearing anything made of duct tape, you're sure to be the talk of the party with your unique fashion. Though, if you're wearing clothing for warmth maybe a duct tape jacket is the way to go.

If wearing duct tape as a fashion statement isn't your thing, you can still use this sticky stuff to make forms to sew traditional fabric clothes. Using a form allows you to sew a garment to a specific body shape without the need to have the recipient there.

A duct tape dress form is a common application of making a form, or you could just make a full body form. Taping up your subject and then peeling off the duct tape and filling the cavity makes an almost perfect body replica. Forms aren't just for dresses, you can use the same technique to make duct tape masks. Heck, duct tape can be used to make a form from just about anything!

Step 2: Duct Tape Watercraft

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A duct tape kayak might seem crazy, but if the construction is sound it can hold up quite well.

Every water worthy vessel will need some kind of stiff skeleton to keep its shape. PVC is a common choice for boat keel and ribs, as it's lightweight and inexpensive. Whether a duct tape canoe or a duct tape kayak PVC is clearly a good combination. Just make sure you've used plenty of support to keep the boat from collapsing. Better yet, just leave PVC and duct tape boats as project for kids.

If you are determined to get you and your friends out on the water together, consider stepping up your design by making the boat skeleton more robust and able to carry more weight. This duct tape boat uses steel wire fencing and zip ties to create a wide bodied boat capable of carrying two.

The ultimate would obviously be a huge duct tape raft to carry your Scout Troop down the river, thereby earning your Wilderness Awesomeness Badge (if that were a thing).

Step 3: Duct Tape Art

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Since duct tape comes in all kinds of wonderful colors, so why not put them to use? The bright solid colors are great for Pop Art, or if you have a digital picture you can posterise a portrait or any other image.

But, artwork is more than flat images. There are plenty of other ways to express yourself artistically through duct tape. You could play with the phonetics of duct tape and make a duck made of duct tape, or release your inner Game Of Thrones Targarian and make duct tape dragon scales.


Step 4: Bag of Holding

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Duct tape is really good at holding things, both by sticking them together and when it's made into a bag.

When duct tape is combined with fabric you can make a no-sew duct tape case. The best part of this idea is that you can make the case or bag any size you need, and with any type of fun fabric.

However, the aesthetic of duct tape is something that should be celebrated. A duct tape handbag is a great way to show off your craft skills while staying functional.

Step 5: Sports!

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Though a little impractical, there's ways to make duct tape into your activities.

If trying your hand at throwing a duct tape boomerang is intimidating, you can always fashion a duct tape baseball glove to help you catch it. But duct tape isn't just for humans, there's dog projects if you're feeling adventurous (and if Fido lets you).

Duct tape dog panniers are a clever way to get your dog to carry their own items, like extra poop bags, treat, or play toys on your way out to the park.

When you get the to park you might need a ball to kick around, luckily duct tape has you covered there, too. There's two methods to make duct tape balls to kick around for the afternoon.

And for those that are into target practice there's a duct tape quiver to keep your arrows in, Katniss Everdeen would be proud.

Step 6: Duct Tape Survival

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If you don't have a roll of duct tape as part of your essential camping equipment, go do that right now!

Duct tape has endless uses when in the back country. Making a compass from duct tape and some cork is a small and easy example, but more practical and realistic example is using duct tape to make a cast if you injure yourself.

If you're fireside and want to put your duct tape skills to use you could try making a duct tape bog roll holder, or maybe duct tape flip flops for keeping your feet from getting sandy after taking a dip in the lake.

Step 7: Wart Removal

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A very peculiar claim to duct tape is its use in wart removal. The science behind this is poorly understood (and highly contested!), but the prevailing theory is "the tape might create a macerating and keratolytic environment, stimulating an immune response"(source).

The data is unclear about if this is a valid alternative to traditional medicine, studies conclude no benefit over a placebo. However, WebMD lists it as a low-risk alternative to acid or liquid nitrogen treatments.

As with all alternative treatments, the efficacy depends on a lot of factors, so this treatment might not work for everyone.

Step 8: Hair Removal

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If you have four-legged furry friends, then you know the Sisyphean task that is keeping your couch clean. Luckily, there's a good chance you've got a roll of duct tape somewhere nearby.

Tear a strip of duct tape and make a slack loop around your hand with the sticky side out. Splay your fingers to hold the duct tape loop in place and drag the loop on your couch fabric. Pet hair will stick to the tape and be pulled off the couch. Rotate the tape loop as needed to always keep a fresh tacky surface to clean with

Duct tape can also be used on clothes to get off lint or debris. Using the same method as with the couch, loop a section of duct tape around your hand with the sticky side out. Press or roll the tape loop along your clothes to remove surface hairs, for more stubborn hairs you can try holding the duct tape and dragging it across the grain of the fabric.

Step 9: Blister Bandage

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Breaking in new shoes can be painful, the stiffness of the shoes can rub against the heel of your foot and create a sore spot, which can eventually lead to blisters. Adhesive bandages can work, but are prone to rubbing off and rarely does one bandage cover the affected area. A quick alternative is to cover the heel area with duct tape, either before a blister develops, or in addition to a bandage after.

The strong adhesive of the duct tape, and slipper surface, make it a good choice to protect your feet when wearing painful shoes. Hopefully your new footwear can be broken in quickly and there will be no need for duct tape beyond the first few wearings.

Got your own unusual use for duct tape?I want to see it!

Share a picture of your creative duct tape use in the comments below and get a free Pro Membership to Instructables.

Happy making :)


mid_life_crisis (author)2017-09-14

It's disputed history, but the original name was supposedly "Duck", not "Duct" Tape, because of its ability to make a watertight seal. This makes perfect sense as ducts are about the one thing you should never use it on.

Interesting, I was told several years ago (by a Marine) that the original name was "Duck" tape because of the Vesta Stoudt story at the beginning of the article. She applied an adhesive to "cotton duck" fabric (canvas) thus "duck tape".

monkm (author)2017-10-20

I know this is just one more anecdotal account, but for what it's worth: Years ago I did have a persistant wart on my finger. I kept it covered with a relatively inconspicuous square of duct tape for several weeks. The skin underneath shriveled and sloughed off, as did the wart. The skin grew back (the wart did not) and it didn't leave a scar. It took a while but saved me a costly visit to a dermatologist.

csiops (author)2017-10-11

We never leave base camp when hiking without a few yards of duct tape wrapped around the hiking poles (like mini duct tape rolls). It has many uses from covering blisters, remaking pack straps, repairing tent poles to repairing hiking boot soles. It is a must have when on the trail!

rongreed (author)2017-10-03

I have been using this method for at least five years. I put yellow duct tape at various places on my luggage. I don't have to hover over the baggage claim conveyors. I can spot my luggage at once, no questions asked. I don't know why more people aren't using this. The tape has lasted at least five years.

WannaDuino made it! (author)2017-09-12

made a DUCTAPE RAMP with Dudson

WannaDuino STYLE

mikeasaurus (author)WannaDuino2017-09-14

WannaDuino (author)mikeasaurus2017-09-27

wher is my pro mem?

mikeasaurus (author)WannaDuino2017-09-27

Did it work? What was the structure underneath the duct tape that provided the stability to launch off the ramp? What were you trying to launch, and why was this construction better than an alternative?

Happy to gift free memberships, but you need to demonstrate that this is an actual use and not just a show piece.

WannaDuino made it! (author)mikeasaurus2017-09-17

is it now enough

WannaDuino (author)mikeasaurus2017-09-15

YEP, but he broke 1 rib, it was a DUCTAPE RAMP, from 1 high story terras, and used it to ramp down with the skateboard, BUT was a BAD IDEA.


jackreno11 (author)2017-09-23

Duct tape is extremely useful! One thing I did for a long time that was not listed here, is to create a duct tape wallet, I used one for several years when you need a new pouch, just tape one on! When it starts to fall apart, just tape it back together, or build a new one!

Also, I have used the duct tape wart removal, I heard somewhere that it needs at least 40 days to work, so it was a little embarrassing to keep duct tape on my thumb for 45 days straight. A remedy I found was to put a band-aid over the duct tape, people would often ask why duct tape was on my thumb, but a bandage is not nearly as suspicious.

Marniacal (author)2017-09-20

I love this instructable!

My offer is a real life example of how duct tape can save you in a pinch. I'm in Florida and during Hurricane Irma week we got down to one gas can full of fuel for the generator. This can is older and the funnel from the others would not fit, and we couldn't find a house funnel in the dark. So I grabbed my roll of duct tape and fashioned a quick (but not beautiful) homemade funnel that did the job of filling the generator without spilling half the fuel.

As a side note, with a little modification, this little number would work for us ladies when there is no bathroom available. Sort of a homemade She-Wee!

mikeasaurus (author)Marniacal2017-09-21

This is a great emergency application of duct tape. I love it!

Thanks for sharing a picture. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

craigbaz (author)2017-09-14

If you cant fix it with duct haven't used enough duct tape.

EnjeckC (author)craigbaz2017-09-19

Haha. Yes

JohnR245 (author)craigbaz2017-09-14

if you can't fix it - Duc it!

sg13NHarri (author)2017-09-19

Well, apparently when he was a teenager, my Dad found out you can use duct tape to stick your brother's entire body to a door...

I'm starting to wish I had tried this on one of my sisters at some point.


EnjeckC (author)sg13NHarri2017-09-19


Likeswater made it! (author)2017-09-17

Here's one my Dad taught me - tape the cans of PVC solvent and cement together so they form a kit. It makes them a bit more tip-resistant, easier to handle, and harder to misplace. I split the tape down the middle so the can labels show (there are different kinds of cement for different applications and materials). The split tape also makes kind of a carrying-handle (see below). Just be sure the cans are tight together and flat on a surface when you start taping!

mikeasaurus (author)Likeswater2017-09-18

This is a good idea. I'm going to do this to a few items in my shop so they are always together!

Thanks for sharing your duct tape tip. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

JGinNJ (author)2017-09-18

If I recall there was a Canadian show that was a "handyman" spoof. I think the main character was Red Green, or something like that. He had countless uses for duct tape that were zany, goofy, and funny (and obviously would not work). Great fun.

mikeasaurus (author)JGinNJ2017-09-18

As a Canadian myself, I can confirm that Red Green is a national treasure.

LesB (author)2017-09-16

People might like to know about Gorilla Tape, which is similar to duct tape but better quality, stronger and better stickum. It's black.

tomi71 (author)2017-09-16

Love the House Lannister chest plate. And the compass.

valveman (author)2017-09-14

Love the Kayak.

Are you using any cardboard or foam-board with the duct tape?

PatrickL137 made it! (author)2017-09-12

Costumes and prop's for band Gwell-o (

This is just a small sample of the costumes and prop's that we use in the band.

mikeasaurus (author)PatrickL1372017-09-14


TMorgan69 (author)2017-09-12

Butterfly stitches!

mikeasaurus (author)TMorgan692017-09-14

Another reason to have it in your hiking/camping kit!

Thanks for sharing a picture of your duct tape project. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

JohnW353 (author)TMorgan692017-09-12

Duct tape and a finger splint for a broken nose.

CindyD1 (author)TMorgan692017-09-12

Good idea, for injuries while camping, hiking etc.

TMorgan69 (author)CindyD12017-09-12

It stopped the bleeding, and got me back into the game of packing up all the things before the real stitches.

RussellS8 (author)2017-09-12

If silence is golden, why is duck tape silver?

mikeasaurus (author)RussellS82017-09-14

Best comment.

GuyB12 (author)RussellS82017-09-12

First time I've heard that line. Genius statement (glancing at my noisy teenage kids)

JohnW353 (author)RussellS82017-09-12

Because DUCTS are made of metal galvanized material. silver color or gray in some instances.

RichieS10 (author)JohnW3532017-09-12

It seems like the joke went over your head, so I'll explain. RussellS8 was implying that he puts duct tape over someone's mouth to keep them quiet. He wasn't really asking why duct tape is silver. Then he further explained that he's covering his kids' mouths with duct tape.

NJSmirk (author)RussellS82017-09-12

Uh Oh. What's really going on. LOL

RussellS8 (author)NJSmirk2017-09-12

Just a little creative parenting. ;0)

vernellucerosr made it! (author)2017-09-13

My daughter is holding up a kite that I made using duct tape to adhere four different bandanas together. I used an iron to heat the tape after previous failures. I still have the kite, and hope to fly it at our next festival. Caution: do not over heat the tape as it will peel.I

Wow! That's an incredible kite. I would have thought the weight of the duct tape might keep it from becoming airborne. Love the livery on it :)

Thanks for sharing a picture of your duct tape project. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

Braindead63 made it! (author)2017-09-13

Here is a sheath for a shop knife made for me by my assistant. Simple with a layer of corrugated cardboard under the tape folded over the blade.

Eventually it will be remade using double walled corrugated cardboard with more material around the perimeter to do stitching along the edges.

mikeasaurus (author)Braindead632017-09-14

Thanks for sharing a picture of your duct tape project. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

Also, I should get me an assistant :)

mrwonton made it! (author)2017-09-13

made a RFID blocking wallet (also an instructable!)

mikeasaurus (author)mrwonton2017-09-14

Excellent! Can you reply here with a link to your project? I'm sure someone will want to make one (I love my RFID wallet).

Thanks for sharing a picture of your duct tape project. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

Tman179 (author)2017-09-14

Ive actually used duct tape as moleskin before, works pretty well

JerryT41 (author)2017-09-13

Good ol' duct can fix anything with it....but ya can't fix stupid!!!!!

mwitherspoon (author)JerryT412017-09-14

NO but you can silence it!

AKOldman (author)2017-09-12

Here is a bit of duct tape trivia for you. The Walmart in Wasilla, Alaska, sells more duct tape than any other place in the world. Retail that is.

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