Unusual Uses for Duct Tape

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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

Neat!

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

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

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

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.

Duck!

Step 4: Bag of Holding

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!

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

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

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

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

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 :)

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116 Discussions

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JessicaP188

2 months ago

Great article! It has some interesting and some funny uses of Duct Tape. I like this, keep sharing!

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AngieB34

9 months ago

I've used duct tape to get fiberglass insulation out of the skin. Works great

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rongreed

1 year ago

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.

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cosrongreed

Reply 10 months ago

I put a few squares of pink camo tape on my luggage. Always know it's mine.

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AKOldman

1 year ago

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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callhowAKOldman

Reply 1 year ago

Why would they sell more "duct tape" in Wasilla, Alaska ?

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AKOldmancallhow

Reply 1 year ago

Wasilla is kinda the gateway to the interior. Most people, particularly city folks, would see it as the last sign of civilization until you get up to Fairbanks. If you live in the interior of Alaska you can't just run to the corner store when something breaks. You have to be prepared to handle breakdowns/emergencies on your own. That means the smart folk have a supply of duct tape on hand and the Walmart in Wasilla is the place to get it.

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Alaskan BevAKOldman

Reply 10 months ago

Hi, AKOldman! Alaskan Bev again. Our oldest son lives in Wasilla. He borrowed our trailer a while back and I finally had to go retrieve it. Oh, no! One of the two wires on the connector to my rig's light system was broken and the hitch lock was gone. I stopped at Wal*Mart, bought a roll of camo duct tape (to complement my couple dozen assorted rolls at home!), taped the wires together, then wrapped several loops of it around the trailer hitch to keep it from unhitching itself all the way down the highway. Worked fine. Yea, Wasilla Wal*Mart!

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jwzumwaltAKOldman

Reply 10 months ago

It is often used as emergency repair for airplanes, boats, 4
wheeler's, and camping gear. The Wasilla area (including Big Lake, and
Talkeetna) have the heaviest bush aircraft traffic in the world (hunting, fishing, sight seeing). The military also use it and have a mil-spec for use on aircraft such as rescue C-130. A&P's call it "100 mile per hour tape". Boating in that area is second only to the Kenai peninsula.

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Alaskan BevAKOldman

Reply 10 months ago

AKOldman, if you are a geocacher we may know each other. I live in a small community between Wasilla and "town" (Anchorage). If you're not, you can look me up on the geocaching website. I've run some cash through that Wal*Mart and have even bought duct tape and electrical tape there! I had no idea that this store bears the distinction you mention. It's fun to stand at those counters and discuss tape uses with strangers! I've even gotten some great new ideas there. We use the stuff all the time.

Great Instructable, Mike, as always! Thanks.

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jsolliencallhow

Reply 1 year ago

Because they're the "duct tape capital" of the world.

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NarkR

10 months ago

Dolevett - how do you make Roses from the colored Duct Tape???

curious minds need to know.

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demnlemn

10 months ago

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaomg i love duct tape so much infact iwas on My Strange Addiction were my whole house was in ducttape now i can continue with these amazing uses for duct tape.

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Cole-Slaw

10 months ago

I wish i had some pictures.

Back in college my friend and i recieved some packages from online purchases, they often came with packing peanuts. Packing peanuts are kind of terrible to get rid of, so i decided to repurpose them, we slowly filled a large garbage bag with peanuts. When it was full, wrapped the entire thing in duct tape, leaving the top /opening opened. I packed them as much as i could, crushing and grinding them. (To keep the bean bag chair from going flat in the future. I jammed more in and wrapped the chair as tight as i
Could. Wah-lah, gome made easily repairable bean bag chair. All it takes is some use to let it soften up.

I just used straight up grey tape, but one could use colors to make something more asthetically pleasing.

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trike road poet

10 months ago

Never too many uses for the handyman's secret weapon (according to the Red Green show!)

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JakeT38trike road poet

Reply 10 months ago

Red Green, now that was a man's man show!! Really miss it.

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Dolevett

10 months ago

I make roses out of the coloured tape and sell them to raise money for my dance group. They're quick and easy to make, great for gifts, and can be made in a huge range of colours and designs. I've even made them in Xmas patterns and, for one little girl in hospital, a whole bunch of Frozen-themed flowers! I know this isn't as practical as some of your other suggestions, but the money raised helps keep my accessible dance and exercise groups running, so it's practical for us!!

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LesB

1 year ago

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

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gerflashLesB

Reply 10 months ago

Yes indeed on Gorilla tape. I always keep it and regular duct tape on hand, and have come to know that if I want a fix to last a looong time, and there's a lot of heat to contend with, then Gorilla is the better option.