These alternative uses for sponges might just surprise you

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When you think of a sponge, what first comes to mind? Most of you probably consider it a cleaning tool for the kitchen or bathroom. Others might imagine a cheerful fellow in square-shaped pants, catching jellyfish and flipping burgers. While those are both accurate, a sponge can actually be so much more.
Because they're absorbent, flexible, cheap and easy to clean, sponges can be used for a variety of purposes. Though they're most often lumped in with the cleaning supplies, sponges can function in just about any role needed around the house and in the yard.
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1. DIY nail polish remover (h/t One Good Thing)
Most of us remove our fingernail polish by dousing a cotton ball with nail polish remover and scrubbing our nails until they're clean. But this wastes a lot of polish remover and a lot of cotton balls. A more practical option is to cut a sponge in half, roll the halves, put them into a small mason jar and pour in some nail polish remover. Next time you need to repaint your nails, just stick your finger into the center of the rolled sponges and remove the polish.
2. Keep plants hydrated (h/t This Old House)
If you have a green thumb but live in a dry, hot climate, you've probably tried just about everything to prevent your plants from drying out. Before you give up and switch to fake foliage, try putting a sponge in the bottom of your planter. Heap soil on top of the sponge and plant whatever you want to grow. The sponge in the bottom of the planter will hold in more water for longer periods of time, allowing your plants to stay hydrated longer.
3. Remove sweater pills (h/t Good Housekeeping)
With winter just around the corner, it's time to get all of your sweaters out of storage. It also means constantly picking off the pills that tend to form and cover your favorite sweaters. A quick way to remove those sweater pills without risking damage to the shirt's material is to gently rub the textured side of a new sponge over the fabric.
4. Ice packs (h/t My Kitchen Escapades)
Whether you're an athlete with sore muscles or you're the one in charge of packing the cooler for the picnic, you're going to need ice packs. You could always buy ice packs, but why spend money on something you can make yourself? All you have to do is soak a sponge in water, seal it in a Ziploc bag and put the bag in the freezer. Next time you have an injury or need to keep food and drinks cool, grab the bag and you're good to go. The best part? When it thaws out, the sponge will reabsorb the water, so there's no mess to deal with!
5. Laundry sponges (h/t Smart School House)
Who doesn't love the feel of clothes fresh out of the dryer? And having them smell amazing is a huge perk. If you like soft clothes that smell like lavender, you can make your own reusable lavender laundry sponges. The whole process costs about $5 and requires less than 10 minutes of your time.
6. Seal envelopes (h/t Expert Home Tips)
Licking an envelope to seal it shut doesn't seem like that big of a deal, right? But think about doing that hundreds of times if you're sending out invitations or thank you cards. Imagine all of the potential paper cuts on your tongue. Save yourself the potential pain (not to mention awful taste) by using a damp sponge to wet the seal before you close each envelope.
7. Sailboat crafts (h/t Easy Peasy and Fun)
If you're looking for a fun craft to try with your kids, then make a few sponge sailboats and have a boat race. All you need are a few sponges, some wood skewers and a few sheets of construction paper. Use the paper for a sail and connect it to the sponge with a wood skewer. A few simple steps later, your vessel is ready to set sail.
8. Grass houses (h/t Creativities)
Another fun craft to try with your kids is a grass house made from sponges. While there are quite a few steps to this project, the end result is pretty awesome. You'll likely have to help your kids cut the sponges to make them fit together properly, but they should be able to construct the house and plant the grass seed with nothing more than a little supervision.
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Now that you know several new ways to use sponges, you'll never again pass up the bargain of a dollar store sponge. So pick some up from the store and get started on whichever project strikes your fancy. But first, share this article with your friends on Facebook! On second thought, maybe stock up on some sponges first, just in case your friends live closer to the store.
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