Almost everyone has come across silica gel packets—those little white desiccant-filled bags that absorb moisture in shoe boxes, vitamin bottles, and bags of jerky—and then tossed them straight into the trash can. But did you know that those tiny freebies double as household helpers? Here are 10 weird ways you can reuse your silica gel packets.
Dry Out a Cellphone
Did your expensive new cellphone take a dive into the pool? Don’t panic! Immediately turn the phone off, then remove the battery and memory card. Blot the components dry, put them in a bag along with several silica gel packets, and let them sit for at least 24 hours. Then, put your phone back together and attempt to power it up—the desiccants will have (we hope) sucked everything dry.
Keep Pet Food from Going Stale
If Rover and Fluffy have started turning their noses up at their kibble, it may be because the food’s gone rancid after contact with moisture. Keep pet food fresh by storing it in an airtight plastic or glass container with a silica gel packet taped to the lid. The same trick helps prevent cereal or other dry snacks from going stale.
Freshen Up Old Books
If you scored a first-edition favorite from the local library fund-raiser, the paper probably smells old and musty. Here’s a quick fix: Put the book and a few silica gel packets in a plastic bag, and let it sit for a day or two. The moisture and funky smell will quickly disappear.
You’ll eventually get around to putting all those precious family photos into albums or frames, but until then, add a few silica gel packets to the storage box. They’ll ward off damage and odor caused by humidity.
De-Stink Dirty Laundry
Do you scrunch your nose after smelling your gym bag or laundry hamper? You’re not alone. Fortunately, a few silica gel packets thrown into the stinky offender can absorb moisture, which means bacteria and mold won’t get a foothold on your dirty clothes before laundry day.
Store Flower and Vegetable Seeds
If you love gardening, you probably know that seeds lose their freshness (and thus their ability to germinate) over time. But storing your vegetable and flower seeds in a cool, dry spot together with a few silica gel packets helps prevent moisture from spoiling the seeds, and could give you an extra season or two before you need to plant them.
Save Your Luggage
Luggage takes a beating, especially on the homeward leg of your trip, when the suitcases are full of dirty laundry. Prevent moisture damage and lingering odors by adding a few silica gel packets to each bag for the duration of your vacation.
Keep Silver from Tarnishing
If you inherited beautiful antique silverware, you probably hate polishing the forks, spoons, and knives before every use. Cut down on tarnish by storing your silver with a silica gel packet or two. The desiccants help prevent corrosion by absorbing moisture, which reacts with sulfur in the atmosphere to create tarnish. This trick also works with jewelry, so add a gel packet to your jewelry box to keep your bling looking its best.
Prevent Window Fog
A foggy bathroom mirror is an annoyance; a foggy windshield is a danger. Reduce both problems with silica gel packs. Set a few on the counter below your bathroom mirror, and keep two or three on your car’s dashboard. While this won’t entirely prevent fogging, it will help diminish its effects.