Surprising and Practical Uses for Toothpicks

J5 Tactical Flashlight

Surprising and Practical Uses for Toothpicks


The humble toothpick can be surprisingly useful for a number of purposes other than for cleaning teeth or fingernails. In fact, they can easily replace conventional methods that are used for a wide-range of common tasks.  Let’s take a look at a few examples and see why it’s so important to keep a supply on hand in your bug out bag, survival kit or stockpile.


Finding and peeling off the end of a roll of tape can be a nuisance and lead to a lot of waste due to the formation of fragments as you try to pull off an even strip.  However, you can stick a toothpick on the end in order to create a handle that will make the job easier.  Lift a small piece of tape from the roll, place the toothpick across its width and roll it once or twice.  Break off the ends that are sticking from either side and store the roll for future use.  You will never need to pick away at the end of the roll again.

Clogged Sprayer Heads

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Minerals in water lead to the formation of deposits that clog holes in spray nozzles and shower heads.  The common way of cleaning these items is to soak them in chemicals until the minerals dissolve and the holes open up again.  However, all you need to do is stick the end of a toothpick into the clogged holes and give it a few twists.  Remove any gunk that accumulates on the end and repeat as necessary. This will open up the majority of clogs and improve the quality of the spray.

However, it’s important to be careful not to allow the toothpick to break off in the holes.  If the toothpick becomes worn or soft, simply use the other end or a different one in order to get the job done.  This can be used for anything from a shower head to the nozzle on a garden hose or the tip of a spray bottle.  You can also use a toothpick to widen the hole on some sprayers as well.  Once you are done, test the quality of the spray and re-visit holes that are still clogged or shoot water in askew directions until everything is flowing properly. This trick also works wonders on clogged spray heads on aerosol cans or containers.

Supporting Small Plants

Toothpicks are a remarkable tool to use to support seedlings or broken stems. Simply stick one or two toothpicks in the soil next to the plants so the stems can rest against them.  This is an excellent way to promote growth and keep starter plants from falling down, breaking or getting tangled with others.

Fixing a Leaky Hose

Believe it or not, a toothpick can often work better than tape when it comes to patching up small holes and leaks in hoses.  Identify the leak, stick the toothpick through the hole and break off the end.  The wood in the toothpick will expand as it gets wet and seal the leak.  This trick works best on small hoses that don’t contain a lot of water pressure.

Prevent Water from Boiling Over

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Conserve water by placing a toothpick or two between the lid and the top of the pot as you are cooking.  This will create just enough space for steam to escape and reduce the buildup of pressure that leads to overflows.  You will be amazed at how this small space will be just enough to keep many pots from boiling over, and this can minimize wasted water as well as the need to clean up messes afterwards.

Finding North

You can use a toothpick to aid in navigation by placing it atop an analog wristwatch. The toothpick will cast a shadow on the face of the watch.  Move the watch so the shadow falls on the hour hand.  North will be between 12 o’clock and that position.  If it is daylight savings time, use the 1 o’clock position instead.

Lighting Candles

Many of us know about how toothpicks covered in petroleum jelly can help to light kindling and start fires.  However, a plain old toothpick can also be very useful for lighting candles.  Simply ignite the end and place it against the wick.  You can save a lot of precious lighter fluid or fuel by using this trick.

These are just a few examples of virtually-limitless uses for toothpicks.  Keep an eye open for other tricks that can come in handy, and chances are that you will never want to go without a supply on hand again.