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What are Some Uses for Pipe Cleaners?

Sherry Holetzky
Sherry Holetzky

While pipe cleaners were originally used to clean tobacco pipes, and may still be in some cases, they now have many other uses, including making and embellishing craft projects and use as handy household tools. Children love to use them for everything from making insect legs and antennae on paper plate spiders or ladybugs to hanging their artwork for display.

Pipe cleaners work great as hooks for homemade ornaments, or they can be made into ornaments themselves if a crafter simply twists a red one and a white one together to shape a candy cane. Green ones can be twisted into triangle shapes to make Christmas trees. They can also be used to make cute accents for gift packages or as napkin rings for a special party.

Pipe cleaners come in many colors.
Pipe cleaners come in many colors.

With a few sticks and a little imagination, children and adults can make fun craft projects and accessories. Aside from ornaments, they can be used to make stick people, or they can be used to replace shoelaces or hair ties. People may want to choose the softer options, which are sometimes referred to as chenille stems, for these ideas.

Pipe cleaners are not just good for fun — they are also handy around the house or shop. They can be used as tiny scrub brushes to clean small parts or to reach into enclosed areas. They work great for cleaning blockages in glue bottle tips or other squirt bottles, and they are also handy for cleaning sipper cups or sports cups that have tiny spouts.

Pipe cleaners can be used to make fun and simple crafts.
Pipe cleaners can be used to make fun and simple crafts.

Parents can also use pipe cleaners to keep kids busy in the car. They are available in lots of colors and don’t cost much, so a parent can pick up a good variety and let his or her kids play with them during long car rides. Mom and dad can encourage the kids to get creative and see how many different things they can make, then pick up a storage container with a lid to keep them handy for future trips.

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Discussion Comments


If you twist them tightly enough, you can make small pipe cleaner animals. I didn't have a very three-dimensional mind when it came to art, so my friend had to show me how to do this.

We twisted various pipe cleaners around themselves to make compact, furry critters. We made a duck, a dog, and even a pig.

I think the pig was my favorite. It was made entirely out of pink pipe cleaners, and we even made a little squiggle tail at the end of a pipe cleaner!


I used to love making pipe cleaner flowers when I was a kid. My art teacher showed us how to make everything from daisies to mums.

The daisies were super easy. All you had to do was make six humps in a circle and tie it with another cleaner in the middle, preferably of a different color. The mums usually required more than one pipe cleaner, and you had to make the flower part really compact.

We used green pipe cleaners for stems, and we stuck them down into a pot filled with brown rice. I still have some of my old pipe cleaner flowers. The good thing about them is that they last forever!


@Kristee – Sure, you can get them soapy! In fact, that's the best way to get soap into small areas.

I use regular old black pipe cleaners to scrub many kitchen utensils. They are great for cleaning grill tongs and colanders, especially if you have food stuck in one of the holes.


I have only used pipe cleaners for crafts. However, I can see how they would be useful for cleaning things with small, hard-to-reach places.

I have some funnels that I use in the kitchen that would benefit from being scrubbed with pipe cleaners. Also, I have a water bottle with a spout that really can't be scrubbed with anything else.

So, it's okay to use soap on pipe cleaners? It won't make them disintegrate or anything?

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    • Pipe cleaners come in many colors.
      By: Stephanie Connell
      Pipe cleaners come in many colors.
    • Pipe cleaners can be used to make fun and simple crafts.
      By: Ewapix
      Pipe cleaners can be used to make fun and simple crafts.
    • Originally, pipe cleaners were made to clean tobacco pipes.
      By: gavran333
      Originally, pipe cleaners were made to clean tobacco pipes.