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    40 Off-Grid Uses for Cable Ties

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    40 Off-Grid Uses for Cable Ties

    Also commonly known as zip ties, cable ties have dozens of uses. They're so useful, a prepared home should never be without them.

    First marketed under the name “Ty-Rap,” cable ties were invented by Maurus C. Logan in 1959. Logan worked for Thomas & Betts, an electrical company that was designing airplane wiring. After visiting a Boeing aircraft manufacturing plan, he was inspired to find a way to make this arduous process of installing aircraft wiring easier and more forgiving to workers’ hands and fingers. 

    Logan designed a self-locking strap to solve the problem. With interlocking teeth and a ratcheting lever inside its head, the strap locks into itself. Logan’s original design used metal teeth; however, most cable ties today use plastic. 

    Most cable ties have a tab you can depress to loosen or remove them. They're available in a wide range of sizes, strengths, and lengths for holding small loads to bundling large, bulky items.

    You can use these handy fasteners in dozens of ways in and around the homestead. Here, in no particular order, are some of our favorite uses for cable ties.

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    1. Secure plants to stakes, trellises, or cages. Use zip ties to help keep plants upright as they grow. They particularly come in handy to support fruit-bearing plants, such as tomatoes, or very tall plants, such as sunflowers.

    2. Tie up cords and lights. You can keep your extension cords and strings of lights tangle-free by looping them and then tying them with a cable tie before storing them.

    3. Attach gear to backpacks or belts. You can use zip ties to secure extra equipment, tools, or water bottles to the outside of your backpack. They also loop easily around your belt to hold gear to your side.

    4. Seal large bags. You can close and secure large bags of animal food, garden soil, or other supplies with a zip tie, keeping it safe and dry for next time.

    5. Hang tools. Keep things organized in your garage or shed by using zip toes to hang your tools onto wall hooks or pegboards.

    6. Keep bin lids handy. You’ll hopefully have no more lost lids if you use zip ties to connect bin handles with their corresponding covers.

    7. Bundle electronic wires. Keep your chargers and other household electronic wires from getting out of control by looping them together with zip ties.

    8. Hang holiday decorations. Whether it’s a Christmas wreath or Memorial Day bunting, you can hang it up with zip ties.

    9. Make a quick fence fix. You can use a sturdy zip to connect chain lick fencing to its nearby post. Or you can use the ties to patch a hole in your fence.

    10. Attach cushions to outdoor furniture. Keep your patio cushions in place by connecting them to your furniture with zip ties.

    11. Secure pant legs. When you’re working outdoors, hiking, or biking, loose pant legs can get in the way and even become a hazard. You can use a large zip tie to close off the opening.

    12. Lock the safety handle on your lawnmower. You can use a removable zip tie to keep the two handles of your push lawnmower together while you mow a large area. It can ease pressure on your hands.

    13. Repair chicken wire. Cable ties are an easy way to patch holes and make other repairs in your chicken coop.

    14. Identify plants. Use cable ties to hang plant identification tags from your trays, pots, and planters in your greenhouse.

    15. Mark your trail. You’ll be able to find your way back, or someone else will be able to find you when you use zip ties to mark your path in the woods. 

    16. Repair or reattach netting. Cable ties work well as a quick fix for a soccer or basketball net. 

    17. Hang outdoor lights. You can use cable ties to hand indoor or outdoor mini lights and help keep them where you want them.

    18. Hang clothespins bag to your laundry line. You can keep your clothespins handy by securely attaching a bag of them to the line and then sliding it along with you as you hang up your clothes.

    18. Secure splints and bandages. In a medical emergency, you can use zip ties to hold dressings or splints around a wound.

    19. Create a makeshift shoelace. A broken shoelace can be a real problem when you are out on a trail. However, if you have some zip ties handy, you can use them in place of a lace to secure your shoe.

    20. Pull up your zipper. Zipper pulls or tabs often come off, making it difficult to use an otherwise working zipper. You can use a small zip tie to solve the problem.

    21. Use as handcuffs. You may have read about the flight attendants who recently restrained an unruly passenger with zip ties until the plane could safely land. The strong, flexible devices can help keep you safe until help arrives.

    22. Hold up your pants. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Using long zip ties to hold up your pants when you don’t have a belt is better than your pants falling down. Right?

    23. Secure beams. Zip toes are useful when you’re building a shelter. You can use them to connect PVC beams or other posts.

    24. Child-proof cabinets. You can help keep your toddlers (and pets) safe by looping removable zip ties around cabinet handles.

    25. Keep keys together. Create a makeshift keychain by stringing your keys through a cable tie and securing it together.

    26. Create a binder. You can keep loose-leaf pages together by using zip ties as you would binder rings.

    27. Lock your luggage. If you have to stow your bags somewhere temporarily and don’t have a lock, you can secure the two ends of your suitcase or backpack zipper with a zip tie. Yes, it’s not foolproof, but it will discourage the casual thief.

    28. Unclog drains. Those teeth on a zip tie can help snag hair and other debris from your sink drain. Slide a large zip tie down into the drain, and move it up and down and side to side to loosen debris. Then remove the tie and clean off debris. (Yes, it will be yukky!)

    29. Use instead of twist-ties. Removable zip ties work well to close opened bags of chips, rice, cereal, and other foods in your kitchen. The secure seal helps keep moisture (and pests) out.

    30. Bundle bouquets. Fasten a cable tie around your fresh-cut flowers to help keep them upright in a vase.

    31. Save packing space. When you roll shirts and sweaters and secure the rolls with cable ties, you’ll be able to fit much more gear in your suitcase or backpack.

    32. Add traction to shoes or boots. Caught in a slippery situation? You can add traction to your shoes by wrapping zip ties around them. Loop the tie around the toe of your shoe, with the head of the fastener facing towards the ground. Tighten the tie and then cut off the excess length.

    33. Hang food supplies. Keep wild animals away from your food by using zip ties to hang them up when you are on a camping trip.

    34. Attach cargo to car roof rack. Whether you’re hitting the road for a vacation or just heading home from the hardware stores, you can use zip ties to attach supplies to the roof of your vehicle.

    35. Secure hubcaps. Are you tired of replacing your hubcaps? Try securing your hubcaps with clear cable ties.

    36. Make moving day more secure. We all use plastic bins for storage and moving. But those lids can come loose in the process. You can use zip ties to keep plastic lids securely on the containers as you lift and stack them.

    37. Keep tire chains in place. You can use heavy-duty cable ties to attach chains to your tires in the snow.

    38. Bundle clothes hangers. Here’s another tip for moving. Gather together a group of your hanging clothes and gather the hanger handles together with a large zip tie. Then, cover the clothes with a garbage bag, poking the handles through the closed end of the bag. Your clothes will stay neat and clean during a move or seasonal storage.

    39. Tighten a loose electrical box. The receptacle inside a plastic electrical box can sometimes become loose due to stripped screw holes. Zip ties can come to the rescue. By slipping small zip ties into the stripped holes, you will fill up the space and be able to tighten the screws.

    40. Keep devices from rolling. When you are doing measuring work for carpentry or other projects, you often need to have a pencil and small tools at the ready. However, these objects have the frustrating habit of rolling off the table. Try wrapping a small cable tie around the pencil or tool and snipping off the excess. The head will prevent it from rolling.

    Now that you know some of the many uses for cable ties, you’ll want to recycle the ones you have. All you need to do is depress the tab in the ratcheting mechanism. Depending on the size of your zip tie, you could use anything from a pin to a pocket knife. Then pull the end of the strap out. This brief video shows the easy process.

    You can find zip ties in the hardware section of big box and home improvement stores, or you can buy them in bulk online.

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