4 Ways to Make Toilet Paper Rolls Safe for Crafts
Many schools, nurseries, and kindergartens ‘banned’ toilet paper rolls for safety concerns. They also won’t accept egg cartons for crafts because of the fear of spreading diseases. Experts say the risk of contamination is minimal. Some even declared it an urban myth.
The risk of getting diseases or infections from bacteria and germs on toilet paper rolls is minimal and negligible. Using toilet paper cores for crafts poses no threat to health if you follow simple, everyday hygiene practices.
Like washing your hands before and after crafting, and not touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) during the activity (you shouldn’t do that anyway).
However, if you still feel anxious because you want to do crafts with your kids (a toddler can put everything in its mouth in nanoseconds) or you are compromised (you have a chronic or an autoimmune disease), which makes you more susceptible to infections, I got you covered.
Read on, and I will show you four simple hacks to make toilet paper rolls safe for crafting.
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Do toilet paper rolls have germs?
People started to get concerned after they heard/read about a study, which examined germs and bacteria in restrooms. The study said, “When a toilet is flushed without the lid closed, aerosol production may lead to surface contamination within the toilet environment.” (source)
Toilet paper rolls and everything in the bathroom can have germs on its surface. Especially, if you flush the toilet without the lid closed.
But everything else does!
I bet your cellphone has more germs than a toilet paper tube. Also, a remote control, keys, money, ATMs are a lot filthier than you think.
Now let’s be honest.
Do you wash your hands after you touch your keys or money?
I think I know the answer. Then you spread all those lovely germs to your phone, face, hair, food, and everything you touch.
So, I wouldn’t worry about the toilet paper rolls that much.
Can you use toilet paper rolls for crafts?
Yes, you can use them for crafts. They won’t put you on your death bed or make you sick.
I haven’t seen or heard anybody who got sick of making crafts with toilet paper tubes. As I mentioned before, wash your hands and don’t touch your face. Simple as that!
I love to use them! They are versatile, easy to work with, and practically free.
I have posted two crafts made with cardboard tubes on this blog. They are super easy and cheap to make. You only need a few paper tubes and a hot glue gun.
How to sanitize toilet paper rolls
The most common bacteria found in stools are E. coli and Salmonella.
Learn more about the other ‘bad guys’ in the stool.
You can easily kill them with some simple hacks and make your toilet paper rolls safe for crafts.
How to sanitize with the sun
Several studies analyzed the effect of sunlight on bacteria.
They showed that UV radiation can kill bacteria (check out the study).
This paper also demonstrates that UV radiation killed most of the E. coli in 15 minutes.
So, if you’re living in a very sunny part of the world, or if you find this article in the summer, you can use sunlight to sanitize toilet paper rolls. Leave them out in the sunlight for at least 15 minutes for best results.
How to sterilize with a disinfectant
You can choose two types of disinfectants to sanitize the cardboard tubes. You can either buy or make your own natural germ-killing liquid.
For example, Lysol or other products that contain bleach are the most commonly used disinfectants. The only problem: they’re chemicals. So, it can also be dangerous for children, who may put the rolls in their mouth.
Vinegar, on its own, is not a good disinfectant, but it does kill certain germs and bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.
You can create an effective mixture by blending water, vinegar, and essential oils (best for killing bacteria and viruses are tea tree, lavender, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon).
The process is pretty simple, spray the toilet paper rolls with the disinfectant.
The only concern most people have with this method is it will kill only the bacteria found on the surface.
CAUTION! Never mix vinegar and bleach (hoping to make your blend more effective) because it will release toxic fumes.
How to disinfect with heat
You can use two methods to sterilize with heat: in a microwave or a regular oven. Both of them produce heat that kills germs and bacteria.
Let’s take a closer look at how to do it and the possible downsides.
How to sterilize in a microwave
“Microwave ovens produce radio-frequency waves that cause the water molecules in an object to vibrate. This vibration causes friction, which allows the object to heat up to a temperature that can kill germs.”(Source Insider)
Microwaves can kill bacteria, according to this 2006 study. They showed that 30 seconds of microwave radiation killed almost all E. coli bacteria.
So, microwaving toilet paper rolls is a legit way to sanitize them for crafts.
The only concern? – the effectiveness of microwaves. In many cases, they don’t fully heat through an object.
I’m sure almost everyone experienced food that’s hot on the outside and cold in the middle after microwaving it.
How to sanitize with an oven
This is my favorite (and most trusted) method for sanitizing toilet paper cores.
Bacteria thrive at 40-140 degrees (Fahrenheit) temperatures. Between 140 and 160 degrees, they no longer multiply and start to die.
To be sure every bad guy has disappeared, you need 212 degrees.
So, heat up your oven (at a low temperature), line up the toilet paper rolls on a baking sheet, and pop it in for a couple of minutes.
CAUTION! Never leave the paper rolls unattended in the microwave or the oven. There is a low risk of paper getting fire, but it can happen. So, take a cup of coffee or tea and watch the bacteria purge.
Are you a maximalist? Use several of these methods to make them super safe. For example, first pop them in the oven. After they cooled down, spray them with a disinfectant and finally leave them out in the sun to dry. Triple hit!
Substitutes for toilet paper rolls
Not a fan of the DIY sanitizing methods?
I totally get it! Like how on Earth can you tell that what you’ve done was effective or not?
So, if you’re still concerned about the germs and infections you can get from toilet paper rolls, just replace them with other stuff.
Here are a few suggestions.
1. Wrapping paper tubes and kitchen towel rolls work like a charm as substitutes. They are like toilet paper rolls in a longer format.
Also, they are cleaner and safer for kids and for people at a higher risk of getting infections like the elderly or people with chronic diseases.
In my experience, they usually have better quality. They are not as flimsy as toilet paper cores.
Also, they have similar diameters, so with a cut, you can get the same size.
I prefer to use paper tubes from kitchen towels. I’ve found a brand I really like. It’s white on the inside and quite sturdy, but also easy to cut.
You don’t use kitchen towels? Maybe because you don’t like them, or you use the fabric version and incorporating a zero-waste lifestyle? Cool!
2. You can buy paper rolls online. I’ve found on Amazon a pretty good deal, 30 rolls for less than 20$, check them out here. They look just like toilet paper rolls. They are clean, smooth, and sturdy!
Perfect for high-quality crafts and DIYs!
Conclusion about using toilet paper rolls for crafts
Toilet paper rolls are safe for making crafts. The risk of getting or spreading diseases is minimal. A few precautions like flushing the toilet with the lid closed, washing your hands before and after crafting, and not touching your face when working with the tubes are enough.
However, there are four simple ways to make toilet paper rolls sanitary to make crafting safer.
These are the following:
- leaving them out in the sun (UV rays kill bacteria),
- spraying the tubes with a disinfectant,
- microwaving the toilet paper cores,
- baking the cardboard tubes in the oven for a couple of minutes.
I hope this article helped you or at least calmed your anxiety! Happy crafting!
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