When you buy new shoes, a purse or a camera, do you notice that tiny pouch inside the box?
It’s a silica gel packet.
Most of us are probably aware of them, and their general purpose: They keep our new purchases fresh through shipping and stocking at the store.
You open the box, claim your new purchase, then toss everything — including that little bag — into the trash.
But hanging onto this unassuming object could actually help you save money!
The silica gel bag is filled with silica dioxide, which will dry anything around it. And its uses go far beyond keeping your new purse or shoes fresh.
We found four ways to save money with those little packets you’re just throwing away.
1. Keep Your Gym Bag Fresh
Make your gym bag and clothes last longer — just toss a silica bag or two inside.
The bags will suck up moisture in the bag and keep it fresh, so you’ll be able to use it longer.
2. Save Your Wet Phone
Don’t waste your rice drying out a wet phone. That’s healthy food!
Instead, keep a stock of silica gel packets around, and place your phone inside a bag or other container filled with the bags to dry out.
3. Preserve Your Photos
If you have boxes or albums of photos stored in a closet, attic or basement, they might be at risk of damage from musty, moist air.
Store them with a few silica bags in the boxes to absorb moisture, and you can avoid lost memories — or the cost of restoring them.
If you’re not loaded with silica gel bags, you can also digitize those old photos you don’t need in paper form to save space.
4. Extend the Life of Your Razors
Do you find yourself throwing away razors that have rusted in the somehow-always-wet environment of your bathroom?
First of all, gross. We feel your pain.
Second, silica bags can help! Store your razors in a plastic container with one or two of these miracle bags to keep the moisture at bay.
Add a subscription to Dollar Shave Club, and slash your razor budget.
All of these are great money-saving tricks. As a bonus, use silica gel bags to defog your car windows faster!
Place bags in a row under your windshield from the inside, and watch them wick away the moisture.
Reduce your wait on chilly mornings, and get to work faster.
So start stocking up.
If you don’t buy new shoes often enough, don’t worry — you can always supplement your stock with SilicaGelPackets.com (yeah, that’s a thing).
The packets don’t have an apparent shelf-life. You just use them until they’re “full,” or can’t soak up any more moisture.
Some savvy hackers recommend warming them in an oven to dry out and re-use… but since the bags are often made of paper, and I haven’t tested it myself, I can’t recommend that.
Your Turn: Have you ever saved silica gel packets to use around the house? What tricks can you add?
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more.