Multi-purpose tool most of us have with us all the time

I’ve kept an eye out for stories featuring dental floss ever since I saw it used to cut angel food cake. Here are other unexpected uses.

It Slices, It Dices, It Binds And It Stops Bugs: Dental Floss Is Your Secret Multitool


The next time your dental hygienist inquires about how often you floss, flash those sparkling teeth and reply, “All the time!”

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This story is adapted from a Life Kit newsletter. Subscribe to get more helpful tips to make life better.

Flossing is one of those things that you have to do but don’t want to be asked about, especially if the person asking is your dentist. But dental floss can be used for more than just making you feel guilty and keeping gums healthy. It’s the Swiss Army knife of modern travel, according to‘s packing expert, Doug Dyment.

The Life Kit team poked around Dyment’s website for practical tips on the many other uses of dental floss. The next time your dental hygienist inquires about how often you floss, flash those sparkling teeth and reply, “All of the time!”

  • Let’s start with using floss to deliver a baby, because … wait, what? It’s true. If you find yourself in an “I’ve gotta push … NOW!” scenario, whether on a plane to Norway or on a sailboat to the Caribbean, just pull out the travel dental floss and cut the umbilical cord. The rest of it? Umm … good luck, and hope you have good cell reception. Other surgical ways to use it: to suture a wound, Dyment says.
  • On the road with swollen hands? Dental floss can get off those rings stuck on puffy fingers. Thread the floss under the ring and then watch this YouTube video for the rest — it’s too hard to explain.
  • Dental floss makes an excellent knife substitute while you’re traveling as well, Dyment says. Try using it to slice foods like cake, cheese, watermelon and cookie dough.
  • You probably haven’t thought of all the ways dental floss can be used to tie things. Try tying the bottom of your pants legs during a hike to avoid mosquitoes and ticks, or use floss to replace a broken shoelace. You can also thread floss through the hinge of a pair of broken eyeglasses.
  • If you find yourself in the middle of the woods without matches, waxed floss can be used as a fire starter. And if you need to catch a fish to cook over that fire, floss can be used to bind a knife to make a spear or as fishing line and a snare.
  • Most of us have been faced with a less-than-desirable hotel bathroom, but what about one that isn’t even working? For a broken toilet chain, replace it with dental floss (yes, it is strong enough). Have a drippy faucet that is keeping you up at night? “Tie a piece of dental floss around the end of the faucet, and let the water dribble down the dental floss so it won’t drip, drip, drip anymore,” says Dyment.

Bottom line: Carrying dental floss with you at all times is a good life hack, and your dentist will be so proud.


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