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Metal colander close-up, source:
Straining pasta. Martian helmets. These images spring to mind when I hear the word "colander." But the humble colander has lots of other potential uses ... and why not? The steel version does, after all, sport a super-cool classic design that just begs to be creatively repurposed. Check out these ideas!

Handy Household Uses
1. Grease splatter reducer. Carefully place a colander upside down over frying foods. The heat can get out, but the grease is largely contained.

2. Warm a serving bowl. I love this one: Set your colander inside a pasta serving bowl, then drain boiling pasta as usual. Instead of running down the drain, the hot water will get the bowl warm and ready for your spaghetti and meatballs.

3. Berry storage. Fruit keeps better when air can circulate all around, and that's especially true for delicate berries. So keep your berries in a colander instead of a plastic container.

4. Bathtub toy scoop. Round up those rubber duckies in no time with a colander. A quick shake drains drips easily, and you can store toys in the colander, too.

5. Play accessory. Kids love to watch anything drain through a colander. I mean anything. Sifting water, small beads, bird seed, sand, or good old-fashioned dirt through a colander works well for keeping kids entertained.

6. Craft template. Whenever you need to draw a circle for a kiddie craft – or any reason, for that matter – the colander is always an easy way to go. Example: make an almost instant face mask. Cut your circle, then punch holes in each side and attach string. Cut holes for eyes and let your child decorate as they wish.

Outdoors Ideas
7. Bug tent.
Colanders can't keep tiny bugs off picnic and barbecue spreads, but they will help discourage large flies. So if your platter has no lid and you're in a pinch, grab a colander and pop it upside down over your food.

8. Wind chime. Cleaning out grandma's attic? Don't throw out all those vintage kitchen utensils. As Family Fun magazine demonstrates, kids can make a very cute wind chime with them with only a bit of help from you.

Crafty Interior Projects
9. Lamp shade.
An upside down colander makes an eye-catching lamp shade – just be careful not to burn your fingers on the hot metal! An Instructables post shows you how to make a colander into a hanging lamp shade, while Craftzine demonstrates a table lamp version.

10. Holiday display. Heaps of scented pine cones not doing it for you anymore? Want something a little more unexpected for your holiday party centerpiece? AC's craftsters suggest piling a colander full of holiday lights. Presto! An easy, yet whimsical table display.


  • Bill Volk

    I have used a colander as a (temporary) filter for the downspout water entering my rain barrels -- keeps the roof debris from getting into the barrel system and clogging the discharge.

  • Diane Rixon

    Now that's innovative. Thanks!

  • David Albee

    You folks need to get your geek on:

  • Diane Rixon

    Aha, I love it!

  • Bren

    I use a colander to cover things that I want to keep warm but which steam will kill if it builds up. Toast, muffins, waffles, etc. Metal colanders with punched holes work best for this.

  • Diane Rixon

    Ooh, great idea. I'll try this next time I do pancakes!

  • JeanK

    Think about a new gutter cleaning tool that is called "Best Gutter Cleaning Tool On the Market Today." Yes, its the Gutter Clutter Buster gutter cleaning tool that is safer, faster, easier, and cleaner method of doing a nasty job, that must be done! You can now stay firmly on the ground while you vacuum out your gutters and use the debris collected in your wet/dry shop vac for your compost pile or plants to conserve water usage. Just think, no more ladders and no more blowers, and no waste of water using water wands and get drowned in the meantime. Be safe, stay well, and "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled." God Bless America!

  • Ben

    My most frequent use for a colander is as a steamer. They fit in to most pans and can steam vegetables from the steam of pasta or rice. Very healthy one pot meals :)

  • Andy

    I agree, there's really a lot of use for colander. I use to to cover foods so that flies will not be able to go to it. Aside from the items mentioned in the article, there is still a lot of things that we can do with the use of it.


  • DHayney

    I take my colander pasta insert for the big pasta pot and cook my homemade chicken soup with veggies and when done just pull out the colander with the handle and everything is separate.

    I store my potatoes in a colander because the air circulates and if one goes bad it leaks out the bottom to tip me off.

    I store my onions and garlic in a colander also that is a hanging type wire basket.

    I own 4 colanders and they all get a lot of use.

  • Daleen

    I use a large old colander to sift compost into a tub. I then have finished, fine compost to spread lightly over new plants, add to potted plants and seed trays. The large leftover pieces get dumped back into the pile to finish breaking down.

    I also covered a sunflower once the seed head was nearly mature. It saved some seeds for me, when the birds came calling, and it kept the seedshead from shattering and dropping seeds all over the ground. Air can get in to let it ripen and dry. You have to match the size colander to sunflower size. Mine fit snuggly and needed no tape to hold it, but tape or string could be used to hold it on.

    Another good use is to speed ripening of strawberries on the plant. The metal holds in the heat. Be careful you don't burn the plant, though!

    In a pinch, a colander can be used to strain leaves and debris from ornamental and fish small ponds, (if the kids tore your net, say ;- just be sure to not scrape your fish.)

    I use one to evenly distribute wood ashes around my plants to sweeten the soil and provide potassium and calcium (tomatoes love it.)

    Mix tiny lettuce and carrot seeds with sand in a bucket or old coffee can. Pour into a colander held over your prepred soil. Shake to evenly distribute the seeds. If you have darker than sand soil you can see where and how much soil you have covered.

    If you have very light soil, use colander to sift peat moss or dark potting soil over the area first, then use sand/seed mixture as above
    You will save yourself the headache of extensive thinning later, and not waste seed.

  • 11 Comments / 1 Pages

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