duct tape uses

Duct Tape Uses (Duck Tape Uses?)

One preparedness item with literally thousands of uses is Duck Tape. Or is it Duct Tape? Before we talk about duct tape uses, lets get to the bottom of this question… Why is duct tape called duct tape? Or duck tape? Which is the correct word?

What’s The Difference Between Duct Tape and Duck Tape?

Well, actually, both… Duck tape came first. Then, Duct tape.

Duck tape was created during World War II. The US military needed a flexible, durable, waterproof tape that would keep moisture out of ammunition cases. Soldiers later used it for repair purposes, after seeing how well it holds up – making repairs in the field. The GIs called it “duck tape” because it was waterproof, like a duck’s back. Initially, the tape only came in army green.

Later, it began being used to seal ducts, which is how it became known as “duct” tape. The color was changed to silver to match the ducts. Ironically, research discourages its use on ducts, as the tape becomes brittle under typical duct conditions.

Duck / Duct tape can be used under countless use-case-scenarios! An excellent add-on to one’s overall preps. I would bet that each and every one of you has at least one roll of it around the house.

Oh, in my opinion, the stickiest duct tape is Gorilla tape. I keep several types of duck tape around. Various widths too.

What is Duck Tape (Duct Tape) Made Of?

It’s basically 3 layers pressed together.

(1) Top layer is a plastic (Polyethelyne).
(2) Middle layer is a fabric mesh
(3) Bottom layer is a rubber-based adhesive.

Duct Tape Uses

  • Twist a long piece into rope
  • Patch ripped clothing
  • Repair broken hoses
  • Band-Aid for really big cuts
  • Attach leg splint to broken leg
  • Rappelling harness
  • Repairing leak in tire/inner tube
  • Mute function for humans
  • Patch hole in canoe
  • Handcuffs
  • Tape sole of ratty shoe to body of shoe
  • Mouse trap
  • Repair work gloves
  • Patch a hole in a tent
  • Make a bandage in a pinch
  • Make a clothesline
  • Reseal packages of food
  • Prevent shattering glass during storms
  • Repairing a cracked water bottle
  • Repair your eyeglasses
  • Make a drinking cup
  • Mark a trail
  • Stop a water leak
  • Easily rips-tears into small pieces-slices
  • Strong enough to hold most anything together
  • Doubled up, use as a tow rope – pull a car out of a ditch
  • Make a new “feather” end for an arrow
  • Fix screen (at home or in tent) to keep bugs out
  • Apollo 13 Astronauts used it to jury rig an air scrubber
  • Fire starter – Roll it up in a ball and light
  • A roll of duct tape laying on the floor or console of your vehicle makes a good drink holder
  • Temporary patch leaks on an RV

How To Get The Sticky Stuff Off After You Remove Duct Tape?

It sure does leave a sticky stringy goo – if and when you try to remove duct tape from something. I have found the best product to remove the mess is Goo Gone. I always have a spray bottle of that stuff. It still takes awhile and some work to get it off, but it works.

A Bridge Made Of Duct Tape?
(MythBusters)

A Duct Tape Boat?
(MythBusters)

Let’s hear from you – what are some of your ideas for duct tape uses?

[ Read: 50 Uses For A Bandana ]

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36 Comments

  1. duct tape, the list of uses are endless. and yes it’s a good fire starter.
    i had not thought of using it as a drink holder, great idea, thanks ; )

  2. Add a roll of Bailing Wire and you’re set to repair Armageddon.
    Might add a roll or three of “silver tape” to seal up that Faraday Cage.
    Brings a new meaning to the saying…
    “Is 600 rolls really enough?”.

    1. NRP & Blue,
      wire coat hangers have many uses as well. most industrial shops that have a uniform service will likely have hundreds that they will gladly give away just to get them gone. i use em all the time.

  3. ha ha ha love dddduct duck tape. Have many colors and I color code my storage containers with it. In a book I have what the color means. One day Step GS was up with a friend who had a red car. The top sun window was leaking, here ya go try some red duck tape! Love tape all kinds of tape. Use clear Gorilla Tape on my red neck screen porch encloser.

  4. 1. Sealing and separating high current union joints
    2. As an epoxy form above a fixed object
    3. Wrapping and protecting the miter corners of that crap-fake wood cove base stuff, where it always gets hit and splits apart
    4. Bike inner tube patch in a pinch
    5. Sealing the RJ-45 PoE connections on outdoor cameras
    6. Yanking splinters and stingers out of skin
    7. Heavy Duty bandage reinforcement
    8. Repairing split GM air intake flex duct
    9. Extra hands while aligning window security bars (recent discovery)
    10. Interesting “dock repair” campaign for a Scandinavian car company I worked for in the 90’s – ill fitting upper radiator hose, ID was slightly too big for the radiator neck — they needed an adhesive shim. Eee-Yeah. But they were all die-cut on peel away backing and came in an OEM zip lock pouch so it was legit, for awhile.

    1. Valley Forge, thank you!
      Red Green is one of my favorites on u-tube. duct tape, the handy mans friend. truer words were never spoken.
      if women don’t find you handsome, they can at least find you handy. HAHA
      Ginger Billy is another one, he is how we roll in the south.

  5. Lashing for framing a temporary shelter, works with bamboo, as well as any other forage straight staking. I’ve tried it
    with bamboo, guava and ironwood.

  6. Can’t remember the details, but Glen Beck used to talk about wrapping his head with duct tape — so it wouldn’t explode, or some such???

    “Men can get pregnant” — where’s the duct tape — QUICK!!!

  7. Don’t seem to see it used much down here in the states, but at Alaskan bush strips you have to look hard to find an aircraft not held together with duct tape. (Makes you think twice before climbing in some of them…)

      1. I’ve never heard anyone outside the military call it “hunnert-mile-an-hour tape…”
        I used it to waterproof the covers of notebooks in the field, patch uniform tears, cover machete gashes, toughened up bino cases, plus about a million other things. I would wrap a good length of it around a chem lite that went into my cargo pocket and it would be enough for the needs of the mission without carrying a hefty roll with me. Great stuff!

  8. Best use for duck tape I have found is for holding a wound shut while in the field or underground. Wash the wound, dry, put a dry piece of rag over it, then wrap tightly with duck tape. Keeps it clean and together until you can get topside and it done right. Sometimes the wound will be partially rehealed shut by the time that happens.

  9. Minerjim,
    Shattered my wrist during the recovery of a WW2 fighter in the mountains, splinted the bone head and wrist with duct tape and
    cardboard, worked for another ten hours until we got the aircraft lifted out, then off to the hospital. There they said I did a great
    job of immobilizing the fracture, but all they could do for me was drugs, said I need to go to the “big” city…(Honolulu) to be treated.
    That’s my favorite duct tape story..he he.

  10. Ah yes! duct tape baling wire and Bondo bring back memories of the car I learned to drive as a 15-16 year old. I referred to it as the “Bondo Bandit”. Big chevy 350 cubic inch engine that would pass everything on the road but a gas station. It was such a reliable car and so fun to drive that I rode my bicycle everywhere until I saved up enough to buy a good used Honda Civic back in 1979. I was the 3rd of Asian children learning to drive and this was the “car” for us to learn on. (Asian drivers, young and inexperienced behind the wheel of a big-assed road toad that got 8 mpg. If that picture is not enough to scare you off the sidewalks, well…watch your 6 out there on the roads)
    A roll of duct tape was always behind the seats ready for use.

  11. Inverted on a pole/stick to retrieve distant objects.
    Cleaning metallic dust/rust/shavings off a magnet.
    Pick up shattered glass.

  12. Hi Deep South – That is a clever and thought provoking idea, that generated a couple of questions and a follow-on idea. Have you done this before? I think cutting the butterfly shape with scissors would gum up the scissors quickly. Using a blade means you would have to fixture the tape onto something, losing adhesive strength; doing it while bleeding is daunting. Butterfly bandages are so because of the surface area required for the bandage adhesive to stick while narrowing over the wound closure to allow airflow. Modern duct tapes, like Gorilla tape is so strong that I think I would try a series of 1/4″ strips, those you can just rip by hand, perfectly straight. What do you think? It’s a great idea to think this through before it’s actually needed.

    1. Im thinking DS was more just referencing the type of closure than the actual shape, may be wrong but am betting that was intent, i know ive used DT in a punch out in the field when i had nothing else available, have some in my blowout bag JIC

    2. Tmac – In using any kind of tape as an improvised butterfly, I cut a small tab of gauze (tee shirt material, etc) and place same on the 1/4 to 1/2 inch strip of tape where it would actually cross the wound. Just enough so the tape won’t stick to the immediate edges of the cut thus allowing the uncovered tape to draw the surrounding skin in to “pinch” the wound closed. I would splint the site if a joint were involved….such as a finger (use a spoon). This method has worked for me in the past. Hope it helps.

      1. Like I said earlier, clean wound, put a clean rag on it, bind it down to close it with duck tape. Easy-peasy, has worked for me for years.

    3. Tmac

      Have only used it with something under it. I would only use it in an emergency if I didn’t have the correct tape to use. Yes in cutting it put the shiny side up and cut with the adhesive up using a blade. Still messy though. Use some type of antibiotic ointment on the wound surface leaving a clean area on the outside edges for the adhesive to stick. Like I said emergency only.

  13. This stuff was typically much much stronger than it is now, it was more robust back in the day and didnt go bad in the sun as fast as it does now, remember having to use a knife or scissors to cut it cause you couldnt rip it and it didnt come off once you stuck it on something.
    Like everything in our world it has become a disappointingly inferior product from whence it was.

  14. Kulafarmer,
    most of what is sold now in hardware stores in not what it use to be, thin and no glue. the gorilla brand tape is good stuff.

    1. I need to check that out Scout, had figured it was the same schitt in a fancy package.
      I remember actual duck tape, using it for patching stuff up like hoses and pipes with some clamps or strapping a piece of angle iron to a truck frame that cracked in a most inopportune location

      1. Gorilla tape is pretty darn good. Reminds me of high quality gaffers tape used on sound stages.

        1. Jade Man –

          Gaff tape has its place, but it is made to be easily removed. Gorilla Tape… you are not pulling that apart, ever.

        2. Do you think that Gorilla tape will work on a camper awning?? Mine is ripped at the top about 8 inches.

          1. Nope, take it off and take it to an upholstery shop to sew a patch on it

  15. – Use a square of the stuff to patch a hole in a rain poncho/jacket. I’ve had one that looked like more tape than original material.
    – Papa S.

  16. It can also be used to make a wallet. Instructions and videos on how to do it are available online.

  17. Desert
    In pre dvd in the car days, when the kids could only listen to music, duct tape was a mainstay for cross country travel. Wallets, Barbie clothes,bridges for cars between seats it’s amazing what kids could put their minds to! Still love the stuff.

    1. Jack Frost,
      LOL, spit some beer on the keyboard, i think it came out of my nose. but did you ever have one tape the other one up, HAHA

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