Thursday, November 30, 2023


18 brilliant ways to use pipe cleaners while RVing

You may have played with them when you were little. Maybe you fashioned them into a craft or art project in school. You might even have seen your grandfather or great-granddad clean his tobacco pipe with one. What are they? Pipe cleaners! These fuzzy-covered wires can come in handy, especially when RVing.

Today’s pipe cleaners

You can purchase a wide variety of pipe cleaners (often called “chenille stems”) today. They come in various lengths and colors, which makes them helpful and versatile as you RV.

Using pipe cleaners inside the RV

Clothes helpers

  • Clothes hangers. You can keep your clothes from slipping off wire coat hangers by using two pipe cleaners. Tightly wrap one pipe cleaner at each of the “shoulder points” on the hanger and clothes will no longer slip off onto the closet floor.
  • On the rod. Keep clothes on the closet rod during travel days. First, use a chenille stem to fasten several of your hanging clothes together. Then wrap a second stem around the bundled hangers and then around the closet pole. Even bumpy roads won’t dislodge your clothes.
  • Zipper pull. If you lose a zipper pull, thread a pipe cleaner through the zip hole. Problem solved. (Use a wire cutter to shorten the cleaner to a manageable length.)
  • Emergency shoelace. If you break a sneaker lace, use a pipe cleaner for a temporary fix. Thread a cleaner through the rivet holes until you can buy replacement laces.

Kitchen helpers

  • Secure cupboard doors. Wrap a pipe cleaner around adjoining cupboard handles for RV travel days. The wire will keep the doors securely closed and will not hurt the cupboard’s finish.
  • Clean drinking straws. Use a pipe cleaner to clean the inside of a drinking straw. Along with hot soapy water, the pipe cleaner will rub away residue. Rinse and let dry.
  • Apply glue. Use a chenille stem to apply glue in hard-to-reach or narrow spaces. When finished, simply discard the “gluey” end and the stem will be ready for the next quick fix.
  • Clear crevices. A pipe cleaner can help remove dirt and grease from narrow spaces between appliances and the RV kitchen countertop. Run the wire along the crevice to loosen grime and then wipe it away.
  • Open stove burners. Our RV propane stovetop did not light evenly. The reason? Several of the burner “holes” were clogged. By gently poking one end of the pipe cleaner into the blocked holes, the dirt was removed.
  • Corral cords. A pipe cleaner wound around computer and printer electrical cords can keep them controlled. Ditto for other wires and cords in and around your RV.

Using pipe cleaners outside the RV

  • Mark plants. We noticed some poison ivy growing near our campsite. We put on gloves and wound a pipe cleaner around one of the poison ivy’s branches. This helped our grandkids stay safely away until CG management removed the plant.
  • Vehicle detailing. Use a pipe cleaner to clean car/truck air vents and other narrow places when you detail your vehicle.
  • Clear hydration hose. A pipe cleaner can help clear the small parts of your hydration pack (mouthpiece, hydration valves, etc.).
  • Plumbing pipes. When working with your RV plumbing pipes, a pipe cleaner can come in handy for clearing dirt or dust from the pipe’s interior.
  • Mark wires, pipes, etc. Use short pieces of pipe cleaners to mark specific wires, etc. By using different colors, you’ll easily distinguish one from another as you work.
  • Hair tie. A pipe cleaner makes a quick hair tie when working around the campfire.
  • Connect tarps. A pipe cleaner can fasten two or more tarps together. Thread the cleaner through the tarp’s grommets for a quick, temporary bicycle or motorcycle cover.
  • Trail marker. When hiking, use pipe cleaners to mark branches along your route. That way, you’ll easily find your way back. Remove the markers as you do so.

Did I inspire you to go out and find pipe cleaners? Here’s a bunch on Amazon for a great price.

Do you have additional uses for pipe cleaners/chenille stems as you RV? Please share your ideas with us in the comments.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Steve H (@guest_208095)
1 year ago

Except for cleaning small areas, I use zip ties, twist ties, or rubber bands for most of uses in the list. I haven’t seen a pipe cleaner since our sons were in Cub Scouts 40 years ago.

Lauren Baker (@guest_208132)
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve H

Most Dollar Stores carry them but you have to ask for craft chenille stems otherwise the staff won’t know what you are asking for

Susan Kirby (@guest_212618)
1 year ago
Reply to  Lauren Baker

I too use twist ties, zip ties, in most of these applications, but what a brilliant idea to use Pipecleaners,,(chenille stems, which i buy at Dollsr Tree or Walmart. I have several pkgs of them in my Craft room, all colors, thin and wide. I always use them in my craft projects. For instance: I make Personalized Photo Christmas Tree ornaments as well as other kinds. I buy or make the paper “photo frames” from Scrapbooking dept, insert a photo, (I photostat or copy from Facebook usually) and use the pipecleaners as the loop or HOOK to attach to tree. I love the metallic ones that resemble a tree garland or tinsel. I even tie them directly to the tree branches with them. But color coding the wires behind your TV/stereo/DVD player, components, is a must!

Rebecca (@guest_208087)
1 year ago

Helpful – thanks!

Lisa Adcox (@guest_208082)
1 year ago

Not really RVrelated but may be if you have kids. We purchased the big fat ones in different colors and attached my daughter’s stuffed animals to her louver closet doors. We had her room decorated like a jungle and we attached the jungle type animals to the doors. She could easily get them down if needed.

Brad G. Hancock NH (@guest_208065)
1 year ago

Great ideas!!

Stu Neilson (@guest_208050)
1 year ago

You forgot the most obvious use:
Clean your pipe!

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.