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7 Surprising Uses for Silica Gel Packets

Published on Aug 4, 2022 | Updated - Feb 14, 2024

uses for silica gel packets

Do you throw out the little silica gel packets that come with a pair of new shoes or inside a new handbag?  

You may be surprised to learn that those little packets have some amazing handy household uses.  

Check out our favourites. 



What are silica gels used for?

Silica gel packets contain small grains that are silicon dioxide in solid form. It is a drying agent that is able to draw in water molecules through the paper packaging. 

silica gel packets

Manufacturers often place packets of these in certain foods and commercial products to minimise the amount of moisture inside packaging and prevent mould and bacterial growth. Imagine buying a pair of shoes and finding that the shoes are mouldy when you open up the box… yuk! Without silica gel packets, mouldy new shoes would be a common occurrence!  

In fact, according to How Stuff Works, silica gel can absorb about 40% of its weight in moisture and can take the relative humidity in a closed container down to about 40%. 



7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Throw Silica Gel Packets Away


1. Say farewell to smells

woman placing a packet of silica gel desicant in clothes drawer

Did you know that silica gel packets can be stored at the back of your linen cupboards or clothes draws to keep musty smells at bay? 

Most odours are caused by the off-gas from mould or bacterial growth,  Silica gels absorb moisture out of the atmosphere, making it harder for mould and bacteria to grow and reducing the chance of funky odours.  

Silica gel packets aren’t just for the clothes draws, if you’ve got funky odours coming from under the kitchen sink or bathroom draws, we suggest dropping a few silica gel packets into the pongy areas and see what happens.  

You can actually keep silica gel packets safely in a sealed environment for around 18 months; just be sure to keep them well hidden from pets and small children. 



2. Keep your make-up fresh

makeup kit protection using silica gel

Make-ups, especially foundations and powders, last longer when stored in a dry location. This means that a steamy bathroom can be the worst place for make-up, but what’s the solution?  

Try putting a few silica gel packets in your make-up case and your mark-up draw, and you’ll find that your foundations and powders are less likely to go hard and become difficult to use.  



3. Keep rust away

storing shaving razor with silica gel to ward off rust

Have you opened a drawer in the bathroom to find rust stains from the nail clippers & razor? Bathrooms are typically wet, humid areas, and items can rust quickly. Try putting a gel pack in your bathroom drawers, and you might find that the problem disappears. 

Is the adjustable wrench in your tool kit suffering from rust? Stick a few silica gel packets inside the tool kit, and you’ll likely find that this will solve the problem.  

Dealing with stubborn rust stains can be frustrating. Check out our rust stain treatment article for helpful tips 



4. Keep your gym bag fresh

open gym bag with a packet of silica gel in it to soak up moisture

It’s never pleasant opening up a gym bag, particularly if it hasn’t been cleaned out in a while. Items such as dirty clothes, sweaty clothes, socks and stinky shoes create the ideal environment for bacteria and odours to thrive. 

We recommend storing a few silica gel packets in your bag to soak up moisture and keep the interior clean and fresh. It’s worth noting that you should try to keep the packets as dry as possible to save the beads from escaping into the bag. 



5. Fix your phone

drying a wet phone with silica gels

It’s not a great feeling. Your phone slips out of your fingers and slowly falls into a pool, a full bath or worse yet, the toilet. But don't fret just yet, because there might be a practical way to salvage your soaked device: silica gel packets. 

All you have to do is simply separate your battery from the phone and gently wipe any excess moisture with a cloth, preferably microfibre, if you have one. 

Pop the phone, its battery and the silica gel packets into a zip-lock bag (something like a sandwich bag will do the trick), close it up and leave it overnight. 



You shouldn’t use the beads without their packaging, however, as the smaller items may get trapped in your phone’s crevices or ports.



6. For looking after your important documents

storing paper documents with silica gel to keep them free of moisture

Silica gel packets can help you protect items such as birth certificates and other documents by placing one or two packets into the filing cabinet or wherever you keep your records. 

Older photographs can be protected with silica gel too. The packets will stop the prints from sticking together or from discolouring. 



7. Preserve food

dried fruit and nuts placed in glass jars with silica gel packets

Foodstuffs such as seeds, spices, herbs and even pet food can be kept fresh when stored with silica gel packets. Not only do they prevent food from becoming stale, but they also act as a barrier against mould and mildew growth. 

Safety Tips for Using Silica Gel

  • Most silica gel packets usually include a warning to "throw away" the sachet. While not inherently toxic, the gel beads inside can pose a choking hazard as they do not break down in the body. It's advisable to keep them in their packets at all times and out of reach of small children and pets. 

  • If you’re leaving packets in cupboards or drawers, tape them down to deter any prying hands. 

  • You should also note that silica gel packets will stop working after a while as they become full of the moisture they’ve absorbed and, therefore, lose their effectiveness. 

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