Six great uses for old CDs and CD cases

Like a phoenix from the ashes, the lowly CD and its storage case are again ready for work.

While I was working on last week’s scouting leadership post, my wife asked if I wanted to see how she keeps her girls’ patches organized. As you may know, scouts can earn patches and badges to show that they’ve mastered a skill, participated in an event or otherwise done something deserving formal recognition. Keeping track of who has earned what can be daunting, especially when you’ve got a large group.

When I saw the wall of CD sleeves above, one per girl, I knew I had to share it with the Unclutterer readers.

What you see here is a series of soft plastic CD sleeves, like for a small CD binder, attached to a big piece of foam core board. Each girl’s name has been written in permanent black magic marker at the bottom of “her” sleeve, and there are even two extra sleeves for holding supplies. It’s effective, portable, and very inexpensive. I can see this working in classrooms, garages, kids’ bedrooms, and more.

Inspired, I took to the Internet to see how other people are using this nearly extinct technology. The following items are the best of what I discovered.

  1. Recipe card holder. I wish I had thought of this years ago. Typically, I tape a new recipe to the oven hood or stick it to refrigerator door and then have to worry about removing adhesive residue later. An old hard CD case makes perfect sense as a way to protect recipes from spills without any need for tape or Goo Gone.
  2. Cable storage. In this example, spindle cases that once held CD-Rs are repurposed for cables. I’ve got so many cables in my basement work area, and many are in bins I can’t see into. This solution puts the contents front-and-center. Love it.
  3. Mosaic photo collage. To use a plastic CD case as a photo frame is kind of a no-brainer, but this mosaic takes the idea and runs with it. Instructables has the detailed how-to for building an impressive wall display out of something you’d otherwise purge.
  4. Mini dry erase board. This idea is fantastic because it’s so simple — all you do is cut a piece of white paper and insert it into the plastic case. Boom, you’re done. A dry erase marker will wipe clean from the plastic. I’d use this as a last-chance prompt for that one thing I’ve got to remember to do. It could also work in classrooms where kids are writing down answers and then holding them up for their teachers to see.
  5. Closet divider. OK, this hack uses a CD, not the case, but it’s still a fun recycling idea. After carefully measuring the circumference of the rod in the closet, adjust the CD’s central hole as necessary and then apply a label. Slide the result onto the rod and you’re all set to organize your closet like in a department store.

I’m sure there are more that I’ve missed, but these are five good ones that I’d actually use. Do you use old CD cases for storage? If you feel like sharing, let us know about your recycling solutions in the comments.

11 Comments for “Six great uses for old CDs and CD cases”

  1. posted by Andrea on

    We don’t use CD sleeves but we could!
    We use the clear plastic binder sleeves (that you can slide regular sized paper in, open at the top) to hold all upcoming tickets / passes / invitations / etc inside one closet door. My husband and I each have our own, taped up nicely with washi tape. Less messy looking than stuck to the fridge with magnets and no danger of anything getting knocked to the floor. And because it is transparent you can easily see what is there.

  2. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    I know someone who took a plastic case that stored maybe 20-30 CDs (in their jewel cases) and now uses for storing greeting cards. It’s a perfect size for that.

  3. posted by ChrisD on

    Things have changed since my time in the girl guides. In my day the sleeve we used to collect our badges was our actual sleeve. You would sew the badges (made of material) on the sleeve of your uniform.

  4. posted by Pat Reble on

    The extra guide patches from camps and special events got sewn on to a camp blanket that doubled as a wrap – usually a grey army blanket. Does this make us old ChrisD?

  5. posted by immaterialgirlUK on

    Erin – I left a comment this afternoon (I am in UK so ahead of you on time/date) about re-use of a CD storage box but has it been removed? Just wondered what the problem might be, as it’s the first comment I have ever made (ever – this is the second!) and I wanted to show my husband tonight, but the article doesn’t show it now and the comments have gone from 5 back to 4.

    I do love this site by the way and have been plucking up courage to comment for about three years!

  6. posted by Erin Doland on

    @immaterialgirlUK — The techs have been doing work on the server and so I think some comments were eaten that came in during a two-hour window. Nothing was removed for content violations. Just tech glitches. Sorry!

  7. posted by immaterialgirlUK on

    As mentioned by Jeri, I also have a repurposed white see-through plastic CD box. It now sits on a shelf in a cupboard holding birthday cards, get-well cards etc. I don’t need to keep loads of cards, just a selection and some postcards and they all fit into the box on their sides so you can rifle through them to select – I don’t buy any cards that won’t fit in the box now! Will think about re-using a few CD cases, but have given some to charity shops to re-house their CDs for sale with cracked cases!

  8. posted by M.A.Hunt on

    Call me 20th century, but I use my CD cases to… wait for it… hold my CDs. Not ready to pay good money for music that can be lost and is never really owned. I continue to purchase CDs and, yes, DVDs, and even BOOKS! They may be “clutter” but I can lend them to other people. And if I lose one, it’s my own fault, not because my hard drive crashed or data was accidentally not moved from one machine to another. Lost some irreplaceable photos somewhere in an equipment “migration.” And I pay once, not over and over again.
    signed, not a luddite, but a traditionalist

  9. posted by Melody on

    This would be a great way to keep seed packets organized. Label each pocket with the month and insert the packs of seeds that should be planted that month. No more having to shuffle the seed packs, squinting at the small writing as you try to figure out when to plant them.

  10. posted by Amanda Parker on

    Thank you for this great tip on using old Cd’s. I have a lot of them which I can no longer play because of scratches or some installers on pc games that are now outdated. I like that closet divider idea and the recipe card holder. I am now an avid reader of your site.

  11. posted by Shannon on

    I’m a card maker and stamper. I use old CD jewel cases to store my smaller (flat) stamps and the metal dies used to cut paper. I store them in a clear FridgeBinz. For the metal dies, I bought magnetic register covers from the hardware store (basically magnet sheets) and cut them fit into the inside of the CD jewel case. Pasted down with a clear adhesive, one side “holds” the die with the magnet and the other side, the side facing out, shows a cit image of the die. Makes it simple to figure out which die is in the case. Same concept for the stamps…

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