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Fix Almost Anything with Sugru

An iPhone charging cord with the plastic insulation rippedLast week, I somehow put a gigantic tear in the plastic insulation on the cord that charges my phone. Against all odds, however, I was excited about the discovery. Instead of a $20-trip to an Apple Store, what this torn cord represented was the opportunity to play with one of my new favorite objects: Sugru.

What’s Sugru? According to their website, it’s a “new self-setting rubber for fixing, modifying and improving your stuff.” But if I was describing it, I’d tell you to imagine it as a clay that you can use to repair things permanently.

Sugru comes to you wrapped in small, 5-gram foil packages. When you open them up, you find a small bit of what for all the world looks and feels like Play-Doh. (Nostalgic Play-Doh smell, however, is not included; Sugru is pretty odorless, for what it’s worth.)

An open package of white Sugru

You can pick up and form Sugru easily with your hands.

A piece of Sugru rolled into a ball

And then you can go start applying it to problem spots. With my phone cord, I simply took a chunk of the stuff and molded it around the outside of the cord. It formed easily and stuck without trouble. In no time, I had covered the problem spot and even gone a bit beyond it to help strengthen the cord.

The iPhone cable repaired with Sugru

“But,” you say to yourself, “Play-Doh isn’t something I can use to fix things. It dries out and gets brittle.” True, but that’s where Sugru differs. After you’ve molded it around the object you want to repair, you simply let it cure for 24 hours at room temperature. After that, Sugru has transformed from a clay to a flexible silicone rubber. My cord moves easily and works just as well as it ever did. And did I mention? Sugru is electrically non-conductive. So it’s perfect for repairing cords.

There are a few other amazing properties of Sugru: it’s waterproof and it’s stable at both high and low temperatures. This means you can use it to fix not just your electronics but also objects that you want to use outdoors or in the kitchen. My wife and I have used Sugru to repair the lid to our slow cooker (home of the famous ProfHacker pork) as well as our dishwasher racks, where the plastic was starting to crack on some of the pegs. Past experience has shown that those cracks are the beginning of the end, so using Sugru on the racks will make them (hopefully) rustproof. The Sugru on the slow cooker and the dishwasher have been taking a beating for months, and they show no sign of giving up.

In my experience, Sugru sticks to anything I want to attach it to. But it’s also removable from non-porous surfaces. That means you can use it to mount something to your kitchen tiles, like an iPad, even if you’re just renting. Once you’re done with that project, you can make a universal cable grip on any surface, bumpers for your phone, or even custom-shaped earbuds. As you can tell, Sugru’s website hosts all sorts of ideas for what you can do with their amazing material. And if that’s not enough for you, Lifehacker has other tips for using Sugru. I’m looking forward to fixing my kids’ shoelaces the next time they become frayed at the ends.

If there’s anything potentially cautionary to say about Sugru, it’d be that it’s kind of expensive. Eight packs will cost you about $18 plus some (reasonable) shipping, if you order from the website. When I ordered mine from Amazon, I paid the same amount. While writing this, however, I was surprised to see you could 8 packs of black for about $13. (That link will of course have price fluctuations. And if you want to think about how to make linking to Amazon items work in your favor, this ProfHacker post is for you.) But whether you pay full price or get a discount, I think Sugru is a great deal. Replacing my phone cord would have cost $20, after all. Instead, I got 8 packs of Sugru, a repaired cord, and lots of other fixes for the future.

The only other thing to be wary of with Sugru is that you might not need to use an entire pack at once. For this reason, I’ve been saving up repairs until I have enough to use an entire packet. In addition to fixing my phone cord, I repaired a split insulation on a laptop cord and several new spots on the dishwasher (none that had been previously repaired, it’s worth saying). A package of Sugru, it will tell you, is good for only 6 months after you get it, but if you keep it in the fridge it will last up to 18 months.

All things considered, I haven’t been so excited about something since I reviewed 1Keyboard back in June. I’m seriously considering giving it out as holiday presents. Sugru’s even got a great back story starring a grad-student inventor. I owe a debt of thanks to my colleague Rebecca Sutton Koeser who told me about it.

Have you tried Sugru? What could you use it to fix or mod? Let us know in the comments!

Lead image: Torn iPhone Cord / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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