Cling wrap, well, clings. It’s so good at its job that it sometimes make your job (sealing up leftovers) a total pain. Unspool some to fold over tomorrow’s lunch and it doubles back onto itself, inseparable from the other layer. UGH.
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The material temporarily loses some of its stickiness when kept in the cold for two main reasons: First, the cooler air cuts back on that annoying static electricity. Second, the molecular makeup of plastic wrap—a polyethylene with additional adhesives—changes when it’s exposed to a different climate.
“The adhesion between pieces of plastic may be driven by the molecules in the surface rearranging themselves to form weak chemical bonds,” Dr. Chad Orzel, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Union College explained to TODAY Food. “And the lower temperature may inhibit that process a bit.”
That theory makes sense, but what happens when you actually put it to the test? Carolyn Forte, Director of Cleaning Appliances & Textiles Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, gave this internet-y kitchen hack a try—with surprisingly successful results.
“The plastic wrap was a lot easier to unroll and use,” she confirms. “It doesn’t stick to itself when it’s cold, but still works to cover up a dish. As it warms up, it goes back to being sticky, but it’s definitely easier to handle when cold.”
TIP: Use the push tabs on the sides of the box to secure the roll in place.
Looking for a greener (and ultimately cheaper) alternative to disposable bags or plastic wrap? Check out Stasher reusable silicone food bags, another Good Housekeeping Institute favorite. They’re safe for the freezer, microwave, and dishwasher and the bags stayed extremely leak-proof and airtight in our tests.