How can I reuse or recycle IKEA allen keys?

allen keysWe’ve had an email from Bree, asking:

How can I recycle/reuse the multitude of little allen wrenches I have acquired with my IKEA furniture? I have a pile of them!

It’s a shame they’re not opt-in to begin with – because we’ve got a number kicking around too – but I guess that doesn’t fit with their everything-you-need-in-one-standard-pack concept.

Obviously one or two of them can go into your tool box for other jobs but that’s not going to use up that pile (how many reserve allen keys does a person really need?). We actually tend to tape the leftover allen key to the back/underside of the piece of furniture it arrived with so if we need to disassemble it in a hurry, but that’s only happened once so is probably a bit excessive.

So how about reuses? I imagine they’d be pretty good for keeping with your shoe cleaning kit – for digging stuff out between ridges in the soles of trainers – but that’s only one. Any other suggestions?

(I’ve contacted IKEA about this by the way, to see if they’ve got any schemes or plans to go opt-in — no response yet though. UPDATE: see my comment below.)

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20 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle IKEA allen keys?”

  1. ajlec2000 says:

    Personally I have a hard time hanging on to those wrenches. Sooner or later I want to move the piece of furniture or tighten up when the allen bolts loosen. I soved that problem by taping the wrench to the back of the furniture piece or under a shelf after I’ve finished assembly so I can find it when I need it.

  2. Altariel says:

    IKEA could offer them at the tills (“Do you need an allen key?”) rather than packing them as standard.

  3. Nicole says:

    Too bad they don’t have a “take-back” program

    • Alex says:

      You can. Most stores will take them back in the bargain corner area(in store the staff know this as the Recovery department), or hand them in to the customer returns area.
      And yes we do recycle all types of metal in stores.

  4. How about using them to make a coat rack, of a as the hooks to hang pans, or any other object?

  5. Sam P says:

    How about Freecycle, advertising them on a noticeboard at work/school or offering them to a bike shop?

    Also, why not write to Ikea and ask! It’ll hopefully make them think more about the issue. You could also try offering them to a member of staff next time you go to Ikea (seriously); they probably won’t know what to do with them, but it’ll raise the issue!

  6. Delusion says:

    I like the sound they make when they clink together so if you had loads, make a windchime for the garden with them!

  7. Lucia says:

    In the Ikea of my town they have a place where you can take freely little tools and little pieces (like screws): if yours have it too you can put them there.
    I used them putting one in a plastic bottle cap and then put on the other end one of my plastic flower. Use it as a place-indicator for a lunch or attach on a pin to put messages.
    My flowers are on the site.

  8. L. Sue says:

    Since IKEA recycles metal, you can bring them back to any store and give them to the Recovery Department and ask them to recycle them.

  9. Smurfsahoy says:

    They are pretty much the #1 ideal tool for making tension wrenches for lockpicking…

  10. Lance says:

    I keep one in the kitchen to use when I disassemble my Gaggia espresso machine head for cleaning — it fits perfectly, and I don’t have to use the oily one from my toolbox.

  11. Pedro says:

    I find if you lightly fry them in olive oil, then stir them into a sundried tomota and olive sauce, you have a nutritionally balaced delicious meal full of vitamins and iron.


  12. louisa says:

    I’ve just spoken to the IKEA press office about this and they’ve said that they are planning to introduce new measures to address this type of thing – but it’s logistically difficult: they have to get quality assurance procedures in place to check whether they can be reused or just recycled etc. They are working on it though.

    The woman I spoke to added that you can take them back to the returns department – along with other things they recycle through there including batteries – but they’d just be recycled instead of going back into the product chain.

  13. Cat says:

    I’ve used two as tent stakes, and they worked well … they were slightly bigger ones, but it solved two problems, what to do with the allen keys and what to do when the tent stake’s gone missing.

  14. Didi says:

    Lifehacker just put up a post on making an IKEA wrench into a drillbit:

  15. Gulia says:

    Bang them more, dress into stripes of contrasting paper, fabric or paint, and you have Christmas ornament candy cane!

  16. James says:

    I am always looking for Ikea allen wrenches. I make art out of them. If you have extras you can mail them off to me.

  17. Ross says:

    I saw on another website if you get bolt cutters and cut one of the sides off you can use it as a drill attachment to assemble other ikea pieces

  18. HuntingWabbits says:

    Incredibly, even though we have them coming out of our ears here, whenever I need one for a project, they’re nowhere to be found. =P

  19. mary lou says:

    Pedro, you must have an iron stomach!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

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