Rubber Bands: Why They’re Evil, What to Use Instead


Evil Rubber Bands

I used rubber bands on my cards all the time. I am sure I still have games on the shelf that have components held together with rubber bands. It wasn’t until I joined online board game groups that I started seeing people cringe at the whisper of rubber bands, the same way they do when they see someone riffle shuffle (which I do, and that is an entirely different topic altogether…). So I began doing some research and realized I needed to find a better alternative.

Rubber bands degrade over time and, depending on the type used, can leave a sticky mess on your cards. They are also rough on cards in general, leaving marks and dents. There are some alternatives like using baggies and special non-rubber bands, but neither of those really worked for me (edit: if you would like more information on other alternatives, please scroll to the bottom). I don’t like how loose the cards are in baggies, and I feel other types of bands are still too tight. I stumbled across an inexpensive alternative, however, that you can customize for your games using fold-over elastic.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small percentage of anything you may purchase.

Fold-Over Elastic: My Alternative

Fold-over elastic (FOE) can be found at fabric stores. It is very soft as it is designed to go against your skin. It has limited stretch so it can stay firm around your cards without having to make it too tight.

I bought 12 yards of FOE in multiple colors for around $5. You can buy Fold Over Elastic on Amazon for around 50 cents a yard. If you don’t want to mess around with making your own, you can buy hair ties made from FOE, but you won’t be able to customize their size. I wanted to be able to make bands specific to the size of decks I had, as well as be able to coordinate colors.

Some Lularoe consultants will ship their leggings wrapped up in an FOE hair tie. If anyone you know orders Lularoe you can ask them if they have any extra hair ties around. That is how I first got the idea to use FOE, and it is an easy way to see how you like them without spending any money.

Making Your Own FOE Bands

Once you have your FOE, you’ll want to measure the cards you’re wanting to secure. This deck was about seven inches. I added three inches to the total to allow for the knot and cut off a piece of FOE that was ten inches long.

Once the piece was cut, I folded it in half and tied it into a knot, wrapping the ends around, then pushing it through the hole made.

knot in fold over elastic
The knot before pulling it tight.

Put the band around the cards and check the size. If you’re satisfied, pull the knot tight. It should have some movement around the cards, but keep everything together.

As you can see, the FOE band gently holds the cards together, even when I am holding the deck by only the middle cards or by the band, everything stays in place.

I’m very pleased with how easy they are to make and how well they’ve worked so far. I also like being able to color coordinate my games – it makes it look so much better! I’d love to hear from you if you try it. Let me know below how it went.

Even More Alternatives

The best thing is, no matter what your preference, there is an alternative for you! After this post hit Facebook there were many people who offered up their personal favorite rubber band alternatives. Here are some that were mentioned.

  • Baumgartens 2-1/8-inch Plastibands – latex free and doesn’t deteriorate over time. Multiple colors if you like to color code your items like me.
  • Bondage Tape –  made to be gentle enough to be used on skin and comes in some fun colors, too!
  • Hugo’s Amazing Tape – touted as the best thing by many, be sure to check out this PSA on BoardGameGeek first. It appears some card types might have problems with the tape (a very small number, best to check just to be sure). Linked from there is a list of games that have had no problems.
  • One-Wrap Thin Ties – these are Velcro ties to keep everything in place.
  • Hair Ties – many people stick to the basics and simply use hair ties.
  • Ziploc Sandwich Bags – a staple for many gamers, me included.

A shout out to everyone at The Boardgame Group for adding to my list of rubber band alternatives! So many board gamers in one place allows us to get so much good input and new ideas. Thank you!

3 Replies to “Rubber Bands: Why They’re Evil, What to Use Instead

  1. Hahaha I love that you have bondage tape as an alternative! We usually just put the cards in ziplock bags but the FOE bands seem like a really cool (and potentially color coordinated to the game) choice.

    1. Well, you know it will be gentle on the cards! Apparently bondage tape and Hugo’s Amazing Tape are essentially the same thing, only marketed differently and in different colors.

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