Repurposing Old Towels

Repurposing Old Towels

Your towels have reached the end of their functional life in your bathroom. Perhaps they’re worn or outdated. Maybe you remodeled and your towels no longer match, or you simply don’t have room for all of your towels. Whatever the reason you’re getting rid of them, figuring out what to do with old bath towels can be a challenge. Check out these creative ways to repurpose your old towels to keep them out of the landfill.

Toss Them in the Car for Cleanups

How many times have you spilled something in your car only to find out you had nothing to clean up the mess? When your towels have served their purpose in the bathroom, shift their assignment to car duty. Keep a few towels in the trunk or tucked under your seat for spills and messes. On rainy days, place a towel down on the seat or carpet to protect your car’s interior.

The towels may also come in handy if you’re at an event that requires you to sit on the ground. Place the towels down to create a barrier before sitting. Heading to a sporting event after it rains? Take the towels into the event, and wipe down the bleachers or seats, so your clothes stay dry. You can find many ways to reuse old towels when you keep them handy in your car.

Use Them for Cleaning

cut bath towels to create cleaning rags

Cut your large bath towels into smaller sections to create cleaning rags. The soft texture makes the cleaning rags gentle on various surfaces. They’re also more durable than paper towels, and they cut down on the waste you produce. Store a stack of the homemade cleaning rags under your kitchen and bathroom sinks for easy access. If you want the rags to last longer, hem the cut edges to prevent fraying. These rags also work well in the garage or workshop.

You can use the rags for a number of cleaning purposes. Indoors, use your homemade rags for:

  • Wiping your countertops and sinks
  • Washing windows
  • Dusting
  • Wiping down cobwebs
  • Cleaning up spills
  • Cleaning leather furniture

Outdoors or in the garage, you can use your rags for various tasks, including:

  • Wiping grease off of parts
  • Cleaning up spills in the shop
  • Wiping your hands clean
  • Brushing sawdust off of projects
  • Wiping exterior doors, siding and window sills
  • Washing or drying your car

Block Drafts

Drafty doors in the winter can lower your home’s temperature and make your furnace work overtime. An old bath towel works well to block the drafts from entering your home along the bottom edges of doors. Roll the towel lengthwise, and position it against the bottom of the door to keep chilly wind outside. The same idea works along the bottom edges of windows if yours are older or leaky. Your home feels more comfortable, and you give your furnace a break.

Protect Items

If you’re planning a move anytime soon, save those towels as free packing protection. Line boxes or wrap fragile items in the towel while packing. The same idea works if you’re packing up items to go into storage. Wrap items in towels before placing them in boxes or totes. If you’re not going anywhere, check with friends and family to see if anyone is moving and wants free packing material.

You may even find some protective uses within your home. Cut circles of the towels to place between your pots and pans before stacking them in your cupboard to prevent them from scratching one another. Cut a small piece to fit under candles, flower pots or other decorative items, so they don’t scratch tabletops.

Sew a Simple Beach or Picnic Mat

A single towel works to cover the ground in a pinch, but you can easily make a larger beach or picnic blanket by sewing several towels together. Lay out the towels to see how many you want to put together and to determine the arrangement. If you have different colors or styles of towels, such as some solid and some striped, you can alternate to create a checkerboard effect.

Sew the towels together along the existing seams. The outer edges of your blanket are already finished, so you only need to sew the inner edges where the towels come together. You end up with a soft blanket to go down on sandy beaches or in the grass.

Make Dog Toys

Turn your old towels into homemade dog toys

Dogs don’t need expensive toys. Instead, turn your old towels into homemade toys. Cut the towel into long strips about 1 to 2 inches wide. Grab several strips together in a bunch, and tie a knot at one end. Continue tying knots down the length of the bundle every few inches. Your dog gets a brand new chew toy, and you don’t even have to go to the store.

If you don’t have dogs yourself, you can make several of these dog toys and donate them to a local animal shelter. This idea is a great project for kids as a fun service project. Check with the shelter first to make sure they will accept the homemade toys.

Create Reusable Swiffer Covers

Make reusable Swiffer mop covers

If you’re tired of constantly buying new pads for your Swiffer mop, make reusable covers with your old towels. The material is soft and absorbent, making it ideal as a Swiffer cover.

This project requires some sewing after cutting the towels to a precise size. Cut the towels into a rectangular shape large enough to cover the bottom of the Swiffer with two flaps on each end to go around the top side. Allow enough extra fabric for the seams. Cut two pieces in the same shape, and sew them together. Use Velcro on the flaps so that you can secure the pad onto the Swiffer head.

Replace Your Bath Mat

This repurposed towel project gives your old towels a new purpose in the bathroom. You need a rug canvas, also called a latch hooking canvas, gridded matting or anti-slip mat. It looks like an open grid with horizontal and vertical sections. This is the base of your new bath mat. Cut it to the size you want for your bath mat.

Next, you need to cut your old towels into strips. You want the strips approximately ¾-inch wide and 5 to 6 inches long. Thread the strips through the holes on the grid and tie them into knots. Work your way around the rug, tying the strips onto the rows until the mat is covered. For a thick, fluffy finished product, tie the strips onto every row. If you want your rug a little thinner and lighter, skip a row between your ties. You end up with a soft, absorbent mat to place in front of your shower.

You can also make a braided version of a recycled towel rug. Cut towels into strips approximately 1.5 to 2 inches wide. Line three strips up, and sew them together at one end. Braid the strips. When you get to the end, sew on three more strips, and continue braiding them. Repeat this process until you have a braided strip long enough to create the size rug you want.

To turn it into a rug, start at the center and coil the braided strip around itself, keeping the coil flat, so it looks like a rug. Stitch the braid to itself as you go to keep it in a rug shape. Continue coiling the strip around the middle to make a round rug, making stitches as you go to hold it together. If your rug isn’t as large as you want when you’re done coiling, sew on more strips, braid them together, and continue your coil. When you get to the end, sew the strips together, and tuck the end under the rug. Sew the end to the bottom to keep it hidden.

Add a New Bag to Your Collection

An old towel works well for creating a simple tote bag or beach bag. Cut a bath towel to size, depending on how large you want the bag. You’ll fold the towel over to form the bag, so make it twice as long to leave enough fabric. Leave extra fabric for the seams, as well.

If you cut the short edges that will form the top edges of the bag, sew those under to keep them from unraveling. Cut handles from thick, heavy fabric, leaving at least 2 inches extra on each end to attach the straps to the bag. Position the first strap along one short edge to create the looping handle. Sew it with a zigzag line in two spots to attach it securely to the towel. Repeat with the other end of that strap. Do the same thing with your second strap on the other top edge.

Fold the towel over inside out, lining up the top edges. Sew along the two cut sides to form the bag. Flip the bag, so it is right side out. The handles should stick about above the top of the bag, ready for your next trip to the beach or to run errands. You can sew a simple pocket on the outside for additional storage. Another option is to add a narrow flap along the top edge with Velcro at one end to hold the bag closed.

Sew an Organizer

Make yourself a simple organizer using an old towel. You can cut a bath towel to any size, depending on what you want to store in the organizer. A hand towel size generally works well for this purpose. Fold up the bottom edge of the towel about 5 to 6 inches for form a pocket along the bottom edge. This is where you store your items. You can make it deeper if you want to use the organizer for larger items.

Sew along both edges to hold the pocket you created at the position. Divide the pocket into several smaller sections by sewing a line straight up from the bottom folded edge to the top of the pocket. Repeat this process at varying intervals, keeping the pockets wide enough to fit the items you want to store inside the organizer.

If you want to and the organizer, fold over the top edge toward the back to create a channel to hold a wooden dowel. Sew along the channel. Slip a down in it, and tie a ribbon or string to both ends to create a hanger.

If you want to roll the organizer to take on trips, sew a length of ribbon to each side. Fill the pouches with toiletries, roll it from one end to the other and tie the ribbons together to keep your rolled organizer closed.

Protect Your Child’s Clothes

make smocks for your kids to paint

Painting and craft time with kids is fun, but it can also get messy. Use your old bath towels to create easy smocks. You simply need to cut a hole near one end of the towel that is large enough for your child’s head to fit through. You can hem the edges of the circle if you want, but it’s not necessary. When your child wants to paint, slip his head through the hole so the towel hands down over his clothes. You can easily toss the paint smock in the washing machine after craft time for quick cleanup.

The same idea works on a smaller scale for your baby. Use old towels cut to size as bibs. Cut the towel in the shape you want it for the bib, leaving excess fabric around the edges for the seams. A simple way to do this is to use a bib you already have a pattern. For a simple design, create a one-piece bib with a curving neck with straps that curve behind the neck. After you hem the edges, attach Velcro to the edges of the straps, so you can easily place the bib around your baby’s neck. You can also attach ties to the bib.

Pad Your Pet’s Sleeping Area

Forget buying expensive pet beds for every room in the house. Create your own thin pet mats from old towels. Make a stack of old towels as thick as you want the bed. Keep in mind you need to be able to push a thick needle through the stack, so you don’t want too many towels in it.

When you have your towels stocked, thread your needle with heavy-duty thread. Push the needle down through the stack and back up to create tufting. Tie the ends of the thread to hold it in place. Repeat this tufting process, adding knots every 6 to 8 inches around the pet bed. This keeps the towels from shifting inside. You can create the tufting along the edges or sew the top and bottom towel together along the edges for a finished look.

Reusable Baby Wipes

It may sound gross, but you can save money by turning your old towels into reusable baby wipes. If you already cloth diaper your baby, you can simply toss the wipes in with the cloth diapers when you wash them. Cut the old towels into small squares to create the wipes. Moisten them with warm water, and wipe your baby’s bottom clean. The homemade wipes are soft, and you eliminate chemicals that are found in disposable baby wipes.

Give Towels a New Home

Sometimes you’re simply ready to get the towels out of your home completely. If you don’t have another use for the old towels, consider donating them to a local charity or nonprofit organization. Animal shelters often accept towels to line cages, dry animals, clean up messes and handle other random jobs. Your towels don’t have to be in pristine condition to fulfill the needs of local animal shelters.

If the towels are still in like-new condition, consider donating them to a local homeless shelter, women’s shelter or similar organizations that care for people in vulnerable situations. This option is great if you simply want a new look for your towels but your old towels are still in great shape.

Are you ready to recycle your towels? Stock up on brand new bath towels to replace those repurposed old towels. The selection includes highly absorbent towels in a range of colors to match your bathroom décor.


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