What To Do With Old Towels

what to do with old towels

No matter how faithful your favorite towels have been, they won’t last forever. Whether your towels were built to last for years or only intended to last for a few months, they will eventually wear out. When that happens, what should you do?

The most straightforward answer is that you can just throw them into the garbage. This might be the best choice if the towel is extremely raggedy and holey, but in many cases, there’s still plenty of good towel material left to save. In cases like these, there are tons of ways you can recycle this material and put it back to work for you in a new role. With a little imagination, you can quickly start to see all the possibilities.

Here are a few of our favorite ideas for reusing old towels. Try a few of them on for size and let us know which one was your favorite.


Uses for Old Towels

Give your towels a new lease on life with some of these towel-repurposing ideas.

1. Cleaning Rags

Every household needs a few cleaning or dusting rags. Washcloths are perfect for dusting the surfaces around your house once they’re too ratty to use for washing up. Old hand towels make terrific cleaning rags, and you can use them for cleaning everything from the car to the patio furniture. Even bath towels can take on a second life as a rag, and they’re great for lying down underneath a painting project or any other surface that you want to protect from a mess.

2. Dish Towels

Even if your towels are growing so thin that they’re struggling to dry you, they may still have a life left as a towel. Dish towels don’t need to be as thick and fluffy as hand towels and are often made from a thinner material anyway. Could you repurpose your thinning or fraying hand towels as dish towels? You may find that even though they’re showing their age, they’re still perfectly capable of drying off your dishes or wiping down counters. You can also reuse bath towels this way. Cut them down to size, and you can easily make more than one dish towel out of a full-size bath towel. If you do cut them, make sure to hem the edges to prevent fraying.

3. Reusable Paper Towels

Tired of buying roll after roll of paper towels? Save a little money by just recycling your old cloth towels to create reusable paper towels instead. Simply cut your towels down to the size of an ordinary paper towel, or any size that you like. Hem the edges to prevent fraying and choose a fun fabric to add a backing on the reverse side of the towel. Make a stack of these towels, and then use them to replace your paper towels. Use them to wipe up spills, scrub counters and even clean glass surfaces. Once one becomes dirty, throw it in the wash and reuse it again next time.

4. Reusable Swiffer Pads

Why buy endless disposable Swiffer pads when you could reuse your towels for the same purpose? Only instead of throwing these away when you’re finished, you can just run them through the washing machine and use them again next time. To make your Swiffer pads, just take an old hand towel and sew two side seams on it. Make a stack of these reusable pads and enjoy how much you save on these cleaning supplies.

5. Dog Toys

Does your family have a four-legged friend? If so, you can repurpose your towels to make them a chewing toy. The process is extremely simple. Just cut the towel lengthwise into regular strips of about five inches. Then, tie knots all along the length of the towel using these strips. Your dog will have a great time chewing on it.

6. Miscellaneous Pet Items

Speaking of pets, why not use your old towels to give your pets a little extra love? Use your towels to put a little extra padding in your pet’s bed. Perhaps if you’ve got a cat that insists on sitting in your nice armchair and leaving it covered in cat hair, you might lay this towel down to protect the chair. Or you might also use this towel to dry your dog off after a bath. These are just a few examples, but there are plenty of ways you can use your towels to give your pets some extra attention and care.

7. Donations

You usually can’t donate very old or ratty towels to a thrift store. What you can do, however, is donate them to any local animal shelters in your area. Check if your local shelter accepts donations just to be sure, but many animal centers welcome donations of old towels, blankets and even T-shirts to make cozy beds and homes for the animals in their care. If you’re passionate about animals or just want to lend a friendly hand, this can be a great way to make sure your old towels keep on serving a useful purpose.

8. Bathroom Mat

If you love crafting and making DIY-projects for your home, then this clever bathroom mat might be just the solution for reusing your old towels. For this mat, you’ll need to collect two hand towels. They can be worn, and the colors can be faded, but ideally, they won’t be full of holes.

Cut these towels into long strips lengthwise. Take three strips at a time and stitch the ends together before braiding the strips together into a long chain. When your strips run out, sew three more strips onto the ends of the old ones and keep braiding. When you’ve used up all your strips, stitch the ends together before coiling the chain into one tight spiral. Sew the spiral together in key locations to ensure it stays in one piece, and you’re all finished. Lay it on your bathroom floor for a unique and stylish pop of color.

9. Toiletries Organizer

Are your bathroom counters and cupboards overflowing with toiletries and other essentials? Why not use your old towels to create a hanging organizer that helps clear off some of your surface areas? To complete this project, grab a suitable old towel and make sure you have access to a sewing machine.

Start by measuring the toiletries you plan to store in each pocket. Using these measurements, cut rectangles of towel material in these sizes and hem them to prevent fraying. Arrange these pocket pieces against the larger towel piece and sew them into place along three edges, so they form pockets. Hem all the way around the large towel backdrop. Take a string or bow and use this to create a hanging feature. Then, hang it on the inside of your bathroom or closet door for easy and convenient storage.

10. Baby Bibs

Your towels might not be up to drying anymore, but they’re perfectly capable of catching food splatters. That’s why they make the perfect material for baby bibs. If there’s a little one in your family who likes to make a mess when they eat, try repurposing your towels in this way. Just cut the bib shape, hem the edges to stop any fraying and sew ties on to hold the bib in place.

11. Baby Wipes

Speaking of babies, if you’re adjusting to life with a new baby, then you understand how expensive baby supplies can be. Save yourself a little bit of money by making homemade baby wipes from your old towels rather than buying packaged wipes. Just cut your towels into small squares or rectangles that are the same size as your favorite type of wipe. Then, when it’s changing time, soak the towel in warm water, wring it out so it’s damp but not dripping, and wipe away. With these DIY-wipes, you can easily clean, wash and reuse them dozens of times before you need to throw them out.

12. Knee Pads

Work in the garden a lot? Do lots of cleaning that requires you to kneel? If you often find yourself with sore knees after working on the floor, you may be interested in reusing your old towels as knee pads. To make these, cut simple squares out of your towel in a size that’s big enough to cover your knees. Apply strong elastic to the back, and you’ve got a solid pair of knee pads that will keep you clean and comfortable while you work.

When drafts sweep in through the cracks beneath the doors in your home, it becomes harder to keep your house warm. Your electric bills rise and everyone in your home piles on the sweaters to keep from feeling chilly. Luckily, an old towel is the perfect tool for blocking these drafts. Just take an old bath towel, roll it up into a long sausage shape and tuck it against the base of the door where the draft is coming in for a warmer house all winter long. 

13. Draft Shield

When drafts sweep in through the cracks beneath the doors in your home, it becomes harder to keep your house warm. Your electric bills rise and everyone in your home piles on the sweaters to keep from feeling chilly. Luckily, an old towel is the perfect tool for blocking these drafts. Just take an old bath towel, roll it up into a long sausage shape and tuck it against the base of the door where the draft is coming in for a warmer house all winter long.

14. Packing Material

If you move frequently, or if there’s a big move coming up on the horizon, it might be worth hanging onto those old towels to use as packing material. Simply tuck them away on a shelf or in a drawer and when it comes time to pack, use them to cushion the spaces between dishes, mugs and glass knick-knacks. The best part? It doesn’t matter how thin or holey the towels are — they can still perform this role perfectly. After you’re all moved in, recycle your towels by using them for one of these other projects or tuck them away again for the next move.

When it comes to making messes and having a terrific time in the process, kids are the best in the business. Whether they’re painting, baking or making crafts, the aftermath of these projects often seems to involve scrubbing stains out of their clothing. If your kids are professional mess-makers, save yourself some trouble on laundry day by outfitting them with their very own aprons and smocks.

Rather than buying aprons, it’s easy enough to create them from your worn-out towels. Just grab an old bath towel and, if necessary, trim it to fit your child’s height. Then, cut a hole for your child’s head to make a simple smock. For a slightly more elaborate apron, skip the head-hole and instead add ties for the waist and the back of the neck. And if you’re an avid artist or a messy chef as well? Make a matching towel apron for yourself!

16. Outdoor Blanket

Every family needs a spare blanket in the back of the car for picnics, road trips, stargazing and beach trips. If you don’t have one, you can easily make one with just a few worn-out towels. You can use as many towels as you want, provided they fit together to form an even shape. Bath towels work best, but you can also use hand towels if you have a large number on hand. Lay them out next to each other, mixing and matching patterns as creatively as you like, until you have a design that looks good to you. Stitch these towels together along the edges, and as a final step, sew an old vinyl tablecloth onto the back for waterproofing.

17. Towel Quilt

Did you know that worn-out old towels make the perfect material to reuse in a new quilt? It may take a significant effort to collect enough towels to build a full-size quilt, but there are plenty of ways to get creative and accomplish this faster. For example, you might go around to friends and neighbors and ask if any of them have any old or unused towels they’d like to donate.

Once you have enough towels, cut them into neat 12-by-12-inch squares. Make sure to discard any sections of the towel that are too worn or holey to use. Arrange these squares in any way you like, such as in a neat pattern where all the colors match or in a randomized order that’s an explosion of chaos and color. Then, stitch these squares together, add batting and a fabric back, and you’ve got yourself a brand-new quilt that makes a terrific covering for your child’s bed. This project is also simple enough that it makes a great craft for you and your kids to work together on.

Shop Bulk Towels Today

When your towels wear out and are no longer up to the task you originally used them for, it’s time to move them on to one of these other exciting jobs. Of course, this leaves a gap where those towels used to be, so to keep your house running and functioning properly, you’ll want to replace them with new towels as soon as possible.

For all your towel-buying needs, we invite you to shop at Towel Supercenter. We offer towels in a wide range of styles and materials, from economy models to high-end luxury towels. Whether you’re looking for white towels or colors, washcloths or bath towels, we’ve got what you need to keep your home stocked.

At Towel Supercenter, we sell our towels in bulk. This way, you never have to worry about not finding matching towels, and you can be sure that everything you buy will be the same size. Are you ready to get busy stocking your home? Browse our selection today to get started.

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