10 Ways to Upcycle Old Towels, From Pet Toys to Bucket Hats
Wondering what to do with old towels? Rather than donating or tossing them, get creative with these 10 DIY ideas.
When is it time to throw in the towel (literally)? We use towels every day—whether for ourselves, our kids, or our pets—and in time, that plush and clean comfort is bound to wear down. So if your towels are past their prime, should you keep using them until they’re threadbare, or should you trade up? The answer is simple: Don’t deprive yourself of a stack of fluffy new towels, but don’t toss the ones you have, either. Instead, upcycle old towels with some DIY imagination.
Donating scruffy old towels may be a knee-jerk move, but chances are that they will not make it to a second home and will end up in landfills instead. The EPA estimates that 1 million tons of towels, sheets, and pillowcases were landfilled in 2018.
To limit our textile waste, avoid discarding worn towels and instead find a way to reuse them elsewhere. With a little creativity, you can give your towels a number of new lives, from self-care tools to beach accessories.
If you still have any towels left over, look for unconventional ways to donate them. Try your local animal or homeless shelters to guarantee they’ll be put to good use. Here's exactly what to do with old towels instead of tossing them out.
What to Do With Old Towels: 10 Ideas to Try
Photo: Small Green Things
Speaking of animal shelters, one of our favorite DIY pet toys—the t-shirt braided rope—can be easily reimagined using towels. Cut your towels into strips, braid, and knot ends tightly and you have a great chew toy for your dog.
Photo: My Material Life
Rather than buy a new blanket for your next beach trip, make a giant one using four old towels! The large layout will allow you and your loved ones to relax comfortably together. Take it camping or lay it out near your next bonfire.
3. Beach Bag
Photo: Make: Magazine
Make a beach bag designed to weather the salt water and sand. Use your new textured tote for a day spent by the sea or for your next farmers' market run.
Photo: A Rose Tinted World
Cut up a bath or hand towel to craft a new reusable mop cover. If you're using a Swiffer, just stick the corners into the teeth of the mop head for a more sustainable cleaning option.
Photo: The Make Your Own Zone
For a quick, no-sew method DIY, cut your old towels and reuse them as cleaning rags to scrub away tougher messes.
Photo: Ruffles and Stuff
Upgrade your shower routine with this pretty project—these rose-shaped bath poufs are cute and eco-friendly.
Make your own reusable makeup pads to cut down on your beauty waste. This DIY is typically done with soft cotton—switch out for towels for a bit of extra exfoliation.
Photo: Collective Gen
The terrycloth trend is real, and who doesn’t like a matching set? If you're a sewing enthusiast, use your towels to create some loungewear from a set of old towels. Wear them together or as individual pieces.
Photo: Pine & Prospect Home
Why spend money on new decor when you can craft your own pillow covers from old towels?
The bucket hat trend is alive and well, and vintage towels make excellent material for sun-shielding accessories.
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