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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.

what to do with old towels
Written by
Samantha Bailon
Published
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

1.
Knotted Dog Toy

what to do with old towels
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.

2.
Big Beach Blanket

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

what to do with old towels
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.

4.
Reusable Mop Cover

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.

5.
Cleaning Rags

what to do with old towels
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.

6.
Rose Bath Pouf

Photo: Ruffles and Stuff
Upgrade your shower routine with this pretty project—these rose-shaped bath poufs are cute and eco-friendly.

7.
Makeup Remover Rounds

what to do with old towels
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.

8.
Wearable Terry Set

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.

9.
Pillow Covers

what to do with old towels
Photo: Pine & Prospect Home
Why spend money on new decor when you can
craft your own pillow covers
from old towels?

10.
TikTok Towel Bucket Hat

what to do with old towels
The bucket hat trend is alive and well, and vintage towels make excellent material for sun-shielding accessories.