25 Uses For Old Sheets, Towels, and Other Linens

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Uses for Old Sheets Towels

Traditionally, January is the time of “white” sales, those sales involving linens and towels. So you go out and buy brand new towels, washcloths, sheets, and comforters; but what will you do with the old ones? Sure, you can turn them into rags, but there are so many other things you can do with them.

Uses for Old Sheets, Towels, and Other Linens

1. Tear old towels into strips and tie into knots. These make great tug toys for kids and dogs, and they’re washable too!

2. Cover plants with them in the spring and fall. They are better for your plants than plastic tarps, which can allow moisture to condense and freeze the plants rather than protect them.

3. Old cloth diapers make great floor cleaning cloths. When I do my floor, I make a batch of hot water and dip the diaper in it. Then I slap it on the floor and use my Swiffer mop head to push it around. It steam cleans and sanitizes at the same time.

4. Cut or tear old sheets into small strips and leave out for the birds in the spring. I did this and noticed so many colorful nests last year!

5. Fold an old fluffy towel and place in a pillow case. Now you have an instant chair cushion.

6. Use old cotton sheets for landscape fabric. It will keep the weeds away and eventually biodegrade into the soil. Replace every 5 years for a weed-free garden bed.

7. Do you have a dog who has had puppies? Take an old towel and throw it in the bed with them. Cut it into peices after a week or so, but don’t wash it. When it comes time for the puppies to leave, give the new owner a chunk of the towel. It will comfort the puppy because it smells like Mom.

8. Stuff an old towel under a drafty door. It’ll help keep the chill out. This works in the summer too (if you run the air conditioning) to keep the heat out.

9. Take old washcloths and soak them in a homemade cleaning solution. Use these cloths to clean and dust your home. Wash them when finished, or if they are really dirty, throw them away. Or…

10. Most cotton sheets and towels can go into the compost when they are finally of no use. Cut into small pieces to help them break down faster.

11. Keep one old washcloth to wipe up oil and wax spills. Then use this as a fire starter. The oil and wax will be very flammable, and will help the wood catch fire easily.

12. Place an old towel on the floor in front of your cat’s litter box. It will catch stray pieces of litter and can be shaken out and washed easily.

13. Keep an old towel in the front closet. You can throw it on the floor for muddy or wet shoes.

14. Use old towels under heavy furniture on solid floors to help move them without scratching the floor.

15. Keep a couple of old towels in your car trunk in the winter. Thrown under tires, they can help get traction if you are stuck on the ice.

16. Place an old towel across your windshield if you know it’s going to snow. Pull it off later and you’ll hardly have to scrape the windshield.

17. Take an old sheet outside in the fall when you rake leaves. Pile the leaves on the sheet and pull up the corners. Drag the sheet and dump leaves where you want.

18. Old sheets make great seat covers. You can match them up and they’re washable too.

19. Drape an old pretty towel on a wall to make it feel more cozy and help keep the heat in the room. Some of them make great artwork!

20. Keep old towels in your car to clean up spills, to use while checking the oil, or throwing on the ground for a picnic.

21. Do you have an old doily that has yellowed but you don’t want to give it up yet? Use it for a stencil. Place it on an old lamp base (or anything else you want to paint) and spray paint over it. Let dry and remove doily. You’ll be left with the patterns of the lace on the lamp.

22. Old receiving blankets make great family cloth. Cut into pieces the size of 2-3 squares of toilet paper. Use this for urine instead of toilet paper. Throw into a basket with holes (for aeration) and wash with hot water. I’ve saved a lot of money using these!

23. Old bandanas make great cloth napkins and the grease and stains don’t show!

24. Cut old towels into 3-4 inch squares for some very absorbent coasters.

25. Change up a tired old chair by throwing an old sheet on it. You can use safety pins to hold it in place.

These are just some of the things you can do with old linens. What have you done with yours?


About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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  1. C.H. says

    Of course make a braided rug and if dying it and if light enough you’ll be able to see the pattern of the in the different materials used …

  2. Jessie says

    I’ve used old sheets instead of buying calico for a mock up of a pattern I want to try. I’ve also made dress ups for my kids and I to play in around the house from old sheets.
    I turned some old wool blankets in a garish shade of green into more dress ups that have a practical edge. Winter cloaks that are actually somewhat water repellent (good for drizzle).
    Ive turned an old pillowcase and cloth nappy into a bib for a friend with an older child who has disabilities. She needs a larger bib and doesn’t want (or need) baby patterns.
    I’ve seen old flannelette sheets and towels made into reusable “paper” towel for clearing up spills. With snaps on the corners they can be “torn” off the roll easily then too. Old face flannels could be used instead of towels for ready sized too.
    Old sheets can make great art and craft time tablecloths too.
    They also make the best “tents”, both inside and out.

  3. Debra Maslowski says

    And Teresa’s idea just made me think of another one. I’ve had a few times that I need something dry right away,. so I toss it in the dryer alone. Now, you all know that a single object in the dryer won’t fluff, but just stays on the wall and doesn’t get dry. So why not take an old sheet or towel and put it in there with whatever you’re drying? It’s move it around and allow it to “fluff”.

    • Carol says

      I use wool dryer balls. 9 of them. They help dry clothes quicker because they ‘aerate’ the clothing as they spin. Makes clothes take much shorter time to dry. Also, use your “drain and spin” cycle twice after the final spin to get even more water out. My dryer only works for about 15 minutes for EVERY load. AND gets things dry. Even towels.

  4. Teresa says

    I recently got rid of a full size bed and had several sheets left. They became the lining for new curtains. I would use them for the curtains if they were more colorful. They can also be used as liners or fluff in many other sewing projects. Great article. Thank you.

  5. JoEllen LeVitre says

    Old cotton socks are the best for dusting, washing floors, woodwork, counters or windows. Just pull over your hand and use dry or wet. When they’re too old to use, cut them up and throw them in the compost. If you need something really absorbent, just double them up. I never buy paper towels.

  6. Rusty says

    I use old sheets to make a ‘muslin’ when I am dressmaking – cut and sew the pieces out of discarded linens, you can make alterations to your pattern before you cut into any expensive fabric. And you can draw on the material too since you won’t be wearing it. The practice garment can still be cut up for rags when you’ve finished.

  7. Grammyo says

    #7 is the best idea ever. Since smelling is a canine/felines best sense it seems such a logical idea!

  8. C says


    • Marianne Head says

      We do this. Just use some heavy rocks or bricks. We killed off all the grass in our back yard and scattered pine straw over all. It’s like the forest floor and smells wonderful. No watering, no mowing. The back yard is mostly raised bed gardens anyway.

    • Debra Maslowski says

      Thanks Marianne! I use rocks and bricks too, unless it’s on a hill. Then I use a few sod staples, those U shaped pins that hold the sod down until it roots. Then I lay on the pine mulch. It’s knits its way together and stays on the hill.

  9. Vicki says

    I love the one about tearing cloth for the birds.vwhat wonderful idea. So friendly and positive. Doing today!