Old t-shirts have a lot of second life uses. Whether you are a crafter or are looking for other ways to reuse them, the possibilities are numerous. This is a guide about uses for old t-shirts.
I enjoy the luxury of having a clean paper towel to wipe all and any messes, but I'm not okay with how fast I could go through a roll, the loss of forests, and the expense.
I live in a household overrun with guys so we have t-shirts coming out of our ears. I take 3-4 of the oldest when I see they are getting raggedy, I get out my good scissors and start whacking away. First the sleeves, cut outside the shoulder seam, and trim away the under seam. I trim away neck and shoulder seams on rest of shirt and cut into 5-8 inch pieces, very crudely. Into the rag drawer in the kitchen they go.
I use them once or twice just like a paper towel, from wiping babies chins, to cleaning up a spill. Then into the washing machine. Almost every load has a few of the little rags. If I clean up something like oil, I throw it away. Because they are washed after 1-2 uses, they stay clean, and because I toss them into the wash as soon as I've used them, nobody really sees them for more than a minute.
It doesn't matter what they look like; strictly a utilitarian function. I'm not sure but others might clean more often because they can use a clean cloth whenever they want.
So I have a large supply of ready, clean, dry rags, and no expense, and no eco-guilt.
Source: My own reluctance to see so much fabric go to waste.
By pikka from Westminster, CO
I have been doing this, too. I have also used my old flannel nightgowns, and other items to cut rags. On the flannel items I use my pinking shears so there is less raveling.
I keep a stack of rags in each bathroom, under the kitchen sink and in the basement. They make great paint rags as well.
I do this too it's a great idea! I use any clothing that has holes or stains (so they can't be donated to Goodwill) and the like. nightgowns, T-Shirts, pants and jeans, my mom's dresses and skirts. nearly anything, really.
And another tip...socks. Socks with holes or socks that are missing the mates, make *great* dust rags. Turn them inside out to dust, then turn them right side out again (so the dust is more contained) before putting them in the laundry.
These rags work for napkins at dinner, too.
I do this as well & love it. The way I look at it, is you would have just thrown the raggy things away anyway. This way they get one more life before they are tossed. The rags I use for general cleaning get tossed in the wash with the towels and get reused MANY times. I keep a tissue box under the kitchen sink with rags that are due to be tossed (too small, too ragged, etc) & use those to clean up yucky things (ie; cat & dog barf) & then just toss them in the trash as you would a paper towel. I do keep a roll of paper towel under the sink too, but it rarely gets used. We are saving money & trees by using less paper goods. So glad to hear that others feel the same as I do.
Trish in CT
When my husband's undershirts start wearing under the arms, I replace them and take the old ones and cut straight across under the arm. They make great dust rags and also work well on my swiffer mop.
When dusting and the rag needs changing, I just turn it wrong side out and keep on dusting.
After each use, I knock the dust out and put them in the clothes hamper to be washed.
I was getting rid of old clothes and I tried several ways to reuse my t-shirts. I cut off the sleeves at the arm hole and now I have a head band. It's really good for keeping hair out of your face when working outside.
I use old T-shirts and sweatshirts to make replacement pads for my Swiffer Sweeper. I just cut rectangles large enough to fit around the Sweeper. Make sure you have enough left to poke into the holes that hold it in place. I use the rest of the shirts, sleeves and all, as dust rags. They can be washed or discarded.
Turn plain Jane t-shirts into something casually interesting, fun and cool! Start by carefully cutting away the neck. Then with scissors at the arm begin cutting strips about 1/4 inch wide inward (upward) the length of your scissors.
Use old T-shirts to cover your suits and coats on hangers. Just slip the T-shirt over the hanging clothes, letting the T-shirt sleeves hang free. The knit T-shirt fabric breathes, allowing air to circulate while keeping dust off your good clothing.
A couple dollars worth of faux foliage and some beads can turn a "plain jane" sweater or shirt into "OH WOW" favorite in an evening while watching TV! My 79 cent "twice loved" shirt is now totally fun and attractive!
This is a guide about crafts using recycled t-shirts. Recycling old clothing into new items is not only green, but also, great fun. Making rugs and other craft items from recycled t-shirts is a popular activity.
What do you do with old T-shirts?
I make crochet purses and old t-shirt strips make great handles after braiding them!
What do you do with old T-shirts?
Pearl from Willowdale, Ontario
If you have any T-Shirts that are still in good shape, you could make some pillows out of them. Depending on the logo or design of the shirt, the pillow would make a great gift for a youth or teen boy. Just sew up all the openings (leaving an open area to place stuffing before closing of course). They make a great addition to a bed or to toss on the floor as a TV pillow. Good luck! (12/22/2001)
A friend of mine took all of the t-shirts he never wore for one reason or another and pinned them to the ceiling of his bedroom (he has no ceiling fan), leaving them tacked loosely so they're kind of poofy. We all said it felt like sitting in the bottom of the laundry basket, but clean and fresh! Another friend is going to take all his t-shirts from years of track meets and make a quilt with them. Either idea with the t-shirt pillows could really add easy and cheap spunk to someone's bedroom. (01/02/2002)
Why don't you donate them to the homeless. They would probably appreciate a nice clean tee shirt. (01/03/2002)
I like the suggestion to donate tees to the homeless. I have also given all my unused tees to women's shelters, youth centers, and the school nurse. It's better to send a child home in a clean tee that's too big, than in a soiled, or torn shirt. Used tees make great dusting/polishing clothes. And, I cut squares out of the material, add a small amount of liquid fabric softener for a substitute dryer sheet. (01/03/2002)
Because many of the giveaway T-shirts are size large take two that are the same size, cut off one of them right under the arms and sew the bottom section to the bottom of the whole shirt thereby lengthening it into a nightie or dress. You could add another bottom section to make it full length. Another idea is to cut them into strips to make a rag rug or crochet pot holders. (01/04/2002)
My son has several t-shirts that, on cleaning day, he just could not part with. I told him to come up with an idea so he could keep them. He decided he would take the best looking one and make a pillow out of it using the others as stuffing. It's a pretty heavy pillow, but it's perfect for relaxing on the floor while watching a movie. Plus he learned the basics for sewing. Pretty good for an 11 year old. (01/04/2002)
I use old or those I don't like shirts when I color my hair or when I paint around the house, and sometimes when I bleach things. Those that are too small, I have the children use when doing messy school projects, especially those that include painting! They can be used to dry off your car after washing or rubbing off wax (you might want to turn inside out to keep from scratching). Last, you can use them when you pack delicate holiday objects or in boxes as packing material for shipping. (01/04/2002)
If you have small clean t-shirts that you cannot use that are in good condition, a daycare may take them, to use when kids get messy or have accidents. They always kept a few extra clean clothes around "just in case" when my son went to a daycare many moons ago. I take my son's and hubby's old tees and cut them into "yarn" (long strips) and crochet rag rugs or little mats for the kitties to sleep on. If the tees are pretty worn, cut them up into squares as they make great rags for dusting, household cleaning, and washing the car. If there is good material left in the tees, they can be used to make doll clothes. My sister made some bean bags for the kids to toss, out of t-shirt cloth (you can also use dry rice in the "bean bag" so it's not as heavy). Cut out a large square from the front of the tee and use as quilt blocks (but you may have to sew it onto a heavier fabric). If your kid has lots of tees he or she outgrew, but liked, this makes a cute "memory" quilt. (I made one once using the front squares from sweatshirts, a heavier material. It came out nice.) Lastly, if they are like new, donate them to a shelter or clothing charity. (01/06/2002)
Ness, co-list mom of WasteNothing
Use them to polish your shoes with. (01/23/2002)
Personally, I don't wear T-shirts, but I have a lot of them, it's really easy to make an old shirt a new shirt. First cut one inch slices up both sides. Then simply tie the loose ends together in double knots, making the shirt a little snugger, but a whole new look!
Crochet a rug with t-shirt "yarn". Cut one up by cutting into the bottom about an inch or two and then continuing round and round until you have a big "string". Then you roll those into balls of t-shirt yarn. As you crochet you sew the end of one to the beginning of the next and keep going. (07/22/2005)
My neighbor uses his T-shirts as seat covers on the bucket seat (rear part) in his car. The logos are interesting, good for a laugh, and he has a washable seat cover. (07/22/2005)
I cut up my husband's old white cotton undershirts to use for cleaning eyeglasses and drying/polishing jewelry. They are so soft and really do a nice job. (02/03/2006)
You can sew them into fitted tank tops and make little cat nip pillows out of the scraps. (03/12/2006)
Rip or cut them into squares and use them for babywipes. They are softer and they don't have the chemicals that the store wipes do. We use them with just water, and our baby almost never has diaper rash. If you use cloth diapers, they can be washed right along with the diapers. The yuckiest ones get tossed!
I saw a beautiful quilt made of t-shirts from a young woman's crew events. Great memento of all her events, and cozy for her dorm.
Cut them into squares that will fit around a dry Swiffer and after using them, wash them and reuse them. Beats paying for a box of the paper squares. (06/25/2007)
My neighborhood has a few ceramic shops, they take old shirts, t-shirt or button up, and use them for their patrons to put on while painting so they don't ruin their clothes in case paint gets on them.
If there are stains or rips, it doesn't bother them any, as they will get paint on them anyway.
If you don't want to keep the shirts for yourself, and they are in less than perfect condition find some art studio to donate them to! (06/26/2007)
I collected a number of T shirts in my travels and I don't wear them much any more. I use them to cover outdoor chair pads, just slide pad in and pin sleeves and excess fabric to back. (06/26/2007)
I use them to line the bottom of my plant pots so the soil doesn't drip out of the holes on the bottom side.
I also use them to make fire starters. Grill A lot? Like camp fires? Save old paper egg cartons and toilet paper rolls. Stuff them with old t-shirt rags, and pour paraffin or melted candle nubs onto the t-shirt so it soaks it up. Light this under your charcoal or wood. (10/30/2007)
If you have children in school, you can quickly sew them to make a snug and stretchy book cover for their textbooks. (10/30/2007)
I recently saw a picture of a t-shirt totebag. They widened the opening around the collar, rolled the sleeves up as handles, and strengthened all the seams. Sew across the bottom, more than once, and you have a fairly easy and sturdy totebag. I made one without a pattern, kinda guessing how they did it. Mine isn't as nicely finished, but it works. (11/12/2007)