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I saw a post about recycling cloth towels by cutting them in to 12 inch squares and using them as cleaning rags. I thought "why not be creative and quilt those squares into new bath towels, beach towels or picnic blankets?" You can cut the quilt pieces to any size you wish and not only would the finished products be unique but also would have an extra life before becoming cleaning rags.
By Ann from Richland, WA
Wow! This is a great idea! I have tons of rags made from old towels.
Excellent idea, had to close up my mothers house last year and I never thought of it had about 3 boxes of towels in all states of use. But the One thing I did with the ones that quite a bit of wear left in them, was donate to the local shelter. They need all they can get for the dogs and cats they take in.
Good idea! And if you backed it with one of those quilted or unquilted flannel backed plastic tablecloths that are found so often in Thrifty Shops, (plastic side out), you would avoid all that litter that sticks to the terry cloth. The flannel-backed cloth can be washed in the washer just as well as the terry-cloth, but I'd line dry rather than putting it in the dryer.
Thanks for the good idea. I can use just so many recycled old towels as hot pads in the kitchen.
I put several thicknesses of the old terrycloth towels together and sew around 3 sides, then turn inside out and hand stitch the 4th side making them nice and neat for setting hot pans or casserole dishes on to cool. You can make them any size you like and they work great. Completely washable too.
I really like the idea of something a little more useful since we live less than 20 minutes from the ocean. Beach pads would be wonderful.
Our bath towels tend to wear out around the edges, while the centers are still pretty plush. When I retire one (after buying a new one with a coupon, of course), I cut it into 4 or 6 pieces--4 for hand towels, 6 for washcloths.
I have a lot of fabric scraps left over from years of sewing, and I make bias strips that I sew around the edges of the towels/washcloths.
I used left-over mattress ticking fabric (blue) around white towels, and I use those in the kitchen for hand towels. My guest bath is pink, and I made several hand and washcloths out of white with different pink fabrics.
I only buy solid color towels now and I color-code them so everyone has their own set.
Spending a morning in my sewing room is like therapy for me.
We all know we can recycle bath towels that are worn in spots to become potholders or washcloths. But, another nifty way to recycle them is to make them into braided rugs. These absorbent and washable rugs are great for the bathroom or by a door for people to put wet shoes and boots on.
Cut the towels into 2 inch strips, and attach strips to each other to make 3 large balls of strips (similar to balls of yarn). Braid the 3 strips together. When your braid is good and long, start your rug in your desired shape, and sew the braid down with thread that coordinates in color. You can make your rug as big as you like (and add to it later). Or, you can make your strips more narrow and instead of a rug make coasters or place mats. For care, wash on gentle (to keep your stitching in place). If large, lay flat or hang to dry.
By mom-from-missouri from NW MO
Wonderful idea! You can also make "step out" rugs with towels. Stitch 3 or 4 of them together at the sides. Then stitch lengthwise at intervals of about 2 inches from one end to the other.
About two months ago I went through my towels. I had some of my own which were old and some I had inherited. I had a lot, some of which were cheap and worn.
I zig zagged them in squares about 12 inches, so that when I cut them they were edged. They are brilliant for using as cleaning cloths and wiping down washed tiles or work surfaces, leaving them smear free.
Then I chuck them in the washer with the usual towel wash. There is always capacity in the towel wash, so it isn't extra cost there. My purchase of paper kitchen towel is now almost nil. If you acquire old towels, this is a great way to use them.
When my bath towels start looking worn or shabby I cut them into 4 pieces, hem them, and use them for dish towels. When these have served their purpose, I cut a notch in them and use these for rags.
Cut a notch into washcloths and use them for rags, this way you won't get them mixed up with your good wash cloths, when doing laundry.
After I have used my dishtowels for awhile and the the design is fading, I use them to dry my hands on in the kitchen instead of paper towels. And they are also great to use to clean up spills on your carpet instead of using paper towels.
Our hand towels always seem to wear out at either end. Why make the entire towel into a rag? Cut a 12 inch square out of the good center part, do a fine zigzag stitch around edges.
When our bath towels get worn around the edges, usually the center portion is still nice and plush. I cut them in either 4 equal pieces for hand towels, or 6 pieces for wash cloths.
Instead of tossing the occasional ripped towel, we make them into washcloths. This can be done very easily by sewing a zig zag stitch around the edge.
After I shower, I use my damp towel to dust my bedroom furniture and lamps. By Peggy Williamson
We took several well worn towels out of our RV that had become favorites and "old stand-bys". They are getting a new life; crocheted into a rug, mat, seat cushion, or other useful item.
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If you have old towels that are stained or have holes in them, you can use them to protect your counter tops from spills, as tub mats, or as throw rugs in front of your doors.
By Linda from Union Grove, NC
Editor's Note: Do you have any other uses for old towels? Post them here!
I use old towels to wipe down the bath and shower and taps after use. Also use others to rub dog down after a wet walk. They are useful in the car too to protect ends of long things being transported from scratching the glass at either end of the car. They are useful too in mopping up spillages on the floor, carpet or tiles.
I use them for insulation for: coasters, hot pads, covers for hot dishes, batting for small quilting projects, for washing/drying cars, using for paint splatters, covers for heating pads.
I have used them as liners when making bibs, the size for toddlers, like a lobster bib. This is absorbent. Also, have gone through mine, picked out aging towels and gone with them to our vet clinic. They use them when pets have had surgery, a nice soft old towel for them to curl up on, be covered with if they are cold, etc.
My smaller but not worn towels have been gathered up and given to new teen moms, a small soft bath towel is perfect for a newborn's body, too big and fluffy ones are hard to fit into little spots needing wiping. I had bought a medium bath towel sized, about a dozen at Sam's Club, used them for my grandbabies until they grew into the larger sized ones. These new moms struggle for many things and a half dozen towels for each mom helped.
Another area, our church 5-6th graders collected still usable hand and bath towels to put into health kits to send off to missions with other supplies. And I have nice neighbors/friends who share gifts at Christmas, etc and those towels always seem to be replaced! In seeing that, my gift to graduates is always a nice huge bath towel to start their college dorm days off with. Sometimes I get their names put on it by a friend. Wal-mart tends to run good prices for the 30 x 54 inch sized bath towel. $4 or less.
Many of my smaller towels have edges that are frayed and old. What should I do with them? They are still useful, but not pretty.
I'd cut the towels down and hem them for hand towels or washcloths. I prefer using cloth cleaning rags to paper towels. They also work as pot holders, and cushioning for delicate wood working projects in process.
My second lives for towels include going to the car for sitting on, on hot days and mopping up spills in the car, handing by the door for easy access for drying wet dog paws and belly, or I sew them up the sides (leave top open) and use for ice packs and hot water bottle covers.
The third life is cleaning up dog accidents, and other extra icky messes.
After that if there are any thread left, they go out in the spring for bird nesting materials.
I second everything said here; that's where I get both my rags, washcloths, and kitchen drying towels.
You might also use them, especially if they have an interesting pattern, as pillows by sewing them together and adding stuffing.
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We are looking for all the practical uses for old towels that are no longer in good enough shape to use in the bathroom.
The first thing that I think of is using them for dust cloths. You could also cut out pieces that fit the bottom of your dining room/kitchen chairs and glue them on so they don't scratch the floor. Cut them out and put under your floor plants just in case you have a leak.
Craft with them. I bought tiny wire hangers (you could make them yourself too) and then cut pieces out. Attached lace to the bottoms and glued onto the hangers. Really cute for a bathroom decoration! (01/03/2001)
Cut them down and use for dust rags or dishrags. When they are no longer suitable for dishrags, use them as grease rags when when working. Can be washed and re-used or simple throw them away. (01/03/2001)
I use mine for dust rags. Also, my husband find uses for them in the garage. (01/03/2001)
Old handtowels can make those really cute baby bibs you find at baby stores now. I'm sure you could find how to make them on-line. These make great gifts as the bibs are larger than usual and don't allow messy/stained clothes. (01/03/2001)
I cut them into smaller pieces and use them to wipe my baby off. They are soft and can be washed and used again and again. (01/03/2001)
Animal shelters are usually needing old towels especially when it is cold where the animals don't have to sleep on the cement floor. (01/03/2001)
Cut and sew into squares, stuff with herbs from the garden or herbs/spices that are expired and are hiding in your pantry (you know you have some!) Use as a hot mat, or sachet in drawers/closets, depending upon the scent you use. (01/03/2001)
Almost forgot - I used one holey towel to make a terry robe and matching "towel" for one of my daughter's dolls. (01/03/2001)
I had an old beach towel that had sentimental value, but was wasting away. I cut it up into dishtowels and washcloths, then hemmed the edges to make them look nice. On some older towels I just cut them up and use in the kitchen. I change my kitchen towels and washrag daily so I need a lot of these. The rest go to my husband to use as cloths to wash our cars with, the others as rags for a little of everything. (01/03/2001)
Your local animal shelters need old towels and old blankets. Keep those puppies from sleeping on the cold concrete and dry them after their bath, they will be greatly appreciated, believe me. (01/03/2001)
We donate old towels and blankets to the local animal shelter. They can always use them. (01/03/2001)
This will depend on the size of the towel, but I have cut down an old bath sheet towel into several face cloths, if the material is too thin cut 2-3 pieces out of the towel into the same size, then you have nice cleaning cloths. (You could also do this with the face cloths become too thin to use, just sew 2 or three together). Also if it is just the selvages that start to fray just machine stitch them, and you can still use them as towels. If there is just a little hole in one spot, use part of another old towel or facecloth and applique a fun patch on it (like a flower or a sail boat) and you still have a usable towel.Bibs, can be made for seniors or children, and a terry apron made out of a towel (side ways) and a band (of any fabric or even braid if you have some on hand) to tie at the waist is handy to wipe your hands on while you cook and at the same time keeps your clothes clean.You could also use part of a towel to make one of the towels you hang from a drawer in the kitchen, Just make a solid piece of material at the top with a button and button hole to use to hang it where you'd use it.Hope these are useful to someone. (01/03/2001)
I have cut them apart so I have saved the good piece. Sew a ribbon across the short end and it makes a great bib for a baby or for an elderly person. It then goes into the washer and dryer. No muss, no fuss. Old bath towels make a great drying cloth for my puppy. I have a 5 pound Yorkie and it fits her to a tee. (01/03/2001)
We save old towels for washing/drying our van. Saves money on car washes too, by washing it yourself! We also keep them to donate to our annual Church Car Wash Fundraiser, that our children participate in for our CCD program. Perhaps you could check with your church, boy scouts, etc. to see if they need them for their car washes. Just think, you save money yourself AND help others save/raise money for a good cause too! (01/04/2001)
I taught my daughter to do some basic sewing using old towels. She sewed a simple bath mitt. I think you could probably do some cute animal-shaped bath mits for children with old towels. (01/04/2001)
I cut them into squares and hem them and use them for face cloths, dish cloths, general clothes around the house that can be washed, better for the environment then disposal cloths. When my children were babies, I would fill a plastic bag with wet wash cloths and they could be used for sticky, messy faces and hands and nappy changes! Great when out and about! When no water was available! Another use, they can be used to make pot holders. For the middle use a few layers then cover with fabric ! (01/04/2001)
Kind Regards Sherrie !
If they are really old they don't leave lint and can be use for dust rags. but they have to be really old for this. They make great rags for washing and drying the car. They are pretty soft by then. I keep a supply in the laundry room just for spills. they absorb quickly. (01/04/2001)
Cut into washcloths and zigzag ends. I use mine to make soaker pads for my son's diapers. There is a great site, www.diapersewing.com, that can help people make their own diapers. (01/04/2001)
Know how you like to have your face washed of a morning, well, so does my Black Lab, so we cut the old towels into 4's and wash his face every morning with a clean doggie wash rag, no hemming required. (01/04/2001)
We volunteer at a local humane society, and there is always a crying need for old towels there. They will accept any and all you have to give, and it will be a tremendous help! (01/04/2001)
Harry and Sue
Old towels and sheets can be donated to your local animal shelter. Shelters are always in need of these items. Thanks (01/04/2001)
I received so many smaller thinner towels that my mom had saved up (she was a saver). They were too small for bath towels so I now use them inside my kitchen drawers and closet shelves. Some I use to dry my dishes on. Good ole' mom helping out long after she's gone. (01/04/2001)
Uses for old towels
1. Cut out the good sections as fingertip towels.
2. Use as car washing rags.
3. If toilet overflow is a problem, keep old towels in a handy place in the bathroom for quick absorption.
4. Cut out good parts as washcloths; zigzag edges
5. Use as a mat to step out of the shower onto.
6. Use as a mat in the shower.
7. Cut into smaller sections for grease and paint rags.
8. Use small pieces to scour the sink.
9. Use a small section to wipe water off the vanity.
10. The best of worn towels still often can be used as camp towels.
11. Keep a towel in the car to clean the windshield of accumulated dust.
12. Use as window washing rags.
13. Use small portions as floor scrubbing cloths.
14. Pin over the head of a broom to wipe cobwebs off the ceiling.
15. Worn towels are still good enough to wash walls.
16. Cut potholder size pieces from the best sections and stitch 4 or 5 layers between two pieces of fabric creating potholders.
17. Roll up as a draft chaser at the bottom of a door.
18. Wipe wet or muddy feet of the dog after she has been outside.
19. Use as dog washing towels.
20. Use as a small drop cloth.~ (01/04/2001)
Old towels (sheets and blankets) are very much needed at animal shelters. They are used for everything including the animals bedding. Please consider collecting these items - even if you see them at thrift stores and donating them to your local shelters. (01/05/2001)
I use an old towel when I dye my hair. I've also used an old towel to use when changing a baby on a surface I want to protect, but I don't have a changing table. (01/05/2001)
One use for old towels is to cut them into whatever size you would like, then sew them into a cylinder. Before closing the last edge, fill approximately 1/2 full of uncooked white rice. After you've finished sewing the towel together, microwave for 3-5 minutes and you have a heating pad that will last for hours and is completely reusable. (01/13/2001)
Old towels can be cut to make cleaning rags and old blankets can be used as batting for the inside of a new quilt but my favorite way to recycle them is to take them to the dog rescue people to be use as mats for inside cages or sleeping areas.
By Debra in Colorado
I keep all ours and put them on the living room sofa and chairs, as the cats like to sleep on the furniture. I know it defeats the object of having nice things to cover them up, but at least it keeps the muddy paws and shed fur off them. Can be slung in the wash every couple of days too (towels not cats - oops!). (10/04/2004)
By Syd (12/30/2004)
I'd think twice before I used them for pillow covering for small babies. Babies younger than 1 year should never be put to bed with a pillow or a blanket in the bed with them. Use blanket sleepers instead. It keeps them warmer than a blanket because they can't kick them off like they do a blanket. I know pillows are really cute but they are a suffocation risk for small infants. We have been told in the child care industry to never use anything in the crib with an infant. (12/30/2004)
By Sonya Yoder
I use my old towels to wrap around the bristles of a broom and sweep the floor. It's kinda like a dust mop. I also do this and clean cob webs down from around the ceiling. (12/30/2004)
I save all my old towels (sheet and blankets also) to take to the local animal shelter. They have many uses for them and are always grateful to get them. (12/31/2004)
I put old towels in the trunk of my car. When I wash it at the car wash, they are handy to wipe the windows dry without spots! From time to time I take them out and wash them. Much cheaper than buying the disposable paper towels at the car wash! (12/31/2004)
I cut them to the size of dish towels, wash them and all the fuzz is gone. Now you don't have to hem them. (01/01/2005)
If you ask me towels are the most useful thing in the universe. You can use them for shade or even to cool down a beer, ummm beeer (01/05/2006)
Donate the recycled washcloths to a shelter for abused women.
Use them as swimming towels instead of buying expensive, beautiful! swimming towels. If lost, it will not be so hard on your budget to replace them. (03/30/2006)
Cut them, braid each strip and sew them all together to make a rug. (10/05/2006)
We used to make pillow cases out of old towels which are nice in the summer and also for use on the couch. you can also make reusable menstrual pads out of flannel or terrycloth or some combination. it's comfortable and better for the environment. (05/20/2007)
By Liz p.
Tips for reusing towels that are past their prime. Post your ideas.
I look at our old towels and start to see the telltale strings at the side. I know it's time to throw them out. I certainly can't use them for guests but I can see a perfectly good towel still in the center.