I had a bunch of old underwear and didn't know what to do with it...until a lightbulb went off.
In the process of losing about 150 pounds, I had a lot of clothes that were too big. I obviously can't wear them any more—finding them down around my knees while walking is not an ideal situation! I sent a big box of clothing to someone who I knew could use them, but that left me with a little bit of a dilemma. What to do with my old underwear?
Most of it was in excellent condition because, as my roommate likes to joke, I have about a "dozen dozen" pairs of them. But the thought of giving them to someone, even though they are in great shape, kind of grossed me out—even if that someone really needed them.
So I had to brainstorm. What, exactly, can I do with a "dozen dozen" pairs of old underwear? If you're wondering the same thing, no worries. Like the guys who announce the NASCAR races say, "I looked it up, so you won't have to."
Note: Most of these tips can be done with any clothing item, or even old towels, blankets, and sheets.
This morning when I put on my underwear I could hear the fruit-of-the-loom guys laughing at me.
— Rodney Dangerfield
What to Do With Old Underwear
- Make hair-tie scrunchies. This can be awesome and easy to make, especially if your underwear has a pattern or is lacy. Tip: Silky material does not make for good scrunchies, they won't stay in your hair very long. An Instructables video for making scrunchies is located here.
- Recycle them into a duster. Cut your old underwear into strips and either tie them to a piece of wood or plastic as a handle, or rubber band them on for easy removal. If they get dirty, just take them off and toss them in the washer.
- Make a braided rug. Sometimes called "rag rugs," these things can be as big or small as you want them to be. Again, you'll have to cut your old clothing into strips. An Instructables rag rug tutorial can be found here.
- Make pot holders. By sewing several layers together, you can make a quick and easy potholder. I've read where someone made a "cover" that they just stuffed with old clothing, also.
- Make a scrubbing sponge. Put several layers of fabric inside an old plastic onion bag, and you've got a recycled, easy scrubber that's eco-friendly, too. Just toss it in the washer when it needs to be cleaned.
- Use the elastic to make stylish carrying straps. This one is a borrowed idea. Using the elastic from the waist or legs of your old underwear is easier than you think. Just carefully cut it out, and you've got a carrying strap for just about anything. Double the elastic for heavier items.
- Use them for patches. Though many people just toss their old clothing when it gets holey, using high quality cotton or even nylon to patch things that you just don't want to throw away is a great idea. Also, sewing several layers into the knees of your kid's clothing make excellent padding, especially if your children like to roughhouse.
- Stuff toys or pillows with them. Most underwear is made of cotton or other soft materials which make it ideal to use for stuffing. It's also a lot better than using those plastic "beans" and washes well and holds its shape, unlike some types of poly stuffing.
- Tie up your plants! Cutting underwear into strips can make lots of handy ties for securing your tomato plants or, as I've often threatened to do, making trail markers by tying them to branches.
- Quilt! If the fabric is still in good condition cut out squares of the same size and make a quilt pattern. This is especially awesome if you are the kind of person who likes really eclectic things - bright pinks and oranges would definitely make an eyecatching quilt!
- Donate them! Anything in good condition and not "soiled" will probably be accepted by your local Goodwill or Salvation Army store. Call ahead or stop by to find out exactly what their policy is before you bring them in. Also check to see if your local area has clothing swaps. Some people would dearly love to have new "draws."
- Feminine hygiene. This may sound gross, but making your own, reusable menstrual pads is a great idea. Because companies put bleach and other chemicals into their feminine products, using your own material gives you control over what chemicals come in contact with your body. It also keeps these unsanitary items out of our landfills.
- Make a sachet! Cut scraps of cloth into squares, fill with potpourri and tie them shut with a ribbon and stash in your closet or chest of drawers. Then your old underwear will keep your new ones fresh!
- Crafting. You can use your old underwear for a myriad of crafting projects. Cut out the shapes of letters and use them to personalize a bag or other piece of clothing. Piece them together and make pillow covers. The list of things that you can make with old clothing is practically endless.
- Compost. If all else fails, you can compost fabrics made out of cotton or other natural materials. Just cut or shred the material and dump it right onto your compost pile. Make sure to cut out all of the elastic.
Questions & Answers
Question: What could I do with my daughter’s too small princess underpants?
Answer: Cut them up into evenly sized squares and make a small quilt? Just one idea.
© 2013 Georgie Lowery
Hugh Morrison from London, England on May 01, 2020:
Interesting article! Most of my underwear is cut up for cleaning rags. I use pinking shears - those scissors which cut with a zig-zag edge - to prevent runs and frays.
Most charity shops (thrift stores) will take old underwear even if they don't sell it in the shop, it will be sold by weight to rag dealers who will recycle it (usually for industrial cleaning rags or to make 'shoddy', a kind of rough cloth used for stuffing furniture, lining car seats etc).
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 05, 2014:
You know I bet I have a dozen dozen pair too and I have just never known what to do with them. Too good to through away and who wants your used underwear right?
Now I will get busy; have had a rag rug on my mind; may try that. ^+
Daddy Paul from Michigan on November 15, 2013:
Creative101010 on August 08, 2013:
Thank you for this post. I've finally allowed myself to accept that I am no longer a size "small" in underwear and I have tons of super cute, almost new underwear that were crimpin my style and obstructing the blood flow:) Now I know what to do with them! My favorites: make headbands, moontime rags/aka menstrual pads, and composting them. There are some super cool tutorials online on how to make menstrual pads and I've made some cute ones using flannel, and now I'll be lining them with my super cute underwear. Thank you!
Ron Mariano from Orange County, CA on May 31, 2013:
I love the making them into pot holders, dusters, and rags. Great article! I usually throw or donate my old clothes! I don't know why I just didn't make some of them into cleaning tools!
Cat from New York on April 02, 2013:
I didn't even begin to know which hub to start with and whatta ya know; I landed here! I'm not sure if you intended for this to be funny, but I found it absolute cute and interesting. I love the idea of reusing just about anything, but I've never put a lot of thought into the underwear department. Trust me, by the time I get around to "retiring" my underwear, they've already been reduced, reused and recycled! I think I want to try some of these ideas of yours, pretty nifty.
(FYI, big brown eyes and a pouty lip on an innocent face, screams little kid to me, no butter... I swear! Something tells me that innocent face is excellent at hiding the deviousness that's probably beneath it ;-)
Voted Up and Awesome
LongTimeMother from Australia on January 23, 2013:
I love this hub. I will print it out and use it to torment my youngest daughter. This morning I was looking for a fresh rag to clean the outside of my solar cooker when my daughter emerged from her bedroom in a pair of pyjamas she's outgrowing. I hijacked the old pyjamas, ripped them up and used them as cleaning rags.
She laughingly challenged me to start recycling her knickers as well, teasing me that her bottom is so small I wouldn't get much cleaning done with them. Can't wait to show her your lengthy list of ways I can amuse myself recycling her knickers when she wakes up tomorrow morning!! Thank you!
Claudia Mitchell on January 13, 2013:
The title intrigued me and after reading the ideas intrigued me. Right now these items get tossed. Not sure if I will keep doing that or not.
Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on January 12, 2013:
My first thought with my old underwear was "there's gotta be SOMETHING I can do with it." Now I have a dozen dozen pairs and I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do, but now I have choices. Thank you for the comment! :)
Linda Crist from Central Virginia on January 12, 2013:
You are the most creative crazy lady I know. What a fun hub about a real dilemma (getting rid of old underwear). My underwear drawer thanks you Georgie. I know have some projects to work on and some space to clear out. lol
Georgie Lowery (author) from North Florida on January 12, 2013:
You will have the most colorful garden in the history of history!
I probably wouldn't have come up with it either if I hadn't had about a billion pairs of draws that are too big!
Thank you for reading! :)
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on January 11, 2013:
Thank you for these tips. Your hub is very useful to me.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 11, 2013:
Okay, this was a first! I consider myself fairly imaginative, but I would have never thought of a hub about old underwear. LOL Very practical list and I was laughing all the way through it.
Julie on January 11, 2013:
Ha, now I know what we can tie tomatoes up with this year ;-)
You forgot trail markers (She says we are using the bright ones so we don't get lost while trotting through Mordor again).