New Uses for Stained Clothing and Towels

Updated on June 1, 2017
Virginia Allain profile image

Minimalism is catching on, and I'm excited about streamlining. I'm sharing what I've learned about decluttering and simplifying our lives.

Ack, This Shirt Is Ruined by a Bleach Spot

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Finding Ways to Use Old Clothing and Towels

We try to be environmentally aware and avoid adding to the overflowing landfills. What do you do with clothing, socks, and towels that are stained or for some reason not suitable to donate? We hate to just throw them away, but what are the other options?

When a friend posed this question to a minimalist group they had some great ideas for repurposing old clothing that couldn't be worn any longer. Sheets and towels with stains or rips can be reused too. Check out all the ideas below.

I read that the average American tosses about 70 lbs of clothing a year.

Why Is Old Clothing a Problem for the Environment?

Brandi in the minimalist group had a good explanation for why it's worthwhile to recycle or reuse fabrics. "It's a complicated question. Materials that break down cause gasses to be produced in our landfills that are damaging to the environment. Some larger cities are turning this into energy, but smaller cities can't afford to do it and it just puts out an overabundance of gasses. Also, most textiles can be recycled, which means that the resources (water, for instance) being used to grow cotton could be used for food. Just something to consider, especially since many charities sell textiles for recycling."

Don't Add to the Landfills

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Tips for Making Use of Old Clothing and Towels

Take Towels to an Animal Shelter or Animal Hospital

Animal shelters need old towels, sheets, and blankets to make bedding for the cats and dogs there.
Animal shelters need old towels, sheets, and blankets to make bedding for the cats and dogs there. | Source

Call the Shelter Near You to be Sure They Need the Donation

Make Dog Beds from an Old Sweater for Your Dog or the Shelter

Cotton clothing torn into strips will decompose if you put it into the compost heap with garden trimmings

Cutting up a Sock for Other Uses

The top part of this sock gets repurposed into a doll dress. The bottom part becomes a cleaning rag.
The top part of this sock gets repurposed into a doll dress. The bottom part becomes a cleaning rag. | Source

What to Do with Old Socks or Ones without a Match?

  • "Those really fuzzy socks that never stay up and are awful colors and way too hot and bulky make great furniture dusters/oilers. ( lemon oil)." I personally like to toss out a saturated oily cloth after one use to avoid any risk of spontaneous combustion. When I apply teak oil, I really soak the cloth. If it's an old sock, then I don't feel guilty. If I'm just applying a furniture spray and spreading it around with the old sock, then I wash and reuse those a number of times.
  • "They also make good spot wipers ... the cotton sports socks make decent sink cleaners ... for a quick wipe ... I kept a few oddball socks for these reasons."

Moms can cut up cotton clothing into squares to serve as washable, reusable baby wipes

I Use Old Sheets to Protect My Patio Plants from Frost

I keep the old stained, torn sheets folded in my garden storage bin. When a frost is predicted for Central Florida, I pull the sheets out to protect my plants.
I keep the old stained, torn sheets folded in my garden storage bin. When a frost is predicted for Central Florida, I pull the sheets out to protect my plants. | Source

Questions & Answers

    Do You Have More Ideas for Worn Out Clothing?

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      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        13 months ago from Houston, Texas

        I am so glad that you mentioned that charities can use clothing in less than perfect condition. They can sell excess clothing in just about any condition to be sold by the pound. Much of it is shipped overseas and new things are made from it.

        Thanks for bringing attention to this. We are way too wasteful in this country!

      • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

        Virginia Allain 

        13 months ago from Central Florida

        The minimalist group that I belong to on Facebook keeps getting me to clear out stuff or at least put it to use.

      • Lady Lorelei profile image

        Lorelei Cohen 

        13 months ago from Canada

        I love collecting the buttons and other hardware from old clothes to use in craft projects. Never thought to use the old cloth for pet bedding. Excellent idea.

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