Old towels pile up. There are two peppered with bleach spots, another five frayed, and one with a mysterious burn hole in the center. Then there is that set of towels that Uncle Roy, bless his heart, gave you on “One heck of a deal.” Sure, they’re ugly, but it seems wrong to waste them. Thankfully, there is plenty you can do with old (or ugly) towels that don’t involve adding to a landfill.
50 Things you can do with old towels:
- Fashion a comfy old towel “cone of shame” for a dog
- Recycle old towels into washcloths
- Use old towels to create a braided bathmat
- Transform an old towel into a bath pouf
- Donate old towels to a homeless shelter
- And many more …
Related: Can You Wash Underwear With Towels?
1. Fashion A Comfy Old Towel “Cone Of Shame” For A Dog
Old towels are the answer that dogs, and human knees (and shins) have needed for years. So be gone, old cone-of-shame, and welcome to comfort in recovery. Grab some duct tape and an old towel, and you can fashion your pouch a DIY no-bite collar.
2. Recycle Old Towels Into Washcloths
Towels are essentially supersized washcloths. Therefore, recycling your large, tired towels into new squares is pretty straightforward:
- Measure to size
But if you want to glow up your new bathing accessory, crochet a border with some worsted-weight cotton yarn. A G crochet hook is recommended in this tutorial.
3. Use Old Towels To Create A Braided Bathmat
Towels are made of the perfect bathmat material. Salvage the material and give it a makeover by cutting your old towels into strips and braiding them into a long rope. Coil, stitch, and ta-da, you’ll have an eye-catching bathmat that looks brand new.
4. Transform An Old Towel Into A Bath Pouf
Bath poufs get eaten by the dryer monster almost as often as socks. However, you can make your own bath poufs using your old, worn-out towels.
This excellent DIY tutorial shows how to make a pouf that resembles a rose. These would be lovely in a “spoil the mom” basket of goodies at a baby shower. The rose poufs would also be a fun party favor for a tween’s “spa day” birthday party.
5. Donate Old Towels To A Homeless Shelter
Local homeless shelters are often in desperate need of clean, used towels and sheets. The donations can be somewhat worn but must still be in useable condition. However, like with any charity, storage space is limited. Sometimes, shelters have been recently blessed, and donations are eating up the spare room. Thus, call ahead before dropping off these necessary goods.
6. Old Towels Are Excellent Swiffer Covers
Stop buying disposable Swiffer covers and do the planet a kindness by converting your old towels into reusable ones. Grab your rotary cutter, fire up the sewing machine, and set out the measuring grid. These towel covers will save you money and look good doing it, too.
7. Fashion Picnic Placemats From Old Towels
Some families can go on picnics or have a BBQ using their delicate China and fine linens, and good for them. But some other families have bacon-stealing cats and Frisbees that make unfortunate landings in the potato salad. Placemats made from old towels are perfect for these boisterous souls: cheerful, durable, and washable. Bonus: they’re not hard to make.
8. Create An Ironing Board Cover From An Old Towel
Old towels are perfect substitutes for ironing board covers. The first method is quick but less secure: you throw the towel over the board. Yes, that’s it.
Admittedly, it is not as appealing as making these DIY ironing board covers from towels. Also, the latter version stays in place far better. But they do take a wee bit longer to sew.
9. Use Old Towels For Pet Baths
Bathing pets is an adventure for everyone. It can also be pretty dang messy. Don’t put your best towels at risk for this task. It’s a job that’s perfect for old towels.
10. Repurpose An Old Towel Into A Reversible Bath Rug
Bath rugs and mats come in different styles, and this flat, reversible one is a winning way to upcycle an old towel. Plus, the binding is the perfect way to hide frayed towel edges while adding some style. You could even use the same binding to add borders to a hand towel to pull the look together, making it a set.
11. Stitch Reusable Ice Pack Cozies From Old Towels
Old towels make perfect insulators for ice packs. No matter if you are nine or ninety, people are picking up bumps and bruises. Thus, everyone needs an ice pack. So much so that they’re constantly walking off, and replacing them becomes expensive.
Thankfully, making your own reusable ice packs is as simple as whacking an elbow but less painful (whew). Nor is it that much harder to make towels into ice cozies for your homemade packs. Just click on the tutorial and see for yourself.
12. Make Cruise Animals From Old Towels
Cruises are famous for bringing delight to their guests’ cabins with towel animals. Thankfully, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line’s stateroom stewards were happy to share their secrets so that you can make them too.
These adorable towel animals will make any guestroom look welcoming and inviting. These are also a lovely way to brighten up a friend’s hospital room. They look sweet as bathroom decor, too.
13. Cut Up Old Towels For Baby Wipes
Baby wipes are expensive and are rough on the environment. A wallet-friendly and green solution is to cut up old towels to make reusable baby wipes. You can just cut the towel up to size. However, if you feel crafty, give them a hem or use a serger for added durability.
Once you’ve got your eco-friendly wipes, all you need is a batch of some homemade baby wipe solution to keep your baby’s bum nice and clean.
14. Repurpose Old Towels Into Swimsuit Coverups
Old towels can be given a glow-up by turning them into swimsuit coverups. The material is absorbent, which makes them perfect when coming out of the gym’s pool. There are many styles, including a no-pattern creation with sleeves and one for those brave enough to tackle zippers.
However, drapey coverups don’t work for everyone. Some people have a knack for getting tangled up in scarves and flowy sleeves. Nor does the standard coverup work if you want to dash into a store or sit at a restaurant. Hence why this beach dress is such a clever idea: it’s a towel that’s been turned into a charming and very wearable swimsuit coverup. Fabulous.
15. Use Old Towels To Line Animal Cages
Having a pet bird might make you look like a pirate, but the mess might make you feel like you’re living in a barn. Placing an old towel at the cage’s base makes clean-up faster and reduces scrubbing. When it’s time for a change, give it a shake, then pop it in the wash. Just remember to cut off any loops or tassels to prevent your feathered friend from getting snared.
In addition, layering old towels in a crate is a stress-free method to keep an ill pet comfortable while making cleaning easy. Accidents happen when they’re feeling low, and a stack of towels is much simpler to wash than a standard pet bed.
16. Fashion Old Towels Into Dishcloths
Large old towels can be salvaged by cutting them up into the size of dishcloths. You can hem, serge, or trim with a ribbon to dress them up. But sometimes, it’s helpful to leave them in their ragged glory to tackle the dirtier jobs, sparing the prettier sets from unfortunate stains. Yes, beetroot and turmeric, we’re looking at you.
17. Ask Your Favorite Plumber If They Want Old Towels
Plumbers have a messy job and require an abundant amount of absorbent material. Thus, your favorite one might happily relieve you of your unwanted towels.
Painters also need towels. While they use drop cloths to cover floors and furniture, they keep rags in a back pocket or nearby to deal with drips and touchups as they work.
18. Create Potholders From Old Towels
However, the insulation protection of homemade potholders does vary. Some are ready to face volcanoes, while others are suited for low heat. Try them out in gentle increments to avoid a blistering revelation.
19. Old Towels Make Handy Rags
Old towels make handy rags for all the odd jobs that crop up in daily living. Just cut them up to your desired size and keep them in easy-to-access boxes or tubs. After all, we all know if the rags are hard to find, the people in your life will just grab the brand-new, embroidered dinner napkins to fix their bicycle chains. (Yes, that’s a true story. Sigh.)
20. Turn Old Towels Into Menstrual Pads
Menstruation is expensive. In addition, disposable products can be uncomfortable, irritate some people’s skin, and are hard on the environment. Reusable menstrual pads are a common solution to these problems, and old towels are a highly absorbent material.
One towel can make many liners. Pair them with a flannel outer, and you’ve got a comfortable and economical solution. Also, the planet thanks you.
21. Save Old Towels For Packing Material
Have an upcoming move? Use old towels as packing material, protecting your fragile items. Also, cutting towels into strips and scraps makes it easy to keep things from shifting when mailing packages while providing extra cushioning.
Unlike bubble wrap, the material is easily reusable and isn’t polluting plastic. However, terry cloth packing material does have a drawback: no bubbles to pop.
22. Fashion A Toddler Artist Smock From Old Towels
Toddlers adore arts and crafts. Their joy in being creative is a delight to behold, but the laundry it creates can be a headache. Cut down on the stains by making the busy artist a smock from an old towel. They are cute, functional, and easy to wash. Make great presents too.
23. Old Towels Make Earth-Friendly Reusable Diapers
Reusable diapers are rising in popularity as landfills reach the brim and the cost-of-living skyrockets. Cloth diapers cut down on waste and help reduce baby expenses. There is a plethora of modern designs to keep your baby’s bum dry.
If you already have waterproof-shaped diapers, you might only need extra inserts. A single old towel can produce many of these, and the pattern is simple. Towels can even be used to create the diaper; just find a pattern that suits your needs. Nor do you need to use old fashion diaper pins. Modern designs routinely feature Velcro or snaps to make changing a baby a breeze.
24. Make A Tote Bag From An Old Towel
It’s difficult to have too many tote bags. They’re perfect for going to the beach, picnics, softball games, and trips to the grocery store. Tote bags haul your gear to the gym, dance class, and the pool. But sometimes things get a bit damp. That’s when a tote bag made from an old towel comes in handy. Be it scuba diving or hanging out by the lake, a bit of water won’t hurt these tote bags.
25. No-Sew Dog Bed From An Old Pillow And Towel
Have an old pillow to go with your worn towel? If so, perfect. You can whip up a new bed for your four-legged best friend, and you won’t even have to use a needle and thread. The innovative instructional video is aimed at dog owners, but with the fun fringe this design makes, cats will probably love it too.
26. Transform Old Towels Into Cozy Spa Slippers
Bring some of that spa ambiance to your bathing routine by creating a pair of cozy spa slippers from your old towels. These are also an earth-friendly way to recycle flip-flops after the toe part has broken, leaving you only with a sole. They make a sweet gift, too.
27. Add Comfort To Gardening With Old Towel Kneeling Pads
Gardening is a healthy activity, mentally and physically. However, it comes with one serious drawback: sore knees. Hence the love for kneeling pads.
These can be thrown together in several ways:
- Cover foam with an old towel
- Use an old towel as stuffing for a vinyl kneeling pad
- Use an old towel as stuffing for an oil cloth kneeling pad
- Fold a thick towel and use it as a kneeling pad (no-sew solution)
28. Baby Bibs Can Be Created From Old Towels
Babies are leaky vessels of adorableness. It only gets worse after you introduce solids. Mush and drool can spread like slime from cartoons. The talent of baby goo is mind-bogglingly amazing. There can never be too many baby smiles or bibs. Old towels are the perfect material for these essential drool catchers.
Towel baby bibs can be made from a variety of patterns. The pull-over-the-head style is one of the most straightforward designs, allowing you to pump out bibs fast. However, they don’t always work on babies blessed with larger heads. For these darlings, a ribbon neck opening pattern or one that uses Velcro will be best.
29. Sell Clean Old Towels On The Internet
A wise person once said, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Selling used (clean) towels has been done, so long as the price is right. Dog groomers, plumbers, painters, and artists are often looking for towels or material that can be ripped into rags.
Folks sell towels at places such as:
- FB marketplace
30. Turn Old Towels Into Soap Pouches
Bars of soap are economical, but they are not as user-friendly as liquid soap dispensed from a pump. But soap making is on the rise and in tempting varieties. Fortunately, soap pouches make using bar soap easier.
31. Fashion Old Towels Into Puppets
Puppets are fun. They are an excellent teaching tool, regardless if you are a homeschooling parent or working in a classroom. Kids also adore playing with them, putting on long-winded plays that often have perplexing plots (or no plot at all, bless ’em).
But puppets can also add joy to bath time and help clean your child. With a bit of DIY, you can fashion your old towels into these cheerful puppets that can plunge into the bubbles with your kid.
32. Make A Baby Bath Apron From An Old Towel
Clever parents have been making baby bath aprons to keep themselves dry during the nightly routine. The bottom of the apron can even be wrapped around the child instead of grappling for another towel.
These make a fantastic gift for expecting or new parents. There are many versions out there, but tutorials generally involve a towel and some pretty fabric.
33. Create Picnic Napkins From Old Towels
Upcycle napkin patterns often use kitchen towels. But on picnics, having your napkins made out of bath towels is a huge advantage. Picnics are fun, but things get knocked over. If you have kids, pets, or both, the delightfully unexpected increases by a thousand-fold. So having napkins that can mop up spills and scrub dirt in a pinch makes picnics less stressful and more about enjoying yourselves.
To convert your towels into napkins, cut them to size, then add a border made from washable, stain-resistant material. Adding a trim three-quarters down the length can also brighten the look. Others have embroidered designs or slogans such as “Keep calm and picnic on.”
34. Transform Old Towels Into Garden Planters
Towels don’t scream, “Grow something in me.” Frankly, most people go to considerable lengths to keep mildew and mold from sprouting in their bathroom linens. But creative garden folks rose to the challenge to produce yard art from old towels.
The craft project requires Quikrete, so things will get messy (wear gloves). But the results are intriguing plant pots, adding functional personality to your outdoor aesthetic.
35. Old Towels Can Be Repurposed Into Turbans For Wet Hair
Old towels are perfect for making turbans for wet hair. After all, they’re towels for the head. The pattern is simple, and the project is quick. Although if you tell any of your friends, they might be begging you to make them some too. Then again, that means there will be fewer birthday gifts to buy.
36. Stitch Old Towels Together To Make A Beach Blanket
What’s a beach blanket but giant towels? Take your stack of worn goods and create a massive quilt out of them, perfect for spreading out on the sand by the sea of the lake. You can do it with as little as four towels, or go wild and make it an outdoor carpet fit for a party.
Some people who have done this have chosen a checkered aesthetic, alternating the colors, such as blue and white. Others have embraced the patchwork look and used what they had, ending up with a fun and unique blanket.
37. Give A Cat A New Bed Using Old Towels And A Sweater
Ugly sweaters are an American tradition, but sometimes you have more than you need, just like old towels. Luckily, you can upcycle both and treat your feline with the DIY cat bed.
The materials needed are minimal:
- Fabric scraps (or chopped-up old towels)
- 1 ugly (or unwanted) sweater
- 2 old towels
If your cat does not appreciate your efforts, don’t despair, it also makes a comfy footrest.
38. Fashion A Toiletries Pouch From Old Towels
Old hand towels or cutting a bath sheet down to size and hemmed can make a travel pouch full of pockets for your toiletries. Also, should the toothpaste escape the tube or your deodorant leak, the travel pouch can be tossed into the washing machine. Nor is the design difficult to make. (If only travel were this simple.)
39. Use Old Towels As Draft Stoppers for Doors & Windows
Fuel and electricity prices seem to be continuously rising, and some doors are rubbish at keeping the draft out. Rather than curse the problem, try making a door snake. The simplest version is rolling an old towel into a long tube and setting it against the bottom of the door. However, these can look untidy.
If you detest sewing (fair enough), substitute a length of an old towel for fleece in this no-sew tutorial. Otherwise, you can break out the needle and thread and use your towel instead of heavy fabric in this robust design. You can add googly eyes to turn your terry snake into a door Muppet.
40. Repurpose Old Towels Into A Beach Backpack
Give your old towel purpose by sending it to the beach as a handy backpack. Adding applique patches will hide unfortunate holes, and a fabric border can disguise frayed trims.
But if backpacks are not your style, check out this pillow and towel combo disguised as a beach duffle. There are even handy pockets stitched in for your e-reader and sunscreen. It’s picnic perfect.
41. Make Chew Toys For Pets From Old Towels
Recycle your old towels and make your best friend’s day by whipping up some chew toys. They are quick and straightforward to make:
- Cut into hand towel size and add knots up the length
- Cut three strips from the width, knot at the top, braid, and knot at the bottom
- Cut into handcloth size and make a big knot in the center
- Drill a hole in a tennis ball, thread narrow braided strips through, and knot on either side of the ball
42. Turn Old Towels Into Car Seat Covers
Living life to the fullest can be messy. There are trips to the beach, muddy hikes, mountain biking, trail running, horse riding, visits to the water park, and kayaking adventures. These outings tend to collect mud and water, which is hard on a car’s seats. Toss small children into the mix, and they’re wiping their shoes on the back of the front seat (sigh).
Sure, you can toss an old towel down before getting in. But they slip and slide as you drive. However, a simple DIY project can turn your towels into sturdier covers for the front and back of the seats.
43. Transform Old Towels Into Comfy Cat Hammocks
Cats adore a good hammock. Of course, you could buy your pet one. But you could also make it by using one of your old towels. Then, depending on how cat’s needs and your skills, there is the simple “string it up” design, or if you have a knack for some basic woodworking, give this version a go. These also make fantastic gifts for kitty-loving friends.
44. Create A Spa Wrap From Old Towels
A day at the spa sounds like bliss. But reality says time and money are not always in abundance. But self-care doesn’t have to leave us in debt or gobble an extraordinary amount of time. Bring the spa home, complete with your own unique wrap. The designs are beginner friendly, and you can pick your style: ruffles or fabric trim. Soon, your old towel will look better than new. Enjoy.
45. Recycle Old Towels Into Adorable Baby Toys
Babies’ lives have become inundated with plastic. So, add some variety to their toys by turning an old towel into an adorable kitty. Just remember to leave off the button eyes (choking hazard) and stick to embroidery for wee ones. The little darling will love the new toy, and the parents will appreciate how simple it is to clean.
46. Make Hooded Ponchos For Kids From Old Towels
Wet kids are slippery eels and spread water over everything in a blink. They also get cold and whine faster than an ice cream cone can melt. The hooded towel poncho is one of the best weapons against these child challenges. They keep kids warm and your lap dry. Only problem: they’re pricey.
47. Old Towles Can Be Turned Into New Mop Heads
Fans of Cuban mops have been wrapping old towels around the device for ages. But terry strips also make a formable weapon against floor grime. The advantage is you don’t have to keep taking the mop head off and on as you do with the Cuban. Nor does the mop head pattern involve a needle or sewing machine. But you will need a pair of shop scissors and a pair of cable ties.
48. Repurpose Old Towels Into Outdoor Cushions
Some fine folks live pristine lives in white. However, the rest of us require durability and cheer, especially in our outdoor furnishings. Towels stand up to the abuse of large families, small children, and muddy pets. Thus, they are ideal for making chair cushion covers and throw pillows for your patio and pool sets.
49. Old Towels Make Helpful Homemade Heating Pads
Plenty of places will sell you microwavable heating pads. However, they are essentially a bag of rice inside a cloth sack. Even those of us who lack the skills of a tailor can throw one of these together using an old towel as your piece of fabric. Once it’s done, you’ll be warming up beds and easing aches and pains.
50. Donate Old Towels To Local Animal Shelters
Many animal shelters like the ASPCA are grateful for clean, used towel donations, especially in winter. However, always check in advance with your local shelter before dumping them off. While the good folks appreciate your kindness, they sometimes can’t take physical donations (cash is always welcome) due to limited storage space.