How can I reuse or recycle old towels?

A towel and a pair of wet white feet on a tile bathroom floorFor some reason, all our towels have decided to go threadbare at exactly the same time. Well, when I say “ALL our towels”, I mean the top two bathsheets and hand towels that are in the endless use/wash/cupboard/use/wash… cycle – the ones underneath those in the stack are, presumably, fine since we’ve not used them for years (we’re not thoughtful enough to rotate stuff like that).

So anyway, we have a holey bathsheet and two holey handtowels – both gone in pretty much the centre and in patches elsewhere – so my initial idea of chopping them down into flannels/smaller towels has been somewhat eliminated.

Any suggestions about how they can be reborn? Any crafts/upcycling ideas?

Best Suggestions

  • Reduce Make your towels last longer by hanging them in a well ventilated place to dry between uses (so they don’t get damp & smelly as quickly) and after washing, line dry them rather than using a tumble dryer – like with clothes, the intensity of washing & machine drying damages the fabric over time. (Also avoid using too much fabric softener – the chemical deposits quickly build up and make towels hard and scratchy.)
  • Pass Them On: Animal shelters use a lot of towels – unless they’re completely falling apart, they’d probably welcome a donation.
  • Reuse: Reclaim as much fabric as you can and turn it into a bath mitt, a dog tug toy, or a rag rug bath mat. If there aren’t any big enough pieces for that type of thing, cut it into small pieces and use it for toy/cushion stuffing.
  • Recycle: Towels are usually 100% cotton and the fabric can often be reclaimed. Look for textile recycling bins in your area.

(Photo by jellofishy, c/o

Related Categories

bathroom, clothes and fabric, items

Search for other related items

24 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old towels?”

  1. Matt Scholey says:

    We take ours to the PDSA Animal Hospital where they use them for bedding, cleaning etc.
    I’m sure any animal shelter/ rescue would welcome them.

  2. dotCompost says:

    yeah, bedding for my hog-house (hedgehog)

  3. Rosie says:

    ok ..yes animal rescue centres of course.. but what about folding them so as to ut the tatty holey bits inside and forming a square glove witye th good surface outside. (sew up the sides of course!) Then you ahve a useful mitt to clean with dry to polish windows or the dust with or wet to sue anywhee really.
    Now! how to avoid this in future.
    Instead of stacking your towels do what I do and roll them up in a swiss roll fashion and pile on the shelf. This way you can oull out one you fancy and leave the others tidy and therefore you wont keep using the same ones all the time.


  4. sarar says:

    Not just mitts – you could make bath toys out of the non-ripped bits – or a bath pillow for yourself if you don’t want the kids to get all the benefits!


  5. Spread them around your bathtub/shower. When you get out of the bathtub/shower, the floor won’t get wet.

  6. Amanda Kerik says:

    You could use them for stuffing as well.

  7. BibiMac says:

    bath mitts!

    just cut and sow them into shape

    excellent for cleaning squirming kids!

  8. carrie says:

    tear up into dusters or rags for use when decorating. They can be recycled into new fabrics too, put them in the textile bins at the recycling centre.

  9. Robyn says:

    cut them up and compost them.

  10. Penny says:

    As well as animal shelters, vets, catteries and kennels can all use them (as well as old sheets).

    I put mine in the bottom of the freezer when defrosting it as it saves having water pouring across the floor. Then squeeze the towels out and leave to dry until the next time.

  11. Susanne says:

    I cut the old towels into squares and use them for cleaning really dirty stuff.

  12. greenmcqueen says:

    i use the old towerls for when i mop floors. I use the towerls to wipe up the excess wetness on floors so they dry before the kids run around on wet floors.

  13. chrissie says:

    sew them into narrow tubes. plait them and then sew into a round bath mat. I found this in a book of home design and they look fantastic especially mixing the colours

    • Doni says:

      Weave plaits into a rug or basket or a barrier for blocking drafts at base of doors

      Stuff the cracks around basement windows then cover with plastic wrap & duct tape to clean surface in winter to keep bugs out

      Saggy seats could be fluffed with towels

      place squares on top of dryer to avoid having to mop up detergent spills


  14. renee says:

    they make great biodegradable weed mats. Just place over weeds and cover with mulch.

  15. Pat says:

    I cut them into squares and zigzag them with the sewing machine and use them until they are frayed for washcloths, then I use them for cleaning cloths until they are worn out and then one last use for something like furniture polish or cleaning the oven.

  16. Verity Thompson says:

    Your local cat/dog sanctuary will use them

  17. Hopeless Hoarder says:

    This has been an excellent help as I hate throwing anything away and jsut coudl not think what to do with towels when they have become too old for conventional use. I googled in on the offchance and am surprised at the mass of ideas I now have.

  18. addy says:

    if you have dogs you can use the towels to dry them of after they come in from a run in the rain. my family has three dogs that are each about the size of small ponies and when they come in they are usually soaked with enough water to fill a swimming pool so we keep the large ratty towels in a basket by the door. you can also cut them into strips and knot or braid them to use as pull toys.

  19. Josh says:

    Here’s an article that shows some cool things to do with old used towels. Some pretty cool ideas.

  20. Diane Lowe says:

    I was lokking for ideas for my towels. Thanks to all would have contributed ideas I now know exactly how to recycle them.

Leave a Reply

Your name
Your email (it will not be published. If you want people to contact you, leave your email address in the message too.)
Your website (if you've got one)