How can I reuse or recycle old tableclothes and runners?

TableclothWe’ve had an email from Heather:

I have old ripped worn tablecloths and runners and such and I would like to know how to recycle them or donate them. They are not in good condition to donate to the goodwill or such, but don’t want to just throw them into an already overfilled landfill.

I was hoping to find something besides “use them for crafts”, so whatever you can come up with please help!!!

Heh, crafts would be the obvious answer of course – I quite often buy ugly-cool old tableclothes from charity shops for quilting or whatever.

But non-craft ideas… Cleaning rags? Protective packaging around parcels? Pretty drawer liners?

If you don’t want to do anything with them, many council/municipal waste collection sites (and bigger recycling stations) have fabric bins where the textile fibres are collected for reclamation and reuse.

Any other suggestions? Non-craft ones for Heather – but feel free to leave crafty suggestions for those more inclined to that sort of thing.

(Photo by ngould)

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16 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old tableclothes and runners?”

  1. Malva says:

    Turn them into cloth napkins!

  2. Scott Wells says:

    I use old tablecloths to wrap large Christmas presents. Square ones are about the right size for a robust furoshiki.

  3. Tamara says:

    compost them if they’re natural fiber.

    oh, i hate to say that1 i love to sew!

  4. Bobbie says:

    Almost any reuse requires some refitting of the original item. I’d sew them together to make a large bedspread. White ones would possibly make great baby diapers if soft enough. Or even take two or more tablecloths to sew back together into one useful one.

  5. fuchsoid says:

    Cotton or linen damask looks great dyed in bright colours. It hides the fainter stains, and then they can be re-used like any other fabric, in patchwork or even clothes.

  6. sho says:

    Local animal shelters could take these to wrap the puppies and kitties in. :-)

  7. Elliott says:

    braided rag rug

  8. Chile says:

    Drape over plants on freezing winter nights.

  9. Jennie says:

    Here are some more ideas for you

    i) if you have a pet use it as a blanket/bedding

    ii) rip it up into iddy bitty pieces and use it as a filler for a cushion

    iii) make it into a tote bag for shopping.

  10. jack says:

    wot a great site! heres a few more suggs….
    they could be used for cushions to be popped inside a cover.
    cut them into squares,use a laundry marker to write on them to make prayer flags……..or dye triangles,stitch em to bias bindind for bunting
    pillow cases
    sun hats
    lavender/cedar bags [add sequins,buttons etc
    dust sheets!!??!!
    if all else fails …. cotton is quite good for starting a fire

  11. Jim says:

    I use old clothing, sheets, towels, etc for packing when shipping items in the mail. The new “flat rate Priority” boxes are perfect for this as the added weight is not charged.

  12. Jim says:

    I also saw on the new green channel on cable that when you donate old clothing to large companies like Goodwill, the items they can’t resell goes to a place where they recycle the cloth and make soundproofing for cars…the stuff that goes in the doors etc so you don’t hear road noise while driving. What a cool idea!

  13. Gulia says:

    Cut them in smaller pieces to wash dishes, or use as sanitary napkins, etc.

    Hospitals in poor countries would happily use them for different purposes. I know that in Russia women after giving birth get sanitary napkins that are hard as a log, because they have been in a wash so many times after being soaked with blood of hundreds of women, that they are as hard as cardboard, and hardly absorb anything at all, and cause scratches and rash. Out there donations of used fabric would be appreciated.

  14. Leah says:

    give it to a local school so they can make play costumes or use it as a prop or just a dress up cloth

  15. Medeea says:

    They would make good napkins, shopping totes, kitchen towels (instead of paper towels)
    Also, the animal shelters could use them.

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