How can I reuse or recycle tea towels?

We’ve had an email from Louise W:

Our church hall has accrued dozens and dozens of tea towels over the years, I don’t know where they come from. We usually tear the tatty ones in half and use them for cleaning rags but I was wondering if you had any ideas for other things we could do with them. Some of us are good at sewing so could make things with them for our jumble sale.

If it’s a straight-up surplus of good condition towels, I’m sure there would be local shelters/re-homing community groups who would love a bulk donation – either for use in their own kitchens or to be give out to those in need of even though most basic household supplies.

If they’re too tatty for donating, the decent parts of the fabric can be upcycled in a number of ways – I’ve seen aprons made from cute dish towels, cafe-style curtains/blinds for kitchens, baby bibs (especially if the towels are super soft from frequent washing) or quilt-style hot pad tablemats using a few different towels.

Finally, if they’re far too tatty for any of that, they do make great dishclothes/cleaning rags and can be shredded to be stuffing for small toys or the like.

Any other recycling ideas? Practical as well as creative crafty ones?

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clothes and fabric, household, items, kitchen

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8 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle tea towels?”

  1. Siobhan says:

    I’ve used tea towels to make bread bags, and plan on making shoe and clothing bags to travel with. There was a book published recently called Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Tea Towel by Nathalie Mornu that looks good too.

  2. Patti says:

    They would make good oven mitts if you like to sew, or bath mitts for children or adults, or hot pads or potholders.

  3. Keep them for Christmas! I remember as a kid dressing up for the nativity play and using tea towels for the head dress (with bits of rope to tie them on!)

  4. Mary Horesh says:

    Could consider crocheting drinks coasters or rugs out of the tea towels. (I havent tried it yet- my next on the craft project list.)
    See for an excellent way of having a continuous yarn out of the towels, rather than cutting and joining strips.

    Loads of websites devoted to using fabric for crocheted items.

  5. Put two tatty tea towels together, with the worn-out or holey parts in different places, and use a sewing machine to sew the edges of the tea towels together, crisscross it in the middle quilting-style, and sew around the holey parts to strengthen the fabric there and reduce the chances of tearing. Now you have a thicker tea towel for reuse.

  6. Lizzy says:

    sew one in a good condition into a tea cosy?

  7. Elsey says:

    Plenty of cute childrens and adults dresses can be made from details.a little dye can change the colour and make a wonderful garment.

  8. Olia says:

    Zig-zag several towels together to make table runner.

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