How can I reuse or recycle old socks?

Old socks by John LeachJohn’s socks have a tendency to

a) stretch to about seven foot in length
b) go hard and strangely crunchy
c) go missing

Mine hole at the heel and toe, lose all elasticity around the ankle then drain of colour.

When they’ve gone past the not-even-on-washing-day-when-every-other-sock-is-dirty stage, we usually just throw them in the dirty rag bag for using when something gross needs cleaning up. But even with all the gross (feline-related) things that happen in our house, we still have a huge stack of odd and broken socks.


Best Suggestions

  • Reduce: If you can afford them, buy good quality socks to start with – they’ll last a lot longer – keeping their shape and colour – and save money/resources over all. Fix small holes when they appear too – it’s a lot easier and neater to fix smaller ones than big ones.
  • Reuse: Socks are perfect for cleaning rags – slip a old sock over your hand and use it as a duster.
  • Recycle: If they’re clean, they can be shredded and used as stuffing in toys and draft excluders.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

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53 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old socks?”

  1. Cathy says:

    If you’ve got a lot of them, you could use them as stuffing for cushions or soft toys. Or if you’re making small soft toys, you could use the sock as a lining for the stuffing so if you have to wash the outside of the toy, you can easily take the stuffing out without fluff going everywhere.

  2. Mike says:

    If the socks are big enough, put them over your shoes whilst decorating to protect from paint spills.

  3. john says:

    Fill them with catnip and sew them up tightly. It might be a good idea to use a couple of socks, as a catnip-rabid cat will probably make short work of one layer.

  4. sarar says:

    Hi John,

    I was going to say that!

    My cats love the toys I make with old socks – especially if I leave a ‘tail’ of wool or string dangling at the end after I’ve sown it up.

    Plus, because I’ve made it out of them out of rags, I don’t mind just throwing them away when they get tatty.


  5. Katherine says:

    Hello all!
    Take a long sock (man socks are better for this idea as they seem to get magically so much longer than girl socks), put an apple/rock/kumquat (use your imagination) in the end and use it as a weapon (think swinging it round your head whilst shouting and whooping) and scare off all the annoying kids in your garden.

    • john says:

      This is known as a cosh. The character Carlin in the film Scum uses one (snooker balls in sock) to become the new daddy.

      I used one to get a promotion at work.

    • franto says:

      You could also use the weighted sock for practisign poi. It’s great fun!

    • Meg says:

      thats actually kinda dangerous, u no. if u accidentally let go of the sock you cud really REALLY hurt someone, and if u hurt someone, u cud get arrested. soz to sound so negative tho.

  6. Raggatip says:

    I was “fortunate” enough once to read one of those weekly magazines printed to furnish waiting rooms the world over. You know, the ones with pictures of celebritys with no make up on shopping in Poundland or something.

    On a tips page someone had suggested using old socks as garden mittens. Ideal for general weeding etc. I use them as mittens for cleaning parts of the car dashboard aswell, if your fingers can reach you can clean it !

  7. nancydrawed says:

    i tie a sock around the outside tap and put a bar of soap inside it to use when i’m dirty fromgardening.

    • bev says:

      i really like this idea and will set one up before i start gardening this weekend. i really hate trapsing mud into the kitchen and getting my kitchen soap all dirty but couldn’t work out the best way to leave soap near the hose.

      thanks nancy!

  8. Rachel says:

    New to this site and just having a nose around.
    I keep a box of old socks (washed) ready for when I dust. Pop in your hand and dust away, then shove them in the wash.

  9. Phil says:

    Cut the toes off and a hole for your thumb, a pair of fingerless gloves!

  10. Becky says:

    How about cutting the feet off and using them as leg warmers?

  11. trish says:

    put them on your hands, and clean between rails, around legs, etc.

  12. Nasty Willie says:

    Use them as a substitute for condoms when you’re out.

  13. Melinda says:

    If the leg of the socks is still in good condition (my boys are hard on the feet), some people use the leg of the socks as cuffs for jackets and sweatshirts, either to make them or repair them

  14. cait says:

    This one is better for old tights or stockings, but long socks will do. Put a tennis ball in the toe section, stand with your back against the wall. Swing the ball from side to side so that it bounces backwards and forwards. you can vary the directions for more fun,eg., over the head, under the leg. Will keep kids amused for a while!

  15. Laurie says:

    I use an old sock, cut off the rim, and use it to put on my cats head, while I trip her claws, it is easier to get to and she cannot balk me. And it’s done fast!

  16. Laurie says:

    corr, TRIM the cat’s claws.

    Also, cut socks inhalf, lay a few of them flat, or in a row, and put in an old wodden mop clip, and you have a cotton mop.

  17. If they’re made from natural fibre, soak them in water then bury them under plants in the garden.

  18. Melinda says:

    If they are tube socks and you have a horseshoe-shaped toilet seat, youcan slip them on as seat covers. Sonds strange, I know, but feels good when it’s time to sit. And easily removed to wash when needed. If the elastic in the socks is gone, a rubber band will do.

  19. Anonymous says:

    sock puppets

  20. jathusha says:


  21. eb says:

    just give the socks away to charity. or you can make sleeves to a shirt.

  22. eb says:

    make sleeves out of them

  23. samantha says:

    if you have kids you can put them on their hands in them while eating popsicles or something messy

  24. Casey says:

    I make washcloths out of them by sewing a piece of old tshirt to the back

  25. Andy says:

    As mentioned above to put snooker balls in but to actually clean them of chalk. You can also polish your shoes with them.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I have used my little girl’s old socks that were too small to make little dresses for her barbies! Also good for making doll pillows and blankets….great for little doll houses. Or you can cut the upper part ( no elastic ) and cut in half and sew together to make quilt squares and give to charity.

  27. Judy says:

    Tie a few together and make a tug-of-war toy for your dog. Put a big knot at both ends so they can grab on easily.

  28. Jamie Bunnell says:

    My mum used to make draft excluder’s. She would make a long fabric tube and fill them with odd/broken socks.

    Great for saving heat, and cuts cost of your electricity bills

  29. Amaranth says:

    Soak them in natural fabric cleaner, trim them if need be, snip off any stubborn crusty bits and us them as washable sanitary protection. Disposable sanitary products end up in landfills or in the sea, not to mention they contain nasty chemicals that no one would want next to their private parts!

  30. Yumeji says:

    Create sock buns or no-heat curls!

  31. Sonja says:

    Cut the toes and heel off leaving just the top. I use it as a sock hat for my dachshund. His ears crack and bleed in the winter. I just pull it over his snout towards his neck and his ears are totally protected.

  32. Sallie Whiteford says:

    I have old wool socks whose feet are holey. How can I use the wool from the upper part to create small wool socks for my toddler grandchildren?

  33. momoka says:

    I make a boots keeper from old socks, it’s reuse.

    It’s good for the boots to put it into shape well.

  34. Alice says:

    I’ve just discovered that I have moths, so I’m using all my old non-matching socks to make sachets full of natural repellents like lavender, cloves and mint, like these

    Much easier than sewing them from scratch.

  35. Margie says:

    Donate old clean socks to your local elementary school. Many use individual “dry erase white boards” during the day, and the socks are perfect for erasing the answers the child has written using dry erase markers. As an elementary teacher, I kept a pile of old socks next to the white board pile. I was able to take home the socks every few weeks, wash them, and they were good to go again.

  36. Meg says:

    hey, how about cutting the sock down the side and up to the tip of the toe, wrapping it round your wrist tightly and fastening it with a safety pin. this will make a great Elastic bandage! i know it works coz i’m wearing it right now as i have sprained my wrist but i couldn’t be bothered to go to hospital. u can fake an injury with it too, if you like getting attention…

  37. Lara leftlane says:

    Stretch the socks over the tops of your gumboots (wellingtons) to keep redback spiders and other nasties out.
    Also, cut foot off socks and sew them into the inside of your child’s holes in the knees of their pants – especially good if socks have stripes or a design on them.

  38. Very long socks that got holes: cut away the area of the foot that has holes, then trace front of your foot onto what is left of the socks, sew the opening closed and wear then again. :)

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