How can I reuse or recycle old house keys?

A bunch of keysI’ve had an email from Jory, asking for suggestion about what to do with “a ton of old house keys”.

We’ve got a number floating around too – not just house keys but old bike lock keys and other misc keys that are probably for something really important we just don’t know what.

So any ideas?

Best Suggestions

  • Reuse: Lots of people have suggested using them as different type of decorations and jewellery – and if you don’t want to do that, there are a number of different artists collecting them (see below).
  • Recycle: If you’d rather recycle them for charity, they’re collected by a number of charities – for example Keys For Kindness in the US.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

(Photo by irizarry)

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274 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old house keys?”


  1. Shellie says:

    How about threading them all up to create a windchime?

    I gave my husband an old key once and placed it onto a card that said “The Key To My Heart”

    But I guess you have a 100 keys..lol

    How about decorating around a mirror and grouting them into the frame…

    Good Luck

  2. Rosie says:

    The weight may set you thinking.. anything that requires a weight to hold it down.. cnat think of anything except sewing in hems of heavy long curtains….but might set you off on another tack/ oops sorry.. unconcious pun there!
    Rosie:)

  3. Like you said about weights, they are excellent for keeping balloons down. Just tie the balloons to the keys. You can also give them to kids 4 and up to play with. Any younger, and they might choke on them.

    • Andrew says:

      Never give old keys to children they can poke out a eye or cut them selves.
      And yes I have heard of this I am a locksmith.

  4. dancing girl says:

    You could make a bunch of rattles for all the babies in your family. So cute! Babies love keys!!! Group them on rings in bunches so there will be no choking danger and run them through the dishwasher to remove grease and dirt. Make sure the keys are firmly held in the rings for safety.

    Only other suggestion, Modern Art?

    • Mia says:

      It’s not safe to give keys to babies as I was told by my eye doctor even if they are clean. Babies may poke their eyes out.

      • Shorty says:

        For the giving them to babies thing, clean them, sand down the edges like a madman, and put them on a huge ring.

    • Anonymous says:

      please don’t do this, old keys can contain lead or mercury….

      • Andrew says:

        keys do not contain lead or mercury they are made of brass or steel depending on usage.

  5. rita says:

    They can be used to make tablecloth weights when using a cloth outside.

  6. Ross says:

    I use old house keys as symbols in a lesson I teach in a university course. I need several hundred of them. May I have yours?

    Ross C

  7. trish says:

    i once saw a lady on the news who was being car jacked as she entered her car, she threw some fake keys far from the car, and when the robber went for them, she used the real ones to take off… but that could be very dangerous.

    good self defense weapon for women, tie a good sized full ring to a strap, and carry when you’re alone.

  8. Bobbie says:

    I’ve seen house keys used in crafts as sort of a display of different shapes, sometimes painted etc. I don’t know why the keys couldn’t be taken to the metal recyclers as many are brass or steel.

  9. J says:

    If you have kids, put them on a key ring and give them to your kids for their “pretend” play.

  10. Emma says:

    Hello everyone from above,

    Any more keys that you’re looking to get rid of?

    We’re some actors looking for lots and lots of keys for our next fringe theatre production. We’d be happy to pick up the keys wherever is convenient for you. We’re all London (UK) based, but would be willing to travel out of London for a really big bunch of keys.

    Please email me directly at: emmalinda@hotmail.com.

    Many thanks,
    Emma

  11. Phil says:

    I found a new site. Its called http://www.KeysfforKindness.com and it helps the M.S. society. They recycle the keys and donate money to the L.I. chapter.

  12. mormonsim says:

    these guys are great for poking into an attackers eyes.if you have small ones they can be used as charms for a bracelet. you can also use a small lock and key for a key to my heart setr .Put the lock on one necklace the key on your mates with a love note.

  13. Julia says:

    Does anyone need more keys? We just cleaned out our garage and have some we’d love to have someone use. Please let us know. Thank-you!

    • Griselda says:

      Hello Julia, I am making tree ornaments from keys, if you still have yours, I will be happy to pay for the shipping and will send you back a key tree ornament too.

      • Jeanine says:

        Hello, Griselda. Is this offer still valid? We’re a nonprofit org. that has lots of keys left over from re-keying oure entire building. If so, please give me your contact info. I am in the U.S.

        Thanks,
        Jeanine

  14. Laurie says:

    IT’S http://www.keysforkindness.com WITH 1, NOT 2 F’s, but GREAT information!

  15. john says:

    Is there anywhere in the UK that recycles old keys or collects them for charity? I have some that I want to dispose of.

  16. Norma Deasy says:

    Does anyone still need old keys, we are cleaning out our offices in the Republic of Ireland and have them to donate.

  17. Mike says:

    I have a box of old work keys. Don’t know what to do with? Any takers or suggestions?

  18. Mike says:

    I have a box of old keys. Any takers?

    • Melanie says:

      There are several “takers” in the above comments.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a design student at the university of derby and am currently doing project called “junk jewellery”. Its all about reusing old things to make unusual jewllery.
      I have been collecting old keys and buttons etc to create charm braclets.
      do you still have these keys??????
      thanks
      Kate

  19. marilyn says:

    I love finding new uses for old things!
    I would love to have anyone send me their old keys. I make such things as fruit bowls, planters, and modern art peices with them. Right now I’m making a large peice for my daughter who has had cancer and also has a love of old keys!
    thanks,
    marilyn

  20. Aj says:

    Does anyone know where i can find a huge amount of keys??
    I too would love your old keys, however the older, rustier and damaged the better. Working on a large scale sculpture for an up and coming exhibition. Oh and any old leather gloves would be great too!
    Thanks,

    • Claire says:

      Hi Aj,
      Are you still on the hunt for old rusty keys?
      i have a whole crate of Chubb keys from a clear out at our Museum if you could collect them?

      Claire

      • Griselda says:

        Hello Claire, I am making tree ornaments with keys…if you still have yours please contact me, I will be happy to pay for shipping and send you also a finished tree ornament from those I make.

  21. Janet says:

    join your local “freecycle”, and ask on there, people give away, and ask for all manor of things.

  22. Griselda says:

    To those people who still have keys, specially older ones, I will be happy to take your keys, pay for the shipping and send you one finished tree decoration made from the keys you send.
    Also…there was an error on my web side as listed before, the url is http://www.griselda.com
    Thanks for your help…I love working with assemblage art and anything I can find to turn into art dolls.

  23. Jayne says:

    I am working on a creative writing project for reluctant learners and am after keys as prompts. Any keys – chub, yale, car keys, door keys. If anyone has some, I can put them to good use.

    Many thanks

    • Rosie Epton-Peter says:

      Hi Jayne

      Just been turning out desks and cupboards at work and have about a dozen old Yale keys – would you be interested still? Email should be visable!
      Rosie

      • louisa says:

        I do realise there is a problem for people contacting each other through these comments – but making emails visible by default would probably cause more problems than it would solve.

        If you do want to be contacted though, you should leave some contact details or a link to your website in your comment.

        One day we’ll get a proper system in place to handle this stuff, one day :)

        -louisa :)

  24. Mike says:

    I enjoy collecting keys of all types… there are so many uses… I’ll take any and all you have.

    Thanks,
    Mike

    • Kristen says:

      I have 2 old pool keys that I don’t need. Are you still looking for keys? If so, please send me your address and I’ll drop them in the mail.

  25. Lesleyann Cain says:

    Hi
    I was wondering if any of you still have old Yale keys, as I work for a playgroup, and we are after some keys, only need about 50.

    If any going please leave a thread and will get back to you
    Thanks
    Lesleyann

  26. Mike says:

    This is a great idea…

    KEYS FOR KINDNESS
    P.O. BOX 201, PEARL RIVER, N.Y. 10965

    • adale says:

      mike . . . got 3 keys to a door lock that has been replaced. want ’em? i know 3 ain’t much but i’ll save your address and pass it along to others, if you like . . .

  27. Niko says:

    I need two to three hundred old used house keys for an art project. Where can i obtain them?

    • Helen says:

      I have a selection of about 100 old keys with various uses – front doors/suitcases/cupboards/old cars. Would they be useful for your project Niko?

  28. Dawn says:

    I have about 200 old house keys and would like to give to a charity like Keys for Kindness, but somewhere based in the UK – does anyone know of such a place?

  29. Margaret Smith says:

    Hi I have a bag of old keys that I do not want. Second classs postage to the UK would cost £2.08. If would like these please contact me and then we could arrange sending of an SAE. Email me at marg.smith@sky.com

  30. Margaret Smith says:

    Hi, I have now promised my keys to someone. However I have also found that the Charity, Guidedogs for the Blind collect keys to raise funds. Check out http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/index.php?id=2696

    • Dawn says:

      Many thanks for the Guide Dogs info. I knew they took other items but had no idea they were now taking keys – I can now get rid of the pile of keys that have been sitting staring at me for ages!!

  31. Jean says:

    Yes, I can confirm that “Guide Dogs for the Blind” in the UK take old keys. They also provide collection bins For what they call “Treasure Hunt”, which collects old coins and banknotes (old currency, foreign coins and notes, costume jewellery, ink jet cartridges, mobile phones and, of course, the OLD KEYS!! The money raised goes to training the guide dogs for blind people. See the website.

  32. Alex says:

    My grandpa bent them into hooks, and nailed them into walls. can be used to hand just about anything if the key is the right size

  33. michael brooks says:

    heya guys, ive just read the thread here, i know its a bit late, as all your message were ages ago!!!!
    but if anyone has any ‘old fashioned’ keys i would be grateful for donations. its for a theatre character im creating, let me know by emailing me on mikeydbrooks@hotmail.com

  34. winsy says:

    Readymade magazine featured a lampshade made from old keys. the lampshade was fashioned out of chicken wire, and the keys hung from them on paperclips.

  35. nick says:

    hey guys,

    hopefully there are still some keys floating around, im posting on behalf of my girlfirend, she’s a sculptor located in canterbury SE england and is on the hunt for thousands of old keys that will be used in her next piece… a chair made out of keys welded together.
    im starting to realise that buying them in batches of 5 at a time from ebay is not going to be the most realistic method ever thought of… at around three pound sterling per five keys 1000 is gonna cost a lotta money!
    i should add that this work isnt being made for profit but will be part of the final degree exhibition of her masters in fine art.
    any keys, new, old, big small, lots or even only one at a time are gonna be appreciated! pls email nickh93@hotmail.com with details if you can help and ill provide you with an address to send them.
    really appreciate any responses recieved!
    thanks again
    Nick H

  36. Anonymous says:

    Use them as plants markers, write the plants’ names on them.

  37. Olga says:

    Use them to mark plants. Write plants’ names on the key and stick it into soil.

  38. Olga says:

    Sow off the thin part, write the name of your pet and hang it on his neck.

  39. Olga says:

    Create an art piece by arranging the keys on a paper or canvas and spraying with paint. Then place keys again, in different way and spray again, with different color. You can repeat it as many times as you want. Results would be astonishing.

  40. Olga says:

    Sew them on the bottom of the curtains. Every time you open the window, they will jingle. :)

  41. Olga says:

    When you have many old keys, nail them down on a wooden rectangle the size of a door mat. You’ll get a great door mat for cleaning dirty shoos.

  42. Olga says:

    Want to remember when you planted the tree or the name of the tree? Write the date and the name on the key and hang it on a tree using elastic.

  43. Olga says:

    Create a funky Christmas tree. Place keys on a stick through the halls, longer keys on a bottom, shorter towards the top.

  44. Olga says:

    Decorate the door by gluing or screwing the old keys all over it.

  45. Olga says:

    Paint them and hang as Christmas ornaments.

  46. Olga says:

    Hide them in a sand box and let kids dig them out as if fossils.

  47. Olga says:

    Build garden sculpture using keys as teeth for your creature.

  48. Olga says:

    Use them as teeth for the Halloween pumpkin.

  49. Sarah says:

    Hi guys, If ANYONE has spare keys they’d like to donate I’m about to conduct a community arts project at the Tower of London for the new Constables Installation there – its the keeper of the keys for the Tower so we’re asking those in the community to be a part of it and send in old keys to be hung in one of the Towers.

    Any keys would be helpful and so so useful but if you’d also like to then please do mention the use for them previously, e.g. Loved Car, ‘Family Home before we moved’, etc. All keys will be used and if you’d like I could show you round the exhibition once installed.

    Please let me know if any takers.
    A million Thank yous!

    Sarah



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