How can I reuse or recycle … pillow cases?

Pillow on a sheetA friend’s mum was having an old bedding clear-out recently and I snagged some 1970s pillow cases in the process.

I made one of the pillowcases into two cotton bags – a shopping bag and a smaller one for when we just need to carry a few items – but don’t know what to do with the other two.

At the end of the day, they’re just (mostly) cotton pieces of fabric but like with the shopping bags, it would be nice to take advantage of the fact they’re a retro-pretty fabric, strong yet light and already have strong seams sown into most of the sides.

So any other suggestions for reuses?

(Photo by brainloc)

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26 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … pillow cases?”

  1. N1X says:

    I use old pillow cases to wash my more delicate (dry clean only) clothes like suits etc… Place the item inside, tie it off and wash on a cold cycle. The pillow case helps protect the item of clothing from fraying, tearing etc..

    Its also a great way to share a load of washing with house mates etc. If you only have a few items place it in your pillow case.

  2. GirlGenius says:

    This book has a neat pattern for making an apron out of a pillowcase. You could also sew across them to make cushion covers. And old soft pillowcases make great packing material for your china when moving house.

    If you really like the pattern, stretch themm on wodden frames and hang them on the wall.

  3. Rosalind says:

    They would make great liners for wicker waste baskets. This is useful for bedrooms where you get all those lovely little bits like nail clippings that fall through or hair that catches in the bottom. This utilises their bag shape and also shows off the fabric – plus you can wash the liner if needed. Avoids using plastic bags as liners too.

  4. trish says:

    you could make a tote bag, retro looks are in.

    you could also stuff them and make them pillows.

  5. rani says:

    Perfect for making a skirt. Open up the seamed side and add in elastic or a drawstring or a zip. No hemming!

  6. NOG says:

    If Cotton throw them in the compost.

  7. Jo says:

    Why not make a patchwork throw or wall hanging? Really simple to do and when you’re fed up with it, either freecycle it or take it to a nearby textile bank.

  8. Nigello says:

    You could use it to patch jeans etc.

  9. Vicky Carlson says:

    You can use them to store large flat items, such as pictures, posters, etc.

  10. Tricia says:

    You can donate them to homeless shelters they are often looking for extra bedding or towels.

  11. Mea says:

    Cut them into thirds longways, sew them into tubes leaving one end open. Fill with long cooking rice, sew up the open end. Viola, rice packs.

    Put in the microwave anytime you need a soothing hot pack. These make great gifts by the way.

  12. ane vegane says:

    you could make them into re-usable mentrual pads. then you get rid of your pillowcases and saves the environment from alot of garbage.

  13. Rose says:

    They’re a good height for storing tubes of wrapping paper.
    Sew or wondaweb down the middle and there you have it, 2 nice compartments. No more unravelled paper and tube things going all over the place.

  14. Karlie says:

    Here, in the US, I saw some really pretty todler/pre-school sun dresses made from the pillow cases.

    Just open and hem to make a tube, then add straps. You could even add some elastic to create a waist or to gather the top so it’s not as loose around the child’s chest.

  15. Tamara says:

    similar to the first comment and rosalind’s:
    you can use them for dirty clothes, adding a drawstring at the top, you have an old fashioned laundry bag that looks more chic than a pile of dirty clothes in a basket. you can also put the bag on a basket, just as you might in a waste basket. when it fills, draw the bag closed. pretty

  16. renee says:

    tells you how to make boxer shorts out of them

  17. louisa says:

    We (me and the cats) have just made a different type of shopping bag out of a charity shop pillowcase – bigger than the totes I made last time and with a broader strap too so less likely to cheese-wire my shoulders.

    pillowcase bag

    It was easy-peasy, even with four cats doing their best to slow down the process, but full instructions are available on my personal blog: link


  18. Gulia says:

    Make curtains.

  19. mimi says:

    I make pillowcase dresses…just do a google of them for instructions. They are so easy, and so, so cute!

  20. maria l. sassenhagen says:

    could you please, please email me back? i would really like to learn how to make these dresses. thank you in advance.


  21. Gulia says:

    Stretch one color pillowcase on a simple wooden frame and paint an art work.
    Remove seems, and use as ironing board cover ( those get worn out fast).
    Make a table runner, or a small table cloth out of two pillowcases.
    Make doll dresses or bedding.
    Decorate and hang as house flag.
    Dress up Halloween creatures.
    Damp couple of pillowcases, hang them on the petals of the fan, right through the halls and turn the fan on to remove dust from the air and humidify it.
    Cut into long stripes and sew a bathroom curtain.
    Keep them hanging forever on a cloth line if that helps to close the unwanted view or create more privacy.
    Cover loosely the back of a chair with it to change the look. I tried, looks neat.
    When they are well worn out they can replace cheese cloth.
    Cut them in pieces and use to wash dishes.
    Make bandanas.
    Fill them with shredded paper or crunched newspapers and use for pets or donate to an animal shelter.
    Use them to collect harvest or leaves and grass cuts.
    Make them into masks or other shapes using molds and glue.
    Place old pillowcase over water pillow if you don’t like the touch of rubber.
    Fill with fragrant herbs and use as a car sit cushion.
    Make a hall for a clothes hanger and cover with the pillowcase some of your expensive clothes so they do not collect dust or don’t get rubbed too much.

  22. Gulia says:

    Hang them outside on a cloth line to create a sense of you being at home, when you are absent, that might word off the robbers.
    Use them as flour sacks.
    Stretch them over the glass parts of the door for privacy or a new look.
    Starch the pillowcase very generously, shape like a box, dry. Keep inside your yarn.

  23. Gulia says:

    Make postal cards out of them. Cut and glue to a paper base.

  24. Cipollina says:

    But, people, if they’re good enough to make clothes of, they’re also good enough to *sleep* on!

    Why waste sewn items – a lot of energy goes into making stuff, ya know – when you just as easily, and cheaper, too, could buy the textile?

    I vote for using pillowcases as pillowcases until they’re too stained by drool and hair grease, and then I’d put them in the rag bin. The stained parts for cleaning, the still clean bits for patchwork, potholders & such!

  25. addy says:

    i heard of a woman whose daughter carried her baby blanket everywhere. all that love caused the blanket to become really ratty, so the lady put the blanket in a pillowcase and tied the open end in a knot and the daughter now uses it as a pillow

  26. Anonymous says:

    You can use old cotton pillowcases to store vegetables in the refrigerator . This will reduce the use of plastic wraps . The vegetables like beans remain fresh for many days in the cotton bags .

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