Posts tagged "cloth"

How can I reuse or recycle yellowing napkins?

napkinWe’ve had an email from frequent commenter Caroline:

I love your site and am always on there looking up new ideas. You have me rescuing other people’s umbrella’s from bins and saving all sorts of stuff that I previously would have thrown away. And sometimes I add my ideas but this time I am stumped.

Someone (knowing I like to reuse things) gave me a bag of yellowed cloth napkins. Some have the odd spot on that looks like the napkin served it’s duty but most just seem to have turned yellow all over. How can I reuse them? I could use them for rags but I save lots of other scraps for that. They are a sort of damask satiny material so not sure if they would dye? Could I bleach them? Would love to hear any ideas you have for reusing them.

The bleaching/dyeing question depends on what type of fabric they are – it’s best for napkins to be cotton to allow for furious washing/boiling out stains but of course that doesn’t mean that they all are. How Stuff Works has a pretty comprehensive guide to removing yellow stains from fabric but again, it depends on what type of fabric it is. Apparently the best way to identify fabric is to see how they burn – while it might be worth burning one to allow you to work with the rest, does anyone have any less destructive suggestions for finding out what fabric they are?

Any suggestions for reusing them – as things other than rags – in their current condition? I imagine the yellow is not uniform enough to pretend they’re supposed to be that colour – but any suggestions where the colour doesn’t matter?

(Oh and off topic but what the hey, frequent commenter and friend of Recycle This, Three Beautiful Things‘s Clare got married on Saturday – congrats to Clare & Nick, and I hope you have a wonderful life together. :))

How can I reuse or recycle old bedding?

bedsheetsWe’ve had an email from Yvonne:

What can we do with a box of old double bed sheets, duvet covers and valances which we don’t use any more because we’ve got a king size bed?

The first thing I’d suggest would be to pass them on – if they’re still in ok condition, give them to a charity/thrift shop or local shelter, or offer them on Freecycle. Bedding, particularly duvet covers, seems to be pretty popular in the charity shops that I go to seem to.

Aside from that, there are a whole lot of reuses for bedding because at the end of the day, it’s just flat lengths of fabric – and usually 100% cotton (or at least cotton-heavy) fabric at that. Rag ruggers often use bed sheets/covers because they’re cheap & available, and the old solution was, after turning the outside edges in, to use them for handkerchiefs.

Any other suggestions?

How can I reduce the amount of babywipes I use?

baby_wipesWe’ve had a email from Jo:

Love the new Reduce This thing. I’ve got a question about babywipes. At home we use wash cloths for wiping sticky faces and hands but those little packs of disposable wipes are so much more convenient when we’re out and about. Does anyone have any alternatives?

You could put a damp cloth in an old re-sealable baby wipe container – either a thick washcloth or thinner clothes like hankies. They probably would get mouldy if left in there for more than a few hours though so you’d would have to get into the habit of remembering to take them out again after your excursion.

There is, of course, always the spit-on-a-hankie method much loved in mum-stereotypes too ;)

Any other suggestions? What did your mum/grandma do?

How can I reuse or recycle silk (and not-silk) scarves?

Leigh sent me an email a few weeks ago and it dropped into the black hole that is my email inbox – I only found it when looking for something else this morning. I *must* get better organised, I *must*.

Anyway, she asked about how to reuse or recycle a number of things so I’ll feature them over the next few days. First up, scarves:

i picked up a bunch for almost nothing at a garage sale, some silk, some not, all different colors and shapes, thinking they would be useful for something, but I’m not sure what!

I’m a sucker for scarves too – they’re one of my favourite things to look out for in charity shops because there is usually a good variety, in as-new condition and often unbelievably cheap (especially compared to buying similar printed fabric new).

One of the easiest things to do with them – particularly square ones – is to make them into cushion/pillow covers. Another no-sew idea for big square ones is to use them to make furoshiki bags.

Any other suggestions?

(Photo by Gerbera)

How can I reuse or recycle worn out cloth diapers/nappies?

disposable_nappiesI put together a “Recycling Baby Stuff” guide the other day and I was surprised how few entries we had in our baby-stuff category.

The biggest surprising omission was cloth diapers/nappies – we’ve covered disposable ones but not the already more eco-friendly cloth version.

Obviously they’re reusable – that’s the point of them – but that doesn’t mean they’re reusable forever: they might wear out at critical points or the fabric become rough/otherwise unsuitable for baby-wear. And of course, the thing about babies is they have a tendency to grow and eventually learn how to use the toilet too – so unless they’re going to siblings or similar, there will be leftovers.

Old-school folded flat square ones obviously have as many reuses as an other square of fabric: one very close reuse might be to cut them up into smaller squares and use them as cloth wipes, a green alternative to toilet paper.

But what about shaped? Any other great reuses for flat ones?