Posts tagged "towels"

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?

Interesting Reducing, Reusing and Recycling links

reusable-swiffer-coverThis week’s quick link round-up:

How can I reuse or recycle (unused) sanitary towels & tampons?

We’ve had an email from Estelle, asking us if we could promote the mooncup: an environmentally friendly alternative to sanitary towels & tampons. She says: “I’ve had one for three years and am really pleased not to be dumping ‘feminine hygiene’ products into the environment. I’m also happy not to be spending money on them either.”

I’ve heard a lot about them from a number of different sources and the general consensus seems to be they’re fantastic once you get the hang of them.

Estelle’s email reminded me about the stash of towels & tampons I have in my bathroom cupboard. I stopped having periods about five years ago but used to buy-one-get-one-free quite a bit, so collected quite a stock before they became redundant. I thought about giving them away to friends but none of my friends have periods either for one reason or another (the most common reason being that they’re mostly male).

So what can be done with them? Does anyone know of any charities that collect them for redistribution in developing countries or the like? What about reuses – surely their liquid-absorbing qualities must be good for something around the home?

How can I reuse or recycle old towels?

A towel and a pair of wet white feet on a tile bathroom floorFor some reason, all our towels have decided to go threadbare at exactly the same time. Well, when I say “ALL our towels”, I mean the top two bathsheets and hand towels that are in the endless use/wash/cupboard/use/wash… cycle – the ones underneath those in the stack are, presumably, fine since we’ve not used them for years (we’re not thoughtful enough to rotate stuff like that).

So anyway, we have a holey bathsheet and two holey handtowels – both gone in pretty much the centre and in patches elsewhere – so my initial idea of chopping them down into flannels/smaller towels has been somewhat eliminated.

Any suggestions about how they can be reborn? Any crafts/upcycling ideas?

Best Suggestions

  • Reduce Make your towels last longer by hanging them in a well ventilated place to dry between uses (so they don’t get damp & smelly as quickly) and after washing, line dry them rather than using a tumble dryer – like with clothes, the intensity of washing & machine drying damages the fabric over time. (Also avoid using too much fabric softener – the chemical deposits quickly build up and make towels hard and scratchy.)
  • Pass Them On: Animal shelters use a lot of towels – unless they’re completely falling apart, they’d probably welcome a donation.
  • Reuse: Reclaim as much fabric as you can and turn it into a bath mitt, a dog tug toy, or a rag rug bath mat. If there aren’t any big enough pieces for that type of thing, cut it into small pieces and use it for toy/cushion stuffing.
  • Recycle: Towels are usually 100% cotton and the fabric can often be reclaimed. Look for textile recycling bins in your area.

(Photo by jellofishy, c/o