Practical Ways To Upcycle Old Towels

While you may be tempted to simply throw away your old towels, you could upcycle them into practical items instead. Even if they look like they're on their last leg and perhaps have stains or holes, parts of the fabric could still be made into useful products that will benefit your home. There are a number of perks to reusing and redesigning older linens, including that it's an eco-friendly alternative to tossing them out. Textile waste is a large problem for landfills, as those who live in the United States collectively throw out millions of tons of textiles annually. 

Further, these ideas are also cost-effective. When you transform a towel into something else like a rag, mat, or bag, you no longer need to purchase that item. Therefore, giving your old towels new life can be a fun DIY project that also addresses a current need. Finally, creating your own decor gives you more creative control over the patterns and color schemes that will go into your home. If your towels are extra stained, consider dyeing them a dark color to hide the markings before beginning your DIY project. Many of the upcycling ideas on this list include some sewing, but several designs are beginner-friendly and only require the use of scissors. 

Make reusable cleaning rags

While paper towels are widely used, if possible, you should stop using paper towels and opt for reusable rags instead. These small squares of fabric can be washed, so they are cost-effective alternatives to one-use paper towels. This also makes them better for the environment as well. Making your own cleaning rags is as simple as cutting your old towels into smaller squares. You could sew the ends to make them look more uniform and aesthetically-pleasing or leave them as is.

Create drink coasters

Towels are meant to absorb liquid, making them great for coasters. Your worn towels can be cut into squares or circles and hemmed along the edges. Creating a double layer will allow for extra absorption, and you could also include some fleece between the towel pieces to make the coasters extra useful. Patterned towels make flashier coasters than their solid counterparts. This DIY is a low-sewing project, so you can hand stitch the hem if you don't have access to a sewing machine.

Clean up with mop pads

Ditch the single-use mop pads, as old towels make perfect reusable pads for flat mops. This is because they're absorbent and can be easily cleaned. Construction is simple and requires no sewing if you have velcro. You'll need to trace the mop head and double the length, then attach the velcro to each side and cut out a section in the middle for the mop handle. This can be used just like any other mop pad, but once it's dirty, simply throw it in the washing machine instead of the trash can.

Turn old towels into chic pillows

Any type of towel could be turned into a stylish throw pillow, but this hack may be best completed with tea towels. To begin, cut out two equal pieces of the towel fabric that are the size you want the pillow to be. Align the edges of the fabric and hot glue, sew, or use another adhesive to attach the pieces together. Leave one side open and fill it with fiber fill, then close up that final side and admire your craftsmanship. Another way you could use your worn towels to create pillows is by simply stuffing the towels into pillow covers. 

Get creative with a new rug

Towels can be made into soft, fluffy rugs that are fit for any room. They're machine-washable and super absorbent, so they're well-suited for cute DIY bath mats. To complete this project, sewing beginners can cut towels into strips, twist them together, coil them into a spiral, and sew each towel ring together. This style provides the benefit of having a thick, cushioned feel and extra absorbing properties. More advanced DIYers can sew towel pieces together in a patchwork style.

Get functional with a tote bag

An old towel tote bag is a simple DIY project that you don't need to be a seamstress to complete. Because towels are thick, they make sturdy bags that could be used for a number of purposes like housing your shopping haul, accompanying you to the farmer's market, or storing all your essential items for your family's yearly trip to the beach. You can attach two equally-sized pieces of your old towel with a simple stitch by hand or on a sewing machine. Handles can be sewn or hot glued onto the bag as well. 

Transform your tea towels into wall art

Tea towels are known to have some delightful designs. You may even avoid using yours so it doesn't stain. You can upcycle beloved vintage tea towels into wall art by simply placing them inside frames. You could also cut up multiple towels to make a collage, which may be beneficial if parts of your towels are damaged. The result will be a completely-unique piece of artwork for your kitchen or dining room. This is a great way to make use of more decorative pieces that you don't use for their intended purpose and may be cheaper than buying new artwork.

Put them together for a large beach blanket

Outdoor mats or blankets are beneficial for picnics in the backyard, trips to the beach, or messy play sessions indoors. You could create your own extra-large mat out of scraps of worn towels. Cut out pieces of your towels and sew them together, or sew the full towels together without cutting them into smaller sections. Consider using a quilting approach and play around with the patterns. This will create a one-of-a kind item that's unique to you. 

Give your furry friend a spot to rest

Your old towels may not be able to fulfill their intended purpose anymore, but they could still be suitable for a DIY pet bed. Further, this piece doesn't require any sewing, making it ideal for beginner DIYers. To start, cut the towel in half, then slice small ½-inch strands all the way around both towel pieces. Next, place the towels soft-side out over and underneath a pillow, then tie two of each of the strands together. Instead of a pillow, additional towel scraps may also be suitable to fill the inside.