Don't Toss Old Pillows. Here Are 12 Ways To Repurpose Them In Your Home & Garden

Whether they're on your bed or used to decorate your couch, pillows are essential to creating a comfortable space and dressing up your interiors. After routine daily use, however, it's not uncommon to find that your pillows have gone flat, lost their luster, or no longer fit your style. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, you should replace your pillows once every two years to protect yourself from dust mites and allergens, but that doesn't mean that they have to go to waste, especially if they're still in fairly good condition.

When decluttering your space, it's likely your first instinct to donate the items you no longer want or need, but while this is certainly a better approach than tossing items in the garbage, the same line of thinking doesn't normally apply to pillows. Because they're made of plush, absorbent materials, many donation centers won't take pillows for hygiene reasons, and if they are donated, they often go straight into the trash. Because of this, you're left with two options: repurposing your pillows or throwing them away. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to upcycle and reuse all the parts of your old pillows to reduce your waste and create unique solutions, including cushions for household chores, art and decor, and even composting materials.

1. Curtain

Pillows are often the perfect combination of fashionable and functional, but if you have a decorative pillow you like the look of — that's no longer serving much of a purpose in your space — consider using it as a curtain instead. While it's unlikely that your pillow will be large enough to use as a long, billowing curtain on a full-sized window, it can be a cute way to block out light and add some privacy over smaller panes of glass. Remove the stuffing, add some clip-on curtain hooks, and you're good to go — no sewing necessary.

2. Wall art

Throw pillows can help to bring some color and texture to your space, but if your pillow is uncomfortable or damaged, it might be time to turn it into a strictly decorative piece. Remove the stuffing from your pillow, cut out the section you want to display, and add it into a frame to create a wall hanging. This is a great way to create some new wall art on a budget, but it can also help you preserve delicate or handmade pillowcases that might not stand up to the wear and tear of daily use.

3. Tote bag

Tote bags and pillows share a lot of similarities in their designs, so if you have a throw pillow or pillowcase you'd like to take on the go, try your hand at this simple DIY. Remove the stuffing from your pillow, then seam rip or cut one side if it's not already open. If necessary, finish the raw edge with a hem or some binding. Then, add a simple strap across the top to complete the bag. The final product is perfect for hauling all your essentials, whether you're grabbing groceries or heading to work.

4. Pet bed

If you have a decorative pillow that you're considering retiring from your collection, consider passing it down to your furry friend. As long as there aren't uncomfortable embellishments on the fabric, a pillow can make for a cozy pet bed. If you're not in a DIY mood, toss your pillow on the floor or where your pet normally sleeps to give them a comfortable surface to relax on. If you're willing to sew, however, adding a channel around the perimeter of the pillow can make the stuffing sit flatter and make it look more intentional on your floor.

5. Autumnal décor

Seasonal decorations can get expensive, but repurposing items you already own allows you to create fall décor on a budget. For this DIY, you'll need a pillow, twine, and a small piece of burlap or contrasting scrap fabric. Unstuff your pillow, cut out a piece of the fabric, and gather the ends together to create a ball shape. Stuff the ball, then tie the loose ends with the twine. Add some segments of twine down the sides to create a pumpkin shape, and wrap the loose ends in scrap fabric to make a stem to finish it off.

6. Floor seating

If you have a smaller living room, it can be difficult to find seating for all your guests. Luckily, a few pillows on the floor can provide a surprisingly comfortable solution. Hold onto a couple of your old pillows and keep them accessible when you know you'll need some extra spots to sit. This is a great solution if you're hosting a game night and plan to sit around the coffee table or if you're hosting a kids' party. If you like the bohemian look, it can also become a more permanent décor choice.

7. Draft stopper

Checking your windows and doors for drafts is one of the best ways to help reduce your energy costs at home, but if you find that one of your spaces isn't properly sealed and you don't have the time or budget to permanently fix it, a draft stopper can offer a solid temporary solution. Essentially, these little devices slide under your doors or butt up against the seal of your window to prevent air from flowing. To make your own, cut down an old pillow, sew it into shape, and re-stuff it.

8. Car pillow

Even in the most luxurious of cars, long drives and extensive daily commutes can get uncomfortable. If you find that your seats are a bit stiff or that you frequently face lower back issues after sitting for long periods, consider repurposing an old pillow in your car. You can lay this pillow directly on the seat to give it more cushion, prop it up against the back of the seat for lumbar support, or even toss it in the back so your passengers can more comfortably cozy up or take a nap on road trips.

9. Gardening knee pads

When you're gardening, especially if you're planting in-ground beds, you often have to get down on your hands and knees to reach the soil better. Unfortunately, this can get quite uncomfortable, especially if you're in this position for a long time. If you have a pillow that's reached the end of its life, however, it can be placed under your knees to give you more cushion, create a barrier for any dirt or moisture, and help to prevent next-day soreness and joint pain. Once you're done, simply toss it in the washing machine.

10. Chair cover

If you have a dining or office chair that's looking a bit drab but you're not ready to reupholster it entirely, consider creating a chair cover out of an old decorative pillow. Make sure your pillow is the same size or larger than your chair cushion, then cut open one side and remove the stuffing so you're left with just the fabric. Slide it over the back of your chair, cutting a couple of slits on the side to fit over the arms if necessary, and you'll be left with a protective, fashionable, and removable furniture cover.

11. New pillow

If you have an old pillow on your bed that needs to be replaced or a throw pillow that no longer aligns with your style, consider upcycling it into a new pillow that you'll actually use. Typically, it's much cheaper to purchase decorative pillowcases without the insert, so if you're looking to save some money, buy the cover and stuff it with material from an old pillow. This way, you'll still get use out of your old pillow and help to extend its life, but you'll be left with a decorative item that feels brand new.

12. Compost material

If you have a pillow made of natural materials that's dirty or too damaged for a simple flip, consider using it as material for your own DIY compost. Feather and down stuffing can go straight into your compost bin, and 100% biodegradable fabric, like cotton, linen, or hemp, can be shredded and added to the mix as well. This, of course, won't work with poly-fil or synthetic fabrics, but it's worth considering if you're looking for an alternative to tossing your items into the trash that's both eco-friendly and can help nourish your garden down the line.