Thursday, March 13, 2008

Old Towels and Terrycloth

A couple of threads on the Dollar Stretcher forums, Save those towels and Rugs reminded me of a short list I put together some time ago about what to do with old towels or terrycloth from garments. You'll need to hem any terrycloth unless it's to be completely covered by another cloth, as it would be in padding for a potholder.

All of this assumes that you cut away the part that's worn too much, leaving just the good part.

  • Use old towels for padding to make footstools from those big popcorn tins. Cut circles to fit the top of the tin with a couple of inches to spare. Glue these onto the top of the lid and tie the edges down firmly, but leave it where you can open and close the lid easily. Cover the whole thing with material, leather or plastic.
  • They make great pet bedding as they can be washed easily.
  • Cut insoles from old towels to help keep your feet warm in boots or shoes. Make them several thicknesses and sew the edges together.
  • Several towels, sewn together to make one larger piece, makes a lightweight filler for hand made quilts.
  • Make houseslippers, using instructions for moccasins. There are good instructions on eHow - just use old towels instead of leather and a needle and thread or your sewing machine instead of lacing and lacing needle. (Skip the awl, too.) If you add an extra sole to the outside of the slipper, you can take it off when it becomes worn and replace it without having to make another pair.
  • I used an old towel duct taped to the edge of my desk as a wrist rest for quite some time until I found a freebie one.
  • Besides padding for potholders, make mats to set hot pots and pans on the same way.
  • Hemmed terrycloth makes excellent dishcloths.
  • On the same note, make washcloths from them. You can use a close zigzag stitch to edge them, or just make a narrow hem.
  • Make a patchwork tablecloth, throw or robe from them.
  • Cut a piece about the size of a washcloth and hem it, then dampen it with liquid fabric softener and throw in the dryer with your clothes. Use this instead of dryer sheets and you'll save money.
  • Make a rice or wheat heat pad by sewing an old hand towel up three sides, filling it with wheat or rice and then sew the fourth side. Microwave to heat and use as you would a hot water bottle or electric heating pad. The texture of terrycloth makes it soothing, but if you like, you can cover it with another cloth to keep the terrycloth clean.
  • Make a dust mitt to get around those odd corners and spaces. Draw around your hand on a piece of newspaper, adding a three to four inch cuff, then draw and cut the pattern about an inch to an inch and a half larger. Fold an old towel over, and using the newspaper pattern, cut both sides of the mitt at once. Hem the cuff end, then sew around the mitt.

I'm sure there are other frugal uses I haven't thought about. If you know of one, post it to one of the threads on the forums so others can benefit!


  1. Great ideas!

    Make a rice or wheat heat pad by sewing an old hand towel up three sides, filling it with wheat or rice and then sew the fourth side.

    I've done this, but also added soothing herbs or essential oils (lavender, for instance) to the mix. If edged nicely, you can give these away to friends and relatives as gifts.

    I've made covers for my children's sleeping mats at their school. Most schools ask you to send a blanket, but we can slip the cover over the mat and it provides a protective barrier against germs, and yet is also soft and comfortable for them to lay on. You can simply sew two old towels together, or fold one in half and sew along the two open sides, leaving the third for the opening.

  2. Hello Pat. This is Roxie Meiske. Your blog on using towels really hit home with me. This past weekend I was driving by an apartment complex where someone had thrown away a sofa and love seat. I stopped and picked up the cushions. I brought them home, I covered them with several old towels. (we had old beach towels) These make great dog beds for my 'girls' I have 4 dogs. They are all girls and they do not share well...So now they each have their own dog bed. I can take the towels off and wash them with ease. I just wrap the sofa cushion like a 'gift' and hold it in place with safty pens. This works fine.
    Take care. Hope you are well. Roxie

  3. It's good to hear from you, Roxie. You made a good use of those towels! I'm sure the dogs appreciate it. :)