What To Do With Old Bed Linens and Sheets
Replacing bed linens and towels is a necessary part of life, one that—with a little effort and creativity—can be done with environmental awareness and sustainability. Sheets are simply large swaths of fabric that can be upcycled once they no longer serve their original purpose. Upcycling reduces landfill waste, and it’s easy on the budget too!
Here are a few ways you can reuse your old linens:
- Why buy a plastic tarp when you already have supplies in your linen closet? Sheets are great for use in the yard and garden! Use sheets to collect fallen leaves and weeds when raking the yard or cleaning garden beds. The organic waste can be easily transported to a compost pile or green waste collection bins.
- Sheets, towels, and even old curtains can insulate small trees or shrubs when the weather gets cold. Or they can be suspended above gardens during the summer to function as a shade cloth on extra hot days.
- My kids use old sheets to make all kinds of crafts, costumes, and more.
- I use old pillowcases as cloth bags to wrap loaves of bread for freezing.
- Use old sheets to make produce bags by using this tutorial.
- In cold climates, old linens make excellent, free draft-catchers. They can be folded and tied into a tight roll to fit neatly next to a leaky door or window frame.
- Stock the trunk of your car with an old towel and sheet for unexpected messes, dirty dogs or kids, or a spontaneous picnic.
- The simplest way to reuse old sheets and towels is to cut them into smaller lengths for cleaning towels and rags. Old towels are perfect for cleaning cars and greasy hands around the garage. You can designate specific cloths for car wax, washing, and interiors.
If you’ve reused sheets and towels for all these simple purposes, there are more transformative things to do that take more effort.
- Eliminate the need for wasteful wrapping paper for the holidays and birthdays by turning old sheets into handmade gift bags. There are many patterns and styles that range in difficulty, some of which are very simple (even for a novice sewer like myself). To elevate plain cloth, you could color them with natural dyes or use fabric paints to create unique designs. As gift-giving occasions come around, include a little note describing how the recipient can use the gift bag in turn for the next gift they give. It’s like giving two gifts in one!
- Use two top sheets to create a homemade duvet. Having a collection of duvets for your comforters and blankets could eventually eliminate the need for top sheets altogether.
- Make old pillowcases into a bag for grocery shopping or farmers markets (or anything, really).
- Handmade menstrual pads are a sustainable project because of the environmental impact of disposable pads and tampons, as described by Green-Mom.
- Turn old towels into homemade pot holders for personal use or as gifts.
- Almost any project needing cotton fabric can be made using old sheets.
A final and important consideration is to donate extra sheets and towels to your local homeless shelter or animal rescue!
Before you toss a perfectly good bolt of cloth into a landfill, reconsider—you could have a wonderful new use for it after all!
How do you reuse retired sheets, linens, and towels?
Share with us in the comments!