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New uses for old towels

By on May 30, 2012
old towels

Bath towels are long-lasting, but at some point they need to be replaced. Maybe they’re no longer as absorbent as they should be, or are tattered or frayed. Rather than throw them away, give them a second life.
Here are a few ideas:



Most people hang onto old towels and use them as rags. You can cut them into 8-inch squares and sew flannel or micro fleece onto the back. Use them for cleaning or as homemade baby wipes. You can also make your own Swiffer cloth covers and dusters. For a pictorial, visit

Bath mat:

Cut the towel into pieces that are 3/4-inch wide and 5-inch long, then tie them onto gridded matting to make a bath mat. For a tutorial, visit One reader, Tiffany from Canada, shares: “I reused an old bath towel to make a bath mat. I topped it with blue crushed panne velour, put the towel inside to absorb the water and added dark brown fleece on the bottom to hold the moisture in so it doesn’t leave a sopping mess on the floor. It’s so much cozier on my feet than a store-bought one.”


Call local animal shelters and see if they would like your old towels. Or use them for your own pets to line carriers and kennels, clean muddy paws, or dry their fur after a bath. You can make a pull-and-throw toy for dogs, too. Cut three strips and braid them, then knot the ends. Old dishtowels work best for this.

Bath pouf:

Make a bath pouf that looks like a rose, either to keep for yourself or to give as a gift. Visit You can easily fold and stitch the sides of small washcloths to slip soap slivers into and use in the bath or shower, or wrap the cloth around the slivers, join at the top and use a rubber-band to close it up.

Hand towels:

Cut full-sized towels into smaller hand towels (size: 28 inches long by 16 inches wide), hem or use fabric glue and add lace or fabric. Another reader, Carol from Canada, shares: “I decided to put lace on some of my towels, and what a difference it made! I just cut off the frayed part of my old towel, zigzagged the towel and then zigzagged the lace. I did five old towels in one afternoon, and now I have new towels for cheap. So before spending money, always look for ways to do things with what you have.”

Towel origami:

Search online for directions to make cute towel animals or go to your local library and find the book “The Lost Art of Towel Origami” by Alison Jenkins.

For young kids:

See instructions for making hooded towels at, or towel bibs at

In the car:

Keep old towels in the car for sudden spills, to cover hot seats or to wipe muddy shoes. They also come in handy when you go to the park with kids and a swing or slide is still wet from rain, or if you want to sit on the grass.

Under a pillowcase:

If your pillows don’t have protective cases, slip a towel underneath the regular pillowcase when kids are sick.

Draft stoppers:

Keep a few to roll up and use as draft stoppers for doors or window sills. For an easy tutorial, visit

photo by CresySusy

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