Ways to Use Empty Milk Jugs – 14 “New” Uses for Empty Milk Jugs


Saving as much money as possible is a game for me. It isn’t that I find it incredibly fun because honestly? Sometimes saving money isn’t. It’s more of a “how low can I go” type of thing and I’ll admit that there are some months where challenging myself in that way is the only reason I’ve stayed on track. One of the ways that I use to cut cost is by reusing as much as I possibly can. Honestly, there are a lot of items that I won’t buy new. Instead of buying new, I try to reuse what I can even if it means reusing it in a “new” way. I reuse old towels in new ways. I reuse old sheets in new ways and of course, I find “new” uses for empty milk jugs.

Ways to Use Empty Milk Jugs - Holding onto empty milk jugs? Put them to good use! These 14 "new" uses for empty milk jugs will blow your mind!

Milk jugs are great for a lot more than holding water although we do keep a few jugs of water on hand for our emergency preparations. If you get creative enough, you can actually use them in ways that you would never think of. One of my favorite ways to upcycle milk jugs actually comes from a place that sits right outside of my hometown in Ohio. Every Christmas, one particular home uses milk jugs to create stunning displays of Christmas lights. Each year he does different designs and structures and it’s so much prettier than it sounds!

Ways to Use Empty Milk Jugs

Obviously you’ll want to rinse and dry your milk jugs really well before you upcycle them. If you find that you’re having trouble getting all of the milk residue out of them, fill them half way with white vinegar, 1/2 cup Liquid Castile soap, then top off with water. Be sure to add the vinegar first because it will keep the soap from creating too many suds. Shake well and let sit for an hour or so then rinse out completely. The vinegar will help cut through any residues that are left over and the soap will help with the vinegar smell.

Use empty milk jugs to make a milk jug bird feeder – Upcycle your old milk jugs by making a milk jug bird feeder. To make yours, paint or decorate it however you want. Be mindful when you’re decorating it so that you don’t use anything that could actually harm the birds. Then, cut out a large hole on one side of the jug to give access to the seed. Take a strong wire and attach from the pour spout to hang with. Fill with seed and watch the birds eat! If you get a sharp edge on your cut, use some fine grade sandpaper to sand it down so that it isn’t quite as sharp.

Use empty milk jugs to make a milk jug watering can – If you’re trying to get the kids involved in the family garden, a great project to have them help with is to make homemade milk jug watering cans. They’re super easy to make and after they’re done, you can show the kids how to water the garden! To make yours, take a large gauge sewing needle and lighter. Heat the sharp end of the needle and use it to poke several holes in the top of your milk jug cap. Fill with water and put the cap back on to water away!

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Use empty milk jugs to make milk jug seed starters – If you’re starting your garden seeds indoors, you’ll need seed starting pots. They can get expensive if you’ve got a lot of seeds, but upcycled milk jugs can help cut that cost. Clean your old jugs very, very well then cut them in half below the handle. Use a sewing needle or small nail and poke a handful of drainage holes in the bottom of your jug. Fill with seed starting soil and plant your seeds!

Use empty milk jug garden markers – Speaking of gardening, using milk jugs to make homemade garden markers is a snap! Cut the sides out and decorate them with any designs that you want and use them as homemade garden markers. If you want to use the rest of your milk jug, cut as many strips out of it as possible and you can use those as smaller plant markers too. Just make sure that if you’re using them outside that you put a waterproof clear coat on them so that they don’t get ruined.

Use empty milk jugs to create storage containers – Cut your empty milk jugs off completely below the handle then decorate the bottom half of your jug with paint or markers. Use them to store things like push pins, nails, school supplies and more! You can’t beat free organizing supplies! This could be a great kids craft if you used kid safe paint, googly eyes, costume jewels shells,  and other craft supplies!

Use empty milk jugs to make a plant watering system – Don’t have time to constantly water your plants? Use a sewing needle to poke holes in one or two sides of an empty milk jug. Dig a hole next to your garden plant and bury the jug up to the top holes that you made. Fill with water and you have an automatic watering system! The soil around the jug will keep it from leaking out too much and your plant will drink what it needs to when it needs to! Worried about chilly weather? Leave a bit of the jug above the ground and paint your jugs black. The sun will heat the water meaning your plants will get warmer water than what they would out of the hose on a cooler day.

Use an old milk jug to make an easy homemade funnel – Cut off the top of your empty milk jug and use it to make a homemade funnel. Plus you can use the rest of the empty jug to make something else useful too so that it isn’t wasted!

Use empty milk jugs to store plastic bags – Tired of all of those plastic shopping bags taking over under the sink or your junk drawer? Stuff them into an empty milk jug then pull one out of the top as a lead. As you pull your bags up, they should bring another one out making it easy to get to them.

Use empty milk jugs for emergency food storage – Milk jugs are sturdier than 2-L bottles and hold a lot more. If you practice storing food for emergencies, use your empty milk jugs to store foods like rice, sugar, flour and pastas. Just be sure that you clean them incredibly well and allow them to dry fully before adding your foods. Mark them with a sharpie and stack on their sides to maximize space. If you want to add an oxygen absorber, go ahead, but keep in mind that your seal will not be airtight even with one.

Use empty milk jugs to make a large scoop – When you make the funnel from above, save the rest of your jug. You can use it to make a large scoop that can be used  for scooping things like pet food, potting soil and more.

Use empty milk jugs to help keep cool on hot days – If you have pets that overheat easily, an old milk jug can help. Fill it with water and freeze it. Lay it in their cage or bed and they’ll have a ready made way to keep cool. If you’re worried about it being too cold for them, wrap it in an old towel to help insulate against the cold.

Use an empty milk jug to make a homemade lunch box – If your kids are like mine, they often forget their lunch box at school. To keep that from being a huge worry, you can use empty milk jugs to make a homemade milk jug lunch box! These are actually really cool and I would never have thought of it!

Use an empty milk jug to make a Star Wars Storm Trooper Mask – If you’re looking for a really cool way for your kids to dress up as a storm trooper, you can use an empty milk jug to make a homemade storm trooper mask! These are really cool and I totally may make one for myself…just to have…because they’re cool and I’m gonna go now before you see how lame I really can be. 

Use an empty milk jug to make homemade gift baskets – If you’re needing a cute gift basket or Easter basket, you can use a milk jug to make one! Cut off the top with the pour spout. Then cut it off again around the edge leaving your jug only deep enough to hold the gift or gifts you’re adding. Cut a strip of plastic from the pieces you cut off earlier and use either craft glue or staples to attach as a handle. Decorate in any way that you want and you’re done!

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Stacy Barr
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Stacy Barr

Stacy Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family. A true gypsy soul, her newest blog, Unsettled Hearts, chronicles the journey of her family to become full-time travelers. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Her book, also called Six Dollar Family, has sold more than 7,000 copies since its release.

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