10 New Ways to Use Old Towels

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I love towels. I know, it’s strange, but a warm and fluffy towel after getting out of the bath is pretty close to perfection in my mind. I absolutely adore the big bath sheets that I pick up whenever they’re on sale. They’re huge and fluffy and…sorry, I got lost for a second in the memory. Like it or not though, sometimes my favorite towels don’t last forever. Sometimes, they just can’t hang on and they end up ratty with holes and surely bound for the trash can. Call me silly, but I like to reuse as many items as I possibly can so when my towels are ready to be laid to rest, I look for a new ways to use old towels so that I can use it to save as much money as possible. I’m not kidding either. We find new ways to use old sheets, ways to use empty milk jugs, ways to use old bottles, ways to use coffee mugs, different ways to use coffee filters, ways to use WD-40 and even ways to use {clean} cat litter! I even have a list of 52 items to reuse to save money that I follow!

Have a linen closet full of ratty old towels? Upcycle them to save money with these 10 "New" Uses for Ratty Old Towels!

Even though those towels might not be good for drying off with, they do still have a lot of life in them. There are a ton of different ways that you could upcycle old towels and a lot of them save you money. They can also help keep the kiddos busy, make an outdoor date better and so much more. You just need to get a bit creative with how you look at them and put them to work for you one last time. A lot of the time, we use old towels to create the things that we stopped buying and make homemade. The uses are really endless around your home and life!

Ways to Use Old Towels

These 10 new uses for old towels are by far the only ones you can do. They are just a few of my favorites. Sure they’re creative, but they’re also useful. I absolutely love upcycling things that not only help make my life easier, but also help me cut my expenses as well. Ask just about anyone who loves to save money and they’ll tell you that there are just certain things that a thrifty person reuses to save money. It just makes it seem so much sweeter when I get one more use out of an item and I get to save big at the same time.

Ways to use old towels #1: Make Homemade Baby Wipes –  Let’s face it, disposable baby wipes are expensive. Instead of spending your hard earned money on them, upcycle old towels to make homemade baby wipes. Cut your ratty towels into squares, put them in an empty baby wipe box and add make your own homemade baby wipe solution. You’ll save a considerable amount of money and your baby will never know the difference.

Ways to use old towels #2: Homemade cleaning cloths – There is no point in using your good rags or towels to clean up nasty, grimy residue like what you’ll often find on your toilets, counters or floors and paper towels are expensive. Instead of throwing ratty towels away, cut them into squares and use them with a homemade all-purpose cleaner to help keep your home clean and sparkly for cheap. They also work really well for making reusable fabric softener sheets, homemade swiffer cloths and other homemade cleaning supplies.

Ways to use old towels #3: Upcycle towels into a homemade kids craft apron – Craft time is messy, and kids craft aprons can be expensive, but a simple homemade smock can keep your kids clothes in pristine shape. Instead of throwing out ratty towels, cut a hole big enough for your child’s head to fit through and let your little one wear it while they work on crafts, painting or other messy activities. Once they’re done, toss in the wash so that your makeshift craft aprons are ready for next time!

Ways to use old towels #4: Create a masterpiece – Ready for some free family fun? Grab some colorful kids paints and head out doors to splash it around. Use your old ratty towels, sheets or any other fabrics and let them create a splash paint masterpiece! Throw paint balls, use empty water bottles full of water paint, flick paint brushes full of paint or let them use homemade finger paints to create their very own creative work of art. Once your play is done, let them dry fully then save one or two for them to look back on when they’re older.

Ways to use old towels #5: Make a unconventional upcycled towel quilt – If you’ve wanted to take up quilting, but haven’t yet, using old ratty towels is a fantastic way to upcycle old towels. Cut your towels into 12 inch by 12 inch squares then sew each square together. Add quilt batting and a fabric backing if you want and you’ve got yourself a spiffy new quilt that was incredibly easy to make and super budget friendly!

Ways to use old towels #6: Keep your hands clean in the car –  You never know when you may have to change a tire, check your oil or just generally be poking around under the hood of your car. To help keep your hands clean when that happens, keep a few old towels in your car to clean your hands on. It’s not an upcycled towel use, but it does extend the time that your ratty towels are useful. If you want to take your hand cleaning kit one step further, add a container of homemade goop off and a gallon of water with the towels so that you can really keep your hands clean.

Ways to use old towels #7: Make a homemade not-feather duster –  Old towels make excellent homemade dusters believe it or not. Cut them into squares and use them with a bit of homemade furniture polish to dust desks, dressers, accent tables and more. Want to dust a space you can’t reach? Wrap your old towel around a mop or broom and use a binder clip to keep it in place.

Ways to use old towels #8: Make an upcycled rag rug –  Old ratty towels can be transformed into comfy bath rugs with a few simple tweaks. Grab a latch rug canvas and cut your towels into strips that are 6 inches long by ¾ inch wide. Thread your strips through the rubber gridded mat one at a time and tie them into a double knot. Continue doing this until your entire mat is covered. These actually make really nice gifts and they give your towels on more use before they’re done.

Ways to use old towels #9: Make a homemade picnic blanket – Most people bring a blanket when they go on a picnic, but doing so can easily ruin your blanket. Instead, upcycle your old towels to help keep your nice blankets, well? Nice. Grab a few towels, cut away any areas that might have holes and sew them together to make a big picnic blanket. If you want a nice sized square blanket, sew three towels wide and three towels long. The more towels you use, the bigger your blanket will be.

Ways to use old towels #10: Use upcycled towels to make homemade baby bibs: Having a baby is really expensive and baby bibs are one item that is super expensive. Most of the time they’re priced around $5.00 for something that has a sole purpose of getting messy. Instead of spending all of that money, use your old towels to make homemade baby bibs. To make yours, simply cut your towels into four equal sections then cut a hole into each section big enough for your child’s head. Slip over their head and enjoy lunch time!


Saving money in life, saving money in your home really boils down to a handful of things. One of them is looking at new ways to use old items. If these ideas don’t strike your fancy, use your imagination and find a way to use them. Even if you only get one last use out of them, that is one less time that you had to spend money. Do you have any other ideas for ways to use old towels? I’d love to hear them. It’s almost time for me to buy new ones.



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Stacy Williams

Stacy Williams is a 37-year old wife to a USAF Gulf War Veteran, mother of two teen girls and fur-mamma to a rescued pit bull. The face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family, she also owns and manages Long Haul Wife, Republic Preparedness, The Genealogy Queen and a handful of others sites. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome a drinking problem, 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. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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  1. You can also use them for when you take your pets to the vet. You can lay them down in the pet carrier. Your pet isn’t on the cold and slippery plastic of the carrier if you use the old towels.

  2. Kathleen Asuquo says

    Our humane society accepts old towels to use when bathing the dogs at the shelter.

  3. e. effenbeck says

    I make hot pads out of my old towels. Works great!

  4. Sally hosiner says

    I have cats that come into basement at night
    They will lay on anything flat. I put old towels over everything and they have a bed that is easy to clean. Use in pet carriers too. They are in our patio chairs and removed when we sit in them. No cat hair on our behinds

  5. My local spay/neuter clinic loves towels for their patients.

  6. H&M will recycle clothing & textiles.
    For every bag of clothing/textiles, you will receive a $ 5.00 voucher of a purchase of $ 30.00 or more.

  7. I recently got new towels, so I took a couple of hand towels and two of my old towels and turned them into hooded towels for my kids. (Almost broke my sewing machine trying to sew them on that way) The kids love them! It took me about 5 minutes per towel. I have been thinking of throwing the rest out, but now I think I am going to try making a rug like you suggest, what a great idea! Thank you for sharing these.

  8. Roxanne Weeden says

    When I was little, my mom made matching bath robes for my sister and I, and a coordinating one for herself. I remember using them at the beach too, for a swimsuit cover up.

  9. I like to keep a few old ones on hand to clean up leaks, large spills, or potty-training accidents. Don’t have to get the nice towels icky if the mess is a dirty one.

  10. I sewed 2 older bath towels together, sew batting to the inside and some ties in the each corner and we use them when we are sitting at a picnic table to sit on. Nice & soft & clean. Also very easy to throw in the wash when they do get soiled!

  11. fold over into halves / thirds, or whatever suits the particular towel. Sew round the edges, and across the centre however many times seems to be needed. I then use the result as a mat for getting out of the shower.

  12. Stacey Lowe says

    I save my old towels to use when I make baby bibs and burp cloths. They are way cheaper than buying terrycloth fabric by the yard and better and easier to sew than new towels because they are thinner and more pliable. Simply cut slightly smaller than the patter and slip between pretty fabric. (purchased from clearance bin at favorite sewing store.)

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