Wait! Don't toss those ratty undies
Old boxers, faded pajamas, worn-out sheets and holey towels can be born again. Here are 16 ways you can repurpose and reuse them.
Not the pair he was wearing, but rather some ancient boxers. All his threadbare unmentionables and holey undershirts end up in the garage/workshop. It's their last chance at usefulness before they go to that big haberdashery in the sky.
My dad's thrift is legendary. But he's not the only person I know to use old clothing to death -- and wiping up spills is just one way to use it.
A former co-worker showed me his "new" short-sleeved shirt, which was once his old long-sleeved shirt. The elbows had worn through, so he cut off and hemmed the sleeves. I was so impressed.
How many other ways can old clothes, towels, pajamas and other cloth items be pressed into service one more time? Let's count them.
1. Cleaning rags. Why pay for shop rags? I use squares of old flannel PJs to wash mirrors, clean the stove and rub oil into a wooden table. When I'm using a scrub brush on the linoleum, raggedy dish cloths and tea towels are especially good for wiping up the water.
2. Work clothes. Wear the beat-up shirt and pants while cleaning out the garage or helping a friend paint his house. And on the subject of paint, there's the…
3. Artist's smock. An adult's worn-out shirt can keep the watercolors off a kindergartner's school clothes. The local elementary school might be glad to take those "smocks" off your hands. (Post continues after video.)4. Clothing patches. A relative wears jeans until they shred, and saves the less-worn areas to use for patching newer jeans. (Gardening is hard on the knees of her trousers.)
5. Quilt patches. These days I expect most quilters buy new cloth for their fabric art pieces. But it could be fun to use cloth with some history behind it.
The new identity
6. Towels becoming cloths. One MSN Money reader told me that when holes develop in bath towels she cuts up the still-good parts and hems them into washcloths. Again: Impressed.
7. Sheets becoming whatever. The good parts of worn-out sheets can be cut down and hemmed into napkins, table runners, place mats, Halloween costumes, reusable gift wrap, sofa cushions, bandanas, etc.
9. Toys, doll clothes. I can do only basic sewing but if I ever got creative it would be fun to turn an old blouse into an apron for a child, or a child's doll.
11. Diaper covers. Or turn old wool sweaters into frugal (and eco-friendly!) diaper covers through a process known as "felting."
12. Pet maternity ward. If your dog or cat is ready to pop, give her a nice soft bed of worn-out clothing. She'll appreciate it, and you can toss the cloths afterward if you don't want to wash and re-use. (No pets? Ask a rescue group if old towels et al. are needed.)
13. Fabric "bubble wrap." Use pieces of cloth to protect fragile Christmas-tree ornaments when you put them away.
14. Garden protection. Make a scarecrow. It might keep those birds away and it's a fun family project.
15. Dress-up. Those worn-out skirts and jackets could provide hours of make-believe for kids or grandkids.
16. Button source. Before you tear those beat-up clothes into cleaning rags, salvage the buttons. Somebody's always losing one.
Readers: How do you use old clothing?
More on MSN Money:
I always remove buttons from old clothing.Use old Tshirts for dusting. And for wet scrubbing. Very soft.
Husbands' outgrown shirts go to Salvation Army. They are well received.Old bed sheets go to animal shelters.
Most people used to use these money saving tips but got away from them as they became more affluent. It wasn't cool to be seen as a miser. I remember my mother going to the used clothing store on a regular basis to get material for quilts. And the great thing about getting the cloth there, is it doesn't have to be a choice clothing item to make pretty quilt squares, so she rarely paid much for the things she found.
What's wrong with 'ratty' underwear? ... and why subjugate it to the rag pile in the garage? Frankly, I'm not desirous of pity or a handout but having been unemployed for almost three years has me living an austere life. I have not purchased one single article of new clothing for myself in that time, not even a pair of socks. I bought a used pair of dress shoes and a used sports jacket at Goodwill a couple years ago to look presentable for some job interviews and one funeral, but that has been it. Needless to say almost everything that I own now looks like it should be used to dust furniture or wax a car, but I'm still wearing it. When I croak perhaps some kindly relatives will see to it that the funeral director is supplied with some decent threads so that I can go on my way looking a bit more dignified than when I was alive. The point is, if no one knows or can see that your skivvies or T-shirts are 'ratty', it's really not anyone's problem except for that of the owner, and I know that I'm not the only one out there wearing threadbare clothes. Use everything until it is totally and unequivocably unusable. Peace and prosperity to all ....
old sheets can be used for drop clothes, however they are best to be used if you layer a couple or fold them over to thicken them up. be wary, they can be slippery on slick surfaces
old sheets can be dust covers over furniture while you are vacation etc or better yet, at your cabin for the 9 months of the year you are not there.
old towels can be donated to animal shelters
if you have a loom and weave, you can cut jeans into strips, loom them into a rug, a man at our farmers market sells small area rugs for over $60 each made from old jeans he finds, is given or use to be his. These aren''t big rugs, they are kitchen rugs to stand on in front of the sink. They are colorful because of the thread he worps them with.
jeans, sew a square pocket, shove several cut squars inside of it, use under a hot dish at the table in place of a trivat
most cities will recycle natural fiber clothing, check your cities recycling websites.
our culture is incredibly wasteful on many fronts.
you don't have to be frugal in all aspects of your life, pick one thing to change your behavior on, it will be habit and then open up another world to "cut costs on" or otherwise not WASTE money.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
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Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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