Posted by Nicholas Crusie

Three Tips for What To Do With Old Towels

6 min read

Towels typically aren’t something we replace too often, so if you’re coming to a point where you’re ready for a new set, you might be wondering what in the world you should do with your old towels!

Believe it or not, there are actually quite a few ways to give your old towels new life even when you decide to get rid of them. 

Stick with us, and we’ll give you three tips for what to do with your old towels. We’re breaking it down into three categories: recycle, DIY, and donate. Then, we’ll give you a few ideas on exactly how to accomplish each of them. 

How Long Do Towels Last?

Before you learn what to do with old towels, here’s what you need to know about how long you can get away with using the same towels before you need to get rid of them. Bath towels can last for a few years, typically between two and five. 

There are a few warning signs that it’s time to get rid of your towels: 

  • They smell after one use.
  • They’re ripping or frayed at the edges. 
  • They aren’t drying you off properly. 

If your towel is doing any of the above, it might be time to get new ones and find something else to do with those old towels. 

How To Properly Care For Towels

You can get a longer life out of your towels if you care for them properly or if you buy nicer towels, to begin with. For example, our towels use all-natural silver that fights 99.9% of bacteria, making them last longer (and go longer between washes!)  

Here’s how we suggest taking good care of your towels:  

  • Don’t put damp or wet towels in the hamper. Let it air dry first. 
  • Machine wash cold using mild, liquid detergent.
  • Wash similar colors together.
  • Tumble dry low and remove promptly.
  • Warm iron, if necessary.
  • Resist the urge to pull loose threads. Use a scissor instead.
  • When washing your towels, don’t throw in anything with zippers or hooks.
  • Avoid fabric softener or powdered detergent.
  • Household cleaning products can do real damage; avoid them at all costs.
  • Skin products like benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acids can hurt your towels. Chlorine bleach can also pose a threat. 

It is recommended that you wash your towels after every three uses. For washcloths, you should wash them almost every time you use them. This helps keep them clean and kills the bacteria that can grow.  

Recycle Your Towels

One of the most convenient things for many people to do is simply throw old items in the recycling bin and hope they find their way somewhere they can be used. Fortunately, towels are recyclable. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as just throwing them in the bin and calling it a day. There are a few steps you need to take to make sure your towels are actually recycled well. 

Pay Attention to Quality

You can recycle towels that are still in relatively good shape. It’s okay if they’re well used: for example, if the threads are a little loose or the edges are torn. However, towels can sometimes be exposed to contaminants that aren’t able to be recycled and can contaminate other recyclables. 

If you have used your towels to clean up oil spills, paint drips, or bloody cuts, you should skip the recycling bin. This is one of the occasions where it’s recommended that you throw it in the garbage instead of reusing it.  

Avoid Contaminating the Towels

We already covered contaminants that you could get on your towel before recycling them, but you also need to be aware of ones that exist in your recycling bins. Packing up your towels in a paper bag or a separate recycling bin can help avoid them getting contaminated by whatever else you’re recycling.  

If you’re not ready to throw them in the recycling, there are plenty of other options. Stick with us, and we’ll give you some more tips on what to do with your old towels.  


There are about 100 different ways to repurpose a towel; it just depends on how much time and effort you’re willing to put in. For full instructions, we would definitely recommend heading over to Pinterest to find some great tutorials you can follow along with.  

Make a New Washcloth

Washcloths are sort of… smaller towels. If your bath towel has seen some better days, you can cut out smaller pieces and create a few small washcloths! Stay simple or get fancy by crocheting the edges into something that feels brand-new. You can also use the same concept to make dish towels or rags for cleaning spills. 

Make a Simple Bath Mat

Make a simple bath mat for your bathroom with your old towels by getting a non-slip mat backing and positioning the towel over the top of it. You can even add some fun fringe around the outside, too! 

Make a Cute Beach Bag

If you have old beach towels that you want to repurpose, consider turning them into the perfect beach bag. Simply size it out, create some straps from strips of the towel or any other material, and do a quick sewing job to pull it all together. 

Make a Cozy Pet Bed

This might take two larger towels, but it’s a great way to reuse them, and your pet will love the fact that it has some of your scent on it. Use an old pillow or a foam insert as your cushion.  

Then, cut strips along the edges of your towels and tie them together along the outside to connect them. This is a great project, especially if you don’t know how to sew. You can also use old pillowcases to make cozy pet beds.

Use it as a Swiffer Cover

If you love using a Swiffer around your house but are tired of paying big bucks for the sheets, DIY some by using your old towels. This is a simple DIY, but it would be helpful to have a sewing machine handy. All you have to do is measure, cut, and sew. Then, you can throw it in the laundry between uses. 

Donate To a New Home

It can be tempting to just throw away old towels, but there are so many other people (or even pets!) that could use them. Donating is a great way to get rid of old towels. There are a few different places you can donate. Be sure to stay mindful as you donate and only give away towels that can be used well. 

Donate To a Thrift Store or Nonprofit Organization

The first would be places like your local thrift shops, Salvation Army, or Goodwill. If you’re donating to these places that will resell them, make sure your towels are still in fairly good condition. Avoid donating towels that are ripped or stained.

You can also donate it directly to nonprofits that work with at-risk communities and provide basic necessities like towels. If you plan to donate here, it’s also important that they are in good shape. 

Not sure if you should donate it? Here are some quick questions to ask yourself:  

  • Would you buy it from a thrift store in the condition it's in? 
  • Would you personally hand it to someone else to use as is? 

If your answer to both questions is “yes,” go ahead and donate it. Oftentimes we only think about donating things that we don’t like, use, or find attractive anymore. But the people on the other end of the donation deserve quality items too. So if your items are run down, ripped, or stained, find another use for them. 

Donate To an Animal Shelter

Another great place to donate is your local animal shelter. Call before you go to make sure they accept towel donations, but many do. They make for great pet beds or things to snuggle with. This is an awesome way to get rid of the towels that haven’t been contaminated by dangerous things but might not pass the two questions you asked yourself above. 

Finishing the Thread

There you have it, the three best tips for what to do with your old towels. You can recycle, DIY, or donate to give your towels a second life. We included some of our favorite DIY ideas, but there are so many more to be found.

If you enjoy being creative, we’re sure you can find so many other cool DIYs to make. Whatever you do, make the trash can your last resort.  


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