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How to recycle and upcycle your old towels, duvets, blankets and bed linen

Author imageThe Mattress Warehouse

Fortunately, there are infinite uses for your faithful old bed and bath companions. Imagination is the key to effective recycling which suites your circumstances.

If you have dogs, use the old duvet covers to create a covering for a new winter mattress. Sew the covers according to the size of your dogs. Also, you can ensure their new mattress lasts longer. For smaller breeds, fold the cover over twice to form a smaller square. Sew three of the four sides together. 

For bigger dogs, you can use two entire covers to create one mattress cover that is more durable. Place one inside the other and sew together along the edges. Keep in mind that you must always leave one side of the cover open so that you can both fill it and wash the contents. 

You can create a warm and soft inner by using a couple of old blankets. They are easy to conceal and simultaneously re-use. Cut them up into squares and stuff the cover. Alternatively, use the blankets as they are and lay them flat inside the mattress cover. Another option is to add your old duvet as an inner for an extra cosy feel.

Ensure your pets have all their favourite spots available to them in winter. Use your old pillows and pillowcases to create snug little areas. Use your old towels for pets after bathing them. Your old towel can be kept in the boot of your car in case of muddy walks or cold weather swims.

Use the art of innovation to produce trendy pieces for free.

If your pillowcases are very worn merely take two old ones and sew them into one exceedingly cool patchwork piece. You can easily accomplish this by using only the parts that are in the best condition. Sew these pieces together the same way you would sew a quilt and create a new pillowcase. Use this unique pillowcase for your pet or your spare room.

Re-use good quality towels that are faded and worn thin. They are ideal to use as cleaning cloths. Cut them to the required sizes and use your sewing machine to zigzag around all the edges. Sew twice so that they remain free from fraying for quite some time.

If some of your older towels are still in excellent condition, turn them into dishcloths. Make a point of edging them well.

Use the best parts of your old cotton sheets to make serviettes that are soft on the skin. In this case, edging is used for aesthetic appeal as well as to prevent fraying. Use a decorative stitching option on your sewing machine.

If you have young children, you can fill their dress-up or fort-building box with any of your old linens and bedding.

To encourage your children to play outside this summer make them a simple yet unusual tent. Purchase cheap hula hoops. Sew the top of an old sheet in a circle to cover the hoop. Attach the covered hoop to the branch of a tree. With the cloth hanging down your children have an instant teepee-like tent. They will like the shelter even more if you use their old themed sheets to make it. 

Do you have more than one or two old duvets? Recycle them as comfortable picnic blankets. Use them exactly as they are in their old covers. Your children’s old colourful duvet covers are ideal to use. 

Use old sheets and blankets to sew new ironing board pads and covers. In this case, an old cover is ideally suited to use as padding. Use the old pad as a template when cutting. For the new cover cut up the old sheet. Cut out each side of the original cover separately. To ensure you get it correctly to size, use your blanket pad as a template. Cut at least a few centimetres wider around the sides. The extra centimetres are for when you hem and then join the two pieces together. Recycle the old ironing pad and cover. Repair the items and use them under your cat’s winter bedding to efficiently add a significant amount of warmth in addition to a little extra padding.

Do you have a spot on your balcony that you would spend more time in if it weren’t for the fact that the bench is so hard? With a bit of imagination and a spot of sewing, you can have ultra comfortable seating for free. Use your old duvets or blankets precisely the same way you would when sewing a mattress for dogs.

Do you have sheets with patterns? Your overnight guests can benefit from your sewing expertise. Sew the best pieces of your old bed linen together into an interesting light summer quilt. These are perfect for summer nights that are a bit cooler and yet too warm for a duvet.  A quilt such as this can keep your spare bed looking lovely while not in use. Finish your guest bed off with an attractive ruffle that reaches the floor. All you need is an elastic one centimetre wide and long enough to stretch firmly around the entire top of the base. Cut your old patterned sheet to size. When sewing, pull the elastic tight to create a substantial gather for the best effect.

Old sheets also make brilliant shoe bags. Just cut to size and sew. Your best shoes will remain spotless and protected until the next time you need them. You can make your laundry bag. These are especially attractive if your old sheet has some colour or a pattern.

Similarly,  you can make a container in which to hang your plastic shopping packets. Remember to add a cord to all of these bags.  Fold the top over wide enough to fit the cord. Sew the top and after that thread the rope. Knot the ends to prevent it from slipping back in.

With the undamaged parts of patterned sheets make a quilted piece of fabric  Use this to sew a circle skirt for a great addition to your wardrobe. Alternatively turn it into simple straight leg pyjama pants or slacks with a hippie feel.

For something utterly unique you can cut sheets into two centimetre wide strips and make your fabric yarn. Hem all the edges. Use the pieces to create beautiful hangers that are gentle on clothing. Merely wrap and sew. Use the same technique for faded bracelets. Create lovely new ones that are gentle on the wrists as well as pretty.  Use the strips to weave or braid a winter throw for your couch. You can also use the yarn to crochet a rug or a cushion cover. You will have to get a suitably sized crochet hook. Use the same technique to make art quilts, wall hangings or placemats.

Create fantastic table runners with a vintage look. Cut several different parts of the old patterned sheeting into short strips. They do not need to be identical in width. A variety of widths will create an interesting result as you sew them together. Use decorative stitches to edge the longest sides of the runner. Make tablecloths just as quickly and creatively. Cut out the shape and size you prefer and add a hem.

Upcycle your new creations even further. If you are good at embroidering, you can add additional aesthetic appeal to any old piece of bed linen.

Use any of the creative ideas above to make upcycled gifts. Your old patterned bed linen is a beautiful way to wrap gifts. Use an adequately-sized quilted square or hem and wrap. If you want a ribbon, envelope the gift wrapping with a strip of sheeting.

Alternatively, you can donate all the items you repaired to the local dog shelter. Your old blankets will provide warm bedding, and the shelter staff can use your old towels to wash the floors. 


Your unique creations for home decor can go to a shelter for those without a home. If there are a few old items in excellent condition that you don’t use anymore donate these to the homeless shelter. Shelters appreciate any support they get. Rest assured that your old linen is comforting someone in need.

There are so many simple ways in which your unwanted items can become yours or someone else’s most cherished possessions. Choose between recycling, upcycling or donating, Either way, you have fun and save money

If you want to replace your old linen, buy a new set here

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