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How to Upcycle Old Towels

Stop wondering what to do with old towels and get creative with them by giving them new life with these lovely and completely functional ideas.

A stack of different colored towels with sprigs of lavender sitting on top and text overlay.

These projects to upcycle towels make the idea of wearing it out and making it do both craft project and frugal functional necessity.

Don’t Forget the Ordinary

Let me be honest in that I most often use old towels for canning projects. I mean, I just put them onto the counter and fill jars to avoid spills on top of the old towels. I also put the jars straight out of the canner onto old towels to cool.

It makes clean-up so much easier later.

Reusing old towels for rags is also super easy and very functional.

However, if you want to find different and more creative ways to use them, we’ve got them for you below.

Frugality for Independence

The idea of using what we have around our homes for frugality is a very old concept. One that many of grandmothers wouldn’t have even given a second thought too and yet many of us in modern times need to relearn this skill.

Reusing old towels for new projects might not seem like a path toward independence or self-reliance and yet is the very basis of such ideals.

A collage of photos, one is a stack of towels, another is a garden kneeling pad hanging from a hook with a trowel, and the other is a bath mitt with bars of soap and text overlay.

Making the most of what is already around instead of buying new helps us in so many ways. It saves us money, teaches creativity, and increases the ‘I can do it myself’ muscles.

This post and video is part of the cultivate & nourish program in which readers take part in projects to grow their own independence to feel more in control of their homes and live. Sign up to join in.

Getting Started

Heather from Beginner Sewing Projects joined me for a quick chat about upcycling towels and sewing. Get links to all the projects and complete tutorials below the video interview below.

Projects to Reuse Old Towels

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Sunday 12th of July 2020

You have to buy towels that both sides of the towels are the same texture. If the towels had one side smooth it doesn’t absorb the water. You can see and feel the difference.


Sunday 24th of May 2020

I have a hard time buying towels these days. I keep getting ones that don't soak up the water. Do you know how to tell them apart? Old ones worked much better.


Monday 16th of January 2023

@Kathryn, soak newly bought towel in a big tub with lots of water and 1/2 a cup of vinegar overnight. This will greatly improve their absorption capcity


Friday 12th of June 2020

I don't know about certain towels, but I no longer use softener or dryer sheets. They leave a coating on your towels, and don't absorb water anymore.