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What to do with old Bed Sheets and Pillowcases

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Do not throw out your old bed sheets and pillowcases.  Reuse and recycle them in useful, alternative, and frugal ways.  Do not throw out stained, ripped, or torn sheets either.  Consider the following ideas before tossing them in the garbage. 

*Household and Garden Uses

Old sheets are useful for using as paint drop cloths when painting indoors.  Plastic sheets are slippery, but old sheets stay in place easier.  Simply store them in plastic totes, and label them “Painting Supplies.”  To protect furniture while painting, cover items with old sheets while painting in the same room.

Rip old sheets into rags for cleaning, dusting, or any other house cleaning.  You can polish furniture, silver, and most anything in your home.  However, be aware that some cleaners used on rags and then washed, can become flammable in your dryer.  Keep these separate from other rags and hang dry them. 

Cut small rectangles to use in place of disposable mop heads.  Simply cut to size, by laying a disposable mop pad onto an old sheet and trace.  You may need to use a few layers, as sheets are a bit thin.

Cut long pieces of thick or flannel sheets to sew, and stuff with old sheets, to block drafts from underneath doors.  These can also be used in the summer to help keep cool air in, and hot and humid air out.

Use old pillow cases to store out-of-season-clothing in, or cut and sew a storage bag with an old sheet.  Use old sheets to wrap items for storage.  Old pillow cases can be used for a laundry bag easily.

Cut old sheets or pillow cases into small sections and use for an alternative to buying cotton balls.  Toss used strips in a net laundry bag, and wash in your washing machine.  Reuse them.

Make frugal rag rollers.  Cut sheets or pillow cases into strips approximately six by one inch wide.  With small sections of hair, starting at the end of the hair, wrap it around then roll upwards and tie once.  In the morning, simply remove them for frugal and instant hair curls.  Store them and reuse them.  Consider any old flannel sheets when making fabric, hair rag rollers.

To wash children’s stuffed animals, simply toss them into an old pillowcase, and wash in your washer on the gentle or delicate cycle.  When the washer stops, remove the pillowcase and place in the dryer.  You may also remove the stuffed animals and allow them to air dry.

Give old sheets to kids to use for sheet tents.  Kids love to build tents with sheets.  Give them old sheets to spread out on the ground to play on outside. 

Give kids old pillowcases for Trick-or-Treat candy bags for Halloween. 

Sheets are also nice to spread out over the ground, in place of blankets, for backyard picnics or backyard play for children.

Children’s playhouses often have open windows.  Cut pieces of sheets and convert to playhouse curtains, or simply hang pillowcases with tacks.

Looking for a new sewing project?  Use old sheets and pillowcases for many household and entertainment sewing projects.  Use pieces of them to make clothing repairs or accessory repairs, such as liners for pockets in pants or purses.  Reuse floral print or other print sheets to sew into useful home or garden aprons.  Make doll or Barbie clothes.  Use them to cut and sew into drawstring bags.  Cut pieces for quilt pieces or quilt baking.  Cut larger sections of sheets to create small table covers.  Cut the sheets into strips and roll into balls, then save them until you have enough to make homemade braided rag rugs.  You can braid the strips or crochet them into useful household rugs.  Cut them into strips with pinking shears and use for other crafts, or for wrapping a gift.  Sew them into curtains.  Save them to sew costumes for school, church, holidays and other celebrations. Pillowcases can be used to create Halloween costumes for small children. Sew and stuff small animal beds for pets, or use them to recover old beds.  Sew children or adult smocks for crafting projects that get messy.  Use old bed sheets or pillowcase material to sew a hanging bed organizer, sew hair scrunchies, or items for charity such as baby bags.  Sheets and pillowcases can also be reused to line baskets and laundry baskets.  If you do not know how to sew, there are numerous Web sites on the Internet that have tutorials.  Your local library may also have numerous “how-to” books on sewing.

Cut a piece of old sheet, large enough to drape around a person.  Use these pieces to wrap around a person’s front side, and secure with a clip, when cutting hair at home. Catch the hair in the sheet, remove and shake.

To avoid fresh evergreen needles from falling onto carpet at Christmas time, wrap a large old sheet around the base of the tree, pulling the edges out underneath the branches.  This is helpful, especially when it comes time to remove the Christmas tree from the home.  Simply place the tree on its side, on top of the sheet, wrap the sheet around the tree, and remove from the house by taking the stem through the doorway first.

Old sheets can be used as stuffing to fill old pillow cases for pet bedding.  These are nice for outdoor barn cats that need a place to keep warm in winter. Sheets can also be used to re-cover pet beds.

Use old sheets to as slip covers for garden, yard and outdoor equipment.  Sew a few larger ones together to cover novelty cars, lawn mowers, or other large equipment not in use.  Use them to cover porch furniture that has been stored for the winter.

When there is a danger of frost, cover outside plants or delicate flowers with old sheets and pillow cases.  Simply store the sheets and pillowcases in a storage container, so you can reuse them.  Store a few clip clothespins in the bin to help secure the coverings over the plants.  Simply remove and reuse when needed.

Instead of purchasing plant ties or other garden ties, cut strips of sheets or pillowcases to secure growing plants, such as tomato or bean plants.  At the end of the season, remove, wash and store for next season.

*Travel Uses

When camping or traveling for a picnic, take them along to cover dirty picnic table seats or use for a picnic table cover.  Line the bottoms of tents with them.  Cut strips of the old sheets and wrap them around pine cones.  Then dip in wax and use for fire starters while camping.  Sheets, without holes, can also be used for bedding in a camper or tent.  Sheets, cut into wide strips can be used to gather and carry firewood.  Sheets can be cut to fit camper windows, and lined with white sheets.  Old pillow cases also make nice frugal curtains.  Simply cut to fit, or sew fabric hangers to the tops, or sew a seam to slide a tension rod or curtain rod through.  If you are hauling your own firewood, and must haul it inside your vehicle, use old sheets to line the floor.  When you have returned from camping, simply roll the sheet, remove it, and give it a shake to remove wood pieces.

Cabin rentals often require renters to bring their own linens.  When upgrading your bedding, place your older bedding into storage containers.  Use them for traveling to cabins, yurts, and other vacation rentals.

If you are traveling with a pick-up truck, and have items that need tied down in the back, wrap them with an old sheet.  Simply tie them down with proper cording.

*Donate Them

Call your local animal shelters and ask if they could use them for the animals.  Many shelters are in need of extra supplies. Or as mentioned under “sewing projects” sew animal beds and donate them to animal shelters.

Sheets that or not torn, ripped or stained may be donated to thrift stores in your area.  Inquire with local domestic shelters where woman and children need items to move into a new home.  Habitat Humanity stores may also accept gently used bed sheets and pillow cases.

More about this author: Kristina Nelson

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