Being frugal and finding multiple ways to use things is a big part of homesteading for our family. Finding multiple purposes for underwear, however, wasn’t something on the top of my list… Until I had two boys growing out of their underwear (and clothes, and shoes, and…) almost as fast I could buy new ones. And with fabric prices rising regularly, I decided there had to be something I could do with them that would help me cut costs elsewhere.
How do I repurpose old underwear?
Hand-me-down old undies.
Underwear, when in good condition and properly laundered can be handed down to other children in the family, or friends, just as other clothing items would be. The same can also be done for cloth diapers and training pants, a huge expense for many families with children.
Repair worn underwear.
If the undies are still the right size and just need a little mending, then give them that few minutes of TLC and put them back in the drawer to be worn again. Things like popped elastic or pinholes can be fixed easily and save you money since you won’t have to replace that pair.
Old underwear makes great rags!
Worn out or discarded underwear work just as good as any other fabric to clean with. I’ve saved many pairs of my boys’ cotton boxer briefs as rags for cleaning around the house. It sure beats paying money to purchase rags or sponges to clean with! And they’re great for use as shop rags too. Instead of soiling our bath or kitchen towels with grease and grime, my husband can get the bulk of that mess off his hands by wiping on these “free” shop rags. Have you ever noticed when poking around a thrift store that there are often cut up pairs of underwear sold by the pound for use as rags?
Compost old underwear made of natural fibers.
If the fabric is a natural fiber, such as cotton or wool, you can shred it and add to your compost pile. Just be sure to remove any inorganic items such as elastic, zippers, or buttons. (Check out our article on diverting things from the dump for more everyday items you can compost.)
Use old undergarments as a stuffing for crafts.
You can save discarded pairs of undies and use them as stuffing in an arts and crafts project, such as making a pillow or dog bed. You can even whip up your own dog toys, and use pieces of old underwear as a filler. Cut into strips and braided, old undies turn into a rope toy.
Salvage buttons, elastic, and fabric from old boxers.
Remove elastic and buttons from old undies, if still in good condition. It will save you money on new sewing projects! Why pay big bucks for a new button at the store when you can save them from old clothing and have them around when they’re needed? Reclaim the fabric from underwear and use it to mend or patch holes in other items with similar fabrics.
Repurpose old underwear into a blanket.
Lots of the underwear my children have owned have fun prints, characters or designs on them. It seems like a shame to let the designs go to waste. It’s easy to reclaim the fabric and save it up to make a funky, scrap quilt or blanket.
Use reclaimed material to tie plants.
Cut your old undies into strips and use them to help tie plants that need a little help standing up, like tomatoes often do.
Turn little pairs or underwear into doll clothes.
If you’ve got little ones (and little undies!), try saving a couple pairs for your children to use as doll clothes when playing. It will save money on doll clothing that can be pricy, and help teach children how to get dressed.
Donate old underwear to charity.
If you’re not the crafty type or just don’t want to turn your undies into something “new,” then offer them as a donation to your local thrift store or charity. If they’re in good condition, they may be resold or donated to people around the country (or world) to those that need them. And even if they’re not in great shape, often times stores will sell them in bulk as cleaning or shop rags, by the pound.