About Repurposing

Since I opened the doors to the Hillbilly Housewife Club, we’ve been talking a lot about repurposing in the forum there. I never really thought about it all that much until then, it was just something I did automatically. But let’s back up here for a second. What exactly is repurposing?

According to dictonary.com repurpose means “to use or convert for use in another format or product.”

People used to repurpose all the time to turn old dresses into quilts, or turning an old pillow case into a sun dress for toddler. If you’ve come across the homemade sanitary napkin article, you’ve seen that old flanel shirts can be turned into reusable feminine pads.

Here are a few other things we repurposed lately at our house.

1) My old t-shirts become nightgowns for my daughter. When they are getting too thin or torn for that, they are used as dusting and cleaning rugs, eventually making their way into the car washing and outdoor use pile.

2) Large cylindrical oatmeal containers hold various flours, mixes and homemade granola.

3) CDs and DVDs are turned into coasters. We’ve also made some cute wind chimes and mobiles with them.

4) Yogurt cups of all sizes with lids on them become new storage containers. I use the larger ones for leftover soups and stews. The smaller ones become new yogurt or pudding containers for lunch boxes.

5) CD spindles are perfect for organizing cables and such.

6) Plastic bags from the grocery store are cut and turned into “Plarn” (plastic yarn). I’ve been crocheting mats and bags out of the plarn.

7) Old socks that lost their mates are turned into puppets.

8) The blanks from our old outdoor steps have recently been giving new life as a play house for our daughter.

9) Old baby blankets are cut up into wash clothes (I stitch around them in a zig-zag stitch to keep them from fraying).

10) Old baby clothes (soft material) are now polishing rags for my husband. He uses them on the car.

11) We keep all jars (from pickles and jelly for example) and use them to hold various small items from buttons to coins. Some of them also become temporary residences for various bugs and small creatures for our daughter.

12) We use egg cartons as seed starters, to separate buttons, or small office supplies (like staples, paper clips etc.) We also use them for quite a few kids art projects.

13) Magazine pages make great wrapping paper, and they are great for crafting. We’ve made magazine beeds, or use them to cut out things for collages.

14) A pair of old speakers that no longer worked become a new coffee table. You could also turn an old door into a table this way.

15) Since my husband is a pretty good carpenter, he reused most parts of an old wodden swing set and thurned them into a garden bench.

16) I’ve torn old towels into strips and then used the strips to knit a new bath rug.

Now it’s your turn. What do you repurpose?

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Mel Flan - May 12, 2009

Hi there, thanks for the great repurposing ideas. A few things I repurpose:
–boxes from cereal, foods, products we purchase at the store: I keep them under the basement stairs and at Christmas I have all the boxes I need for gift wrapping.

–I save pretty food jars throughout the year and use them as containers for bath salts or coffee or tea mixes as gifts for Christmas or birthdays.

–Grocery store plastic bags: great for putting over feet (tie the handles around your ankles) if you have to walk somewhere muddy or snowy and you don’t have your old shoes/boots on. Also handy for putting down in the car if a kid is wearing a wet swim suit or is getting a little messy with food.

Susan - May 12, 2009

Plastic jar lids are used as coasters under bottles of cooking oil, honey, etc. When these bottles inevitably get sticky this keeps the cabinet clean, and you can easily wash the coasters as needed.

I keep a couple of upside-down strawberry baskets on the counter and place the sponge and dish brush on them after using. The sponge and dish brush dry faster because air can circulate underneath.

SassafrassamusRex - May 12, 2009

I use emptied (and washed) popcorn tins for storing things. The design on the outside of the tin is (usually) the indicator of what I store in them; for example, tins with Christmas themed designs become storage for Christmas decorations and supplies, those with Thanksgiving designs store Thanksgiving decorations and supplies, sports themed ones store outdoor toys or sports equipment, etc. This way, if it is time to decorate for Christmas, I can get everyone to help bring it in, by simply asking for the Christmas tins’.

When the decorations go up, I store the ‘normal’ decor items in the tins and display the tins, as part of the holiday decor. At the end of the season, I empty them of the normal daily stuff, refill them with the Christmas stuff, and pack them away again. In the meantime, I didn’t have to hunt for a place to put the normal stuff, and it has stayed clean and protected, while being stored right under our noses.

It works the same for the sports and toys – the season on the outside of the tin identifies the season’s toys (or even clothes and accessories)on the inside of the tin, etc.

Amy - May 12, 2009

After we eat a box of cereal, I use the waxy cereal bags as waxed paper. Just open both ends and seperate down the middle. I haven’t bought waxed paper in years. Excellent for placing between freezer items such as hamburgers or layering cookies to freeze for holidays.

Jerri - May 12, 2009

I work at an Early Head Start and we use all of our emptied household items in the classroom in our housekeeping area. We also use them in other area ex. painting, music, sand, and so forth. In my personal house I use the cardboard in the middle of the paper towel to hold the electrical extension cords.

GrammaShirley - May 12, 2009

I use cheap pop up wipes in the car for quick clean ups, then I take the lid off the container and put plastic shopping bags into them and have them available in the car for needs from split bags to seat protectors.

I save jars to share everything from leftovers to gifts without having to worry about getting them returned.

If you have livestock, chickens etc. The remote speaker sets kept by babies cribs can be repurposed by placing them in barns, chicken houses, pens etc. allowing you can hear what is going on out there if you have preditors.

Betty Watts - May 12, 2009

I reuse plastic grocery bags for liners in our tall kitchen can. My husband drilled holes in the sides of the tall kitchen can and used bent coathanger pieces to form holders for the grocery store bag carry handles. Now I use very few commercial liners because they do not have to be changed often.

I reuse the cardboard toilet paper rolls around the cords of my hair dryer and curling iron and other small appliances to keep the cord from getting tangled up.

My husband used a bent coathanger on the patio to keep the hose handy for watering our containers.

I painted recycled plastic buckets from laundry detergent to use as hanging planters on the patio. The new plastic paints can cover up the commerical logo on containers to make them usable for a variety of uses.

I reused the structure of an old gas grill to become a rack for stacking wood out on the patio.

Need a nice picture grouping but the frames have different finishes? Just paint them and they suddenly become cohesive in appearance.

Left over scrapbook paper or fabric provides a great background for pictures instead of expensive matting. You can even buy inexpensive frames that are the same size as scrapbook paper.

Shadow boxes can make keepsake art of baby treasures, shoes, hats, or baptismal gowns. They are also good for vacation treasures from the beach. Just think 3-D scrap booking for arranging your keepsake treasures. They become inexpensive art for your walls while preserving memories.

Left over shower wall material white board makes great small white boards with a wooden picture frame surround. Same is true if you have left over cork to make a bulletin board(even bottle corks can be cut and glued if you have enough.) Left over foam board from school posters make a great start for a padded french memory board with ribbons.

Plastic berry baskets make nice Easter baskets or gift containers if you thread ribbons through them. Braided pipe cleaners or cording make a sturdy handle.

Keep old buttons. They can be used as embellishments for scrap booking and cards. Strung onto elastic, they become a bracelet. Attached to a fabric or felt covered piece of cardboard with some lace, they become a pin to wear with a pin back hot glued onto the back of the cardboard.

Recycle towels into washcloths after zig zagging the edges or hemming.
They are also great for car washing towels or under baby car seats or booster seats to protect upholstery. Old beach towels are great to protect car seats because of their llonger length.

Reuse plastic shower curtains or liners under baby high chairs or for paint drip cloths.

Reuse old bed spreads to line the trunk of the car to catch spills and provide emergency blankets. They also provide great temporary hiding places for gifts until you can get them inside to wrap them.

Reuse luggage for storage when not in use. They make great places to hide Christmas presents from the kids- espcially if they have locks or combination locks that can be changed each year!

Worn sheets or tablecloths can be used to make a large variety of items. Dinner napkins or handkerchiefs are easy to make from the tucked edges of sheets that rarely get worn or the borders of tablecloths that aren’t stained.

Liter-sized plastic bottles can be cut open so that yarn can be threaded out the neck of the bottle to keep it from tangling as you knit or crochet.

Plastic bleach bottles or milk bottles can be cut open to carry wet items or seedlings or store toilet bowl brushes. Old soap dishes that no longer go with your decor can also be used inside cabinets for wet brushes.

Can’t afford a a new toothbrush holder? Use tall plastic glasses or mugs to hold your toothbrush and toothpaste. An added advantage is that your cup for rinsing is right there too!

Reuse old shower caddies in the garage over a sink to hold soap or laundry products. Garage sinks are a great place to reuse faded tie-on hand towels.
Reuse plastic buckets or cut open soda bottles to soak paint brushes.

If you keep coin change, reuse plastic cake-frosting containers with lids to sort them. Cut openings in the lids to form piggy banks. The same containers are nice for a variety of uses because the paper labels come off easily leaving a white container and colored lid.

Reuse styrofoam meat trays for craft paint brushes or as paint or glue pallets. Store brushes in reused soup cans.

I always keep a small glass jar and lid to mix cornstarch or flour and water to thicken gravy. Especially useful at Thanksgiving for turkey gravy.

If you are spray painting drawer pulls, push them into an old block of floral foam to hold them. Then you can get all the nooks and crannies and don’t have to turn them. This may be true of 3-D craft projects.

Any reusable large plastic or metal container is great for small toys, blocks, or barbie accessories. Plastic dishpans and laundry baskets are good for toys or balls.

Tennis ball cans have lots of reuses and Pringle potato chip cans or other food grade plastic cans with lids can be used to ship cookies or food gifts.

Plastic mesh bags from onions or potatoes are good for draining small bath toys.

Soap chips can be soaked and remolded into another cake or for bath crayons for kids.

Stephanie - May 12, 2009

We have a problem with ants where we live, they are very hard to get rid of and get into everything! We have learned to use empty and washed coffee cans for sugar, flour, cornmeal, etc. Since everything has to be in a tightly sealed container, these coffee cans work perfectly!

Geri - May 13, 2009

Old receiving blankets, flannel cloth scraps, worn out terrycloth bath towels and old shirts can be sewn to make reusable cloth diapers. Add a little velcro around the waist and some elastic around the legs, and you don’t even need to use pins! (You will need a diaper cover, but those are pretty inexpensive).

Danielle D. - May 13, 2009

Plastic grocery bags are the most reused item in our home. We line wastebaskets with them, keep them in the car for collecting trash, use them as gloves for picking up unsavory things, bunch them and use them as packing material when shipping gifts, etc. I also save holey socks to use as cleaning rags. If the toilet is particularly yucky when i wipe it down, i can just throw the cleaning sock away without feeling too guilty because it still had a second life. There will always be more worn out socks, too, so i never have to waste money on paper towels.

Fiona Reid - May 14, 2009

I use the cardboard tubes from the inside of clingwrap or papertowels to make a crease free hanger for trousers. Cut a slit down the length of the cardboard tube and slip it over the horizontal rung of a wire coat hanger. Trousers can now be hung over the cardboard roll and you won’t have an unsightly crease across your pants.

Sharon - May 14, 2009

I use an old cat food container with a handle to collect shower water when heating up the water. The water goes on my garden. Also, the container is great for planting peppers or tomatoes, just drill holes in the bottom. Old pantyhose tie up my tomato plants and if I need to leave for the weekend, a two liter bottle with holes drilled in the cap will do the job. Just fill the bottle, screw on the top and put it in the planter. I am growing all my plants on my patio this year to keep away the critters!

Robin - May 14, 2009

I save a sorts of pill,spice bottles,small boxes,small toy parts,and pretty bits of what-nots for a kids rainy day box. I also toss in a pair of sicors,tape and glue. I cut up old gallon bleach or laundry soap bottle for clothes pin hanger or pet food scoops.

As part of a food storage plan, you can clean out and dry 2 liter pop bottles. Fill them all the way up with all sorts off dry goods and grains. With so little air left in the bottle it keeps things dry and weevil free. 2 liter bottles are easy to store and can be transported quickly if needed.

Jen - May 15, 2009

My dad cuts the bottom off a gallon milk jug to put over his tomato plants so he can plant them early. When frost is predicted, he puts the lid back on the jug and throws some extra dirt around it to protect the plant.

Catherine - May 16, 2009

I use my husbandsold shirts, old sheets my ripped jeans, or anything of cloth to make my kiddo’s clothing. I recycle food grade buckets I get at local restraunts for food stoage. baby food jars become lighting bug collectors or decorated as a lighting bug with a small flashlight in it. Dryer lint becomes fire starter for the grill or campfires. Just dip it in a little vasoline. I use a plastic shoe box to place my bread in while rising. The lid is cracked but it keeps the animials off. recycle grocery bags by placing five or six between wax paper and ironing them and makeing a reuseable bag for car trash bag or groceries. Katsup/Catsup or mustard bottles are kept to put frosting or yougurt in to ice cakes or make funny faces on pancakes. A drop of food coloring in it and you will have colorful yougurt. Baby wipe containers hold anything. you can also put home made ones in there or trash bags. Slivers of soap are saved to make homemade laundry soap. My husband takes off with my cup when he leaves for work so the large yougurt containers become cups here. I try to repurpose everything I can twice.

Debs - May 19, 2009

My husband uses the various color & size plastic lids as mile markers for his jogging trail on our acreage, after drilling a hole in each one, numbering & nailing to a board. I use the plastic newspaper bags cut in half tied in a knot on metal coathangers as holiday wreaths with holiday decorations on them outside. And I’ve stapled plastic soda can webbing together to make large snowflakes & hang on trees as outside decor. The transparent plastic sheet under prepackaged bacon I wash & use it to cut out designs for quilting or applique or stenciling.And of course the plastic jugs of all sizes make great funnels of all sizes for all types of things.

Brenda - May 20, 2009

You can reuse plastic gallon ice cream buckets with the handles for sponge bathing the disabled or sick children.

Empty ice cream buckets can also be used for watering animals.

I reuse Crystal Light as containers for pens, pencils, straws, small tools, etc.

I refill body lotion and body scrub bottles with my homemade lotions and scrubs.

Used but clean sheets, panty hose, towels, shoe strings, socks, and many other things can be used for ties in the garden. (tomato plants, okra plants, eggplant, any plant that grows tall or has heavy fruits and veggies.

Duplicate pics can be used as decoupage on bottles, odd mirrors or other items.

Brenda - May 26, 2009

ice cream buckets make great oil buckets when you change the oil in your vehicle. the lid makes for a cleaner transport to the recycling center.

empty coffee cans make great kitchen utensil stands. just take scraps of wallpaper and cover the coffee cans to match your decor (wide wallpaper border usually fits perfectly). small coffee cans can be done the same way for smaller utensils.

holely socks make great dusting mitts.

baby food jars make great holders for nuts and bolts in the garage. just nail or screw the metal lid to the bottom of a shelf, fill the jars with loose nuts and small bolts and the screw the jar back on the lid and you can see what you have on hand at a glance without the clutter.

Toss a tennis ball in the dryer with your clothes to help be wrinkle free.

Michelle - May 27, 2009

I had a beautiful gravy dish that I broke the lid to, and now I store my scrubbies, and brushes for the kitchen in it…pretty, and keeps clutter at bay. I was going to throw out an old blue mitten type potholder when my 2 year old yelled “whale puppet”, I stitched some light blue ribbon where the spout would go, and gave it two eyes…we now have a whale puppet, every house needs one. I store play dress up clothes in an old hamper that I cleaned up…quick and easy pick-up. Our kitchen didn’t have enough storage so we got a computer cupbourd off craigslist and now have enough storage, and a place for the computer, and paperwork.

Michelle - May 27, 2009

I also save nice glass jars for herbs from the garden…plastic holds on to smells, glass cleans better.

Nancy - May 27, 2009

I have reused soup, vegetable, etc., cans to hold my daughter’s markers, crayons, & pencils. I have a can opener that uncrimps the edges, so the edges are smooth. I covered the outside of the cans with scrapbook paper & set them inside her Easter basket along with some scrap paper & stickers. Now she has an “art basket” that she can carry anywhere she pleases.

Nancy - May 27, 2009

I also covered oatmeal canisters with scrapbook paper to hide female necessities in the bathroom. It’s up on a shelf & looks nice. No one needs to know what’s in there.

Mommyof2gals - May 30, 2009

Here are a couple of reusable items around our house:
1. All of my small containers such as: lemon juice, butter, the kids vitamin containers, mustard, ketchup, etc. I wash these out real well, then I pass them to my daughters that are 3 & 2 years old…they love to play in “their” kitchen with these…it is always a huge hit when a new bottle empties!!!
2. We just got a puppy & are currently trying to “house train” him, instead of buying the expensive puppy pads I use my old newspapers & sale ads. These work just fine, as long as you use several to make layers.

cheapskate_momma - June 10, 2009

I reuse old Christmas cards/birthday cards etc as base for fun projects, and scrapbooking.

I was given a large box of mixed match dishes, and I use them for gift giving. I use the small plates to place cookies to give as gifts, and the tea cups and saucers…the possibilities are endless…

We reuse grocery sacks as anyone else does.

We reuse baby food jars (when given to us) to store nuts and bolts. I screwed the lid of them to the underneath of a shelf in the garage. Lets you see what you need, and keeps them in one place.

I shop thrift stores and garages sales every chance I get..I consider that repurpose 😉

We use milk crates for storage and for a catch all in back of the suv (or trunk)

egg cartons are reused for farm fresh eggs

ice cream buckets are used for soapy water for cleaning around the house

cottage cheese/yogurt containers are used for food storage.

shallow boxes (roman noodle boxes) are used for storing small things in a closet to allow for use of items and seeing what you need rather than being in a closed box…they are easily stackable too.

all those mailing lables you get in the mail that pile up…use them to mark your dvd’s/cd’s, bottom of a dish at a family get together etc.

old sponges can be used for painting/craft projects

popcorn tins for small trash cans around the house

Christmas wrapping paper is used for packing material

we are one of the biggest reusers of gift sacks, my son stated this year “well this marks the 3rd year I got this bag” (of course with a smile on his face)

cardboard boxes are used for shipping too and from

shredded bills are used for packing material

we reuse the same baby wipe box and use refillable wipes

ziplock bags are great for jewelry storage, leaving necklaces untangled, zip the chain part up in the closure part of the zip bag.

old stuff animals make great car washers! Make sure they don’t have the botton eyes or any plastic or metal on them.

old shammys make great bath mats!

broken tent poles are excellent for garden tie up stakes

pill bottles are great for holding garden seeds and are easy to label

Janice Troxtell - June 20, 2009

I’ve really enjoyed reading this. I reuse peanut butter jars. I crochet doll dress , so i have button, bells, snaps, small flowers . All of these go in the jar. I like these because if i drop one it doesn’t break. My husband using them in the garage for a lot of small things.

Lynn - July 6, 2009

I like the peanut butter jars. Sometimes we don’t use a whole can of olives and one can fits nicely in a PB jar, including the juices.

I have also been getting sweaters at the second hand places and pulling them apart to reuse for other knitting/crocheting projects. Made my kids dresses and a vest to match for Easter.

Pat - July 11, 2009

Fruite and vegetable cans make great starter pots for plants. Wash them out thoroughly, use an awl or an icepick to punch drainage holes in the sides and bottom of the can, fill with potting soil, and plant your seeds. Egg cartons are also great for this.

A coffee can is a great savings bank. You can take the lid off to add to it, and when it’s time to cash in, dump it out and then start over.

Instead of buying a new bottle of water, take the empty bottle and refill it before you leave home or work.

Glass jars – you can use them for pencil/pen holders, storage jars, the list is endless.

I’ve really enjoyed reading this posting. What I find so amusing is that the ideas that everyone has posted were things that my mother was doing in the 1960’s! We did it then because we couldn’t afford to throw things away, and now we are doing it not only because we’re being cost-conscious, but also because we’re hoping to help the environment.

(A lot of us were recycling before the word existed!)

jan - July 12, 2009

If my youngest grows out of their clothing & if it’s still in good condition, I’ll pass it on to a friend whole. If not, I cut it up and repurpose it. If the knee is torn & the bottom of the pant leg or hem is worn, then I’ll cut it off and make it into shorts for someone. If there is enough material from a clothing item then turn it into a skirt, dress or pants for a younger child orfor any other small sewing project like a purse, glasses holder, or book cover. If the front of a T-shirt is stained, cut out the back & use 2 backs into pillow cases or stuff 1 back to make a small camping pillow. If the t-shirt front of the t-shirt is still good & is sentimental, then try turning into a t-shirt quilt. If clothing is very worn and ready for the garbage, use as rags but keep the buttons & zippers for another project.

missouri_granny - July 29, 2009

I repurposed a lone white sheet by turning it into 12 cloth napkins by cutting and hemming them.

I use glass pickle jars to store sugar, flour, etc in the pantry.

A set of worn flannel sheets became new dishtowels for my kitchen.

My DH had several flannel shirts that he outgrew, I cut smaller dishtowels out of them for our camper.

An old bedspread that was no longer being used became a window quilt for our bedroom window. Keeps the room cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and keeps the sun from waking me up.

Lori - August 1, 2009

I am enjoying reading all the ideas for repurposing ! I save my plastic grocery bags and use them to carry various items to work and when I have a yard sale I bag items in them. I have old books and magazines I use to make collages and art with; just cut out the pictures and words and glue down. My grandmother would keep bread sacks and twist ties to send cookies or other foods home with us. She would also save her ziploc bags, wash them out and reuse. She would save aluminum foil and reuse. She had a special drawer in her kitchen for just these items.

Mel - August 3, 2009

I get a second use out of my used dryer sheets by dusting with them. I save the paper that’s inside shoe boxes and new purses and use it when cleaning mirrors. I keep my small bottles of hand sanitizer and refill with a big bottle. (much cheaper) I set the remaining big bottle of sanitizer in my bathroom to use. I have a small yogurt conatiner that I use now as a scoop for my baking soda for laundry. Old pantyhose work great for wiping deodorant off of clothes.

Morning Dove - August 7, 2009

I use quite a few of the buckets that ice cream come in, the big plastic ones. One is a toy for my son who is a year old, another I use when I’m picking berries in the garden. Another is a small kitchen laundry bucket so I have a spot to toss all my dirty rags. Another I use in the bathroom for my cloth sanitary napkins.

Lisa Garrett - December 17, 2009

I use old pantyhose to keep wrapping paper intact (instead of taping or using rubber bands); just stretch over the roll and tie a knot at the top.

Composting: if you have a local church you can all get together and bring your vegetable waste (weekly) and make a community compost.

Cyndi - January 2, 2010

I use pill bottles to put pins and needles in once they dull, bend or break.

Junie Cas - January 25, 2010

I cut up old t-shirts and rescue holey socks and worn towels as rags, too. I made a rag bag to keep near the kitchen and bathroom. I used a nice remnant of denim, decorated the front with fabric paint and cute appliques that spell “Clean Rags”. Or you could use a nice old pillowcase that you wouldn’t mind looking at everyday. Turn it upside down, cut a hole in the top, and reinforce the hole with fabric or decorative ribbon. Sew the bottom shut, and cut a round hole or a slit in the front. Reinforce that, too, so it won’t tear with constant use. Take a sturdy hanger (the kind with a hook that swivels) and stick it through the larger hole to hang the bag up like a garment bag. I attached a small cuphook to the center of my basement door on which to hang my cute, practical rag bag. Encourage the family to use these, cutting down on paper towel use. Any rags used to clean the toilet are thrown away, guilt-free. But other rags can be washed over and over again.

CCC Joann - January 26, 2010

We took a vintage 40’s Vornado fan that was no longer functional and converted it into a working lamp. We’ve kept it’s original vintage look. Adding the lamp conjures up thoughts of vintage Hollywood spotlights. We’re really proud of this project. It’s ready for paint right now. Here’s a link to some progress pics with more to follow as the project as completed.


Annie - February 10, 2010

This is a wonderful post. I especially love all of the comments!

I take 2-liter soda bottles and other plastic drink bottles, fill partially full with water and freeze. In the summer we take them out, top off with water and have an ice cold drink!

We also freeze these and other jugs like gallon milk jugs full of water and place in coolers instead of buying ice. It works great cause as it thaws you can drink the water-an added benefit. My dad taught me that one as a child…

I use plastic bags for insulating around pipes and stuffing in cubbyholes that need a little insulation. I use them for carrying whatever needs to be carried, then finally they become trash bags and out they go when no longer handy. They are also used as gloves on occasion.

I also take several layers of plastic grocery bags and place over something I am freezing to give extra layers of protection in the freezer.

I use bread bags for food storage bags.

I use fruit and potato net bags to store stuff. They look rustic when hung on the walls in plain view!

I reuse empty gallon ice cream containers to store all sorts of stuff. I reuse old laundry detergent buckets to hold the laundry soap that I now make, then use an old fabric softener bottle to portion out the big buckets of laundry soap in the wash.

An old five gallon bucket I scrounged from work, some plastic bags and a little clumping kitty litter are used as a porta potty in my van on long trips with the kid.

My clothes are mostly hand-me-downs from friends who went on to the next fashion fad and tired of the jeans and tee-shirts that are my mainstay.

Washcloths and old towels are repurposed as kitchen towels when they are no longer suited for bathroom use, then will be repurposed after that for outside use where they may be destroyed.

Scented candles are burned until they cannot be burned any more, then placed on a candle warmer until the scent is gone. Several of these are melted together and scent added to continue using them even longer. Pieces of these candles are shaped into circles and placed in my beeswax holder to strengthen thread, and used on stuck zippers, etc. Sometimes I make wicks and create another candle out of the remains…

Newspapers are used in the bottom of the guinea pigs and the bird cage along with any paper ready for the trash.

Bleach bottles and gallon jugs are cut and used as scoops and funnels. Two-liter bottles are used as funnels as well.

Wash water in tubs is reused to flush the commode when available.

Wood ashes can be saved to make lye for lye soap, and fat trimmed off of meat can be saved for the same purpose and frozen until soap making time. Used cooking oil can also be saved if it is filtered.

Plastic containers can be reused for leftovers and to store miscellaneous things, as can baby wipe containers.

Just thinking about it makes me realise that I’m more frugal than I thought I was lol!

Keep up the great work!

colleen - March 20, 2010

When my daughter has a upset stomach she gets the puke bucket, a plastic shoe box lined with several plastic shopping bags. As she gets sick I can throw out the bags. Saves on my tummy!!

I also like to use containers and drops of food coloring in the tub for water experiments my daughter creates.

I cut holes in old miss match socks and cut the toes off and they make great dresses for beanie babies.

I used old bleach bottle for a sharps container when I was on insulin.

I use a old 5 gal bucket to sit on when I am cleaning out weeds in the flower garden too.

coat hanger and old pantyhose made a great butterfly net/pool cleaner.

I shop at thrift stores for all kinds of stuff. From craft things (flat sheets for quilt backing) to clothes to bath toys for my daughter ( a handful of 10 cent toys work good in the tub..)

A milk carton filled with dryer lint works goof for the birds to make nests out of.

I used pop bottle caps on the chair legs to keep them from scuffing the floor.

My favorite use of a old towel was to write wonder pet on it and pin it to my daughters shirt as a cape she used it for days!!

We use old plastic creamer containers with the spout to put by the door filled with ice melt to sprinkle on the side walks.

Some times i am frugal sometimes I look at it as creative!!

Old Virginia Joe - April 16, 2010

Does anyone know if regular people can use worn out socks to make the loops for making the old-time pot holders? I assume that you can, but have not tried it. If you buy the loops sold at retail they are EXpensive!! Anybody have any experience with making the loops?

Rachel - May 5, 2010

I am making my first ever rag rug! I am using all old materials, an old skirt, shirts that were missing buttons etc. It has a variety of colors and a variety of materials all with similar weight. I am thrilled with how it is turning out! I am so glad I decided to look up a book on it in my local library!

April - August 5, 2010

You can use women’s skirts to make toddler dresses. Simply trim the bottom to fit the child, add a seam down the back if it is too big (I make my seams from the top to the bum to allow a flowy skirt) and use excess fabric to make straps and a tie around the waist.
Use old denim to make anything! It’s abundant and durable. Make rugs, potholders, patches, pillows, I have even made slippers with denim.
Cut a magazine page into 1″ wide strips, loop each into 8-figures and hold together with a brad for a pretty bow for gifts.
Food: Save all of your veggie scraps (anything!) and freeze. When you have about 3 or 4 C. of scraps, thaw. Heat in a small amount of oil in a stockpot, saute for 1 min. then fill with water and simmer for 1 hour. Strain and use this vegetable broth in place of water in alomost anything.
Leftovers-Mashed potatoes: gnocchi, sheppard’s pie, potato cakes. Rice: fried rice, rice pilaf, rice pudding, stuffing for meat.
Almost any leftover can be used in a casserole. I save all my leftovers, when there is a good stock in the fridge I mix and match, add any ingredients nessicary and top with cheese and/or breadcrumbs (which I have made with old bread) and bake till bubbly.

April - August 5, 2010

Use old sour cream/yogurt/cottage cheese/ect. tubs, decopauge them with colorful magazine ads (or anything else that tickles your fancy, fabric works well too) to give them a new look.
I cut up old t-shirts into rags, put my (homemade) fabric softener in a spray bottle and soak a rag with it & use as a dryer sheet. Works great.
I save any empty plastic bottle I can and put them in a basket under the sink. Anytime we go anywhere we just fill some up with tea, water, ect.

deanna - September 24, 2010

I save old towels and sheets to use as quilt batting. I sew the towels together to make the size needed. Sheetes are already the size I need. Stack a couple of layers between your quilt front and back; tack or run a few rows of machine stitching to secure all layers. It’s super warm.

JenD - October 11, 2010

What a great list and tons of great tips here in the comments!

I take old A Shirts (tank top/undershirts) and make bags out of them for groceries or sending some things home with a friend. Take the shirt and lay it flat like you usually would if you were folding laundry. Put a hand on the top around the neck area and a hand on the bottom hem, pull up the top layer of fabric and lay it back down to to make the armholes meet like a bag. Sew the bottom shut and instant cloth bag!

I use old kitty litter plastic containers to wash my clothes in (I wash by hand and they make great agitators). They’re small enough to fit several in the tub at once so I can do multiple loads at the same time.

We also use our old plastic kitty litter containers as storage bins for holiday items. They stack perfectly, are lightweight and permanent marker sticks to them like glue. Plus- they’re water tight so I know my heirlooms will be safe.

I make a toy for the bunny by taking cereal boxes and cutting them into strips, bundling them together and hooking them inside his cage. He loves to chew off little pieces and spit them out.

Plastic bag yarn, when cut thin enough, can be used to crochet great cat toys. They absolutely love the crinkly noises and light weight.

deanna - October 31, 2010

The “Upside Down Planters” available in most stores are a really good idea. However, anyone can make their own planter with a bucket. Choose your bucket – make holes in the sides or bottom – and plant your hanging garden.

Dani - September 8, 2011

I take old t-shirts and sew the bottom closed, then cut out the neck line and cut off the sleeves, perfect shopping bags, and I don’t end up with a ton of plastic bags! Also, if a t-shirt is something that I’d rather not take to the store, I save a few and make a quilt. Sales papers, news papers and junkmail are shredded and soaked to a pulp to make nifty “handmade” paper for birthday/christmas cards. But the ultimae repurpose that I’ve ever been a part of, was when my dad took lumber, nails, screws and some fencing to make a chicken coop, the fresh eggs are biggest reward!

emma - November 16, 2015

Being frugal because I can now, not have to is fun and think I have probably have done most of the above mentioned. One thing, I needed to get gas for the mower and found my gas can “had walked off” I always wash out the jugs from washing machine soap, so I grabbed the jug and off to the station for my gas. It is durable and doesn’t give off gassy odors in transporting. Also wrap anything like that in garbage bags when transporting to be on safe side. Also have just finished cutting up sheets and old towels for kitchen use and even a few wash cloths. Save the good. pretty ones for company. Enjoy the moments!

Kathlene McCraw - March 7, 2016

I recycle cardboard . I use it to make picture frames or background for flowers! I cut a seahorse out of one! You can cover it with wrapping paper! I have also cut fish shapes out it as well! I found a new use for plastic scouring pads! Cut peddlers from folded plastic! Shape into peddles. Use a soiled circle for the center of the flower, then arrange peddles around the circle. Styrofoam egg carton make great flowers! Using cart paper for leaves! Used soap bottles , cove with paper or fabric to make fish shapes! I have more ideas if anyone is interested!!

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