What to do with old socks – 8 ways to keep them out of the landfill
I read somewhere that women’s socks are made too small, which is why we’re always getting holes in our socks (sexist sock industry???).
Just the other day I had a hole in my sock that I thought was small. As soon as I put them on, the hole stretched and the entire bottom of my foot was naked. I finally stopped wearing those and had to figure out what to do with old socks. There’s a bunch of things, as it turns out!
So thought I’d share with you what to do with old socks – specifically, 8 ways to keep them out of the landfill.
1. Mend it.
Some socks are worth repairing, and have a manageable hole that you can fix (as opposed to leaving the whole bottom of your foot naked). You can’t just stitch it closed on a machine, though. You need to sew it in a way called darning. Darning involves a needle, thread/yarn, and something round like a tennis ball, racquetball, or a darning egg or mushroom. You essentially weave the thread over the hole in a way to create a new piece of fabric where the hole was. It’s not that hard, just takes a little time, and there are tons of tutorials online for the process.
2. Make a tawashi scrubber.
These are super easy to make. Cut the old sock along the length so you end up with a bunch of small circles of fabric. Then you weave them together on a small loom. If you don’t have a little loom, you can improvise one with laundry clips or binder clips clipped around a square container. The end result is a handy scrubber for dishes or house cleaning. If you search “tawashi scrubber”, you’ll find easy tutorials online.
3. Use it as a dusting cloth or rag.
Easy. Put your hand inside there and get cleaning! You might want to mark it with a permanent marker in a way so you know it’s a rag sock now. My in-laws put a black X on their socks/etc.-turned rags. If it’s too holey for your hand, you can cut it so it lays flat.
4. Make a heating pad.
We have an old stretchy sock full of brown rice that my daughter likes to microwave at bedtime and cozy up with in her bed. I’ve used it on my lower back when I’m having back issues – it feels amazing after a couple of minutes in the microwave. Just make sure to sew up any holes before filling it with rice. You can sew these holes with a simple straight stitch on you sewing machine since it doesn’t need to fit around a foot.
5. Get crafty with it.
If the sock is in decent condition, there are loads of DIY tutorials online for making a sock puppet or doll or a little Olaf. Or you could turn it into a cup cozy or a wrist bands or leg and ankle warmers. Get creative!
6. Recycle it!
There are several companies that’ll recycle your socks. Terracycle.com has fabric recycling boxes you can purchase, in case you’ve got loads of textiles to recycle. Terracycle recycles lots of hard to recycle materials and turns them into new products. Luxuryandlayla.com has a recycling program for socks, as well as undies, bras, tights & leggings! They ship them to Green Tree, an east coast company that recycles clothing. Bonus – if you send 10 or more undies, bras, tights, and leggings (not socks), they’ll send you a free pair of underwear! I guess socks are too plentiful to qualify for the special offer, but they will recycle them for you. Drop it off at anH&M near you. They’ve partnered with a textile recycler who sorts everything into categories of rewear (donated to be worn again), reuse (repurposed into another product) or recycle (turned into insulation). It’s not clear if all H&Ms actually participate, but their website claims this as a service. Mail it to Zkano.com. They recycle socks (just socks) into new fibers.
7. Donate it to a wildlife rescue.
You can send your gently used socks to Wild Souls Wildlife Rescue. It’ll become a tiny bed for a tiny rescued animal like a baby squirrel. How cute would that be? Hearts melted! Check with the wildlife rescue near you to see if they need socks as well.
8. Compost it.
This only works if your sock is made of an all natural fiber like cotton or wool. If it’s got synthetic fibers, you can’t compost it. The easiest way to test what type of fabric your socks are made of is with a burn test. All natural materials will smell more organic when they burn and burn more like paper or dry leaves. Synthetic materials will smell more like plastic when they burn and have a more melty look than natural fibers.
There you have it! What to do with old socks instead of throwing them away. Do you have any to add to the list? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
Thanks for reading and for all that you do for our planet!