What To Do With Old Socks: A Complete List!

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve asked yourself what to do with old socks. Over time and use, socks naturally wear out and begin to look ratty and well-worn.

If you think it’s high time to throw them away, we implore you to think again. Even though those old socks can’t be used for socks anymore, there are still countless ways to use them.

And what about those single socks without a pair? Those socks that keep your feet warm are also very prone to just disappearing seemingly out of the blue. But again, don’t worry! We’ll give you loads of ideas on how to repurpose socks in the easiest ways possible.

You’d be surprised to find that repurposing socks isn’t as difficult as you think. In fact, this (non-exhaustive) list contains ideas that are all simple ways to reuse them.

Let’s dive into what to do with old socks!

The Deal With Old Socks And Waste

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To get a better perspective on why we should reuse old socks, let’s take a deep dive into how socks and waste are interconnected.

Socks are just a tiny part of your closet. But, very likely, you’re using up socks at a pretty high rate.

In the latest data by the EPA in 2018, textiles contributed to more than 17 million tons of waste on a municipal level [1].

We often have trouble interpreting large amounts of data, therefore, to make it easier, imagine that one ton of textile is equivalent to the weight of one Volkswagen Beetle. And now, imagine a million of that and multiply it by 17.

That’s how much textile waste the US alone generates per year. How much more if we’re talking about the rest of the world?

Of course, not all of those are socks. But even just a small article of clothing can make a difference when compounded by time.

Repurpose Your Old Mismatched Socks

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The great thing about mismatched socks is that you have an endless list of possible things you can do with them.

On a fundamental level, socks are just pieces of fabric. If you think of socks this way, you’ll definitely have a better time reusing your old, holey socks.

Here are some of our favorite examples of how you can turn an old sock into something new.

Sock Puppets

Making a sock puppet is a classic activity to enhance creativity. If you have children at home, this will be a great way to engage them in something stimulating while also repurposing your old socks.

You can get as creative as you like. Add buttons, yarn, googly eyes, and more! Grab some fabric glue, buttons, thread, and get ready to make that sock puppet!

These are best made with longer socks(higher than ankle-length). If you want to give your wool socks a second chance at life, we highly recommend this activity!

Sock Chia Pets

Another toy-like DIY for old socks is making a sock chia pet. All you need to do is add a face to your old sock and then add some soil and grass seeds to it. Don’t forget to seal it up tightly!

Make sure the grass seeds are laid out at the bottom of the sock, and then add the soil on top. Once sealed, turn it upside down, so the area where the seeds are located ends up being the sock pet’s “hair”.

Theoretically, with some daily spraying, this pet will sprout hair-like tufts of grass! This is a great learning activity for children while teaching them the value of responsibility and caring for a plant!

We think this will work better with thinner socks so that the grass will poke through easily.

Knee Pads

You might not realize it, but your old wool socks are actually great as knee pads! They won’t be professional by any means, but they’ll probably be just fine for household work and tending to your garden.

Choose a large sock that’ll widen enough to go above your calves.

Simply cut off the end so you can transform it into tube socks. Once that’s done, just slip them on, and voila! Perfectly good knee pads without any cost.

For this one, it’s better to use an old sock that’s good for padding. You wouldn’t want sock knee pads that are too thin to provide any protection.

Cup Warmers

Ever had to hold off on your tea because the container was too hot?

The answer might be in your sock drawer. If you have old socks with cute and funky designs, they’ll do great as cup warmers.

Simply cut off the end and slip on your favorite cup or bottle. You can even style it! Add some glam and design to your coffee tumbler by matching your sock colors to the container itself.

The best part is that you don’t have to spend any money on this simple yet fulfilling DIY.

Rags

Rags are useful all around the house. From wiping countertops to taking care of spills, rags are useful for any type of mess.

You can either cut up those old socks and lay them down as flat rags or just use them as is. The thick fibers in those socks are perfect for absorbing liquids, so they’re great replacements for those paper towels you use to wipe the table, counters, islands, etc.

Although rags can be used for light cleaning, they are also great for heavy-duty cleaning like wiping down your car, deep cleaning under your sink, etc.

Dust Rags

Socks are the perfect dust rags. They fit into your hand, and you can easily get into nooks and crannies that you would have difficulty reaching.

If you need to dust hard-to-reach places home, those old socks you have are your best friend.

If you have areas that you can’t reach, just attach a sock to the end of a stick and use that to get to those areas.

If you have chenille socks, those are perfect for attaching to Swiffer heads and acting as the refills. Their textured and absorbent nature will help soak up any minor mess you might have on most surfaces.

Arm Warmers/Leg Warmers

If you have a long sock not being used, you could turn them into arm warmers for the cold weather! Just cut off the foot part of the sock, and you’re good to go.

A tube sock will work best for this DIY since it doesn’t have a shaped heel, which might ruin the seamless look of the warmer.

You can layer on as many socks as you like, and you can even use colorful socks to make it more interesting!

If you don’t have a long tube sock, you can just sew together shorter ones. You could also use these as leg warmers since you can decide how long you want them to be. Although if you have long socks already, you might want to skip the extra steps and just wear them as is.

Dog Toy

It might seem like dog toys don’t cost that much if you’re just buying one or two. But if your dog consistently destroys their toys, the cost can really add up.

But one great way to use your old socks is to use them as dog toys! You can take an old tube sock and stuff it with more old socks to create a stuffed shape. If you are using other materials, make sure they are safe for your dog to chew.

Even if your dog completely destroys their toy, it’s no problem since you were using something you might have thrown away anyway.

We have seen some suggestions saying that you can stuff a sock with an empty plastic water bottle for a crunching effect. Your dog will probably enjoy it, but we wouldn’t recommend it. There are certain health hazards that plastic shards pose to dogs, even if contained in a sock.

Do not ever leave your dog unsupervised while playing with a new toy, especially if a toy has potential hazards.

Cat Toy

If you don’t have a furry pup, making a cat toy with your old socks is also possible! Just stuff the sock with other socks or some form of stuffing to make a cushion. You could even add some catnip to make the toy more interesting.

As always, remember only to include items that are safe for your kitty.

Wrist Rest

If you do a lot of desktop work, you understand the struggle and stress your wrists go through. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to stay comfortable and soothe sore wrists with just a simple DIY involving an old sock.

A sock filled with some stuffing is a great way to do this.

Don’t cut off any of the ends, and then just stuff the sock with any type of filling you can find. You can even use some of your holey socks and cut them into strips to make the ending wrist rest less lumpy.

Padding

Your old socks will also do well as padding. If you can use them on your knees, you can also do it on the rest of your stuff.

If you ever find yourself moving houses, you know how valuable it is to protect your fragile items. All the moving around and shuffling will likely lead to a break or two. And using bubble wrap isn’t exactly the most eco friendly packaging.

If you have a spare sock lying around in your sock drawer, just use that in lieu of bubble wrap. It’ll provide some cushion and also help you use your old socks.

Alternatively, you could also use them to cover your golf clubs, shoes, and other items that are prone to getting scratched or damaged.

Stuffing

Your old socks can also work great as stuffing! In fact, a couple of our suggestions already involve using socks as stuffing one way or another.

But on a general level, you can use socks to stuff anything! You can make sock pet beds, cushions, and so much more.

Furniture Leg Covers

On the topic of moving, rearranging furniture around the house can be a beautifully refreshing activity. But if you have hardwood floors, you know how dangerous it is to move furniture, potentially causing scratches on the surface.

To avoid scratching your floors, you can use your old socks as furniture leg covers. The thicker socks will help limit the friction between your floors and furniture.

And even if you’re not intentionally moving furniture around, you could still push and drag furniture around, especially if they’re on the lighter side. If you have baby socks at home that don’t fit anymore, they’ll probably be the perfect fit for tables or living room furniture.

Wash Cloth

Washcloths are small towels that are often used to wash your face and body. If you don’t know what to do with old socks, this is such an easy way to repurpose them.

Some washcloths are even shaped to fit your hand, so a sock is a perfect alternative.

Try to use old socks that are a little abrasive without damaging your skin. These washcloth alternatives will be great for exfoliating.

Sock Bun

Have you ever seen those gorgeous and seemingly impossible buns without stray hair? Those buns are possible with your old socks!

Just cut out the toe portion of the old sock, and then start rolling it inside out until you achieve this doughnut-like shape. And there’s you’re sock bun!

To create a sleek up-do, just tie your hair into a ponytail and place the sock bun at the very tip of your ponytail and slowly roll your hair down to the roots. It’ll take some time to get it perfectly, but you’ll get it easily enough.

Hair Tie

Speaking of hairstyles, did you know that your old sock can work as a great replacement for hair ties or rubber bands?

Because most socks are elastic, you can use them to tie together your hair or wires. For this one, it would probably be best to use lonely socks—socks that have lost their partners—that aren’t worn out yet.

Since we are after the elastic quality of the sock, a loose sock will not work very well. The best part about it is that these won’t snag on your hair, unlike a rubber band.

If your socks don’t have any elastic, like 100% cotton ones, they might not work as well. But it’s still worth giving a try!

Dryer Ball

Interestingly, socks can also be great alternatives to dryer sheets, but with the help of a tennis ball. Just place the tennis ball in the sock and secure it properly. It’s best not to utilize a used ball, but if you don’t have any other ones, you can cover it with a sock, so it doesn’t touch your clothes.

Using this combo rather than dryer sheets is definitely the more eco friendly choice. For one, you’re using things you already have at home! Plus, you get to skip out on the harmful chemicals that might be in your dryer sheets.

The ball contraption will help reduce static cling and help your items come out of the dryer softer. This trick works best with a few ‘dryer balls’ tossed in together with the laundry.

Shoe Covers

Instead of putting your socks inside your shoes, why not put them outside? If ever you’re doing a major home remodeling or just giving a room a fresh coat of paint, you can use your socks as a way to protect shoes.

Simply slip a pair of old socks onto your shoes. If you have usable single socks that have lost their pair, those will do too. But you might want to reserve the older socks for this use since they’ll most likely get thrown away after.

Of course, liquids can still seep into your shoes, so don’t get complacent. A layer or two of old socks can reasonably protect you from splashes, but still, be careful around permanent stains or paints.

Pot Covers

Another delightful way to reuse socks is by making planter covers! If you want to spruce up your garden’s potted plants or just add some style to your indoor pots, you should definitely give this one a try.

If you don’t want to add many designs, just use some of your colorful but lone socks. You can add buttons, pins, and all sorts of cute designs.

Simply place the pot in the sock and tuck it in at the top. Pretty easy yet super cute! Of course, this will only work for small to medium-sized pots, so that’s something to remember as well.

Ice Pack

Ice packs are great to have on hand, but using them can be a bit of a challenge. The cold can be uncomfortable against your skin if you’ve been using it for a while.

Using an old sock is a good barrier between the ice pack and your skin. Of course, you can use virtually any piece of clothing, but if you’ve been asking yourself what to do with old socks in your drawer, the answer is right here.

You can put an ice pack inside the sock or just put ice cubes in the sock itself. You can either use the sock without any cuts, tuck in the excess, or cut it to the length you want.

Hot Pack

Just like you can make something cold with socks, you can also make your very own DIY heating pad. Tip a cup or so of rice into a sock opening until it’s full, while still being able to close it. If you want the hot pack to be less firm, don’t add too much rice to the sock.

Whenever you need a hot pad, all you need to do is put your sock into the microwave for half a minute, and you’re good to go!

Use whenever you have cramps or sore areas in your body.

Shoe Freshener

If you’ve got some shoes that need a little bit of freshening up, your old socks will do the trick.

You can add a few tablespoons of baking soda, or another odor neutralizer, into a sock and stuff it in your shoe. If you don’t want to use an entire sock for this because you have plenty of shoes that need some work, just cut up a lonely sock into a few pieces.

Better yet, cut up one of your old tube socks, which tend to be longer, and use them to create multiple odor neutralizer balls.

DIY Fragrance Booster

Talking about fragrances again, you can easily make your own potpourri pack by adding potpourri to a small sock and knotting it closed. Just like the shoe freshener, you can also cut up longer socks (a knee-high sock perhaps) and make smaller-sized balls.

You can add these to your gym bag, closet, storage, or any other place that needs freshening up. You can customize it to your liking. You can also add a few drops of your favorite fragrances if you wish.

For an even better DIY, you can use the cut-off toe parts from the other DIYs we suggested. This way, you’ll be able to use even the excess portions.

Stress Ball

There is an endless number of ways you can make a stress ball. Fortunately, using your socks is also an option!

Just add some playdough/moldable clay into a little baggie (e.g., sandwich bag) and then stuff the whole thing into a sock. And then voila! You have a perfectly good DIY stress ball.

You can also make your own playdough at home, but DIY recipes often have a short shelf life, so you might have to keep replacing the stuffing if you choose this route. If you have children at home and you’re looking for a fun, immersive activity, this is a good place to start.

Draft Stopper

A cold draft could easily make its way into your home through the gap under your doorway. To avoid this, it’s pretty easy to make a draft stopper using a large tube sock you no longer use.

A long sock is ideal for this DIY, so you don’t have to keep sewing socks together. But if you don’t have one, you could just use old single socks sewed together on the inside. Of course, make sure to cut off the ends first, so you end up with a really long tube.

Measure how long you want the stopper to be, and make sure it fits snugly against the underside of your doorway.

Make sure the other end of the sock is sealed, and then stuff it with other older socks or some stuffing. Feel free to get creative with the stuffing you use.

Once the draft stopper is stuffed, just sew the other end shut to secure the stuffing that’s inside.

Anti Fog

For this one, you’ll need some cat litter and any intact sock. You can use an old sock that has seen better days but doesn’t have any holes in it.

Simply place some cat litter in the sock. You could stuff it full with some space left to tie or just leave it half full. Secure tightly, so the cat little doesn’t spill, and place it near your windows.

You can put this litter baggie near your car windows or windshield, so it doesn’t fog up in colder weather. The bag will absorb moisture and give you more visibility on the road. Plus, it only takes a few materials to make!

A Small Pouch

You can also use your old socks as a small pouch to hold tiny objects. And no, you won’t actually be using it outside, just for some things at home like game pieces. If you’re a tabletop game fan and consistently lose pieces, it’s best to keep them in a centralized location.

Compost Socks Made of Natural Fibers

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The good thing about some socks is that you can compost them! If you have a natural fiber sock at home that’s incredibly worn, you can easily compost them in your home or send them to a composting facility if the one in your locality takes them.

Natural fibers include cotton and linen, as well as animal-based fabrics like wool. If you are wondering what to do with old socks, you can choose from our tips above or opt to compost and recycle socks you can’t use anymore; more on this in a bit.

Composting socks will improve vegetation by providing nutrients and organic matter to plants [2]. This seems like a great idea. However, there are some cons.

First off, don’t jump into composting your socks without previous experience with composts. That’s a huge jump from composting an apple core or banana peels. Plus, fabrics take a bit longer to biodegrade than your typical compost items.

And lastly, socks are often made of blended fabric. This means they’re made of a fabric combination such as cotton and spandex or cotton and polyester. Be sure you’re checking for the type of material before you start composting.

Recycle Your Old Socks

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If you aren’t confident in your composting expertise, just recycle your socks. Most fabrics can be recycled into something new, even if they’re in a bad state.

Although recycling systems aren’t perfect, the general consensus is that recycling the stuff you already have is better than just chucking them out [3].

Check first if your curbside recycling program accepts certain fabric types before attempting to recycle them.

And please remember that recycling is not the solution to our trash issue. Don’t excessively buy clothing on the premise that you can just recycle your old ones at a moment’s notice because that’s just feeding into the narrative of overconsumption.

It’s always best to practice sustainable clothing choices.

Donate Your Old Socks

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Aside from composting and recycling, you could also donate your socks! This tip is less applicable for old socks and more for gently used socks you don’t think you’ll ever wear again. Maybe those you got in the wrong size, wrong color, or something you just can’t see yourself wearing anymore.

Donating to your local shelters or organizations is one of the best ways to dispose of socks you won’t use anymore. However, most shelters will not take used socks, likely due to hygiene considerations. But you can still check with the ones near you if they do.

Even if your local organizations accepted used socks, do refrain from giving away really worn ones. The purpose of donating them is so your socks are used, not just stuck in a drawer somewhere.

Reserving these socks for calamity situations like fires or natural disasters is also pretty useful. Whenever these accidents happen, certain items tend to be overlooked, and socks are one of them.

If such an event occurs locally (hopefully not, though), make sure to donate some of your socks and other gently used clothing if you can.

When you donate socks, you’re making sure they’re used the way they’re supposed to, without depreciating their value whatsoever. Those unwanted socks could very well have a new home in another’s closet.

Extend the Life of Your Socks

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As they say, prevention is better than cure.

Although you can’t (unfortunately) make your socks last forever, there are a couple of ways you can extend their life in your closet. You’d be surprised how much implementing small changes can help you avoid damaged and missing socks!

Wash Them Properly

Washing your socks properly is one way you can extend their life. Just like wear and tear, your frequency of washing and how you do it can affect how long your socks last.

Follow your socks’ washing instructions to prolong their life as much as possible. Use cold water when washing your socks and avoid any harsh detergents. Avoid fabric softeners as well.

Try flipping them inside out when you wash them. This will help your socks stay in peak condition (no piling).

Proper Drying

When drying your socks, make sure to dry them properly. Don’t wring them out because this could mess up with the sock’s elasticity.

If you want to air dry them, lay them flat. Although socks aren’t generally heavy enough to sag when hanging on a clothespin, just make sure you’re still keeping their shape if you choose to use the hanging method.

Keep Them Together

Lost socks are pretty common across any type of household. Unfortunately, they’re also the top reason you no longer want to wear even relatively new, clean socks.

One way to avoid losing one of them in the washing machine is by pinning them together. You can use a safety pin for this and affix one sock to the other on the inside.

Alternatively, you could also use a laundry mesh bag for your socks. Then after washing and drying, just fold or roll them together. If you are rolling them, make sure not to roll too tight since this could affect the sock’s elasticity, shortening the life of your socks.

If you keep on losing socks, the previous tips in our opinion are a lifesaver.

Final Thoughts

When thinking about what to do with old socks there are countless things you can do! Now you’ll never find yourself asking what to do with those socks ever again.

Although socks never last an entire lifetime, you can still find ways to avoid just chucking them in the trash. If we break it down to the basics, socks are so much more than what they seem.

With some imagination, you can make socks much more sustainable, even if they aren’t wearable anymore.

Resources:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-material-specific-data
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652620321764
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323423640_Environmental_impact_of_textile_reu se_and_recycling_-_A_review
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