6 Creative Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Old T-Shirt

T-shirts serve as comfortable, inexpensive wardrobe staples. But what to do once a top has grown threadbare, or only serves to remind you of a band you'd rather forget? Don't throw it away! Instead, try these six tips to reuse old tees.  


May 26 2019, Updated 2:16 p.m. ET

Thanks to their general affordability and famous comfort, T-shirts serve as wardrobe staples for many. But what to do when you run across a tee at the back of the closet that no longer suits your needs, whether it has grown threadbare, is no longer your size, or simply serves as a reminder of a band you'd rather forget? For convenience's sake, it may be tempting to toss it in the trash, especially if it didn't cost that much in the first place. But throwing clothing in the trash only adds to the world's waste problem, taking up even more room in already overcrowded landfills. In fact, according to PBS, Americans throw out over 13 million tons of clothing every year. 

Luckily, old tees don't necessarily have to leave your closet--they can simply become something different to wear or use. Upcycled clothing is in style, so much so that many online sellers mention it as a selling point. And the great news is, even if you have little to no sewing skills, you can turn your retired shirts into other clothing items with the help of easy-to-follow online tutorials. Don't want to sew? Worry not: There are plenty of simple DIY solutions that don't require a single stitch. 

Here are six approaches to get you started, and to keep that crumbled old shirt out of the landfill.

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1. Transform it into an accessory or new clothing item.

Consider changing your tee into a trendy infinity scarf. You won't even need to go near a needle and thread; the only supplies required are your top and a pair of scissors. Simply by cutting strips off of your tee and linking them together with a large knot, you'll have a one-of-a-kind scarf. Just don't forget to consider where you're cutting! For example, if your shirt has a logo that you don't want to incorporate into your scarf's design, plan ahead and cut accordingly! For a step-by-step guide to help you through the process, try this five step tutorial from Instructables

2. Create a new handbag for whatever use you need.

Most eco-conscious people know the importance of using reusable shopping bags whenever possible. Instead of purchasing a reusable bag from the grocery store on your next visit, why not create a bag by reusing the old tee you already have? This handy tutorial from HGTV offers two options for creating what it calls "fruit and veggie bags"--an option which requires sewing, and an option which does not. The level of complexity you choose to undertake in this project is entirely up to you, as is what you choose to carry in your new bag!

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3. Make a new toy for your favorite furry friend.

Whether you own a dog or a cat, an old shirt can be just the thing to bring your pet a little joy. Two tops and a pair of scissors is all you'll need to create a "rope bone" for a dog, for example. Or, in the case of a cat, a "feather teaser," which can be waved in the air, thrown, or wrestled with as much as your furry friend desires. For simple instructions on how to create a toy your pet will love, try this tutorial from Barkpost Stories

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4. Turn it into a memory pillow.

If your tee is worn out, but the logo still holds precious memories of a sporting event, concert, or other special activity, then why not salvage the memories by creating a cool "memory pillow" from your tee? With this simple, no-sew tutorial from DIY Network, all you'll need is your shirt and some stuffing to create a piece of home decor that is uniquely yours, and sure to be a conversation starter. 

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5. Put it to use by turning it into some handy cleaning rags.

It's a fact of life: Everyone has to clean. This means that, at some point, you'll need a rag to scrub out a stain, mop up a spill, or dust off a surface. Instead of reaching for one-use products, like paper towels, why not turn your unwearable clothes into handy cleaning rags? It's so simple that no tutorial is needed. Simply cut your T-shirt into your desired shapes and scrub, mop or dust away. Viola! A simple, useful second life for your old tees. 

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6. When in doubt, donate to those in need.

Even if none of the DIY options on this list appeal to you, there is still a better alternative than throwing your old tee away. As long as it isn't stained, cut, or otherwise unwearable, make an effort to donate your tee. Either find a family member or friend who would appreciate the shirt, or donate to a local charity or resale shop, such as Goodwill. Your shirt will avoid the landfill and bring joy to someone else, at the same time.  


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