You’ve just cleaned out your drawer, and in front of you is a huge pile of old, holey, mismatched socks. You’re thinking about throwing them away, but that’s just wasteful. Here are some great ways to recycle those socks – perhaps you never realized just how useful socks can be beyond wearing them!
- Make a dust rag. Slip the sock on your hand. Dampen it with water or a furniture polish and clean away! Socks are good for furniture, window sills, computer screens, floor spills, handles, and blinds.
- Polish your shoes. Old socks make great shoe polishers. You can also use them to shine the shoe after polishing.
- Make a homemade hacky sack. A hacky sack is a small cloth ball filled with small beads or beans. Cut off about half the top part of a long sock and about three quarters for a short sock. Fill the sock with dried rice, dried peas, or beads. Sew the opening together in a ball shape.
- Make a drink cozy. This requires a long sock. Cut the whole top of the sock off. Slide it over a bottle to keep the bottle cool (insulated). A shorter sock can be used for cups and cans.
- Make a coin purse. You’ll need an anklet-sized sock for this project. Use the whole sock and decorate this sock bag with sequins, beads, glitter, or any other decorative items you have about the house. Sew a strip of fabric onto the top for a handle, or a zipper across the opening.
- Make sock dolls. You can also make a sock monkey or a sock puppet. Fill the sock with beans or rice. Glue, sew, or draw on eyes, nose, and mouth. Cut up another old sock into strips and sew on for hair.
- Keep a pet’s paws warm. If you have an ailing animal that is suffering from the cold, old socks can be helpful in keeping their paws warm. If you are a wildlife rehabilitator, another great use for socks is as temporary pouches for baby animals in your temporary care, such as baby joeys, bats, or possums. Any creature that likes a springy and soft warm place to snuggle into will appreciate this and you will be able to hang the sock up if it is a strong old woolen type, to mimic mother animal’s pouch.
- Make muscle relaxing packs. Fill with rice or wheat and sew up the open end. Place in the microwave with a glass of water to heat for 1 minute. Hang around your neck or place on other sore muscles for instant relief. (Note: Always include the glass of water to provide moisture or the pack can catch on fire if it dries out too much after repeated use.)
- Make a hard-to-reach cleaning stick. Get a ruler (the longer the better) and slip the sock over the end. Attach with an elastic band or staple. Use this to run underneath stoves, fridges, and other hard to reach places. The sock-covered ruler will return lots of fluff and dust and it is easy to wash the sock after each use.
- Make horse bandages. Cut the foot off the end of a long sock and make a horse bandage. Smaller socks might be suitable for smaller animal bandages on dogs or cats (try children’s socks).
- Make garden soap holders. Gardening can be messy and dirty. Pop a soap bar into the bottom of an old sock and tie a knot around the soap part of the sock. Leave the long part of the sock for tying onto a faucet in the garden. It will be ready for you whenever you need to clean up outside after a gardening session.
- Sew a quilt or a sock rug. You will need to find the instructions on how to do this (do an internet search) but it is possible to make quilts and rugs from old socks. This gives them extra utility for years to come and is especially neat for those socks with cute patterns or designs that you can’t bear to part with.
- Wash the car or bike. A sock over the hand and you have an instant cleaning cloth that is soft enough for the car body or bike frame. Use one for washing and one for buffing.
- Make draft protectors. Fill a long sock (knee-high is good) with beans, rice, or other spare filling that you have around the house. Sew or tie up one end and you have an instant, rounded draft protector. If you want to enhance its appearance, add eyes, nose, mouth and maybe feelers or whiskers – whatever sort of animal that you can imagine.
- Add a tennis ball. The purpose of adding a tennis ball to an old sock can be twofold:
- Make a back and neck soother. Tie the tennis ball inside the end of a long sock. Taking the long end of the sock, toss the sock over your shoulder so that the ball lands on your back. Stand against a wall and lean against the sock and ball. Rub your back up and down against the ball that is squeezed into the wall and it will massage away aches and pains from sport, sitting too long at the computer or any other activities that may have caused back tension. Use a shorter sock for a neck massaging version.
- Make a dog pull-toy. In the same way, place the tennis ball in the end of the sock and tie around it. Take the long end of the sock and tempt your dog to take it. If your dog is playful, a fun tug-of-war is likely to ensue. See Warnings below.
- Make a sock jump rope. All you have to do is tie about 15 or so long socks in a line and you have a neat jump rope! It’s also fun to use different colored socks!
- Make a dog toy.
- Take a dog’s chew bone and put it in an old sock. You can bunch it into a ball and play fetch. The dog will have fun trying to get the bone out. See Warnings below.
- Put an empty plastic water bottle in the sock, tie the end and give to dog. Many dogs seem to love crunching water bottles and the sock stops the plastic from decorating your yard.
- Save them for moving day. Place valuable glasses, or knick knacks inside the sock sole and wrap the higher part around the bottom. This will give more protection. Add a tag on the outside of the sock, so you remember what is inside. Place in a moving box or inside one of your dresser drawers.
- Make potpourri holders. Place potpourri inside and sew closed. Great in closets and dresser drawers. Gives off a gentle smell for months.
- Make a cat toy. Pour Catnip into an old sock and tie it off. Cats love them. Just watch for holes.
- Start a new trend. Wear two socks of different colors. Make sure that each color matches your outfit. It’d probably work well with Harajuku style. Art from the Middle Ages c. 1300’s (“Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc du Berry–January) shows that royalty and the neighborhood landowner wore socks or stockings of different colors. They were actually very fashionable.
- Make Fingerless gloves. Cut a hole in the heel and cut off the toe of the sock. Stick your thumb in the heel hole and your fingers out the toes. If you want you can tuck under the raw edges where you made the cuts or sew a simple hem.
- Make a Rifle Rest Bag. Simply fill a tube sock with rice and tie off the open end. Use it to steady the fore-end of your rifle at the shooting range. Make several and put them under the fore-end and the stock to improve your accuracy.
- You don’t have to use only these ideas – use your imagination as well!
- Always launder socks before using them in any of the projects.
- Always sew up any holes in old socks that are destined for any projects required filling. Obviously if you don’t, the filling will pour straight out of the hole.
- Using a sock as a dog chew toy poses two dangers: it might teach your dog that all socks are chew toys, so try to ensure that it does not look like a sock before you let your dog use it; and ingested socks can cause bowel blockage, a serious concern for your canine companion, so if the sock becomes damaged, you should take it back.
- Young kids will probably need an adult to help with the ideas that involve sewing.
- Be careful when microwaving a sock containing rice, beans, or deer corn. Microwave it for no more than two minutes, and monitor it, as there is a remote chance that it may overheat and catch fire. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, always place a mug full of water in the microwave along with the sock.
Things You’ll Need
- Old socks
- Dried peas, rices or beads
- Yarn, markers, sequins, or other decorative items
- Needles and thread
- Large cardboard box to store your odd and old socks – to avoid the temptation to toss them away
- Tennis ball
- How to Darn a Sock
- How to Make a Sock Monkey
- How to Make a Sock Doll
- How to Make a Rice Sock
- How to Make a Sock Cover for Your iPod
- How to Make a Christmas Stocking out of a Sock
- How to Make a Plant Hanger from a Sock
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