What to Do with Old Sheets: 27 Practical Ideas

Last Updated On January 24th, 2024
What to Do with Old Sheets: 27 Practical Ideas

Key Takeaways

  • Upcycling Opportunities: Instead of throwing away old bed sheets, explore numerous creative ways to upcycle them into useful items. From pillowcases and tablecloths to beach bags and picnic blankets, old sheets can find new life in various DIY projects, reducing waste and promoting sustainability.
  • Material Matters: The type of sheet you have can influence the projects you can undertake. Cotton sheets are versatile, flannel sheets are excellent for cozy items, bamboo sheets are eco-friendly, linen sheets have a rustic texture, and microfiber sheets are best repurposed for cleaning cloths or pet bedding. Consider the sheet’s material when planning your DIY projects.
  • Donation and Composting: Before discarding old bedding, consider donating it to homeless shelters, charities, or animal shelters, where it can still serve a purpose. If the sheets are no longer usable, you can cut them into smaller pieces and compost them, enriching your garden’s soil while reducing waste.

In our homes, nothing lasts forever, not even our beloved bed sheets. Eventually, they reach the end of their lives in their current form. But don’t rush to throw them away just yet! Simply rummage through your linen closet, pull out those old sheets you don’t use anymore, and let’s embark on an eco-friendly adventure together.

Did you know that in 2018, Verified Source Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Works to control/prevent natural and manmade disasters. View source a staggering million tons of towels, sheets, and pillowcases were in landfills in the United States alone? That number multiplies by ten worldwide! It’s time to change that narrative and breathe new life into our old bed sheets through upcycling.

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The best part is that you can let your creativity take charge, turning these old sheets into something extraordinary. As some of these ideas don’t require a full sheet or sheet set, you can even pick and choose a few that appeal to your needs and tastes. Whether it’s a flat sheet, fitted sheet, top sheet, pillowcase, or even a duvet cover, the possibilities for creative projects are endless.

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Decorative Ideas for in the Bedroom

Remake into Pillowcases and Shams

You can give your bed a touch of class with old sheets by repurposing them into new pillowcases or pillow shams. Start by measuring the size of your pillow and add an extra inch to each side for seam allowances. Lay the sheet flat and cut it to match your measurements. Fold the fabric in half with the right sides facing inward, and pin the sides together.

Next, sew the two sides together, leaving one end open. Turn the fabric right side out and insert your pillow. Fold the open end inward and sew it shut. You can also add a decorative touch by sewing a hem or adding embellishments if desired. Once you’re satisfied, arrange the pillows on the bed as you please.

Hang a Bed Canopy

Repurposing an old sheet into a bed canopy can add a touch of elegance and coziness to your bedroom, particularly if you’ve installed a headboard and footboard for a classic look. First, find a sturdy and decorative rod or hoop that fits above your bed for your clean, ironed sheet. If the sheet has a pattern or design you like, position it accordingly.

Drape the sheet over the rod or hoop, allowing it to cascade down the sides of the bed for a DIY canopy. You can use clips or pins to secure the sheet in place for a billowy effect.

To add a whimsical touch, consider stringing fairy lights along the canopy’s edges, creating a dreamy and romantic ambiance that perfectly completes any luxury cloud mattress.

Create a Bedskirt

Transforming an old sheet into a bed skirt is a simple and cost-effective way to give your bed a polished and coordinated look. Start by measuring the length and width of your bed’s base or box spring. Then, cut a clean sheet to the appropriate size, leaving a few extra inches for tucking and hemming.

Then, wrap the sheet around the bed’s base, ensuring it reaches for the floor evenly on all sides. Use safety pins or fabric fasteners to secure the sheet in place underneath the mattress. This can be especially helpful if you’re using a bed skirt with an adjustable bed. If desired, you can hem the edges for a neater finish.

This DIY bed skirt instantly conceals the bed’s foundation and larger ones may even conceal the legs or a set of bed risers. All while adding a touch of charm to your bedroom decor without breaking the bank.

You can also simply cover a box spring with an old fitted sheet, to pair with your homemade bed skirt.

Make a Patchwork Quilt

Making a patchwork quilt out of old bed sheets is a clever idea that allows you to breathe new life into your worn-out linens. Gather colorful fabric scraps from other old sheets or clothes you no longer need. With a bit of creativity and basic sewing skills, you can piece together these different fabrics from old bed linens to create a beautiful and cozy quilt that tells a unique story of its own.

If you’re repurposing sturdy flannel sheets with other fleecy fabrics, you can even tie yourself a no-sew quilt. Your quilt will keep you warm and bring a touch of nostalgia and sustainability to your bedroom decor.

Create Duvet Covers

Transform old bedsheets into stylish duvet covers with a sewing machine! Instead of discarding those worn sheets, give them a new life by repurposing them. With a little creativity and a sewing machine, you can design custom duvet covers that perfectly match your bedroom decor. It’s a fun and eco-friendly project that allows you to repurpose old sheets while adding a fresh touch to your bedding.

If you’re in no need of a covering for your duvet or comforter, try upcycling two sheets into a coverlet. Choose two matching or coordinating sheets in the desired size for your bed. Lay one sheet flat on the bed, right side up, and place the other sheet on top, right side down.

Pin the edges together, leaving one side partially open. Sew around the edges, leaving the open side unsewn. Turn the coverlet right side out through the open side and sew it shut neatly. You can add quilt stitching or decorative accents for extra flair, which can help you use the duvet cover on its own as a bedspread.

See also duvet vs coverlet: what’s the difference?

Create a Coverlet or Bedspread

A simpler project than a quilt or duvet cover is to remake your old sheets into a coverlet. Choose a sheet that is still in good condition and has a fabric you like. Cotton or linen sheets work well for this project.

Measure your bed to determine the size of the coverlet or bedspread you need. Cut the sheet to the desired dimensions, leaving extra fabric for hems if necessary. If your sheet isn’t thick enough, consider layering multiple sheets or adding a lightweight fabric backing to enhance thickness and durability.

To prevent fraying, hem the edges of the sheet. You can use a sewing machine for a clean finish, or hand-sew if you prefer. Get creative, too! You can add embellishments like embroidery, appliqué, or fabric paint to personalize your upcycled creation.

Launder the newly upcycled coverlet or bedspread before placing it on your bed for a fresh and cozy feel.

Hang DIY Curtains

Revamp your master bedroom with creative DIY curtains made from old bedsheets! With a little creativity and some simple sewing, you can turn your old bedsheets into beautiful curtains that perfectly suit your style and make your bedroom feel cozy and inviting. Ideally, you should be able to move them easily enough to also enjoy the benefits of morning sunlight.

What if you’re happy with the curtains in your bedroom or don’t have a bedroom window? Look elsewhere in your home. You can even use a bedsheet in place of an expensive outer shower curtain. This fun and easy project will add a unique touch to your bedroom decor while also being cost-effective.

Block Drafts and Noise

An old sheet can be repurposed as a draft blocker in a simple manner. Cut the sheet to the appropriate size to be a tube and fill this tube with anything from old newspapers to uncooked rice or dry beans. You can place it along the bottom of doors and windows to block drafts from entering the room. The thick and flexible material of the tubed sheet acts as a barrier, preventing cold air from seeping in during winter months and keeping the room more comfy.

In addition to its draft-blocking capabilities, the old sheet can also serve as a noise muffler. The thick fabric can absorb and block noises from outside the bedroom, creating a more serene and peaceful sleep environment. It helps to minimize disturbances from traffic, neighbors, or other sources of noise, promoting a better night’s sleep.

Ideas for Elsewhere in the Home

Create Reusable Napkins

Creating reusable fabric napkins from old bed sheets is a great idea for a more eco-friendly dining experience. Simply cut the sheets into smaller squares and use your sewing skills to hem the edges neatly. The best part is if you have patterned sheets, your cloth napkins will have a charming and unique design that adds a special touch to every meal. Say goodbye to disposable napkins and hello to a sustainable and stylish dining solution.

If you already have a set of reusable and washable napkins, try cutting the sheets into rectangles or a large circle and making them into placemats for the table.

Create a Tablecloth

A patterned sheet can be easily upcycled into a tablecloth for a pretty finish that reduces your home’s carbon footprint. Start by washing and ironing the sheet to ensure it’s clean and wrinkle-free. Measure your table’s dimensions and cut the sheet to the desired size, leaving a few extra inches for overhang if you prefer. You can use a larger sheet for your kitchen table, and even a smaller sheet can be reused as a covering for a decorative side table.

If the sheet has a hem, you can use it as the tablecloth’s edge; otherwise, you can fold the edges and hem them to create a neat finish. For added flair, consider using fabric paint, stencils, or fabric markers to create patterns or designs on the tablecloth. Once your DIY touches are complete, lay the repurposed sheet over your table, and you have a beautiful, eco-friendly tablecloth that adds a touch of personality and sustainability to your dining space.

DIY Ironing Board Cover

Give your ironing board a fresh look by creating a new cover! If the old cover has lost its vibrant colors and gained some stains, it’s time for a change. No need to worry about spending money on a replacement. Just repurpose an old fitted sheet to make a new and stylish cover for your ironing board. It’s a simple and budget-friendly way to keep it looking clean and attractive while making the most of what you already have.

Braid a Handmade Dog Toy

Your furry friend might already own a plethora of dog toys, but they won’t have one that’s made by your own hands! Instead of discarding your old and worn bedsheets, save them to create a durable, braided dog toy that can be easily cleaned in the washer and dryer. Here’s what you need to do: Cut the flat sheet into thin strips, gather the strips, and begin braiding the toy. It’s a perfect tug-of-war toy for your beloved furry friend.

Make Your Own Heating Pad

Heating pads are fantastic home remedies for muscle aches or sore stomachs. Skip buying one online or from a store and save money by making your own with materials you already have, like old bedding. It’s simple to do! Use an old sheet, cut a rectangle from the fabric of your old bed sheet, then sew it closed on two sides. Fill the pouch with dry rice or dry beans and stitch the open edge closed.

Now, you have a homemade heating pad ready to bring comfort and relief whenever you need it, soothing away cramps and other aches.

Repurpose into Drop Cloths for Painting

Need to set up protection as you paint an accent wall during a budget bedroom makeover? Before you paint, use your old flat sheet as a drop cloth. Secure the old flat sheet with paint buckets at the corners, and it will not only catch drips but also paint chips. 

Even if you’re not planning any home improvements and are satisfied you have excellent bedroom colors for sleep, if you’re the type who enjoys painting pictures or other handicrafts, it’s a simple and practical way to protect your floors and clothes while getting creative with your art projects. Plus, you can create cleaning rags or even a painting smock from old sheets to keep your own clothes clean during the painting process.

Make a Plastic Bag Holder

Instead of discarding old plastic bags, make them useful again with a clever plastic bag holder! If you have a surplus of worn sheets, like old floral sheets, you can transform them into a practical and attractive storage solution. Keep your home tidy and organized by following a simple video tutorial to create your own cylindrical holder. It’s a great way to repurpose those old sheets and reduce waste while adding a touch of charm to your space.

Use as Dust Coverings for Furniture

Old sheets work wonderfully as temporary or seasonal furniture covers, helping to preserve the condition of your beloved pieces and saving you money on expensive store-bought alternatives. They can also be good protection against pets you’ve just brought into your home and need to finish training before they can be trusted to roam on uncovered furniture.

Begin by measuring the dimensions of the furniture you want to cover. Cut the sheets to the appropriate size, ensuring they can fully cover the furniture without dragging on the floor. Drape the sheets over the furniture and tuck in any excess fabric neatly. For a secure fit, use large rubber bands or bungee cords to hold the sheets in place. You can also fasten the sheets with safety pins or clips.

Out of the Home Ideas

Make a Backyard Hammock

Embark on a fun and creative DIY project by using an old bed sheet to make your very own hammock! With just a bit of sewing and some strong ropes or chains, you can transform that unused sheet into a cozy hammock perfect for relaxing in your backyard or taking a nap indoors.

It’s a fantastic way to repurpose your sturdier old sheets and create a comfortable spot for leisure and relaxation where you can just take a moment to catch some sun or snooze in the shade. So, grab your crafting materials and get ready to enjoy your handmade hammock in no time.

Just make sure you test the final product before sleeping in your hammock.

Establish Weed Barriers & Plant Protection

For gardeners, the constant battle against invading weeds can be quite a challenge. To help, you can effectively repurpose thick, old, and worn-out sheets as highly effective weed barriers. Avoid using white sheets, instead placing sections of darker sheets on the ground before covering them with mulch. Alternatively, you can use lighter sheets for protecting more delicate plants such as perennials.

And if you live in an area with colder weather, old sheets can be easily reused as protective plant coverings to shield against frost and freezing temperatures. These sheets act as an overnight insulative barrier, just make sure the sheets reach the ground and secure them in place with rocks, bricks, or stakes to prevent them from blowing away. Then, remove the sheets in the morning. However, you may wish to repurpose an old blanket or quilt for more insulation.

Protect Car Windows from Frost

Tired of spending mornings defrosting your car’s front windows? Reusing a fitted sheet can help you take care of that.

Choose one with elastic corners and measure its width to ensure it covers your windshield when draped from one side mirror to the other. Pull the elastic corners around the mirrors to secure the sheet and create a barrier against frost. Smooth out any wrinkles and make final adjustments for a snug fit.

Leave It Out for the Birds

Leaving old fabrics outside for birds to use for nesting can be a thoughtful and eco-friendly way to support our feathered friends. Birds often seek soft materials to line their nests, providing insulation and comfort for their eggs and hatchlings. Tearing up small strips from your pilling sheets, along with any other breathable fabric scraps or bits of shredded yarn, can create a convenient and accessible resource for birds.

Plus, observing birds making use of the fabric you’ve provided can be a delightful experience, fostering a sense of connection with nature and contributing to the preservation of local bird populations. Just ensure that the fabrics are natural and free of chemicals or toxic substances that could be harmful to the birds or their offspring. We suggest cotton, wool, or bamboo fabric pieces only.

Place in Compost Pile

Many eco-friendly homeowners have started composting food waste and other natural materials, repurposing what they might otherwise throw out into fuel for a garden. Cotton or linen sheets are particularly suitable for composting, enriching the compost with organic matter and nutrients. Cut the sheets into smaller pieces, as it will help them break down more easily during the composting process.

However, avoid sheets that contain synthetic materials, as these may not break down as readily and can introduce non-biodegradable components into the compost. That would include microfiber and nylon sheets and sheets that are not wholly cotton and have polyester fibers mixed in.

Make Sleeping Bag Liners for Camping

When planning a camping trip, transform your old sheets into your very own sleeping bag liner. Using fitted sheets as liners is a great way to insulate yourself and sleep well while camping.

Plus, it’s simpler to wash the sheets after the trip rather than the entire sleeping bag. Enjoy a cozy night’s sleep in your customized sleeping bag with the comfort of your familiar sheets surrounding you. It’s a clever and practical way to make your camping experience even more enjoyable.

Keep in the Car for Emergencies

In unexpected situations like car accidents or breakdowns, an old sheet can serve multiple practical purposes. First and foremost, it can be used as a makeshift blanket to keep you warm during cold weather or when waiting for assistance. It can even be used if you need to take a nap and sleep in your car on a long road trip.

Or the sheet can act as a barrier between you and the ground when changing a tire or performing minor repairs, keeping you clean and dry. In cases of injury, the sheet can be torn into strips for bandages or used to create a makeshift sling.

A sheet’s versatility makes it a valuable addition to your car’s emergency kit, providing comfort, protection, and potential aid when unforeseen circumstances arise on the road.

Make a Picnic Blanket

Turn an old sheet into a versatile tablecloth for your picnic table or picnic blankets for a fun and functional project, Enjoy the outdoors without fretting about dirty clothes by using a picnic blanket on sunny days. You can even create a cozy indoor picnic in your living room with the same blanket. With an old sheet transformed into a picnic essential, your outdoor adventures and indoor picnics will be even more delightful if you build a fort with your old sheets.

As we mentioned, you may even find an old bedsheet that’s in good enough condition makes a perfectly delightful tablecloth for your kitchen table indoors.

Wrap Gifts for Friends and Family

Discover a delightful and eco-friendly way to wrap gifts! Instead of traditional wrapping paper, why not use the charming old bed sheets you usually find at a thrift store? Not only will it add a unique touch to your presents, but it also saves you money! Embrace your creativity and give those old sheets a new purpose while making your gifts look absolutely captivating.

Join the trend of wrapping with style and sustainability – your friends and family will be amazed by your thoughtful and environmentally-conscious gift-giving. Don’t forget to add a splash of festive flair with a vibrant ribbon or a beautiful bow.

What if the sheet isn’t pretty enough for wrapping, though? Well, you can still use it as packing for breakable objects inside gifts, or you can pack it around delicate objects if you’re moving between homes.

Sew Beach Bags

Transforming old sheets into beach bags is a fantastic way to repurpose old fabric. With a few simple steps, you can create stylish and eco-friendly beach cloth bags that are perfect for carrying your essentials to the sandy shores. Cut the sheets into large rectangles, and then fold and sew the sides to make the bag sturdy.

These upcycled tote bags or grocery bags are not only practical but also contribute to reducing waste, making them a win-win solution for your next beach adventure. If you still have leftover sheets, put them to good use and make a matching bath mat for your cloth bags as well. It’s a fantastic way to repurpose those sheets and create a personalized and coordinated beach accessory.

Donate to Homeless Shelters or Animal Shelters

Homeless shelters and churches often gladly accept donations of used items that donation centers cannot take. You can recycle bedding like sheets along with blankets, pillowcases and bed shams, towels, and washcloths to help those in need. They may also appreciate rags and kitchen towels to maintain cleanliness in their facilities.

And if you can’t find any place that accepts used sheets for human use, consider your local animal shelter. They would be more than happy to receive these items and provide comfort such as pet bedding to the animals under their care.

Keep in Mind Bed Sheet Type

The type of sheet you have on hand can affect the DIY projects you can do with it. Some are more durable or absorbent, while others are more breathable or feel softer. Different types of sheets have varying fibers, weaves, thicknesses, textures, patterns, and sizes, which make them suitable for specific projects.

Cotton Sheets

Cotton sheets are versatile and can be used for a wide range of DIY projects. They are great for everything from cleaning rags and reusable shopping bags to pillowcases and homemade clothing. Cotton tends to come in percale or sateen weaves, which may affect what project you use them for as the weave affects the fabric’s feel. Sateen often feels silky and percale feels crisper, though older percale sheets often feel quite soft.

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Flannel Sheets

Flannel sheets are thicker and warmer than standard cotton, making them ideal for crafting cozy items like blankets, quilts, and winter coverings or curtains. They’re also excellent if you want sturdy items like reusable bags or an item that can withstand outside exposure.

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Bamboo Sheets

Bamboo has become a popular alternative to cotton sheets, as the natural fibers are cool and gentle on skin while bamboo plants require much less resources than cotton does. Bamboo sheets offer unique qualities for DIY projects due to their sustainability and softness. Repurpose them into eco-friendly crafts like reusable shopping bags or cloth produce bags, or create luxurious home decor items such as table runners, decorative pillow covers, or drapes.

See also:

Linen Sheets

Linen sheets have a distinct texture and are excellent for creating rustic or bohemian-style home decor items such as tablecloths, placemats, and curtains. As they’re breathable and naturally absorbent, they can also work with many projects that you would use bamboo or cotton for.

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Silk Sheets

Silk sheets are often seen as a luxury item, and as such many sleepers don’t want to simply throw them out when they’ve aged. One chic and imaginative project is repurposing old silk sheets into a bed canopy. You may also want to cut a swatch of silk and upcycle it into a soft bonnet for sleeping. Or even just take a large rectangle and drape it over your pillow to minimize friction on your hair and skin.

See also:

Microfiber Sheets

As microfiber is water-resistant and stain-resistant, it’s often best to upcycle them into cleaning cloths or pet bedding. You can cut them into small cleaning cloths for eyeglasses, phone screens, and laptop screens, or larger ones for car cleaning and shoe cleaning. Or you can sew the microfiber sheets into hair towels or turbans, as the fabric’s absorbent nature can help dry hair quickly and gently, reducing frizz and damage.

See also:

Other Green Living Guides

If you’re aiming to lead a more environmentally conscious and sustainable lifestyle while reducing your household waste, we have several additional articles that might pique your interest:


How do you dispose of old bedding?

To dispose of old bedding, you can donate it to charities or shelters, giving it a chance to be reused by those in need. Try both shelters for people in need and animal shelters, as they may accept gently used textiles along with new ones.

Alternatively, you can repurpose it for various DIY home projects like making pet bedding or cleaning rags. If the bedding is no longer usable, check if your local recycling center accepts textiles for recycling to ensure it is disposed of responsibly.

What happens if you don’t wash your sheets?

If you don’t wash your sheets regularly, dirt, sweat, oils, and dead skin cells can accumulate, creating an unhygienic sleeping environment. This can lead to the growth of bacteria in the bed and dust mites, which may trigger allergies and skin issues. Additionally, unwashed sheets may develop unpleasant odors over time, making it uncomfortable to sleep in your bed.

Do old sheets make good rags?

Yes, old sheets make excellent rags. When repurposed as cleaning rags, they are handy for wiping surfaces, dusting, or tackling messy tasks. By using old sheets as rags, you can save money and reduce waste, making them a practical and eco-friendly choice for household cleaning.

How do you disinfect bed sheets?

To disinfect bed sheets, start by washing them in hot water with laundry detergent. Hot water helps to kill germs and bacteria. After washing, use a disinfectant laundry additive or bleach if the fabric allows it, following the instructions on the product label. Always make sure to dry the sheets thoroughly, either by using a dryer in a high-heat setting or by hanging them in direct sunlight, as sunlight also has disinfectant properties.

When should I throw away the sheets?

You should throw away sheets when they are excessively worn out, torn, or have irreparable stains. If sheets are no longer comfortable to sleep on or are causing discomfort due to wear and tear, it’s time to replace them. Additionally, if the sheets are no longer able to be adequately cleaned or sanitized, it’s best to dispose of them and invest in new ones for a fresh and hygienic sleeping environment.


Old sheets can be transformed into valuable resources rather than simply discarding them. Just as you can repurpose old pillows and other items around the home.

From creating eco-friendly alternatives like cloth napkins and cleaning rags to repurposing them for DIY projects like picnic blankets and dog toys, the possibilities are endless, offering both creativity and sustainability in reusing old flat sheets and fitted sheets.

Just make sure you replace the old sheets with new ones, as we cannot recommend sleeping without sheets.

About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

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