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What to do with old sheets: recycle your old bedding

What to do with old sheets: recycle your old bedding

You’ve just had the best sleep of your life on your brand new bed sheets (brownie points if they’re  CleanBamboo®) and now you won’t dare sleep on your stuffy old cotton sheets. But what to do with them now? 

When most people decide it’s the end of the line for their bedding, they throw them away. While that may seem like the easiest solution, it’s not the best one. Once textiles are thrown away, 66% of them end up in landfills so we can only imagine how furiously Mother Earth is dialing 911. 

While some of these textiles decompose quickly, most will take hundreds of years. That’s why ettitude HQ came up with 5 ways you can repurpose, reuse, and recycle your old bedding and keep it out of our landfills.

In this article, we’ll go over what to do with old bed sheets so that you don’t contribute to that 66% textile waste. While simply tossing your old bedding in the trash only takes a few seconds, it will last for years at a landfill. And recycling or repurposing your bedding doesn’t take that much more effort either. 

Continue reading to find out more about what to do with old bed sheets.

Recycling—close the loop

This one may take some research (aka a quick Google search) but it is a great way to give a second life to your bedding. 

Recycling sheets refers to converting the fabric back into a fiber to reuse in a new textile. This practice is nothing new, dating back to the 18th century when the Napoleonic Wars caused raw material shortages and required wool fibers to be broken down into new yarns. 

These days, recycling sheets is more common than you may think, with fashion giants like H&M and Zara accepting used items in-store to be recycled. If you’re unsure how to recycle old sheets, a quick Google search can point to your nearest bedsheet recycling facility.

Trade in your old bedding on ettitude re:new

We created ettitude re:new to help give your old sheets and preloved ettitude faves a second life. If you’re in the USA, you can trade in your gently used ettitude items on ettitude re:new. In return, you’ll receive $50 in credits for every item you send us. 

Want to recycle sheets from other brands? You can still trade them in on ettitude re:new and we’ll retire them properly. 

If you’re in Australia, you can also recycle your old/unwanted bedding, towels, and clothing through our textile recycling program, Loop. You’ll even get a $25 gift card to ettitude as a thank-you for doing good for the planet.

Donation—help someone in need

It’s just as the saying goes—while you may no longer need your bedding, someone else may. At ettitude, we donate our returned and pre-loved goods to homeless and animal shelters to help others live a better quality of life. We can’t think of a more heart-warming way to put those old sheets to good use than by giving them to people who really need them. 

Check with your local homeless shelter before donating, as many only accept new sheets. If they don’t, animal shelters are always looking for used bedding to help keep shelter pets cozy. Donating your old bedding gives it another life and extends its lifecycle.

Reuse or repurpose—give a new life to your bedding 

Instead of throwing out your old bedding when you don’t need it anymore, put it to good use and repurpose it for something else. There are countless ways to reuse or repurpose your old bedding; you just have to get creative with it. 

So, rather than tossing your old bedding in the trash, store it in a closet. You never know when you might need some extra sheets or pillowcases. Here are a few examples of ways to reuse or repurpose old bedding:

Create an in-home theater

A great way to repurpose old bedding is to use it for an eco-friendly, in-home movie night. Building your own in-home movie theater is a lot easier than you may think. All you have to do is pin your old sheet up to your wall, grab some popcorn, and you’ll instantly have an at-home theater to view your favorite flick or reminisce over a slideshow of photos with loved ones

Long gone are the days of trekking to the movies and sitting in those uncomfortable seats; with an old sheet, you can recreate the ambiance of a movie theater right from the comfort of your home. 

Use sheets as a picnic blanket

Another way to repurpose old bedding is to use sheets as picnic blankets. Take someone you love (or someone you’re trying to impress) on a picnic using your old sheets for your blanket. 

If you don’t have a backyard or front lawn, your living room can do the trick. Push your furniture to the side and create an open space for your special night. Grab your favorite snacks and spend the night chatting and playing games. 

Make no-sew curtains

If you’re lost with what to do with old sheets, consider turning them into no-sew curtains. As the name implies, you don’t need any sewing experience to make these; you just need to have a vision and see it through. 

Classy white sheets make for cute, budget-friendly curtains when you’re in a pinch. Just make sure they don’t have any stains or wrinkles, and you’ll have yourself a new set of curtains in no time.

DIY—time to get creative

When creativity calls, get your hands dirty and turn your old sheets into a fun DIY project. There are endless DIY projects you can do with an old bed sheet. You can do them alone or with friends and make it a fun and environmentally-friendly experience. 

The best part about DIY projects is that it’s entirely up to you what you want to do. But here are a few fun ideas of things you can do with old bedding:

Create reusable bags

Reusable bags are a must-have in any household. You can use them to run errands, grab groceries, or even as a beach bag. But rather than spending the money on buying a new bag, make it yourself with an old sheet. 

You can make an eco-friendly produce bag, a drawstring bag, a yoga mat bag, or a grocery bag…the options are endless. Creating these bags is also pretty simple. You just need an old sheet, a sewing machine, and a simple sewing pattern. 

Use as a canvas for art

Old sheets make the perfect canvas for your imagination to run wild. Use your old sheets as your artistic medium and experiment with tie-dye patterns. You can even transform your worn-out sheet into a groovy tapestry for your home. 

If your sheet isn’t tie-dye-able, you can still bust out some paints and leave your own creative mark on them. Whether you want to use your old sheet for a real art project or just as a creative outlet, let your imagination take the reins and see what you can come up with. 

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Create a dog toy

Another great project you can do with an old sheet is to create a dog toy. Because your furry best friend can never have enough dog toys, right? 

Creating a braided dog toy using an old sheet is actually pretty simple. You just need to cut the sheet into strips, gather the strips together and tie a knot at the top and then braid the sections together. Just make sure you leave a little bit of space above the knot where the tassels will hang. 

Once you’ve finished braiding the sections, tie another knot at the bottom, and voila, you’ve got yourself a homemade dog toy that your pup will love.

Craft for a cause—make a difference 

Another great way to give old bedding another life is to turn it into something for a purpose. That can be turning old bedding into items for abandoned animals, creating heartwarming crafts for children, or making DIY facemasks and pillowcases for people in need. 

Seeing human kindness and ingenuity shine light through the darkness is sometimes all we need to remain hopeful in trying times. We encourage you to look up your local craft for a cause group on Facebook– even if you aren’t savvy with a sewing machine, many of these groups are looking for spare fabrics.

These are just a few examples of what to do with old sheets, but there are many other ways to put old bedding to good use. It’s time to get out of the rut of waste and into the habit of closing the loop. Finding a way to repurpose or donate your sheets prolongs their life and reduces textile waste. 

Feel free to share with us what you do with your sheets by either commenting below or sharing a picture on Instagram

Start thinking eco-friendly with ettitude

The next time you decide to swap out your bedding, think before you toss your old sheets in the trash. Ask yourself, “What else can I do with them?” You can turn old sheets into a trendy produce bag or a fun new toy for your dog. You can donate them to people in need or turn them into something useful for someone else. You can reuse and repurpose old sheets and host your own in-home movie theater party. 

There are many uses for old sheets that don’t involve them ending up in a landfill. Whether you recycle sheets or repurpose them, it’s our responsibility to make a positive impact on the planet, and that starts with having an eco-friendly attitude when it comes to waste.

If you want to continue your eco-friendly journey, consider buying new sheets from ettitude. ettitude sheets are sustainably made from regenerative bamboo and extremely comfortable so that you can feel good about your purchase. We strive to put our planet first with all of our products, which is why we enforce high-ethical practices and environmental standards within our factories. 

We’ve made many strides towards being plastic-free and as eco-friendly as possible. So, if you want to slip into bed knowing you’re making a positive impact on the environment (and feel unbelievably cozy while doing so), check out ettitude bedding today.


Originally published April 21st, 2020. Updated March 2nd, 2023.

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