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For those who wear shoes and wear socks with those shoes, there is the inevitable problem of eventually acquiring old socks. Old socks can come in many forms. They can be the singular element remaining from a once happy couple, the hopeless, hapless survivor of the lost sock. They can be the piece of the pair that hasn’t yet developed a hole or, for that matter, the one that has developed the hole. They can be a team that’s simply seen better days. They can be ill-advised gifts that were never going to meld with your fashion sense.

For some of us, old socks linger in the sock drawer for years. We will even pack these things and keep them with us when we move. For others, those with an obsessive impulse sent into a frenzy with sock shenanigans, a mismatched sock instantly gets tossed away. Most likely, the majority of us fall somewhere in that seemingly healthier middle ground. Whatever the case is, the good news is old socks can be used to make great new things.


sock puppet

Jodi Mitchell/ Flickr

Whether it’s children making (1) sock puppets or parents making (2) sock stuffed animals, old socks have the potential for becoming your kid’s new favorite thing. That’s awesome because, not only has the old sock managed to find a new use, but also the mom and dad have likely managed to provide a new toy for next to nothing. Not to say that kids and pets are the same, but old socks can also make for great (3) cat toys, especially when filled with catnip, and (4) dog toys.


With container gardening becoming a favorite pastime, many of us will have potted plants around the house. Old socks, especially striped or patterned ones, make really (5) cool decorative potted plant covers. Just stretch the old sock over the bottom and slide it up. Similar things can be done to create a (6) DIY can cozy or (7) protect shoes while painting or moving. They can also be used to (8) cover ice packs to mute the frigidness. Another awesome option is to cut the toes from the socks and slip them over the bottom of bottles, such as for wine or olive oil, to (9) prevent rings from forming on furniture or shelves.


Old t-shirts are often the go-to for new rags, but socks do a fantastic job. Plus, charity shops are not going to take old socks, but they’ll pass a decent T-shirt on to the next loving owner. Socks, then, make fantastic (10) dusters. They have extra padding that t-shirts lack, making them fantastic (11) polishing pads for silver, copper, or chrome. They are great (12) all-purpose cleaning rags for cleaning the shop, the bathroom, paint spills, and so on. It’s not a bad idea to keep one in the glove box of the car (13) for when windows get foggy and need a wipe.


Sock pouch

Caitlin Regan/ Flickr

In essence, socks are pouches for our feet, something to keep our shoes from getting stinky with sweat, and, in the winter, something to keep our feet from feeling cold. So, it’s no great surprise that they can be reused as pouches. Old socks can be filled with nice odor-absorbing stuff and/or potpourri to become (14) air fresheners. Or, they can be filled with soothing scents, like lavender, to become (15) aromatherapy pouches placed under the pillow to make you sleep calmly. Some say with a little cat litter tied inside, socks can be placed on the dashboard to (16) keep the windshield from fogging up (the kitty litter will absorb the moisture.) They can also be used to create (17) pouches for iPods, cell phones, and/or earbuds.


In the world of upcycling, using one article of clothing to create a new one — jean skirts, t-shirt flip-flops — is standard practice. The same inclination works with socks. First of all, socks are thick, so they (18) make fantastic patches for repairing a favorite pair of Jeans, pajama Pants, or sweater. The patches look cool. Old socks — originally meant for the feet — are also easy to convert into (19) fingerless gloves, which are just a couple of snips and an easy sew job away.


Socks are tubular, which means they are easy to cut to size and require very little sewing skills to create cushions. It can start with a (20) pin cushion, basically just a portion of a sock with stuffing sewn into it. Similarly, if it were filled with rice instead, it’s a (21) hacky sack. Left as a long slender cushion and filled with rice, it can be a (22) pillow for your wrists when typing up a storm, or that same pillow can be put along the bottom of a door to (23) stop drafts from seeping in. If that all seems too stressful, stick some playdough in a plastic bag and sew it up into a sock to make a (24) stress ball.

If that doesn’t give a new purpose to those old socks, then I suppose those that are 100 percent cotton can always go (25) into the compost bin. The point is to make sure they don’t go into creating more trash when they still have plenty of usefulness left in them. Whether it’s old socks or tin cans, we can think creatively to reduce our waste and make some pretty clever stuff.

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