Socks may come into this world as a pair, but they almost always leave this world alone. Luckily, you don’t necessarily need to toss out socks that are missing their perfect match, or stretched-out, or threadbare, or hole-y. From cleaning your home to craft supplies for your kids, there are plenty of ingenious ways to repurpose old socks. Not only will you get a totally new use out of them, but you’ll be avoiding unnecessary textile waste.
If your sock drawer has turned into a sock purgatory, here are a ridiculous number of hacks that will give your tired socks new life.
Ways to use old socks while cleaning
Sure, hole-filled socks make excellent rags—grab some scissors cut up your sock into a flat rag—but they can also be so much more. Here are some other reasons to include old socks among your cleaning supplies. (And once your sock reaches the end of its life as a rag or otherwise, look into local textile recycling programs in order to to dispose of it.)
Dusting mitt: Throw a sock over your hand and use it as a dusting mitt to get into all those hard-to-reach surfaces around your house. This one is especially useful to clean shutters and blinds.
DIY Swiffer: If you have a Swiffer, you can slip a sock over where the Swiffer pads normally go. If you don’t have a Swiffer, you can slip a sock over a yardstick to clean underneath your fridge or sofa.
Dry eraser: If you have a chalk or whiteboard, don’t waste paper towels wiping it down. A sock is a sustainable and effective way to get to a clean slate instead.
How to use old socks to store and protect your stuff
Secure valuables while moving: Place valuables into old socks to cushion and protect them in transit. Even if something does break within the sock, the cleanup will be much easier.
Store shoes: Depending on the size of the sock, you can fit them around the outside of your shoes to stop them from scuffing each other in transit.
Protect shoes while painting: If you’re repainting a room in your home, keep your shoes splatter-free by slipping a big pair of socks over top of them.
Hanging mothballs: Place mothballs or moth crystals inside a sock and hang them wherever you store clothes. If you’re worried about the smell of the mothballs, grab another sock and fill it with potpourri.
Protect floors when moving furniture: Slip socks around furniture legs to prevent them from scraping up your floors.
Use socks to perform sock-adjacent clothing duties
These ideas for old socks are all fairly similar to your socks’ original design and purpose on this earth.
Leg warmers: This one is intuitive. Simply cut off the toe section, and there you have it, instant leg warmers.
A second sock layer for cold days: Even a sock with holes can be used as an additional layer, so that you can bundle up your feet during the extra cold months ahead.
Extra mittens layer: Design-wise, there’s not a huge difference between socks and mittens. As long as you’re okay with relinquishing a little bit of thumb mobility (or cutting a hole in the sock for your thumb, I suppose), simply place your hands inside a clean sock for an additional layer of warmth before slipping on your mittens.
Ear warmers: You can sew two long socks together to make a cheap, fashionable (no, really) ear warmer to wrap around your head. Here’s a more detailed guide.
Arm warmers: By now you should be getting the idea. Yes, old socks can keep you warm in other ways. All you need to do is cut a thumb opening in the heel of the sock and slip it on your hand. Here are step-by-step instructions.
Scarves: Here’s a guide to turning your cute patterned socks into a cute patterned scarf.
Knee pads: The next time you’re gardening or have chores on the floor, wrap socks over your knees (or fold them underneath) to protect your clothes and provide a bit of padding.
Polish shoes: Old socks are perfect for adding polish to your shoes and buffing them after. (Make sure to use two different socks for buffing and applying polish.)
Remove wrinkles in the dryer: We’ve all accidentally let our laundry sit in the dryer too long. Instead of whipping out the iron, grab an old sock or two. Quickly run it under some water to get it damp, throw it in the dryer, and then run the load again for a few minutes at a time until the wrinkles come out of your clothes.
Other weird ways to use old socks
Old socks are not simply new rags. These are the old sock uses you never knew you needed, but now, you won’t be able to live without.
Draft stoppers: Stuff socks under doors and windows to keep drafts under control. You can make your draft stopper with a long tube sock, stuffing from an old pillow or sweater, and something small to weigh the stopper down (like popcorn kernels or beads). Read full instructions here.
Windshield wiper covers: You can prevent ice buildup on your wiper blades overnight by covering them in socks. This one is all over Reddit, and you can read more about how to make it work for you here.
Rescue small, lost items: Place a sock over your vacuum hose to summon small items like jewelry from hard-to-reach places. The vacuum should suck the item toward you, but the sock will prevent it from getting sucked up completely.
Cover ice packs: You should always use a cloth between an ice pack and your skin, and an old sock should be your go-to for the job. Whereas washcloths may slip around or be too think to let much of a chill through, you can slip the ice pack directly into your sock and then securely apply it to your injury.
Microwavable heating pad: Need heat, not ice? Fill a sock with rice and tie it off with a knot. Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until warm (not too hot).
Shoe deodorizer: Got stinky shoes? You’re not alone. Dump two-three tablespoons of baking into a sock and then tie it off with a knot or rubber band. Shove the filled sock into the toe of the shoe and leave overnight to absorb nasty odors.
Jewelry case: Use a lone sock to keep the little things safe and all in one place. This works for things like earrings, Christmas ornaments, and even board game pieces, to make sure sure none go missing while you play
A weapon: Another use for old socks that is all over Reddit (and one that ranges in seriousness, I believe): Fill a sock with hard, heavy objects. Think coins, nuts and bolts, or a padlock. Please swing this bad boy around—but only if you’re in grave danger and need to protect yourself, please.
Use old socks for arts and crafts
Decorate your home, keep the kids busy, and get creative with these sock-based crafts.
Sock snowman: The holidays are fast-approaching. Create quick-and-easy season decor with a sock snowman. You’ll need a few extra materials in addition to a clean white sock: rice, googly eyes, bits of felt, white pom poms, and three elastics or pieces of yarn to section off your snowman. See full instructions here.
Potpourri bundles: Socks should not be condemned to smell like feet. Fill a clean sock with potpourri and secure the end with a ribbon or rubber band. Stick it in your bathroom, closet, or wherever else needs a quick fresh-up.
Stress balls: Take play dough or sand and place it in a sandwich bag. Then, place that sandwich back in an old bag. Once secured, squeeze until all your stresses have disappeared.
Apply craft stains: Use old socks to apply stains when refinishing furniture or doing crafts. Similarly, old soft socks are great for applying a coat of wax or polish to your car’s finish. Due to the nature of stains, however, don’t try to use this same sock to later clean other areas of your house.
Toys for your pets: You can buy your cat the fanciest toys out there, but our pets will always go back to your old socks (and boxes of cardboard, of course). For a cat toy, fill the toe of a sock with some kind of stuffing (like polyfill or the insides of an old pillow) and a small pinch of catnip, and securely tie it up. For a dog pull toy, tie multiple socks together as tight as you can (so that it can withstand your dog’s fierce pull).
Make sock stuffed animals: Socks aren’t just for your pets; they can become your pets. Think I’m crazy? Let me turn you over to Pinterest for some creative ways to turn socks into all sorts of stuffed animals.
And, of course, sock puppets: Timeless. Elegant. Fun. Sock puppets are simple to make and easy to personalize. Grab some yarn, pipe cleaners, markers, and whatever else you have in your arts and crafts supplies to turn your sock into a proper friend. I saved the best for last here, people.