If you’re anything like us, you probably feel a deep sadness every time you have to throw away an orphaned, holey or stretched-out sock. Whether it was made of super-cozy materials or featured a pattern you loved, it’s hard to say goodbye to your fave foot warmers. As an answer to this conundrum, our sock fairies have dreamed up a ton of fun things you can do with old socks to keep them alive and well, prolonging their inevitable au revoir for just a little bit longer.
Get Crafty: Turn Old Socks into Treasures
Got a pile of old socks that are shrunken, stained or solo? Here’s our best advice: Whip out your sewing kit and head to the craft store because these seemingly valueless socks can be transformed into something extra-special in no time! Whether it be something made purely for fun, like a sock puppet or stuffed animal, or something that makes your life just a little bit easier, these single sock crafts are real winners.
Make Can Koozies: Never let your funny socks die, even when they’ve worn at the toes and the soles. It doesn’t matter if they’re knitted with argyle, avocados or flying pigs; you can transform your unwearable novelty socks into drink huggers that keep your beverages cold. Reserve your stretchier socks for this purpose so they’re able to hug cans and bottles of all sizes. Toss them in with your camping or tailgating gear for cooling on the go.
Make Sock Puppets: Is there any toy more classic than a sock puppet? With a little hot glue, some pipe cleaners and your best set of googly eyes, you can transform any sock into a captivating puppet to delight your little ones. Keep your best patterned and brightly colored socks around for this purpose and adorn like crazy for some massive playtime or classroom fun.
Make Coffee Sleeves: Repurposing old socks is great because it helps you recycle unwanted materials into something useful, lowering your consumption and, in turn, your impact on the planet. Cut the foot part of your socks off to create coffee cup sleeves that protect your hand from a piping hot to-go cup and skip those wasteful little cardboard numbers at the self-serve station.
Make Sock Buns: The key to the perfect top knot or man bun is ... a sock? Seriously, yes. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the sock bun. To make one, you just have to take an old, clean sock and roll it onto itself so it becomes like a fabric donut. This handy little fabric roll can then be used as a base for a ponytail bun to give your ’do a neat look while adding volume, so it’s perfect for those bun-lovers out there who don’t have a ton of hair for big styles.
Make Wine Bottle Sweaters: Bundle up your wine bottles with old, repurposed socks for a fun way to add a decorative touch to the wine rack or to take your wine gifts up a few notches. This one’s ideal for ditching the wasteful, old gift bags or giving your drinkable holiday gifts a little extra cheer. Bottom line: Never pitch those Christmas socks that have become orphaned. They could someday be the key to a perfectly wrapped holiday gift.
Make Sweatbands: All things ’80s are back in vogue, including sweatbands and leg warmers, both of which can be made by salvaging your old or orphaned socks. If you want to stick with the ’80s vibes, hoard your old neon-colored socks until you can cut them into sweat-absorbing staples. Make arm sweatbands by salvaging the stretchy ankle part of the sock and cleaning up the cut end either with no-fray glue or a needle and thread. Or just tuck it inside and no one will know!
Make Leg Warmers: If you’ve got a pair of knee high or thigh high socks that have worn in the soles or toes, cut off the foot portion and make yourself some funky, scrunchy leg warmers. The key here is to go with loose-fitting or stretched out old women’s knee socks so you can bunch and scrunch like the best of ’em (we’re talking about Olivia Newton-John in the “Physical” video, obviously).
Make Fingerless Gloves: Keep your hands toasty without limiting your ability to text or use your touch-screen devices with some DIY hand warmers. To make a pair, simply chop off the toe end of your socks and cut out holes for your thumbs. Use longer socks for some extra wrist protection.
Make a Sock Snake: This one’s for those single sock hoarders out there who keep all the colorful, funky styles on hand, no matter how holey they get. Using an array of mismatched, orphaned socks, you can create one long slithering creation — a sock snake! Sew them all together, fill them with stuffing and add some button eyes and a fabric tongue for a serpentine finish.
Make Colorful Stuffed Animals: Stuffed sock snakes aren’t the only direction you can take your sock-based crafting. Think of your fave pairs of old socks as fabric for creating huggable little stuffed creations — bears, birds, bats, whatever. Oh, and who can forget the sock monkey? What a classic!
Make a Hobby Horse: Your old, unwanted socks make the ideal head for your hobby horse. Also known as stick horses, these makeshift toys go way back, delighting kids playing cowboy for generations. Sew on some ears and a mop mane and you’ve got yourself an instant equestrian-themed toy for any age!
Make Potholders: If you’re a ’90s child, you remember learning how to weave a potholder using those little loop loom kits. Sock potholders are made with the same concept by turning your old (freshly washed) socks into stretchy loops that fit onto a potholder loom. The fun part about this is that you can mix and match colors and patterns so each one is a total one-of-a-kind!
Make DIY Dryer Balls: Dryer balls are seriously the best. They keep your clothes fresh, fluffed and free of lint and pet hair, ensuring that every load is a good one. They’re also an awesome alternative to costly and wasteful dryer sheets. You can make your own by throwing tennis balls or smaller heat-safe balls into a pair of clean socks and tying them off at the top.
Give Them a Second Life: Reuse Orphaned Socks
It’s a universal truth: As much as we need them to stay together, socks often work their way apart. And yes, there is some truth to the rumor that a hungry washer and dryer are to blame. Or maybe there’s a stealthy sock monster who preys on our dirty laundry. Who knows? Wherever their better halves wind up, we’re left with a sad, cotton-blend widow. But not to fret! Here’s what to do with single socks so they get a second life.
Use Them as Rags: You simply can’t have enough rags around the house. They’re the first line of defense against the grossest and most stain-prone household supplies, from grease to paint to chemical-laden cleaners, so you definitely don’t want to waste your money on any expensive ones. Turn your old, orphaned softies into cleaners for all sorts of chores.
Make a Heating Pad: Fill up an old sock with white rice, tie the top and boom! You’ve got yourself an instant homemade heating pad. Rice is an excellent holder of heat and creates an adaptable, massaging surface that conforms to your body, providing soothing relief wherever you need it. Microwave the sock for a little under a minute (make sure to let it cool a bit before use) and enjoy on-demand heat when you’re sick, injured or just-plain cold.
Pack Them in Your Camping Gear: If you’ve got yourself some high-quality performance socks that provide warmth and cushion beneath your hiking boots, you simply can’t pitch them, even when they become orphaned. Toss them in your hiking daypack or gear stash so you always have a double or triple layer of warmth at your disposal. Because, let’s be honest, when you’re out in the wilderness, it really doesn’t matter if your socks match, right?
Pair Them with Other Mismatches: Sometimes two wrongs do make a right, especially in the case of two mismatched socks! Rocking two unrelated solo socks is a fun way to extend their life and use them for their primary purpose. We’re firm believers in letting your socks show your personality and busting open fashion rules, and this one does just that!
Use Them as Gift Wrap: Your old, stretchy stocks make the perfect eco-friendly wrapping paper alternative for smaller gifts, including jewelry boxes. You could even cut your favorite patterned socks into strips and transform them into sweet ribbons, bows or present accents for a big pop of style.
Send Them to a Recycling Organization: Did you know that there are recycling charities out there that actually want your random, old socks? That’s because some organizations, such as Simple Recycling, are able to salvage damaged or worn items for their raw materials. So it doesn’t really matter if they’re holey, orphaned or stretched out, since they can be made into something totally different someday — maybe even a whole new pair!
Make Them Into Odor Eaters: Fill up your old socks with baking soda or dried flowers and tie them at the top to create miniature little fragrance bombs. We love the idea of tossing these babies where the funk tends to congregate — in the back seat of your car, in your teenager’s room or in the locker room at the gym.
Use Them as Protective Glasses Holders: Keep your specs fresh from dust, dirt and scratches by turning your old socks into makeshift glasses pouches. Use your softer cotton or wool blend socks for this purpose to ensure that they keep your lenses free of any smudges or scratches.
Holey Moly: Fixing Worn-Out Socks
If you’ve got a pair of socks that has developed a hole or two — a sure sign of love, we think — then don’t automatically go slicing, dicing and donating. You can keep these babies in the rotation by darning old holes. Yes, we said darning. This is the act of mending material using yarn or thread. Like sewing a button or a hem, darning a hole or worn-out area of your socks is an easy skill that you can master fast, but it’s one that will go really far in saving you money and hassle over time. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1, Gather Your Supplies: To get started, you’ll need a few important tools: thread in a color similar to your sock (or something funky and different, if that’s your thing), a needle and a tennis ball.
Step 2, Prepare Your Materials: Wrap your sock around the tennis ball so it’s taut and the hole is stretched open. Thread your needle, tying a knot at the end so it doesn’t slip through the eye.
Step 3, Sew the Hole: Working crossways, stitch the thread through the hole and pull it taut so that the two sides of the sock come together. Leaving a small loop at the end, bring the needle through to create a knot.
Why Salvage Old Socks?
With all these great tips, you’ll never again feel guilty about tossing those holey, orphaned or worn-out (but otherwise completely perfect) socks again. By taking the time to give them a second life, you’re preventing them from winding up in the landfill, effectively lowering your carbon footprint. Plus, when you transform them into something else entirely, you’re saving yourself some dough along the way. Happy sock salvaging!