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What to Do With Old Socks in the UK

What to Do With Old Socks in the UK

One of the oldest pair of socks found in existence were Romano-Egyptian and made from red wool, with a split toe for wearing with sandals! So next time you see someone in socks and sandals, know that they're channeling this truly original fashion trend which is centuries old.

But if your current array of socks is starting to look like an ancient Roman pair, or just if your sock drawer is getting hard to close, then there are many practical ways to deal with this. 

What To Do with Old Socks (UK Guide)

Make Socks Last Longer

The first option is to try and keep your socks for as long as possible. Some good tips for this include taking good care of them in the first place. Wash your socks at low temperatures and air dry where possible. 

Try to rotate the socks that you wear. The more you keep wearing a certain set of socks, the more they'll wear it. Which sounds obvious. But have a quick check, are there socks that you avoid and ones that you wear more often?

Avoid getting hoes in the toes by keeping your toenails short.

Having the right size socks, not too big or too small, also means the sock fits properly to your foot and isn't getting worn out prematurely by being stretched out or bunched up in some way.

Also, consider putting your socks in a laundry bag so they don't get caught on any zips in the wash. 

Donate Brand New Socks

If you got given a pack of socks that you will never get round to wearing, then you can think about donating them to charity. If they aren't in good enough condition, you could donate them as part of some kind of rag donation scheme. Animal shelters can make use of shredded rags for bedding material, for example. 

Homeless shelters may also take your old socks but only if they are in excellent condition. Just think if you would actually appreciate the socks if they were given to you when you needed them most. 

SockShop encourage people to donate their old socks to these following charities:

  1. Emmaus
  2. Big Issue Foundation
  3. Centrepoint
  4. Crisis
  5. Shelter
  6. Depaul UK

Give Them to Family/Friends

Second hand socks aren't unsafe to wear. If washed properly, you could pass on your socks to family members or friends, if you ask them first! 

Don't Buy Socks You Don't Need

Good quality socks are hard wearing and should last you years to come. If you're finding yourself needing to get rid of socks because you just have too many, then do think about restricting yourself to buying less socks while you use up your old ones. Set aside some new socks or the ones in mint condition and save those for special events so you don't have to rush out to buy a new pack. 

Ways to Upcycle Old Socks

DIY Paint Mitt

Keep your worn out socks for DIY. You can use them for when you're doing odd jobs around the house where there might be the possibility of getting them wet, damaged or covered in paint.

And speaking of paint, there is a great DIY tip for when you're painting bannisters or where you need a smooth, thick application of paint. Place your old sock over a rubber glove and then you have a perfect hand-made painting mitt. 

Guinea Pig, Hamster or Rat Bandage

Old (but clean) socks can be great for keeping your small furry friends from getting to wounds or skin issues. Just trim your sock down to size and cut a suitable hole in the toe end.

Read More: Sewing to Save the Planet by Reducing Fabric Waste

Cleaning Cloths

Socks can make great cloths for cleaning around the home. Whether it is for dusting, cleaning your shoes or for soaking up oily substances, old socks can be washed and reused, reducing the need to buy new cleaning cloths. 

Ask your Local Mechanic

Why would your local mechanic want your old socks? Well they might find a bigger collection of rags, including old socks, useful for soaking up excess oil. Great for cleaning up bike chains, too.

Repair Socks

Don't forget that holey socks can be repaired or darned. This is a great skill to learn yourself and means you can keep on repairing socks until they've totally had it.


Got a quality pair of socks that you can't part with yet? You might be able to upcycle them into a pair of gloves/mittens. You just need a pair of scissors, a bit of thread, a needle and a few minutes to watch someone do it for you on YouTube

In the same vein, you can also create wrist or leg warmers. 

Draught Excluder

Old socks can be a great filler for a draughter excluder. Bunch them up and stuff them into an existing fabric bag or make your own to custom fit to the bottom of your door. Keep the heat in and the cold out.

Dog or Cat Toy

By braiding socks together you can make your own rope/chew toy for your dog or cat. Or you could put a tennis ball in the end of a sock and knot the top for some extra entertainment for your pooch.

Create a doughnut toy by starting from the open end of a sock, rolling the sock outward down to the toe. This creates a doughnut shape. Add some stitches and voila.

Hair Ties

You can cut the leg part of longer socks into strips to make hair ties or scrunchies. A fairly straightforward 'hack' for turning socks into something potentially more useful. I mean, how many of your hair ties have you lost or broken?

Clean socks can also be used as DIY hair rollers, or as a hair doughnut for styling.

Sock Puppets

Get the whole family involved by creating your very own sock puppets. It is a great excuse to break out the craft supplies and let your imagination run wild. 

Ice Pack Cover 

Socks could be perfect size to cover a smaller ice pack to prevent you from getting any ice-burn. Of course double check the thickness of your socks. You may need to use two pairs.

You could also use socks for a cover for a heat pad. Or even create your own lavender and rice filled heat bag.

Textile Recycling: Where to Recycle Old Socks in the UK

If your socks really are worn out then it is time for them to be sent out for textile recycling.

Old socks can be sent off with any other totally worn out clothes you might have and dropped off at your nearest textile bank or take-back scheme.

The London Sock Company operates an annual sock amnesty; you can send them your old socks to be upcycled.

 The Little Sock Company also offers an old sock recycling scheme.



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