What’s The Deal with Old Socks?
In busy households, it is not uncommon to find lone socks in the laundry hamper, their mates having been sucked into the back of your washing machine. Try as you might to source that precious twin, stranded socks are an annoying reality of everyday household chores.
You may devise systems to carefully count the pairs that you put into the wash, to pull out one item at a time, or to lay all of the socks strategically on the top of the machine or the floor below. There are steps you can take to keep your socks together, like using close pins or keeping them in a laundry bag; but you may not be invested enough to use those techniques, and you’ll still experience the occasional stray sock.
Newton’s clever three laws of motion apply to a lot of simple scenarios in everyday life. His third law of motion is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, the first step in figuring out what to do with old socks, is don’t fight the loss! If you settle into the reality that socks disappear once in a while, you’ll feel less stressed about the inevitable chaos of your existence.
If you’re wondering what to do with old socks, you can put those isolated socks to use and turn your dilemma into a glass half full opportunity.
Why Keep Old Socks?
Humans love control; it makes us feel safe, secure and calm. When things don’t go as planned, we tend to become agitated. There are lots of practical opportunities that come with lost socks: they give us the chance to create something new with the sock that is left over, something that may have never occurred to us before. If you feel like getting your craft on, keep reading.
There is a way to tackle the question of what to do with old socks. You can transform old socks into useful items into useful material—It feels satisfying to give back to the environment, and it’s inspiring to turn recycling into a fun activity.
Loss of a pair of socks
New, useful objects
What you paid for the socks
Safe and quality material
May not be replaceable
A way to connect with children and friends
Relaxing downtime brought on by crafting
How to Enhance Your Down Time with Old Socks
One concept that neuroscientists use to illustrate the way that we can develop and sustain a healthy and balanced brain is the mind platter. The mind platter serves up a healthy helping of inner reflection, sleep, physical activity, focus, human connection, playtime and downtime. In a fast-paced culture, the last two, playtime and downtime, don’t tend to get much attention. Enter old socks.
Participating in crafting, designing and exploring are all great ways of taking time for yourself to unwind. You can even connect with others in the process—if you have kids, this is a perfect and no-cost opportunity to encourage creativity. As it turns out, the process of repurposing old socks includes reflecting on what would be most beneficial to create out of lone socks.
Engaging in activities makes us more present and peaceful in our life. At the end of a busy workday, when you feel like reaching for the bag of potato chips and sinking into the couch to satisfy your latest Netflix addiction, consider rewiring your choices. Instead of feeling increasingly groggy and burned out, let your creative juices flow after you check out these options on what to do with old socks.
The Five Best Ways to Repurpose Old Socks
It may sound dull and even redundant, but one of the best ways to put an old sock to use is to turn it into a cloth. You can use rags for anything around the house from dusting to washing to drying, and in most homes, there are never enough on hand. The material of many socks is absorbent, soft and fast-drying—ideal for taking on any mess.
2. Ice Pack Cover
When the doctor suggests that you ice for fifteen minutes on, fifteen minutes off after an injury, it doesn’t feel like such a big deal. The ice can be so cold that your skin starts to tingle and burn, and it feels unbearable to keep the ice in place. There is an easy solution: put your ice pack in an old sock, tie a knot and you’ll be able to relax without noticing the ice.
3. Mug Cover
Your coffee may be the best part of your morning, but scalded hands are an unwelcome part of taking your first hot sips. This ingenious hack will keep you in comfort while you enjoy your favourite treat: add a sock cover to your mug or tumbler. Once you’ve cut the sock, you can sew in the edges for a more polished look or just let it be. You will be able to travel comfortably or to carry on with a task, hand firmly grasping around the mug.
4. Protection of Valuables
Wondering what to do with old socks? Protect. Your. Valuables. When you're on vacation, you can put jewellery in a sock, a pair of sunglasses or eyeglasses and even your phone. Your valuable items won’t be scratched and will be easy to locate, especially if you choose a brightly coloured or patterned sock.
5. Homemade Heating Pad
After a long day of sitting at the computer or an intense workout, there is nothing more relaxing than curling up with a heating pad. You don’t have to purchase this item at a great expense. Choose a natural fiber sock, and fill it with rice. Tie a knot and place it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Voila! You’ll reach the ultimate states of relaxation and comfort.
Sprucing Up Your Clothing Items With Old Socks
1. Knee Pads
Maybe you’re rollerblading around the block and want a bit of extra cushioning to protect you from a wipe out (no shame). Sock knee pads can be used for heavy gardening work in the spring, playing on the floor with your kids, and floor yoga. To make your knee pads, cut the tubes off the socks and slide two tubes together, one inside the other.
2. Sock Bun
All my life, I’ve been in admiration of the sock bun—you know, that elegant ballerina updo? Enter old sock. To get the look, cut the toes off of a sock and roll it into a donut shape. Pull your hair into a ponytail, push the donut down and secure.
3. Moisturizing Hands and Feet
To prevent your hands and feet from looking like dragon scales in the winter, simply cover them in heavy-duty creme and protect them with socks while you sleep. The moisture will be absorbed, and your hands and feet will be soft and supple by morning. A bonus is that your sheets won’t get messy.
4. Leg Warmers
Leg warmers are a go-to way to repurpose socks. Cut off the toe, and you’re set! For an adult size, use tube socks, and for an infant, regular size socks will work. This cozy style works for when you’re out and about in cold weather or spending Saturday chilling at home.
5. Better Mittens
On those bitterly cold days, you don’t need to face the elements with numb and tingling fingers. Line your mittens with socks, and you’ll have an added layer of warmth—just be sure to wash them first.
6. Elbow Patches
For children who are playing hard, elbow patches are a fact of life, but for adults, they can be an element of style. Cut your shapes evenly, and you’ll keep your little one’s sweater in action or give your own a new edge.
7. Arm Warmers
Add some warmth to those sweaters or jackets that aren’t quite toasty enough in the winter. To make arm warmers, cut a thumb in the heel part of the sock. Once you slip your hand in, you’ll have a sense of where you want to cut around your fingers. A useful marker is your knuckles. Keep the extra fabric to make a cuff.
8. Fingerless Gloves
Fingerless gloves are ideal for chilly days that don’t demand full coverage. They allow you to pick up after the dog, check your text messages and adjust your outfit without having to take your mitts off.
9. DIY Scarf
Sew together the tubes of old socks, and you will have a creative, original style of scarf. Preferably socks with colors or patterns, otherwise the scarf may look a bit drab.
10. Head Band
Head bands are great for wearing outdoors, but you can also rock them while exercising or to complete an outfit when you just don’t feel like washing your hair. Slide the toe portion of one sock into the end of the tube of the other sock. Sew it together and repeat on the other side with a different patterned sock.
11. Polish Shoes
Socks are soft and ideal for the job. In two simple steps, add polish and then buff. Be sure to switch socks when you move onto the second shoe.
12. Arm Band
If your shorts or leggings don’t have a pocket in them, it’s a hassle to run and lift weights while finding a place for your phone. Keep your phone safe and sweat-free with an armband. Cut off the foot of the sock and turn it inside out. Pull the sock up, fold a pocket and slide in your phone.
The Environmental Impact of Upcycling Socks
The next time you wonder what to do with old socks, take a moment to consider the environment. While it is common to talk about the effect of plastics or car emissions on the environment, the waste of textiles does not often cross our minds. Such waste can have a significant impact on the environment, which contributes to global warming.
You’ll be surprised to know that even though some garments are donated or recycled, the majority end up in landfills, where they release harmful greenhouse gases. The toxins and dyes in the clothing are released back into the environment, contaminating soil and water systems.
The farms that harvest the materials for textiles, like cotton, frequently use herbicides and pesticides to expedite growing patterns. Recycling your socks is a positive step towards lessening the impact of climate change. Youth environmental activist Greta Thunberg would be proud.
How to Involve Friends and Family in Re-Modelling Socks
Thinking of what to do with old socks can simply be about planning a fun crafting activity with them. Spending quality time together with a united purpose or aim enhances the experience and connection. You can remodel socks with your close friends over a glass of wine, with your siblings for a gift exchange or with your children for a novel and creative activity.
Whatever your purpose for up-cycling socks, you will create lasting memories, learn to collaborate, share stories, laughs and develop new and useful items while reinventing the use for lonesome socks. You could recycle socks on these occasions:
- Family night
- Playtime and play dates
- Girls night
- Holiday party
- Children’s birthday parties
- Gift exchange
- A relaxing Sunday afternoon
- An activity to set up for a babysitter
Making Toys from Old Socks
Still need ideas on what to do with old socks? Nothing is more important between a parent and child than quality time and it’s challenging to find meaningful activities that will encourage the growth, development and interest of your child. Making toys for your children is a stimulating and enjoyable activity that will make for bonding and fun.
Many parents need to know the materials of their children’s toys. When you purchase a toy from the store, you don’t know what went into the manufacturing process, and when young children bite and chew on the toy, it can be a cause for concern. A great solution is to make your toys from old socks and other simple materials—you'll have peace of mind of knowing that the toys are safe and easily washable.
Classic Sock Puppet
What you need:
- A sock
- Googly eyes
- Black pompom
- Pink pompom
- Safety scissors
- Cut the end of a sock and guide your child to cut two ears. Shape them like leaves; they don’t have to be perfect.
- Make two small holes for the ears,
- Encourage your child to glue on the pink pompom tongue and the black pompom nose
- Complete your sock puppet by attaching googly eyes.
Materials you’ll need:
- A sock
- Cotton balls
- Elastic band
- Safety scissors
- Colouring pens
- Your child will begin by inserting cotton balls into the tip of the sock. Make sure to fill it well!
- Next, the child ties the elastic band around the sock where the cotton balls have created a ball shape.
- Assist your child with the cutting using safety scissors as you cut eight strips. You can teach your child that an octopus has eight tentacles and talk about their role in the sea.
- The final step is to attach googly eyes. It can be fun for your child to draw on the octopus tentacles and to give the creature a smile.
Just Keep Swimming—Fishy
- Googly eyes
- Cotton balls
- Elastic Bands
- Safety scissors
- Your child fills the toe of the sock with cotton balls and ties it off with an elastic band
- Have fun molding the head of the sock to look like a fish.
- Help your child cut the end of the sock to create a fishtail.
- The last part of your fish sock process requires pasting on the googly eyes and drawing on a mouth.
- Make a few more to create a school of fish!
What you’ll need to make a llama puppet:
- Spare sock (ideally a fuzzy one)
- Coloured felt
- Fabric glue
- Safety scissors
- Draw some of the more complex shapes on coloured felt and then help your child cut them out.
- Glue the felt onto the sock using fabric glue.
What you’ll need to make a hacky sack:
- Old sock
- Needle and thread
- Cut the tip of an old sock, roughly 3-4 inches from the toes.
- Sew the sock mostly shut except for a gap to fill it.
- Pour in rice (or lentils).
- Sew the sock shut.
- For added durability, sew the second sock over the first.
Sock Chia Pet
- Old sock
- Dirt and grass seed
- Push Pins
- Prepare a pot.
- Take a sock and fill it with grass seed and soil.
- Tie it off
- Use push pins and buttons to give your little pet a face.
- Water a little bit each day and grass will grow out of the top like crazy hair.
- Socks in different colours and patterns
- Rice or beans
- Cut and measure geometric shapes for a cool effect (pentagons work well)
- Sew together leaving space to insert the filling
- Sew off
- Ready for play!
- Permanent marker
- Fill the sock with rice.
- Bunch together the body and the head into two balls (Tip: size the body more substantial than the head).
- Tie off between the top and the bottom sections with twine.
- Tie a bow around the middle.
- Cut the leftover material down the middle and shaped like ears.
- Draw on eyes and nose.
No-Sew Sock Worm
- Long Sock
- Pipe cleaner
- Googly Eyes
- Permanent Marker
- Fill a long sock (knee socks work well) with rice.
- Mold the sock into balls (3 or 4 depending on the length of the sock).
- Tie each section of twine once molded to your liking.
- Tie off the end of the sock with twine.
- Put decorative pipe cleaners in your colour of choice around the head.
- Past on Googly eyes.
No-Sew Snowman Toy
- White sports sock
- Coloured sock
- Needle and thread
- Black permanent marker
- Fill a white sports sock with rice.
- Mold into two balls.
- Tie off with twine around the middle and top.
- Cut the toe portion off of a coloured sock to make a hat for the snowman’s head.
- Cut two extra strands (about ½ an inch in thickness) to make a scarf for the snowman.
- Sew three buttons down the middle.
- Draw on a face.
Dog and cat toys can be unreasonably expensive, and it feels tragic to watch your pet rip through a newly acquired toy in just one play session. What to do with old socks? If you've got a pet, reusable socks provide endless fun at a margin of the cost.
- Shoelace or sewing kit
- Roll up other single socks into balls and insert them into the main sock.
- If you are using a big sock, you may add a tennis ball.
- Place treats on the inside for added enjoyment.
- Tie with a shoelace.
The necessary materials:
- String or shoelace
- Fill the sock with catnip.
- Tie with string or a shoelace.
Encourages creativity and acting
Entertaining, durable, safe and machine washable
Encourages physical activity and play
Dog and cat toy
Cheaper than retail prices, customizable, hours of entertainment
Sprucing Up Your Home With Old Socks
When piling up a stack of old, unwanted socks, you may not have considered that the separated items can create beautiful home decor.
1. Potpourri Packages
Want to keep your living room smelling fresh? If you have dogs, cats, or small children, potpourri is essential, and this repurposing craft involves no sewing. Cut the ends of your socks, pick your beautiful scent and then tie them off. You can put them in drawers, tuck them on shelves, place one in the bathroom, and your house will smell great.
2. Draft Stopper
A draft stopper is perfect for that chilly fall morning or that extra cold winter day when the heat simply won’t hold in the room. Sew together socks that match the length of the doorway and add quilt batting. Place your draft stopper in front of the door, and you can lower the temperature or put away that extra blanket.
3. Pot Holders
For the more ambitious crafter, this repurposed item takes a bit more work but pays off. Making this potholder could even be a meditative activity, with calming music in the background. Just cut the socks into strips and put your weaving loom to use to make your potholder. You can add special touches, choosing your colours and even give this creation as a gift. The potholder will add a personal and sentimental touch to your kitchen.
4. Vase Cozie
Sometimes a vase starts to look drab, or maybe you just want to switch up the look of your living room. If that’s the case, a vase cozie will do the trick. You can use your artistic eye to decide on your preference for pattern or colour. An argyle or striped sock can make the room pop. Even better, you can choose the right sock to set off your flowers or the season.
5. Super Effective Moth Balls
If you’re never quite sure which part of the closet to stick your mothballs or you find that they fall out when you tug on your clothing items, this is the fix for you. Take an old sock and fill it with mothballs. Then, hang it from the top of the closet or just tuck it into the corner of your sweater shelf.
6. Dryer Balls
The cost of Fabric softeners and dryer sheets adds up. Make a dryer ball out of old socks, and you can leave it in the machine to accompany every load. Place tennis balls inside of old socks, and you’re set to keep your clothes fluffy. Your bed sheets will feel better than ever!
7. Wrist Rest
A yoga instructor or exercise specialist will be the first to tell you that working at a computer is hard on your wrists. To prevent injuries such as tendonitis, use this simple fix. Fill a sock with rice and sew it up. With your wrist rest, typing will be a breeze, and your focus will improve. For extra support on a sore day, heat your wrist rest in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
8. Protect Furniture
You know those little stoppers—the ones you peel the paper off to expose the sticky part? They fall off pretty regularly, and that furniture scraping sound is awful. To solve this problem once and for all, place socks on the bottom of your furniture.
9. Quilt Fabric
If you are crafty and like to quilt, tune in. Socks can be beautiful in their own right. With the vast array of colours, patterns and designs, you’re sure to fill that patch in a cool way. Cut them into a square or rectangle and see how far you can stretch your repurposing.
10. Swiffer Pad
From my personal experience, every time I go to mop the floor, I am out of Swiffer pads. Instead, use an old sock to cover your Swiffer mop. The sock is brilliant at picking up dust, dirt, pet hair and grime. Secure a part of the cleaning closet for old or lone socks so that you always have them on hand.
11. Game Piece Storage
If you have young kids or even slightly older kids, you’re probably regularly frustrated when you pull out a board game or a puzzle and discover there are missing pieces. Fill your old socks with game pieces. Pick a distinctive pattern or colour that you associate with each game and tie off the end. We recommend crazy socks for Monopoly storage, because we all know how wild that game gets.
12. Phone Holder
Even with a heavy-duty phone case, I still manage to crack the screen protector on my phone. If you fall into this category of floppy hands, then you might benefit from a phone sleeve.
Socks for Outdoor Uses
1. Anti-Fog in the Car
Fill old socks with cat litter—yes, you heard me correctly, cat litter, and you will never experience the terror of driving blindly behind fogged car windows again. Fill one sock, tie it off and cover it with another. Put it on your windshield or elsewhere in the car, and it will absorb moisture. It works, we swear.
2. Windshield Wiper Covers
Frozen windshield wipers can be really irritating and start your day off badly. Get rid of this issue by protecting your wipers with socks.
3. Shine Your Car
The best part of old socks is that they’re guilt-free. However many times you use them, you’re giving them more use than they would have had in the dumpster. Wash and polish your car with an old pair of socks and if they absorb enough dirt, and they’ve seen their day, then let them go for the next pair in line.
4. Golf Club Covers
It sounds simple, and it is: covering your golf clubs with worn socks keeps them pristine. This trick will make travel and life on the green much smoother.
By now you know what to do with old socks, and that the loss of the old gives an opportunity for the new. Whether you’re creative and looking for an inspirational outlet, need a reason to gather together with your closest friends or a busy parent in need of an educational and engaging activity, repurposing socks is a rewarding pursuit.