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Three ways to recycle your old socks

Are socks recyclable? It’s a question that surprisingly few people know the real answer to. If you’re looking for a new way to put those old socks to good use, take a look at some of the ideas outlined below. Some of them may just surprise you.

Explore Textile Recycling Centers

While socks should never be throw in the recycling bin, there is a way to properly recycle socks. Even well-worn socks can be sent to a textile recycling center like the American Textile Recycling Service. These kinds of organizations will accept your socks along with other worn clothing (even things like shoes and underwear) so they don’t have to be sent to a landfill.

Once they are dropped off, your old clothes will be sorted into different categories, depending on the level of wear. Higher-grade items will be recirculated in secondhand shops, while others will be broken down into their raw materials to be reused to make new clothing. However, depending on where you live, there may be restrictions on what kinds of clothing they take. Be sure to call your local branch before making the visit.

Get Creative With Up-cycling

If you can’t drop your old socks at a textile recycling center, you may be able to find a more creative use for them around the house. This could be something as simple as a cleaning rag to wipe up crumbs from kitchen counters, or part of your next arts and crafts project. You may be surprised how much fun kids can have with some old fabric, a bit of hot glue, and package of googly-eyes.

One useful thing you can make with an old sock is a handy hotpack. Simply pour one to two cups of uncooked rice into the sock and tie off the end to seal the rice inside. Then microwave for two minutes to heat up the rice and use as needed. Keep in mind that this craft won’t work with polyester socks, as they can melt under high heat.

When it Doubt, Compost it!

If all else fails, an old pair of socks can be a valuable addition to your backyard compost pile. It is a good idea to cut the fabric into small pieces first, to help along the biodegrading process. Though once they are incorporated it should only be a matter of months before the fibers of your old socks begin to break down into soil you can use to grow your next meal. Just don’t forget to only compost socks made of organic materials, like cotton.

Giving Your Old Socks a Second Life

Finding a way to give your socks a second life is always a better idea than simply binning them. Whether they can be made into new clothing, a fun craft project to pass a weekend afternoon, or just composted, there’s always some way to find a new use for old socks. All it takes is a little creativity and you can keep one more pair of old socks out of the landfill.