New Life for Old Tees

Hi there and happy Monday! I hope you had a nice weekend. We did some swimming and finished up the mister system in our backyard (hopefully a future blog post). I also tackled all the laundry which brought up a continual problem of mine…what to do with old tees? You see, We recently moved back to our home state of Arizona from Portland, Oregon. Portland is a lively, beautiful city with fantastic food and a SERIOUS passion for recycling! Now, I admit there is a limit to how much of my life I am willing to spend on recycling efforts but it is a good thing, an important thing, and it has made me re-think some of my old habits. Enter the OLD STAINED TEE SHIRTS. . .how they vex me! Being cotton, they actually only take 3 -5 months to decompose BUT my household alone throws out about a dozen a year and that contributes to landfill bulk. I’ve tried several home remedies for getting out the ‘arm pit crunchy stain of doom’; the baking soda…the hydrogen peroxide (which, by the way, will turn your finger tips white but not the arm pit of the tee shirt). You can’t donate them because they are too icky and I’ve already got BUCKETS of them out in the garage. Really, I need something better to do with these well-worn cotton conundrums. I mean, they are a fantastic, non-abrasive, fairly lent-free fabric perfect for cleaning mirrors, tv/computer screens, stainless steel appliances etc. so, why don’t I use them? I think it comes down to this – the ones in the garage are too big, awkward, ugly and let’s be honest here . . there could be spiders on them or mouse poop or…? You get the picture. So, they need to be a useful size, clean and stored IN the house near the products I would use them with. Here’s what I came up with.

Step 1: Wash the tees & cut off the arms and necks so each tee is now a nice, double-layer, rectangle of stain-free cotton.

Step 2: Layer several on top of each other. I did 6 layers thick (so three tees)

Step 3: Cut them into usable sizes. I did some 4.5″x 4.5″, 6.5″x 4.5″ and 7″x 7″ (to make into mitts). Put a pin or two in each 6 layer stack to hold your layers together.

Step 4: FOR THE MITTS ONLY, split your 7″x 7″ pieces into sets of 3 layers each. Sew the bottom only of each 3 layer square. Now, pair up 2, three layer squares to make a six layer stack- make sure your sewed bottoms match up on the same end. I rounded the tops of mine using a bowl to trace the arc.

Step 5: Sew around all four sides of each stack – about 1/2″ in from the edge. I did a zig zag stitch on some and a straight stitch on others so whatever is your preference. Trim up your edges – leaving about 1/4″ between the edge of the fabric and your seam. FOR THE MITTS ONLY, sew only three of the sides; NOT the bottoms, which you already sewed. Now you can slip your hand between the layers – like an oven mitt. 

And there you go! Now you have perfectly sized, clean, cotton pads and mitts to use for a variety of cleaning jobs. They are reusable, washable and typically don’t leave streaks or fluff behind like paper towels. Handy bonus…the mitts fit over the top of cleaning bottles so they are always conveniently together. I’d love to hear back from you on your ideas for recycling household items (scroll all the way down to the comment section below). Take care and have great week!


  1. Vikki | 6th Jun 17

    I especially love the mitt idea and how they can fit over the top of the cleaning bottle. Thanks for the good ideas.

    • JoElle | 6th Jun 17

      You are very welcome Vikki. I have a bottle of glass cleaner with a mitt over it in each of my bathrooms – makes for an easy & quick clean. Thanks for following!!

  2. Lenneke | 5th Jun 17

    Great idea!

    • JoElle | 5th Jun 17

      Thanks Lenneke! Once you get an assembly line going it is kind of brainless sewing – a little therapeutic actually.

  3. Tania | 5th Jun 17

    Great idea! I’m all about trying to recycle where I can. I don’t wear a lot of white t-shirts but this would work with any color I think!


    • JoElle | 5th Jun 17

      Absolutely Tania. Colored ones would be prettier anyway. My husband wears one EVERY day so that’s why we go through so many.

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