What To Do With Old Jeans

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Have a bunch of pairs of old jeans that are too worn out to use or that you don’t fit into anymore? Here are some ideas for what to do with old jeans so that you can make the most of what you have!

Have a bunch of pairs of old jeans that are too worn out to use or that you don't fit into anymore? Here are some ideas for what to do with old jeans so that you can make the most of what you have!

What To Do With Old Jeans

We all have them: old jeans that we don’t or can’t wear anymore. Maybe they’re too big, too small, or just don’t fit our current style. But before you throw them away, consider these ideas for what to do with old jeans!

Pile of old jeans on a wooden table.

Donate them to a local charity.

There are many organizations that accept donations of used clothing, and your old jeans can help someone in need.

Consider donating old jeans to a local thrift store that helps support some kind of service in your community such as a homeless shelter or a women’s home.

Denim jeans made into a tote bag.

Upcycle them into something new.

There are endless possibilities for upcycling old jeans, from creating a new pair of shorts to making a tote bag. Here are some of my favorite ways to upcycle old jeans.

  • Turn them into shorts. Cut off the legs to your desired length and hem the edges to stop them from fraying. You may also leave them as-is if you want that “frayed” look.
  • Make a denim skirt. Take your DIY denim skirt to the next level by sewing some ready-made patterns and patches or adding embroidery.
  • Use old jeans to make a tote bag. Tote, shoulder, shopping bag, clutch, coin purse, and more – old jeans are perfect for almost any kind of bag. You can cut up different pieces from different jeans and patch them together for a fun and unique look.
  • Create a patchwork quilt. Cut up the jeans into squares or rectangles. You can also use different sizes and colors of jeans to create your own unique quilt. If you want a thicker quilt to keep you warm, sew batting to the back of your quilt.
  • Make a pair of denim overalls. To make denim overalls, you can follow the same steps when you make denim shorts or skirts. The only difference is you’d have to add a belt loop to the waistband and straps to turn it into overalls.
  • Turn them into a denim jacket. The best thing about making your own denim jacket is you can add any embellishment you want – studs, sequins, monograms, patches, and embroidery.
  • Create a denim apron. Make your denim apron stand out by adding a pocket or two and a belt loop.
  • Make a denim throw pillowcase. You can sew each leg of your old jeans together or cut up pieces from different jeans and sew them together for a fun “patchwork quilt” look.
  • Create DIY denim jewelry. This is probably one of the easiest ways to use those old jeans and small denim scraps. Whether it’s dangling earrings, funky bracelets, or a denim choker, the creative possibilities are endless!
  • Upcycle them into a sofa or bedside pocket organizer. The pockets and openings in jeans make them suitable for DIY storage and organizer. Put as many pockets as you want for your remote controls, glasses, books, magazines, snacks, and more.
Clothespin Bag

Make a Homemade Clothespin Bag.

I shared this tutorial on how to use the pockets of your ratty old jeans and turn them into a homemade clothespin bag. This DIY upcycled jeans tutorial is so easy that even beginners in sewing can do it.

Blue jeans made into insulation.
Photo credit from Vital Choice. You can send in blue jeans to use as food packaging with them here.

Recycle them.

Many denim recycling programs will turn your old jeans into new products, such as insulation or flooring. Blue Jeans Go Green is one place where you can send in your old jeans to be recycled and it also shows any upcoming jeans recycling events for certain brands or stores. Or if you have a pair of jeans that is a specific brand name, many places to recycle them can be found here.

Chair upholstered with denim fabric.

Do some DIY Upholstery.

Since denim fabric is sturdy, it’s ideal as upholstery fabric. Whether it’s your favorite armchair or chaise lounge, the next time you just aren’t sure what do with your old jeans, give this DIY project a try!

No matter what you choose to do, don’t throw away your old jeans! There are plenty of ways to give them a second life.

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What are some ways you have used old jeans in your home? Leave a comment below!

Me and Kady

Merissa Alink

Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple and frugal life on Little House Living since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.

This blog post for the Ways to Use Old Jeans was originally posted on Little House Living in January 2024.

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  1. I like to use old jeans( the less worn parts) as backing for hot pads. I piece scraps of cotton and quilt it with Insulbright in the center. Bind around the whole thing. You have a flexible potholder that does not let your hand get burned!

  2. I remember seeing in the Tightwad Gazette in the 90’s to make potholders out of old jeans. I’m going to dig my books out and look up the instructions!

  3. I used a pair of my brother’s jeans that were beyond repair and made a multi-loop & pocket outdoor apron for garden work. I also took the leftover parts of jeans that did not work for my patchwork quilts and cut 1/4 inch thin strips to make a denim and recycled t-shirt hooked rug. It is a great winter project (keeps hands busy while keeping lap warm).

  4. Hi Merissa:
    I divide old jeans into categories. Those that are still reasonably wearable go to charity. Older, rattier jeans that are still wearable get put aside along with ancient T-shirts to be kept for messy chores like painting, gardening, heavy house cleaning or grass cutting. With jeans that are no longer wearable I cut out the good sections of fabric and set aside them aside to be used in many of the already mentioned projects. If possible I also rescue the zippers, fasteners, buttons etc. and put them aside for other projects.