Skip to main content
Learn

How to Donate, Recycle and Reuse Old Bed Sheets and Towels 2022

white sheets on an unmade bed
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
JESSICA SCHRAMM FOR PARACHUTE
@parachutehome
Instagram Logo
Pinterest Logo
Facebook Logo
Twitter Logo
YouTube Logo
TikTok Logo
LinkedIn Logo

Every household needs bedding and towels, and you're wise to keep extras on hand for guests, messes and laundry day. But linens will eventually wear out, and most homes can only store so many.

When you're trying to cut down on waste and live mindfully, it might not feel right to simply toss old bedding in the trash. So, is there a sustainable way to pass them on for a new purpose or give them to someone in need? Can you donate old sheets and towels, and if so, how and where? 

If you're wondering what to do with old towels, whether you can recycle sheets, or where to donate bedding you no longer use, you've come to the right place. Keep reading for answers to these questions, along with tips for repurposing textiles.

Where to Donate and Recycle Bedding and Used Towels

Figuring out what to do with old sheets and where to donate towels isn't always straightforward. What you do with old bedding depends on the condition of the items and what recycling centers or charities are in your area. And unlike dropping off plastic bottles and cardboard, recycling textiles isn't always free.

Having said that, if you don't want your linens to end up in a landfill, there are a few routes you can take to recycle towels and donate bedding you no longer use. This includes donation centers, churches, homeless shelters, animal shelters, the American Textile Recycling Service and TerraCycle.

Nationwide Donation Centers

You can donate bedding and other textiles to the American Red Cross through its GreenDrop program. The charity takes gently used blankets, sheets, bed covers, baby items and clothes. Pack up your items in a sturdy bag or box, and bring them to your nearest drop-off location or schedule a pick-up.

Then there's the Salvation Army, which accepts various household goods, including bedspreads, blankets, curtains, pillows, towels and rugs. If you want to donate old sheets or other linens, find a drop-off location, schedule a free pick-up or head to your nearest Salvation Army Thrift Store.

You can also donate bedding items to Goodwill. The organization takes gently used linens, including blankets and curtains. Just bear in mind most of these charities can't accept mattresses and won't be able to redistribute severely stained or ripped items.

Churches and Homeless Shelters

Still stuck on what to do with old sheets? Churches and homeless shelters will often take the used items donation centers can't accept. In addition to clothes and jackets, this includes sheets, blankets, towels and washcloths. They might also need rags and kitchen towels to help keep their facilities clean.

Animal Shelters

If you're wondering where to donate old blankets and what to do with old towels, you might consider an animal shelter, like The Humane Society. The organization will take some bath linens, sheets and bed covers, as long as they aren't stuffed, such as a down comforter or quilt that animals might ingest pieces of.

American Textile Recycling Service

If you can't donate bedding, you might be able to pass it along to the American Textile Recycling Service (ATRS). The organization takes everything from sheets, comforters, blankets and pillows to drapes, rugs, towels and shower curtains.

There are currently thousands of drop-off bins across the U.S. at malls, supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies. To find one in your area, call the ATRS hotline at 866-900-9308 and tell them your zip code.

TerraCycle

If you're trying to recycle cotton sheets or other household linens, another option is TerraCycle. The program takes all kinds of textiles, including cotton, linen, wool and even polyester, which is broken down and made into other plastic products.

You can order a Zero Waste Box, fill it with your old belongings, then ship it back to TerraCycle using the included prepaid return label. If you'd like to keep a bedding recycle box in your home at all times, order a new one, send it back when it fills up, and repeat.

How to Find Recycling Centers Near You

The best way to find recycling centers and charities in your area is with a simple Google search. Try "Where to donate sheets near me" or "Where to donate bedding near me" and see what pops up. If your search comes up empty, go directly to your organization of choice's website to see what's close to home.

What to Do With Old Sheets

If you can't donate bedding, there are many other great uses for old sheets. The fabric can be converted into:

  • Picnic blankets

  • Tapestries

  • Table linens

  • Ironing pads

  • Furniture covers for painting

There are nearly endless ways to reuse old sheets. For tips on storing them, see our guide on How to Organize Your Linen Closet.

What to Do with Old Towels

On a similar note, there are lots of excellent uses for old towels. You can turn them into:

  • Rags

  • Chew toys

  • Beach/swimming towels

  • Doggie chew toys

  • Floor covers for painting

Just because you can't donate them doesn't mean you can't reuse old towels. You never know when you'll need one for a spill or leak, so it doesn't hurt to keep a few on hand.

To help your linens last as long as possible, see our guides on How to Wash and Properly Care for Towels and How to Wash and Properly Care for Bedding.

Why It's Important to Replace Household Linens

The fact is, bedding and towels don't last forever. Over time, they lose their integrity, plushness and ability to absorb moisture. The fabrics may also develop permanent stains or odors.

Textiles made from linen and long-staple cotton will offer a few more years of use, and they'll last longer if you're not using them every single day. But generally speaking, you'll need to replace them once every two to five years.

For more insight on when to replace your old sheets and towels and what fabric to pick as a replacement, see our guides: 

How Often to Replace Sheets

Bed Sheet Fabrics: Choosing the Right Fabric for How You Sleep

Shopping for Ethically Produced Linens

If you're in the market for new bedding or bath linens and want to keep up your sustainable streak, there are a few certifications to look for when shopping around. This includes:

  • The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for organic fabrics

  • Oeko-Tex Standard 100 for chemical safety in fabric production

Parachute is proud to offer GOTS certified organic bedding and towels as well as Oeko-Tex certified bedding across our core products, including the entirety of the ultra-cozy linen, brushed cotton, sateen, and percale bedding lines. 

With a commitment to sustainable and ethical practices, Parachute is proud to carry a range of eco-conscious linens for your bedroom, bathroom, and home. In addition to Oeko-Tex certified products, you'll find a recycled down pillow as well as an assortment of organic textiles including loungewear, robes, blankets, towels, sheets, pillowcases, and duvet cover sets. Shop the collections today!

Read Next:

Best Oeko-Tex Bed Sheets, Towels, Clothing, & More

Best Organic Bathrobes: What to Look For in Sustainable Robes

Best Organic Bed Sheets: What to Look for in Organic Bedding

Best Organic Clothing: What to Look for in Organic Clothing

Best Organic Towels: What to Look for in Sustainable Towels

Best Organic Pillowcases: What to Look for in Organic Pillowcases

Best Towel Materials & Sizes

Linen: Know Your Bedding Like a Designer

Brushed Cotton: Know Your Bedding Like a Designer

Percale: Know Your Bedding Like a Designer

Waffle Weave: What to Look for in Waffle Bedding & Bath Products

Sateen vs Satin vs Silk

Why is European Linen the Best in the World?

What is Organic Cotton? Sustainable Cotton Fabric Guide

35 Eco-Friendly Home Products: Necessities for a Sustainable Household

How Often Should I Wash Cotton Sheets?

How to Wash Organic Cotton Sheets, Towels, and Clothes

Creative and Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas

Why Use a Natural Laundry Detergent? Your Questions Answered

External Sources:

1. https://www.gogreendrop.com/redcross/donation-requirements

2. https://satruck.org/Home/DonationValueGuide#household-goods

3. https://www.amazinggoodwill.com/donating/donor-guidelines

4. https://www.homelessshelterssite.org/donate-to-homeless.html

5. https://www.thehumanesociety.org/ways-to-give/donate-items/#approved-donated-supplies

6. https://atrscorp.com/faqs/

7. https://zerowasteboxes.terracycle.com/pages/how-the-zero-waste-box-system-works