Tips & Tricks For Upcycling Around The Home

Upcycling is a useful way to get more from something you’d otherwise throw in the bin. In some cases, those old sponges and unwanted items will eventually end up in landfill, but you can always get more life out of them first or opt for a product that is biodegradable or known to be recycled.

GudYu are hot on sustainability, so here are our top tips for upcycling products around the home to help reduce what you throw away.

11 Top Tips for Upcycling


Rather than throwing away your old t-shirts that are no longer wearable, rip them up and turn them into dusters. Cotton is best, but polyester and blended fabrics will work well, too.

Old t-shirts are perfect for use as dusters, dishcloths and even as mops if you want to get really creative. Anything you’d use a cloth for, just use an old t-shirt instead!

Veggie bags

If you buy fruit and veg that comes in mesh plastic bags (like the ones oranges and lemons come in), try using them as scrubbers.

Scrunch the bag up into a ball and it’ll work in much the same way as the scouring side of a sponge. Avoid using it on non-stick pans, but everything else should be fine. It’s a great alternative to getting your sponge all messy on that problem pan.

Old razors

Whether you buy disposable razors or replaceable blades, it’s possible to get a bit more life from them after they’re too dull for shaving.

Did you know you can use them to remove bobbles on knitwear? Simply run the razor lightly over the fabric and it’ll remove the pills. Not only does this give the razor a second life but it also helps your knitwear look fresh and new.

Old socks

Old socks are another great duster, particularly for Venetian blinds. Slip the sock over your hand and you can run it along the blind’s slats, effectively removing dust in hard-to-reach areas.

Also, old socks are useful for covering your shoes when you’re doing something messy, such as painting. You can just slip them off when you’re done and not have to worry about treading paint through the house.

Paper towel tubes

Paper towel (and toilet paper) tubes are recyclable, so upcycling them around the home isn’t super necessary. But if you want to, they’re a great way of organising all those random cables you’ve got lying around.

Put a cable in each and then store in something like a shoebox. For longer cables, cut the cardboard tube down the middle and wrap it around the cable to stop it from getting tangled.

Plastic bottles

Depending on the type of plastic bottle, you have a few different options. For something like a lotion bottle or dish soap bottle, you can make it into a phone cradle.

Cut the front of the bottle half-way across, so the phone sits nicely in its cradle and then cut a hole in the back where you can plug the charger through the hole and into the wall or use the hanging mechanism already on the bottle to hang it over a plug while your phone is charging. A short Pinterest video to demonstrate.

Larger bottles, such as milk cartons or drinks bottles, make great rain catchers. Cut the top off and simply put them in your garden to store rainwater. You can then use this for watering your plants if you don’t have a water butt.

Broken dishes

Broken crockery might be the last thing you think of upcycling, but it’s possible. It’s perfect for lining the bottom of a plant pot for drainage. Also, if you’ve got a permanent marker, you can use bits of pot as plant labels in the garden. Just write the plant name on and stick it in the soil.

Broken umbrella

Has the metal frame of your umbrella broken? It’s a problem many of us face when it’s windy. Luckily, it’s possible to upcycle some of the umbrella by turning the fabric into a tote bag. Here’s a video tutorial on how to do it.

Whilst this doesn’t quite solve the issue of the umbrella frame, at least that part is made from recyclable materials, so make sure to recycle it.

Old towels

Old towels are one of the best upcycling products because there’s so much you can do with them. For example, towels can be turned into mops, cleaning rags, and bath mats.

But if you fancy taking your upcycling further, you could turn old towels into dog toys. This involves some cutting and tying but it’s a great way to avoid throwing towels away and buying new dog toys!

Broken mugs

Broken mugs are ideal for turning into small plant pots for things like herbs and houseplants. Get the kids involved with painting and you can match them to your home’s décor.

If you’re worried about sharp bits where the mug has broken, just sand it down before painting.


Considering we’re all about oral care, it would be wrong for us to not address old toothbrushes. As you know, you should change yours every 2-3 months, meaning there’s lots of old toothbrushes lying around in landfills.

Luckily, they make great cleaning brushes. Sure, this isn’t upcycling per se, but it’s a good sustainability tip. Use them for cleaning shower heads and tile grout, or even for applying hair dye.

Better still, kids’ toothbrushes are smaller and softer, making them better for reaching those difficult spots around faucets.

Upping Your Sustainability Game

Sustainability is as much about reusing as it is reducing. Getting creative with “waste” products might not prevent them from going in the bin eventually, but it does save you from having to buy new products for things that can be solved with current products.

When it comes to upcycling products, think about what you have lots of and what things need doing around the home and see how you can match these up. With a bit of thought, you’d be surprised what can have a second life... and if your creativity seems stifled, Pinterest is always a great place to get inspired.