Making Use of Worn Out Shirts

A tear, wear and some fading just means the shirt needs to be upcycled to another useful purpose.

A tear, wear and some fading just means the shirt needs to be upcycled to another useful purpose.

You can always tell a person’s favorite shirt by how often it is worn and the shaby look it acquires after constant wear.  Fortunately, when shopping for my husband, I focus on finding clothing that is made with quality fabrics so that he can wear them as long as possible.  And, in keeping to a budget, many times I am able to strike a great deal when puchasing them on clearance at the end of a season, yet, unfortunately with most of them being long sleeved.  The only drawback to the long sleeved shirts is that I need to shorten all the sleeves, as my husband finds them to be uncomfortable.  Not really a terrible situation for a wife who has been a seamstress and sewn since her early teen years.

As time passes, after continual wear and washings, the shirts present this tiring look with worn collars (that I will reverse if it is a favorite shirt), fading beyond my liking, with holes beginning to form at the corners of pockets from constant use.  

This weekend I equipped myself with scissors in hand, as I share with him the two shirts that were in the category of “must go”.  Soon after, he came to me with a third shirt that simply torn at the pocket as he began to button it up.  I smiled bravely as I graciously took another one of his favorite shirts with me to my secret place with seam rippers and scissors.  Off came the buttons first!  Then, I bravely proceeded with the sharpest shears in the bunch, and cut the shirts into large pieces of rags and piled them nicely for future use, with very little being trashed.

I realize that I could have given these shirts to a charitable organization, but I do not find it very charitable to give worn out, ripped or even stained shirts to the less fortunate.  We prefer to give these organizations items that are still in very good condition and excellent repair.  If the only reason we want to move them out of the closet is because we found we were not wearing them  because we did not like the style, then that is when the act of charity of most appealing.  Buttons in tact, zippers all working, snaps functionable.  i find it rude to give away something that we ourselves would not wear because a button was missing, a zipper stopped working, a rip in the seam, etc.

Anyway, as you can tell, these three shirts were not something I was willing to give away, and certainly not because of greed.  So i decided to take the buttons off and save them for future use, either on a shirt (or two) that I will make for my husband, replacement buttons on aother shirt (if needed), or possibly a craft requiring buttons.  I do collect buttons, but I do not find buttons on a mans shirt to be  very exciting.

After removing the buttons, I proceeded to cut the shirts into rags.  These shirts were going to be perfect for my husbands use in changing the car oil, cleaning up paint, stain and oil spills, and whatever else he can use them for. By using worn out clothing for rags, we are saving ourselves from purchasing rags (yes they sell them in auto repair stores) and making good use of them.

I also use rags from clothing that is no longer useable, for cleaning around the house, either dusting or other damp cleaning.  Although one shirt was an ideal cotton fabric for my use, my husband was out of rags and was very receptive to having a new supply to work with. I sometimes find that the fabric is perfect to use as backing for securing buttons onto other work shirts, adding patches to the inside of jeans, and other sewing purposes.  

Whatever the purpose, I make an effort to save from filling up our landfills, by either giving and sharing with others the clothing items that are in very good condition, or utilizing the worn out items in a way that will benefit our needs without having to spend our financial resources.  Paper towels are nice and convenient, but rags are always needed, and in some cases can be washed along with the rest of the laundry to be reused again.

Please consider giving to others what you tired of, not what you wore out.  And, the items you wore out, consider using them for another purpose.

Living within our means by not wasting what we have,

~ Enjoy ~


Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor

Homemade Household Cleansers That Work!!

Cleansers that I have personally made and used, producing non-toxic fumes while actually cleaning our home.  ~ Laura

Cleansers that I have personally made and used, producing non-toxic fumes while actually cleaning our home. ~ Laura

There are two things that are frustrating while attempting to keep a home clean.  First, the products available on the market make each of us in our family feel as though we are going to die!!  Windows must be open, fans must be running, gloves must be worn and if we have them, a mask to prevent the fumes from reaching our lungs.  After the victim who is subjected to the task of cleaning the bathroom completes the job, they leave closing the door behind them as they keep the fan running to remove the toxic fumes.  Having to run a fan for 30 minutes or more, is another waste of resources.

The second frustrating aspect of many of the store bought products is that you spend a lot to get something that does not work.  For me this is a waste of my resources in an attempt to have a product that produces a clean result.  Even if the product only cost $1.00 after using a coupon, if it does not produce a clean result, it is not worth the $1.00 I spent.

I have found a few things that I have made that work for our needs.  I am still trying to find a good floor cleaner for our old kitchen tiled floor, but after creating a solution for our tub, I think I might be closer to creating something that works.  Until I figure something out, or someone directs me to a product that actually works or possibly a manufacturer that wants to send me a sample that works without killing my lungs , I will have to hold off on sharing until I find something that works well on my tiled floors.  For now, I would like to share what I use for my windows and mirrors, an all-purpose cleanser spray, a scouring powder and my new solution to cleaning our tub.

A few of the products I have at home that I use in my homemade cleaning products.  Other tiems include rubbing alcohol, amonia (only use in my window cleaner) and Dawn Original Hand dish detergent.  ~ Laura

A few of the products I have at home that I use in my homemade cleaning products. Other tiems include rubbing alcohol, amonia (only use in my window cleaner) and Dawn Original Hand dish detergent. ~ Laura

Ingredients used in the varying solutions are things that I typically have around the house, and generally inexpensive.  Containers are 1 quart spray bottle (you can get these are hardware stores, in bulk at warehouse stores, or re-using a bottle you might already have on hand).  Make sure it is clean before using, if it is an empty container you have from emptying other products.  For my scouring powder I have been using an old peanut butter jar.  Brand of peanut butter does not matter 🙂

Window Cleaner:

  • 1 quart spray bottle
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 Tbsp. Amonia

Mix items together and you are ready to start cleaning your windows and mirrors and seeing your beautiful smiling reflection as you wipe it clean.

NOTE:  I personally do not, but if you are one that likes the blue color in your window cleaner, just a dab of blue food coloring works.  Personally I do not find a need for this as it does not increase the cleaning power of your window cleaner.

Scouring Powder:

  • 1 small jar, recycled from peanut butter, jam, etc.  I use a small plastic peanut butter jar.
  • Ratio is 1:1 of the following two ingredients
    • ½ baking soda
    • ½ Borax

My particular jar holds about 2 cups, so I mix 1 cup of each and mix it up in the jar.

To use:  Wet down your surface, usually your tub, sink, etc. then sprinkle over the surface and let sit to allow the cleanser to work.  Follow with some elbow grease to see some clean results.

NOTE:  For tough cleaning jobs, maybe surfaces that are used seasonally, rust stained, etc., consider spraying over this with the Tub Cleansing Spray that I have listed below, then apply  a little elbow grease (a.k.a. an idiom for hard work, effort and human energy).

 All Purpose Cleanser Spray:

  • 1 quart spray bottle
  • 1 qt. warm water
  • 2 Tbsp. Dawn Original Dish Soap
  • ¼ cup Vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. Baking Soda

Mix the vinegar and baking soda together first.  Then add remaining ingredients to bottle.  Mix (shake bottle gently) making sure there is no baking soda residue at the bottom of your bottom.  This spray has been a huge success in cleaning my kitchen counters, my stove top, doors, kitchen cupboards, bathroom sink, etc.   I always shake before using.

NOTE:  My kitchen cupboards are painted, and this has helped remove those dirt marks we do not always notice until company is in the house 🙂

Tub/Sink Cleanser Spray:

  • 1 quart spray bottle
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup hot vinegar
  • ¼ cup Dawn Original Dish Detergent
  • 4 Tbsp. Baking Soda
  • 4 Tbsp. Borax

This is a fun mix for the one in your family who always enjoyed making volcanoes as a child.  Hence, this should be made in your kitchen sink, unless of course your kitchen counter needs a good scrubbing 🙂

  1. First, put the dry items of baking soda and borax in your bottle.
  2. Follow this by adding in the warm vinegar and watch the volcanic eruption of foam that is created.  No serious harm will happen, just messy if you do this on your counter top.  How do I know?  Yes, I made my first batch on my kitchen counter.  Made for an easy cleanup and a very shiny counter after 🙂
  3. Add the Dawn dish detergent followed by the warm water.  This will neutralize the foaming action.
  4. Now, gently mix the ingredients until there is no residue of powder on the bottom of your bottle.  If your sprayer does not work, it is because you did not mix it well.  You can clean your nozzle by removing it from the bottle and spraying it while the end sits in a cup of warm water.   I make sure I shake it a bit before using, just to be sure there is no residue at the bottom of the bottle.

To use this cleanser on your tough areas in your tub or sink, spray it on and let it sit for an hour.  Do this at the beginning of your chores, so that when the hour has passed, the tub is ready for you.  I personally sprayed another time, just to get the tub wet again, I then scrubbed the tub.  Even my husband was amazed at how well this worked.  It did not leave a gritty feel to the tub as many other cleansers have done in the past.

NOTE:  If you have some hard water and rust issues, or you have a camp that you return to with a need for some “tough love” consider using the above scouring powder on a wet surface, let that sit for about 15-30 minutes, then spray over with this solution and allow it to sit before putting your elbow grease energy to work.

Enjoy housework again without the fumes that cause you to run for an inhaler or the fresh outdoors, even if the temps outdoors are below freezing 🙂 .

~ Enjoy ~


Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor