How to Recycle Old Jeans (+15 Easy Craft Ideas)

What to do with old jeans

Jeans can be repaired, handed down, and worn again and again, but there comes a point when it is just time to do something more! If you’re wondering what to do with old jeans, you’ve come to the right place.

do without ig

I have a big pile of jeans that have holes in the knees and are too small for my kids now. I’ve just been letting them pile up for a year or two now because I didn’t want to throw them in the trash. Seems like a waste to get rid of all of that good fabric.

I have been hoping that some crafty friend or relative would need denim for a quilt or some cool craft project, but that hasn’t happened yet. That’s why I came up with my own list of 15+ ways to recycle old jeans. Maybe this cool list of ideas will get ME and YOU motivated to up-cycle some jeans?!

15 Ways to Recycle Old Jeans

denim quilt rachel swartley blog

1. Quilts or Blankets

An aunt gave me a denim quilt when I got married and it is awesome – warm and durable. You can find all sorts of pattern, designs, and ideas online, or just come up with your own! I like this cute, modern denim quilt and these simple jean blankets.

little house living blog braided denim rug

2. Rugs

You can use strips of denim to make a rug for your home! Here are a few good tutorials: Fluffy denim rag rug and Braided rug tutorial.

todays nest blog denim placemat

3. Place Mats and Table Runner

This is a cute denim placemat with pocket for napkin and cutlery. You could even sew up a denim table runner to go along with it!

ashbee design chevron pillow

4. Pillow Cover

I love this chevron denim pillow! I think I might save a few pieces of denim to do this project one of these days. This arrow pillow cover is also cute, or you can make this simple denim pillow with a pocket.

artistic junkie blog denim coaster

5. Coasters

Make some of these easy and cool-looking DIY denim coasters to go with your pillow covers. πŸ˜‰

christie chase blog denim tote

6. Bags

There are tons of different bags, pouches, and purses you can make out of denim fabric! I like this roundup of recycled denim bags.

thimbly things denim baby bibs

7. Baby Bibs

If I had any kids that need bibs, I would totally be making these. I suppose they would make excellent baby shower gifts too though! Maybe I will be making some after all.

Denim bibs are durable, easy to clean, and easy to make! Here’s a great tutorial for how to make simple denim bibs!

happy hooligans denim aprons

8. Aprons

There are many tutorials out there for how to make a denim apron out of an old pair of jeans too. I think these aprons made from the pant leg of jeans look pretty easy and cute! Here’s a similar one for a kid’s craft apron.

36th avenue flannel and denim wreath

9. Wreath

You can make a wreath entirely from pieces of denim or you can just use denim as an accent for the wreath. Either way, there are a ton of cute ideas out there. Here are a few of my favorites:

home sweet home bodies denim slippers

10. Slippers

That’s right, several people out there have reused jeans to make cozy house slippers! Here are some slippers made from old jeans.

barefoot kitchen witch denim pot holder

11. Pot Holders

I love the look of this woven denim pot holder. Does someone want to make a few for me? I’ll provide the denim! Here’s a cute jean pocket pot holder too.

12. Door Draft Stopper

You can try cutting off the leg of a pair of old jeans, sew an end shut, fill it with rice or another cheap insulator, then sew the other end shut. Viola! I found this dual version her, but you could also do a single one and keep it on one side of the door.

fiskars craft denim do over pocket organizer

13. Organizer

Cut out the pockets and sew them onto a wall-hanging or glue them to a board to make a pocket organizer! Here’s a cute hanging craft organizer made from jean pockets.

sierra club pocket magnet

14. Pocket Magnets

You can turn the jean pockets into convenient denim magnets. Then keep pens, coupons, or other handy items inside the pocket.

nebraska views blog denim stocking

15. Christmas Stockings

Great idea for a durable, frugal Christmas stocking! Here are 7 different cute denim stockings. Perfect to hold some homemade gifts as well!

Denim is a strong, durable fabric that may come in handy for all sorts of things!

If you find you want to do some of these craft projects, but don’t have enough denim on hand, you can ask around your neighborhood and family, check classifieds listings, or buy cheap denim from a thrift store.

3 Other Ways to Recycle Old Jeans

how to recycle jeans instagram

So…I don’t plan to start up any new crafts projects right now – I have enough unfinished ones that need to happen first. These old jeans are taking up space and I’m ready to say goodbye.

If you’re wondering what to do with old jeans but you don’t want to reuse the denim yourself, like me, there are still ways to keep it from going to the trash!

1. Denim Insulation

Recycled denim makes awesome insulation to help keep someone warm during the winter and cool in the summer. The Blue Jeans Go Green denim recycling program distributes denim insulation to communities in need across the U.S. Tons of denim has been diverted from the landfills and turned into insulation for homes!

ultratouch denim insulation

You can try checking with your local Habitat for Humanity to see if they have more info on how to donate the denim for insulation in your area.

2. Denim Drives

Keep an ear to the ground for local denim drives as this may happen in your area every once in a while. I’ve heard of these happening in the past with Blue Jeans Go Green at universities and at retail stores, like GAP, J. Crew, and Aeropostale. You can mail in your denim too, but you will have to pay for shipping.

Madewell stores around the country have partnered with Blue Jeans Go Green to collect denim for recycling. You will receive $20 off a new pair of jeans when you recycle at a Madewell store by December 31st.

3. Give Your Old Jeans Away

Another great option is to post them for free on a site like Freecycle, Craigslist, or another local classifieds site. Someone might just be wishing they could snag some used denim for a craft, to sew into shorts or something like that. If they are still wearable, they could be greatly appreciated by a charity organization or homeless shelter too.

Here are a few nice posts where I found some great ideas and to check out if you’re looking for more ways to recycle old jeans: Green Talk, Wise Bread, Martha Stewart, All Free Crafts, Denim Do Over, Life Hackery.

How will you reuse your old jeans?

It’s definitely a tough choice, there are a lot of great craft ideas for old jeans on this list. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d have to go with the denim quilt. Those things are just so cozy! What’s your favorite project?

Now, recycling jeans and doing craft projects is fun and all, but we should still be focusing on making our nice jeans last as long as possible. That’s why you should check our tutorial on how to make your jeans last longer. We’ll show you how to take care of your jeans the right way so that they last a long time!

How to recycle old jeans


  • Awesome roundup of ideas! Thanks! I have so many jeans which I have worn out and can’t donate and feel bad about throwing away. So I have just been hanging on to it. I’ll definitely use some of these ideas!

  • You can also host a party to cut out pieces of old jeans to make shoes for children in Uganda who otherwise are debilitated from chiggers their feet! Sole Hope

  • I made a small purse.

  • The bibs and aprons are such a fun idea! I am kinda all about denim right now so actually maybe I am obsessed with every single idea you guys gave! I am never throwing away a pair of old jeans again!

  • You can also make beanbags out of jeans or pockets of jeans. Good for cornhole games!

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