Frugal Living

Sock It to Me: 15 Uses for Old Socks

Photo: Craig Morey

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, so too will the dryer eat one of your socks. What can you do with the lonely leftover? Of course you can make a puppet — but if you ’re not nine years old, these ideas will suit you better. (See also: 15 Ways to Recycle and Reuse Old T-shirts)

1. Make a Potpourri Bundle

Want your undies to have the fresh scent of apples and cinnamon? Stuff an old sock with potpourri, tie up the end with a rubber band, and pop it into the drawer. You can put the potpourri-filled socks wherever you want. For instance, I have very smelly shoes because I rarely wear socks; the potpourri helps make my stinky sneaks a bit more bearable.

2. Wash Your Baby

If you ’re all out of clean wash clothes, grab a single sock, slip it on your hand and wash your bundle of joy until he or she is squeaky clean.

3. Dust and Polish Furniture

Forget those expensive Swiffers; you ’ve got a whole drawer of makeshift dust rags at your disposal. Spray a bit of furniture polish on the sock, put it on your hand, and dust away.

4. Level a Table

Have a wobbly table? I hate that. To eliminate the shakes, cut off a few small pieces of an old sock and stuff them under the leg until the table is level.

5. Apply Heat to Sore Muscles

When you ’ve got a pain in your neck — or any other part of your body — fill a sock with dry beans or rice, and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to create an instant, no-cost heating pad.

6. Keep Game Pieces Together

It totally annoys me when I ’m ready to play a game and set it up just to discover that some of the pieces are missing, rendering the game unplayable. To make sure that happens never again, the next time you pack up the game, put the small pieces in a sock so they all stay together. This is an especially great idea if you have kids.

7. Soothe Skin Irritation

When I was about three years old, I got chicken pox. Just a few of them. When I was 14, I got chicken pox again. A lot of them. It was one of the worst experiences of my life because my family and I were away from home, staying in a hotel, to attend a wedding. To help calm the itching, my mom put oatmeal in a sock and told me to take a bath with it. Afterward, I had to put dry socks on my hands so I didn’t scratch myself to death. I also had shingles at age 25 — basically adult chicken pox. My body seems to reaaally love that virus.

8. Create a Pet Toy

For a cat, fill it with catnap and decorate it to look like a mouse. For a dog, take a long sock and stuff the sewn end with a tennis ball, then play tug-of-war with your buddy.

9. Cover an Ice Pack

You shouldn ’t apply an ice pack directly to your skin because you could inadvertently get frostbite. Instead, stuff a plastic baggie with ice and pop it in a sock so you can have a buffer between you and the cold.

10. Polish Shoes

You can use all manner of old fabric to polish your shoes, and a sock is no exception. Dip, shine, stroll. 

11. Protect Your Valuables When Moving

You wrap large breakable items in bubble wrap or newspaper, but what about those small items? Rather than wasting valuable supplies that you ’ll need for other items, put the small stuff in socks to keep them safe in transit.

12. Donate to Pet Charity

What use does your local ASPCA have for old socks? For starters, they can cut them up and make nice, soft beds for lonely, homeless animals. Helping those cuties out will make you feel fuzzy inside, I promise.

13. Slip on Golf Clubs

This isn ’t the most attractive way to protect your clubs, but if you ’re in a pinch an old sock will do the trick.

14. Avoid Paint Stains on Shoes

This is another thing that really burns my muffin. I always kick myself when I ’m painting and I get the paint someplace I don ’t want it. To keep the paint off your shoes — although you should be wearing your worst shoes for this anyway – slip an old sock over the shoe so it won ’t matter if you make a mistake.

15. Clean Dry Erase and Chalk Boards

I wish I had thought about this in college, because the eraser for my dry erase board disappeared quite often. If that happens to you, just find an old sock to clean the board. You can be sure that nobody will steal the sock. And if they do, you might want to keep an eye on that guy.

Have other cool uses for old socks? Let me know in the comments below.

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