New Uses for Old Pillows – 6 Great Ideas to Upcycle Old Pillows

Pillows are one of those things that we are often advised to change on a regular basis. The recommended duration of use ranges from 6 months to 3 years, even with regular washing. This then of course, produces quite a number of ‘old’ pillows and just what can you do with old pillows?

Typically, for the less craftily-inclined among us, (and I count myself among them!), the old pillows end up at a charity for animals or the homeless (if you’re doing this, do check with the charity that they actually take old pillows and duvets). Less environmentally friendly, but a very quick solution of course, is that the old pillows end up in the tip (which for our American friends equates to rubbish dump).

So I wondered, is it possible to actually recycle these old pillows relatively quickly and easily? And it turns out that there are a number of relatively easy (and pretty) solutions depending on your skill-level, circumstances and home environment. Of course, the old pillows that we are referring to in this post are mainly hollow-fibre or possibly down pillows. Memory foam pillows tend to be less malleable, although they may be used for a couple of the ideas below.

1. Plump up your bean bag

Bean bags on the beach

This is perfect solution for someone like me, who wants a really quick solution and will still feel good about not contributing to the landfill.


Using old pillows to plump up your bean bag is as easy as simply stuffing a pillow in to the bean bag! No removing stitches, no need to unpack the pillow and remove the wadding.

Bean bags made of styrofoam beads tend to compress and reduce in size over time. This happens mainly because the styrofoam beads become smaller and more compacted with prolonged use. Of course, you can easily buy more beads to refill the bag, but if you have a spare old pillow or two, it’s a perfect solution and in general, will hold up far longer than new styrofoam beads.

Before you do this, ensure that your bean bag case will have enough space to fit your old pillow. Then, simply and carefully open up your bean bag. If it has a double zip, using a paper clip may help get to the inner one easily.

Extending the bean bag to it’s maximum volume, carefully insert your old pillow, or two, covering the styrofoam beads, making sure that none escape.

Now you have a ‘refilled’ bean bag and you can even choose which texture you prefer to lounge on!


2. Oven mitts and Pot holders – wadding

If you’re handy with your sewing machine and enjoy making, then oven mitts and pot holders are a great way to reuse and recycle old pillow stuffing. With colourful fabric and gorgeous trimming, these home made kitchen essentials would also make perfect gifts.

Much like soft toy filling, it is typically the wadding or filling that is the most expensive part of this DIY project. That said, with old hollow-fibre pillow stuffing, that is one cost that is taken care of. If you are using old pillow stuffing for oven mitts, make sure that you have a thick enough layer and you may have to make some ‘crazy stitching’ to ensure that the wadding stays flat.

If you need some great instructions and directions on how to make your own oven mitts and pot holders, A Beautiful Mess has got you covered with their tutorial.

3. DIY Dog bed

Dog Bed

Who doesn’t want to give their doggie the best of everything? Yet making a dog bed seems like such a complicated endeavour doesn’t it? After all, there are so many styles and varieties on sale, the effort seems futile.

Still, if you have a pet or even pets and you have multiple old pillows hanging about, a pet bed from an old pillow isn’t really that difficult.

Depending on how simple or how complicated you want it to be, whether it’s a simple pillow shaped bed, or even one with a fluffed up skirt, it really is quite simple.

Tipnut has curated a great list of the different styles of DIY pet beds.

Alternatively there are some amazing videos that show you just how to make your own pet bed. Now if only it could be done in 5 minutes!

4. Draught excluder

If you, like us, live in a country that has winters, then you’ll soon recognise how much the cold can seep in through under the doors. This makes a draught excluder a perfect solution to ward off the cold.

Much like a long-ish pillow, a draft excluder lies across foot of the door, covering up the little airway underneath the door to make sure that the cold wind stays out.

If you’re making your own draught excluder from old pillows, you can also sew in hangers at fixed intervals along the length and hook it directly on to your door. Then you’ll never have to kick it back in place.

The Guardian has a great tutorial on how to make your own draught excluder.

5. Soft-toys

If you enjoy making soft toys or stuffed animals, whether are collectables or to raise money for charity one of the most economical ways to stuff home-made and hand-made soft toys is by recycling old pillow stuffing.

In this case of course, it is probably best to wash the pillows on a hot cycle before using them in your hand-made gems.

If you do make a lot of stuffed toys, we have also learnt, that it may possibly be cheaper to buy new pillows for stuffing than it is to buy actual stuffing. We are not sure what the differences may be, if there are any, but surely if it’s good enough for a pillow it must be good enough for a stuffed toy.

6. Floor cushions

If ever there was a perfect use for old pillows, I think this would be it. Whether it’s collation of multiple pillows in to one giant one, or a collection of multiple small ones, or even a pillow bed – cushions simply add to the cosy, comforting inviting feeling of home.

Floor cushions invite family and guests alike to throw off their shoes and get cosy, lay back, watch television, or simply reminisce. And because they are floor pillows, people know that you won’t be as precious about them as those sequinned, hand tufted, velvet lined cushions on the settee.

We love this curated floor cushions list by Reasons to Skip Housework, but me… I’m off to make this fabulous and ridiculously easy Pillow bed!

What do you do with your old pillows? Do you have a fantastic idea or different uses for them? Do share them with us in the comments below.