Green and Tidy

Helping people all over the world declutter and create homes they love

How do you decide when your towels are worn out?


How do you decide when something is ‘worn out’? For me it has to be no longer capable of fulfilling its original function before I’ll call it done for (and then I can sometimes find another use for it). Now part of the function of (most) clothes is to make us look good so I suppose you could argue that they’re ‘worn out’ once they’re so scruffy they no longer do that (though they can still be worn for messy jobs – trouble is I’ve got more clothes for messy jobs than messy jobs to do in them).

When it comes to things whose appearance is less important though, you’ll find me still using them way beyond the point when most people would chuck them out. Dishcloths, teatowels, bath towels, facecloths, (whisper it) knickers (so long as no-one else is going to see them!), bed linen, gym T-shirts. Until a towel no longer gets me dry when I’ve had a shower, I keep using it. And when it reaches that point, it goes in the compost (by that point, there’s not usually enough of it even to cut up to make a moisture mat for my wormery (more of which in my next post).

My friends think I’m bonkers of course (even though I always give guests my best towels). And I have been known to hide the most hole-ridden, thin items before I have visitors. At least I’m not as obsessive as Monica from Friends. Remember episode 4.12 of Friends, when Monica and Rachel go head to head with Joey and Chandler over who knows each other the best?

Photo by Warner Bros

Ross: Monica categorizes her towels. How many categories are there?
Joey: Everyday use.
Chandler: Fancy.
Joey: Guest.
Chandler: Fancy guest.
Ross: Two seconds…
Joey: Uh, eleven!
Ross: 11. Unbelievable. 11 is correct.


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  • Lesley

    I had a lifetime collection of towels, from new and soft, to wedding presents in 1974. I took a load of old ones, not threadbare but not fluffy either, to the nearest vet. They use them for animals to lie on, or to help keep in their body heat after surgery.

    What gave me the idea was taking our dead cat home in a towel they’d given me to wrap her in. Could they use more towels? Oh yes!

    They also took a cat-carrier that was surplus to requirements, and sold it, proceeds to Cats Protection.

    One clutter ingredient sorted, 99 to go.

    • Nice one Lesley. Being able to find a new home for something, where it will be put to good use, helps us to let go and move stuff on, doesn’t it?

      • Lesley

        Thank you! I thought I’d mention it because it’s not the sort of thing we’d think of straight away, or at all if we didn’t have pets.

        • That’s true. I try to make my clients aware of as many ways to rehome or recycle their unwanted stuff as possible. There are some surprising options out there. 🙂