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24 Amazing Things You Can Do With Your Used Underwear
We live in an age of the “throw away”, the disposable, the “ever changeable”. In the past it was not like this. Things were made to last or they were “made” to last. This is because many of our ancestors had to make things last. Clothes were re-sewn, patched up and repaired. Tools were re-sharpened and maintained. My father was a builder and joiner. I remember as a kid, he use to sharpen up each blade on both his rip and cross cut saws. There were “saw doctors”, who could repair and re-set saws. He died over ten years ago now. I have a full set of his carpentry tools. They can all be repaired and re-used pretty easily. Now you throw away a “worn” out saw and buy a brand new one from the store.
I still have my grandfather's old leather boots. All they need is for the sole to be re-soled, and a bit of boot polish. At a guess, I would say they were 80 years old. Yes, things are now really plentiful and cheap on the whole, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and mass commercialism. However, could there be a cost to all of this?
Possibly in the so called advanced West this credo of in built obsolescence has become very entrenched. It is what keeps the factories (a lot now seem to be in China) churning out more and more products. That is new designs, new trends, and new fashions. The old is thrown away and some do get recycled, but many end up in land fill sites.
Energy is used up, land is used up, resources are used up; the consumer Leviathan marches ever on wards. A cursory look at any recent news item shows just how bad pollution levels are now in many Chinese cities (and else where). Yes, there has been a climate change deal agreed in Paris recently by world leaders. Possibly that is too little too late.
Human activity could quite well need to be modified. There are big things that can be done, middling things and small things. This article outlines the possibility of applying some of these “little” changes. Enough “little” changes could add up to big changes.
Now to look at an every day item of clothing, underwear.
Maybe, if it is “used” even after washing, it should be used as a rag? So, given a new pair of pants maybe; can they be used for something else.? Also consider; can these materials be recycled?
There is an afterlife for cotton. Polyester, being a thermoplastic can be recycled. But according to Wikipedia, only 8% of textiles were being recycled in the US in 2011.
Yes, there is also the chance to be your own designer. New (old) skills need to be learnt as well possibly.
Uses of Underwear
To take a very personal piece of clothing we are all very intimately involved with on a daily basis, our underwear. Can alternative uses be found? Is there an “after life” for underwear? Starting with this article on ehow: How to make a diaper (or nappy if you are British) from old underwear?
To go through the advise on offer:
Find a pair of under wear which is a comfortable fit for the young child. Then fold the sides in towards the front. Pin the folded side to the front with safety pins. Line the inside with a “feminine napkin” (sanitary napkin). If possible use a napkin that has extra absorbency or “wings”. If this is not the case or, if you want added absorbency then line both sides, inside and, out with a feminine napkin. It suggests covering the underwear in a plastic diaper cover. Failing that, place a towel under the child and place the child in a bed.
A couple of additional points, avoid using a plastic bag to cover the “diaper”. The baby or toddler may be tempted to put bits of plastic in it's mouth.
2. Sports Bra Out of Male Briefs
GiannyL seems to be a young lady with a range of interesting ideas for converting items like clothing and giving them a new lease of life. There are a range of other ideas on Youtube with her suggestions.
One point, preferably a clean pair of male briefs should be used. These seem to be the classic tighty whitey or Y front.
Those with textile skills may be able to tidy up the edges and add lace trimmings?
3. Tank Top
But it probably does its job OK. A quick conversion from male pants to a tank top.This is a straight forward adaptation of a pair of male briefs which has been transformed into a tank top. From this picture, the pants seem to have been opened up, and there is a fairly rough cut along the top. Could this too be tidied up?
This does require good set of sewing skills to accomplish this task. The instructions for making this skirt can be found on this link. But it does show what can be achieved with skill and imagination. That quite remarkable results can come from recycling.
This skirt is made from male under wear elastic, and an eyelet bed skirt.
5. Handbag Tighty Whitey Bag
The information I have on this, is that the handbags are made from a new pair of men's briefs, they are fully lined and have a zip closure.
This may well be a “novelty” item, but it does show the potential is there, (as these tighty whiteys are new) for recycling. May be not strictly recycling but still an interesting adaptation.
6. Custom made fabric (underwear fabric)
A jump in a total different direction now, or so it may seem.
The origins of the House of Chanel were pretty humble. In Just Skirts and Dresses, there is a review of a short movie shot by the great Karl Lagerfeld who runs the House of Chanal. He has a very keen interest in photography as well. This movie chronicles the origins of the House of Chanal, which started when a hat shop was set up by Gabrielle Chanal in 1913, Deauville, France.
In reviewing gay male underwear recently, there seemed to be two “poles”. The “sporty”This is a still from the movie Gabrielle Chanal, played by Keira Knightly. She is interested in the jacket the lady is wearing, as it is made from fabric used in men's' underwear. She developed an interest in men's tweed jackets, long string pearls, short hair and men's jackets.
emphasizing the masculine, in the same way as a classical Greek Sculpture, and the “feminine”, with
the use of lace male briefs. Could be something here the other way round?
7. Halter Top made from male underpants
This is another variation on the tighty whitey handbag
From the photograph it seems that the basic form of the pants has been retained and simply inverted, turned round. An embroidered pattern and handles have been added.
8. Surviving in America. How to make a Ghillies
The next account is based on a book by Paul Andrulis Surviving in America, and looking at specific extracts from this book.
“Waite thought it amazing that a ghillies (a grass covered camouflage suit ) could be made from an old outfit.”
“The materials consist of a pair of pants, a long sleeved shirt, a bunch of elastic bands out of old underwear, a needle, a spool of thread, and a bunch of grass. It required numerous pairs of underwear to provide enough elastic for one suit.”
“ “Figures, Yawl are a bunch of pantywaists,” Zeb grumbled, as everyone else grinned.”
In this literary example. Elastic bands were extracted from old pairs of male underwear and then used to put together a ghillies camouflage suit.
9. How to make the Perfect Boxer Brief Underwear
This is a very interesting video on You Tube, presented by Chris White. It also highlights an important issue in the whole business of recycling. The need for skills. New skills are needed and maybe have to be learnt. However, old skills can be lost or become rare. This could be the case here. In the past people repaired things and remade things, now especially in the “West” , things are now just thrown away.
In this YouTube video Chris Wright very skillfully shows, that by carefully cutting up an old pair of boxer briefs and the precise use of patterns or templates, a new pair can be designed and made.
We quite often take this for granted . We are now the passive receivers of other people's designs, ideas and products. By developing certain skills in textiles, it could be a way of reclaiming some individuality in producing our own clothes, thus making our own statements.
10. Fill up a pillow to make them more fluffy
There is an obvious problem with recycling used male underwear and hygiene.
Go to the apartmentherapy web site and look at the questions and answers on re-cycling “unmentionables.” where these problems are discussed in some length and there a number of interesting comments.
Your pet needs a comfortable place to sleep. Old shirts and underwear, after being washed, can be cut up and arranged into a pet bed.
Yes, pets will take to any comfortable item and use it to sleep on. They pick up on the residual odor of the old clothes and this could reassure a pet. Once established, and the pet had added it's own “fir” or “hair” lining, then the feline or canine could well take ownership of the “bed” and make it a permanent spot to sleep on. Pets, especially as the grow older, are very much creatures of habit. So once a pet claims this, it could work.
In this second example, bleach the old underwear for sanitary reasons, then cut them up and use them to tie tomato them to their cages or poles.
13. Undercap: the stylish underwear for your head
This assumes that this “hat” is a brand new pair or “unused” tighty Whitey (Y Front). Yes, as a novelty item in a crazy party, but as an everyday item? Maybe briefs made out of wool would make a better hat in the winter than one made of cotton, or may be not?
This would be OK for a season, but most textiles would soon rot when exposed to the elements. As an alternative to garden string it could work.
This is a major item in it self. A detailed account is found on Animal New York, Get cash for your undies: A How-to Guide for Young Ladies On the Web. Another interesting article can be found on xojane: I Sold My Panties on Craiglist (and I was terrible at it)
Looking at the first article; there is an detailed graph showing the reasons for selling panties.
Graph: Soyo Hong via Survey Monkey
Now the key issue, can selling “aromatic panties” provide a secure income? From the data supplied by this site the answer could well bit, a bit, a small amount on average.
Strange as it might seem people do buy “used” ladies panties for their aroma or smell. There are three main “scent” areas relating to the physiology of ladies and their related excretions. For the ladies the best panties to use are white “cotton bikini” cut panties, as these best hold the “aromas”.
In 2014, according to the US Department of Labor, the average part time wage for women was $279 a week. However, according to the surveys, only 14% claimed to be earning more than $300 a week from selling these items.
As a small source of additional income, selling smelly panties may be an option.
The going rate for individual panties averages out at around $35-$39 per panty. The site also indicates
that the time taken to sell the panties takes 1 to 3 hours per week, for 48% of those interviewed. This looks a pretty good return, for the time taken up selling. So it could be a way of selling off, say helping to pay off a student loan.
Additional charges can also be made. A variety of request, apparently come in, some very strange. This seems to revolve around the time a pair or panties have been worn, plus a whole range of “excretions “ seem to excite the potential customers.
This service is conducted online so the main web providers such as craiglist and reddit can be used. There are specialist sites, like Panty Deal and My used panty store. These have to be paid for. Using Pay Pal to receive payment may have its problems. These transactions can be classified as not being acceptable. The site does list alternatives.
This is with reference to an article in the Water Town Daily Times, New York, “Students turning underwear into paper with “panty pulping”.
This was a project to draw attention to sexual violence. The goal was to use “unmentionables” to address and talk about unimplementable issues, such as sexual violence.
Underwear is cut into one inch squares. This is then added to a banana based substance called Abaca. A beater is then used to separate the fibers out from the clothing. This is turned into a uniform mix. Students then pull paper from this soggy mixture. As the paper is formed a silk screen process is used to add images to the paper.
This is a process of transformation. That is addressing a sensitive issue by using a personal item of clothing and changing that into a medium through which feelings and thought can be expressed.
16 Cloth wipes/family cloths
The basic idea is to use larger fabric portions from old underwear. These can be used for wipes and soaks. They could be possibly sewn together multiple layers to form a soak or a diaper.
This is pretty much what was done with a lot of old clothing, especially underwear. The old clothing and underwear has to be thoroughly washed first, preferably bleached as well. Sewn sections together could make an effective soak. This solution is fine, as a short term aid for cleaning. Obviously these cloths will not last long, so they will need to be constantly replaced.
Finally it would be best if the rags went into a cloths recycling bin. Therefore, maybe use cotton or a natural based product for a cloth?
17 Making a quilt
This goes back to two key issues. That traditional values have been lost. The importance of looking after things and re-using them. The other is the skills needed to make a quilt. There is quite a lot of information on the web about this.There may be classes out there as well.
At its simplest a pair of briefs or pants could simply be stitched together, stuffed full of rags and turned into a pillow or a cushion.
The selection of the right material, from briefs, pants, boxer shorts etc would be critical. Once a basic quilt had been sewn up, then more adventurous attempts could be made at fully developing different patterns and designs.
18. Dollar Doll Clothes
This is another interesting variation on how to use “used” underwear, turn it into doll's clothes. The Old Days Old Ways , on how to make dollor doll clothes from underwear. It is probably better to select ladies' underwear because there is a greater variety of pattern and design with these. Small patterns and lyrca based textiles were also suggested as the best choice.
As before, there is a need for textile skills, which was the case in the old days with old ways. This site has a clear set of instructions that can be followed. Again new, or well washed undies would be a better choice for this.
“If I can get an 8 inches of good fabric, that becomes a handkerchief for carrying around in my pocket”. A quick check on the web shows that cotton or cotton mixtures, are properly the best material to use. Again a thoroughly cleaned pair of tighty whitey cotton pants could be a solution. Giving you will blow your nose with these, then this would be an important consideration.
This check pattern is commonly used with briefs and could be a good starting point to be turned into a handkerchief.
20. Pot holder
Again this site has very detailed instructions on how to make this item. But again, it does necessitate having the skills to do this.
Could you use old underpants to make these? Will the material get soaked and start rotting? On this site it recommends using old “hunter jackets”, as these will be water proof.
This idea comes from another one of those niche sites presenting good practical solutions: My Clever Nest. “Unfridge Neclace from Undies”. This time the process involved in making the necklace seems pretty straight forward. All that is needed is a clean pair of briefs, again probably boxer briefs or a tighty whitey. Then simply use a permanent marker pen and a sharp pair of fabric scissors (may be ordinary scissors will do).
The results illustrated here look pretty good. May be experiment a bit first with different materials and pants. Watch out for frayed edges. Possibly use some kind of template or pattern to get a precise layout. With practice, some good and interesting results could result from this example. Higher level textile skills do not seem to be needed here.
22. Support for heavy Fruit.
In this case this would include small pumpkins, melons and tomatoes. This is to prevent bruising and damage to these crops. The role of male underwear, to provide support to low hanging “fruit”.
There could be a possibility, if used say in a greenhouse. Any natural material would rot through eventually. Any sling or cradle will collect water. However, this could be a possibility for say one season only.
This is a pretty straight forward adaptable of a new, or relatively new pair of ladies (or gentlemen) pants, that can be converted into a ladies (or gentlemen's) thong. This can be found on eHow Discover, “How to make a thong out of Regular Underwear.” This article has a well laid out logical step by step list of instructions. It does require some sewing skills, but these appear to be pretty straight forward.
Assuming, the original briefs or panties were made from cotton or a similar material, then this could produce quite a comfortable end result. Alterations in the design may well be needed if a male version is being contemplated.
24. Book Cover
This does not require a huge amount of skills. Twenty sheets of recycled paper is needed around the same size, two card board backing sheets, a needle and thread some craft glue and (again) a clean pair of patterned underwear. Fold the paper, five times. These are called signatures. Then sew the paper together and insert them into a cover that has been made from the two pieces of cardboard with the underpants cover.
Recycling and Charity Donations.
In many places now, there are ways in which old clothes can be sent to be recycled.
If underwear id the be donated it is critical that all the clothes have been properly cleaned and are in reasonable condition. Other wise they will not be accepted. Even materials to be used as rags, has to be in a reasonable condition.
In the United States there is Good Will, an organization dedicated to finding people work, who use notations to help fund their organization.
In the UK there are a whole number of organizations that can be found on any high street, such as Small For All, St. Luke Hospice Plymouth, and Socks and Chocs. Just go along and pass over any used clean undies to them.
Underwearness is a non-profit organization that accept credit card donation, original packaging, or underwear will sale tags still attached.
The Salvation Army has been in operation for well over a century and is active in many places around the world. It will kindly take in underwear in a reasonable condition
Homeless Shelter is an American based organization that again provides accommodation to the homeless. Again they would welcome old underwear in a good condition.
Another similar American charity Shoes and Clothes for Kids in Cleverland USA, provides shelter and clothing to kids in need. Again they are interested in suitable donations of underwear.
Yet another important agency is Planet Aid. They collect and recycle used textiles a means of helping communities around the world especially children.
There is a Swiss Based organization that will collect just about any item of clothing, no matter what state it might be in. The organization is called I Collect. They organize and collection from both a number of major retailers and from individuals.
60% of the clothing is repurposed and reused and goes to organization that pass the clothing on the people in need. 40% of the remaining clothing is recycled and then can be used in anything from carpet padding to uses in insulation. H&M use 20% of these recycled fibers in their denin collection. Remember again the resources used in creating cotton in the first place.
Many of the replies suggest using both old male and female underwear, as rags after being washed thru considerably. Then they are cut up.
Other suggestion include sending then onto charity stores and other collectors for recycling. And yes, if washed properly, they could be placed in pillows to make them more fluffy.
A number of the previous examples have mentioned that they were recycling and reusing “new” pants.
20,000 liters of water = 1 cotton tee shirt and 1 cotton pair of jeans.
I have found this link from the World Wild Life Fund on the use of cotton:
This outlines the problems involved with the production of cotton. Around 50% of all textiles use cotton, so it is very important.
The statistic that it takes 20,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of cotton, from which one tee shirt and a pair of jeans can be made, is pretty worrying. This has lead to the virtual disappearance of the Aral Sea in central Asia and a noticeable effect on the rivers and the river basins in Pakistan, the Indus, Australia, the Murray-Darling basin, and in the United States and Mexico, the Rio Grande.
Add into this the use of chemicals and genetically modified crops,then there are a number of major problems associated with the current large scale production of cotton. This is a material we barely think about in every day life.
A final couple of thoughts. A number of these different ideas may seem frivolous or just plain silly, but they do throw up a number of “issues” about the way we live now.
Most clothing could, in theory, be produced at home. That would need a high degree of skill though. Thought needs to be given to what you can do with something once it is “worn” out. With male pants, yes obviously rags. But also what can be done differently with a new pair, what can be extracted from a pair of pants. Can “male” fashion be simply used else where?
Maybe, textiles technology can be accessed, with a reasonable skill set of course, but also with a reasonable sewing machine and materials.
Yes, more to a pair of male under pans that meets the eye? So it is not just what you can do with the underwear afterwards, it is also what was used to produce it, might need to be considered as well?