50 Ways to Repurpose Your Clutter

Declutter your home without adding more trash to landfills with these creative upcycling ideas.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
A woman is carrying boxes with personal belongings in a cluttered living room.
Photo: Getty Images

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Clutter. If it is taking over your kitchen, living room, or bedroom, you’re not alone. Getting rid of things can be difficult. Anything you throw out is likely to end up in an already-overflowing landfill. Fortunately, there is a better solution. And, it doesn’t involve throwing anything away or letting clutter accumulate all over your home. 

You can recycle and repurpose clutter by turning would-be trash into treasure. Below, we’ve rounded up DIY ideas to provide you with the inspiration you need to tame clutter while increasing the functionality, organization, and overall aesthetics of your home.

1. Upcycle old pillowcases.

“Repurposing pillowcases reduces waste and gives new life to old pillowcases, offering an inexpensive way to create new household items. This not only adds a personalized touch to home decor but also helps keep various items organized, improving overall home organization,” says Eryn Donaldson, the founder and CEO of The Model Home, a home organization company serving the Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles regions. There are so many different ways to upcycle an old pillowcase—such as covering a dog bed, making floor pillows, or creating dusters to keep ceiling fans clean. “Pillowcases can also be turned into storage sacks for toys, shoes, or seasonal clothes, helping to keep your home neat and organized,” says Donaldson. 

We gathered 12 ingenious ways to upcycle old pillowcases.

2. Transform old furniture into something new.

An old chair turned into a swing hangs from a tree.
Photo: Getty Images

Instead of letting old or broken furniture pile up in the basement or garage, pull out your DIY supplies and give it a new life. Line up a few old dining room chairs and give them a new cushion to create a bench for the entryway. Convert a wooden rocking chair into a porch or tree swing, and your big kid’s old crib can be put to good use as a table with a storage shelf. 

Here are 16 new things you can do with old furniture.

3. Give old tools a new purpose.

If you recently upgraded to a new set of tools, your old ones don’t have to sit in a dark corner of the garage, never to be seen again. Instead, try turning old wrenches into J-shaped coat hooks for the mudroom, or put old vices to use as decorative—and functional—bookends. Got larger tools, such as old rakes or shovels? Use them to DIY an original gate for your backyard or some unique patio chairs. 

Check out our ideas for hardware store decor.

4. Convert an old computer into a home server.

While you might not need your old desktop or laptop for browsing the web, making presentations, or completing written assignments, you may still be able to benefit from the machine. Convert it to a home server to gain access to more media storage space and processing speeds. Otherwise, consider bringing the device to one of the retailers that will recycle electronics properly to avoid generating more e-waste.

Read our other ideas for what to do with old computers.

5. Give old holiday lights a fresh start.

Star lanterns hang with string lights in the evening sky with drapery.
Photo: Getty Images

When upgrading to new LED icicle or color-changing Christmas lights for your house or tree, don’t throw those old strands of lights in the trash. Instead, Betsy Fein, president of Clutterbusters, a professional organizing company in the D.C. Metro Area, recommends “Repurpos[ing] old Christmas lights into ambient patio lighting, bottle lamps, or wall art.” If you really don’t have a use for the lights, consider making less trash during the holidays by donating them to someone else who might be able to use them. 

Here are 8 ideas for upcycling your Christmas lights.

6. Make good use of cardboard boxes.

If you went a little overboard with online orders, you might be staring down a tall pile of cardboard boxes. While these are recyclable, there are several other ways you can put them to good use and further decrease waste—and future purchases. A few ideas to try include DIYing cardboard coasters (you could even personalize them with colored papers or stickers), making magazine or desk organizers, and cutting the boxes down to make postcards to send to friends and family. 

Find other options in our list for online holiday shoppers with too many boxes.

7. Use glass jars around the house.

If you regularly purchase pickles, spaghetti sauce, baby food, or jam, you might have lots of glass jars adding to the clutter in your kitchen. There’s no time like the present to turn these jars into something useful—and keep them from making your space messy. Glass jars are versatile. You can use them as vases for floral arrangements, tea light holders, organizers for bathroom essentials like cotton swabs, or even as storage for leftovers. 

Try these 17 creative ways to reuse grocery store glass bottles.

8. Keep things organized with silicone baking cups.

According to Donaldson, silicone baking cups are good for much more than just making cupcakes. “Silicone baking cups are flexible, durable, and easy to clean, making them a great choice for various organizational needs. They add a colorful and playful touch to your storage solutions, encouraging better organization habits by providing designated spaces for small items,” she says. A few of the uses Donaldson recommends include separating different foods in a lunch box, storing small crafting supplies, and keeping office essentials neat and tidy.

Discover 14 surprising ways to use silicone baking cups to make life easier and more organized.

9. Breathe new life into old tires.

A kid works with plants in a planter made of painted tires.
Photo: Getty Images

Adding a new set of tires to your car is pricey. While the old tires might no longer be safe for driving on, you can keep them out of the landfill with a little creativity. With a few coats of colorful paint and some other materials, your old tires could be transformed into swings, planters, pet beds, or even staircases.

Get more inspiration from our smart new ideas for old tires.

10. Repurpose unused Christmas decorations.

Whether you have an abundance of ornaments and never get to use them all or are choosing a new decorating theme, don’t throw out old decorations. Instead, follow Fein’s advice of “Transform[ing] ornaments into wreaths, garlands, or unique centerpiece decorations year-round.”

Here are 11 ways to repurpose Christmas decor at the holidays and beyond.

11. Let ziplock bags help with storage, organization, and more.

“Reusing ziplock bags can significantly enhance organization in different areas of your home,” says Donaldson. She explains how the bags can be used for the long-term to help keep office supplies labeled and easy to find, storing leftover food in the kitchen or marinating meats before cooking, or for keeping your belongings organized when packing for a trip. 

Or turn to reusable and washable bags for similar purposes. “They keep various items organized and easily accessible, promoting a clutter-free environment and supporting sustainable living by reducing single-use plastic waste,” says Donaldson.

You might be surprised at these 10 uses for Ziploc bags.

12. Put extra coffee filters to work around the house.

Have you ever picked up a pack of coffee filters at the store, only to get home and realize that you already have several? Or, perhaps, you recently switched to a pod-style machine or even gave up coffee altogether. The reason why you have too many coffee filters cluttering your kitchen drawer isn’t as important as what you’ll be able to do with them. These circular filters can also serve as cookware protectors, sachets for homemade tea bags, grease collectors when cooking, or deodorizing shoes (with the help of some baking soda).

All these ideas and more are in our list of uses for coffee filters you have to see to believe.

13. Transform old board games into fabulous home decor.

Keep those old board games that you never play or are missing pieces from filling up your bookshelves or closets. If you have some vintage games with cool game boards or boxes, consider turning them into artwork for your living room or home office. Alternatively, you could spiral-bind two pieces of the board and some blank paper to make a custom journal, use the game tiles or pawns as unique decorations, or make some coasters out of your favorite cards.

Find more new things you can do with old board games here.

14. Use zip ties for way more than just cable management.

A person ties two flaps of a tent.
Photo: Getty Images

Zip ties may have been invented for keeping wires and cables together, but they can have other uses. If your workbench drawer is overflowing with cable ties, try one of the many other ways that you can make them work for you. A few ideas include using the ties when childproofing and keeping little fingers out of drawers or cabinets; supporting tomatoes, roses, and other plants as they grow in the garden; and keeping critters from breaking into your tent when camping.

Learn more from our list of surprising ways to use zip ties.

15. Turn an old window into something new and functional.

If you recently replaced the windows in your house, you might have been saving the old ones “just in case.” Instead of sentencing these old windows (or just their frames) to a lifetime in the back corner of the garage, pull them out and transform them into a coat rack, a coffee table, or a rustic rack for hanging pots in the kitchen.

See our 7 new ways to use old windows for more inspiration.

16. Reuse the wax from old candles.

Those who regularly burn candles know that there is always a little bit of waste. You can’t burn the last inch or so of a candle, as it can be a safety hazard. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just toss the wax into the trash. Save it to silence squeaky doors or hinges, coat the edge of your shovel to prevent snow from sticking to it, or lubricate a sticky zipper. You can even save the old wax from a few candles and melt it down to make new ones. 

Find more ideas in our list of 20 new uses for old candles.

17. Use broken tiles to DIY a mosaic.

Planters made of broken tile mosaics sit in a row.
Photo: Betsy Fein

“I never feel bad when a good plate or bowl breaks because I love repurposing them into unique mosaic plant pots, adding charm to my garden or home,” says Fein. In addition to making mosaic flower pots, you could use the pieces from broken tiles or other ceramics to create unique wall art or to make a mosaic table for dining alfresco.

See our guide on how to DIY a mosaic with broken tiles.

18. Put old styrofoam packing peanuts to use around the home.

Although not as common as they once were, styrofoam packing peanuts still appear in packages to protect products in shipment. Unfortunately, this packing material is generally not recyclable. To keep styrofoam out of a landfill, use it to create a protective cover for sharp tools, string a few pieces together for a DIY garland for the holidays, or make your own bean bag chairs (or refresh your existing ones that are sagging a bit too much).

Check out these 12 things you never thought to do with packing peanuts.

19. Make something new from an empty plastic bottle.

So many plastic bottles end up in the ocean that doing what you can to find a new use for the ones in your home is important. Fortunately, there are lots of creative uses for these vessels. With just a few supplies, you can turn them into dispensers for plastic bags, set up a drip irrigation system for your indoor plants, create a windsock for your deck or patio, or make a DIY herb garden.

Discover 12 genius ways to reuse your plastic bottles.

20. Repurpose old dishes instead of throwing them away.

You might have updated your dinnerware, but you shouldn’t throw away your old set. However, you also shouldn’t leave it in the corner of a cabinet or closet collecting dust. Instead, consider hanging printed plates on the wall as a decoration or stacking mugs and plates together to create tiered platters for serving desserts or appetizers when entertaining.

We came up with 5 things to do with old dishes here.

21. Take advantage of the Wi-Fi connectivity of an old smartphone.

If you’re wondering what to do with an old smartphone, simply tossing it in the trash is not an option because it is considered e-waste. You also shouldn’t shove it to the bottom of a drawer for eternity. Even if the phone isn’t capable of making calls anymore, you should still be able to connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi, enabling you to use it as a remote control for other smart devices or give it to your kids for playing games or taking pictures.

Here are 5 ways to use your old smartphone at home.

22. Turn old wooden crates into decorative or functional items.

Wooden crates repurposed as planters and storage.
Photo: Getty Images

Think of an old wooden crate as a blank canvas waiting for your creativity to spark. Pull out some paint—or even chalkboard paint—and turn these crates into floating shelves for the bathroom, a coffee table for the living room, or a simple DIY shoe organizer.

Discover 8 ways to use old wooden crates.

23. Get creative with old paint.

Are cans of old paint cluttering your basement or garage? Chances are that some of the colors there aren’t even on your walls anymore, so it might be time to stop saving them for a touch-up that will never be necessary. If these old colors are still good, pull them out and start using them for your DIY projects. You could even mix colors (of the same type) together to make unique blends or to use as a primer. If you simply don’t need the paint anymore, try to donate it.

Check out our guide on what to do with old paint.

24. Build something useful with wooden hangers.

When you have more wooden hangers than you could possibly use, look for some alternative ways to put them to good use while also clearing out some space in a cluttered closet. A few hangers placed in alternating directions, along with a few wooden dowels, can make a minimalist dish drying rack. You could even use the hangers to display artwork or to create a one-of-a-kind chandelier.

We came up with 5 things to do with wooden hangers here.

25. Transform junk mail into something that’s far from junk.

Junk mail doesn’t have to be, well, junk. However, it also shouldn’t be left to collect dust on the kitchen island or dining room table. Upcycle colorful junk mail into garlands, tear them up to make an abstract mural, or craft a DIY basket.

Here are a few more things to do with junk mail.

26. Upcycle old cassette tapes.

A image of 1980s retro cassette tapes, tape recorder and vinyl records with the tape in an image of guy playing the guitar.
Photo: Getty Images

Do you have old cassette tapes taking up space in the back of your closet? If you have no desire—or no way—to play them again, use them to make some retro-inspired decor or furniture items, such as a lampshade, pencil holder, or chair.

Here are 5 things to do with old cassette tapes.

27. Decorate, organize, and more with shoeboxes.

It seems like such a waste to throw out a perfectly good shoebox. However, if they’ve been piling up for a while, they can take up a lot of space and increase the overall clutter in your home. Try upcycling old shoeboxes by turning them into drawer dividers, off-season storage containers, DIY shadow boxes, and more.

Check out these 18 new uses for old shoeboxes.

28. Repurpose some—or all—of an old dresser.

An old dresser doesn’t have to be destined for the dump. Instead, you can convert it into a bathroom vanity, a kitchen island, or even a tiered plant display. If you don’t have a way to use the whole dresser, at least save the drawers and repurpose them as wall shelves or underbed storage drawers.

We gathered 10 new uses for old dressers.

29. Turn an old door into a home decor or organization asset.

Your old front door may not have been cutting it in terms of energy efficiency or home security, but that doesn’t mean it should find a permanent home in the garage—or even worse—be banished to a landfill. With a little creativity and some DIY skills, you can turn an old door into a rustic coffee table, a mirror for the bedroom or living room, or a headboard.

Get inspiration from these 10 new uses for old doors.

30. Bring out your inner woodworker with scrap wood.

If you have lots of scrap wood from past home improvement projects, it’s time to pull out your tools and turn it into something new. Depending on the size and quantity of wood you have, you could build a garden walkway, craft unique picture frames for family photos, build a set of bookends for your living room, or put together a welcoming birdhouse for backyard visitors.

Do some DIY with 21 clever little things to do with scrap wood.

31. Dust off old books and get creative.

Old silver coins hidden in space cut into the leaves of a book.
Photo: Getty Images

Are old books filling up your bookshelves—or piling up in boxes in the basement? If you know you’ll never read them again, but don’t want to get rid of them, upcycle them by cutting and rolling the page to make a DIY wreath or use the hardcover to make a picture frame. If you have vintage books or other favorites with unique covers, let them double as decor by turning them into a disguised storage box, a unique bookshelf, or a succulent planter.

Try these 9 smart uses for dusty old books.

32. Save silica gel packs for moisture-control needs.

Manufacturers included silica gel packets to control moisture when shipping or packaging certain products. These little packets typically have a label reminding the consumer to “throw away,” but they can actually be saved for various household moisture-control needs. Put them in the container with your pet’s dry food to keep it from going stale, store a few with antique silverware to minimize tarnish, or toss a couple into old photo boxes to protect them against humidity. Just be sure to keep silica packets away from children or pets; they are not safe to eat.

Check out these 10 reasons you shouldn’t toss silica gel packets.

33. Let accumulating plastic cups work for you.

Do you have a stash of partially-full packages of plastic cups from various parties or get-togethers? Keep these from adding to your home’s clutter by turning them into something new and useful. Plastic cups work well as seed starters, to separate fragile ornaments or other decorations for storage, or when turned into a personal speaker for your smartphone.

Put old plastic cups to work with these 11 ideas.

34. Use newspapers for more than just reading.

Newspapers are spread over soil in a raised garden.
Photo: Getty Images

Piles of old newspapers can really make your home look cluttered. Instead of letting them accumulate, give them a new job, such as wrapping breakables when packing or shipping, helping shoes and handbags hold their shape when they’re not being worn, or smothering weeds.

Upcycle the news with these 14 clever uses for old newspapers.

35. Transform an old sweater into something new and useful.

Out-of-style or holey sweaters don’t need to take up precious closet space. Throwing them away isn’t necessary either since there are so many ways to repurpose them, such as making a cozy blanket, throw pillows, cell phone cases, coasters, or warm hats and mittens.

Give an old sweater new life with one of these 14 creative ideas.

36. Give old appliances a chance to shine with a renewed purpose.

If you think your old appliances have lived out their useful life, think again. With some DIY skills and a little thought, you can give old dishwashers, microwaves, refrigerators, and more a second shot at life. A few ideas include converting the drum from a washer into a fire pit, turning an old refrigerator on its side and covering it with wood panels to make a rustic cooler, or adding a cube-shaped fishbowl inside a microwave to make a unique aquarium for fish and aquatic plants.

Try one of these 10 awesome new uses for old appliances.

37. Turn glass bottles into brilliant home decor pieces.

Glass bottles shouldn’t be saved if they’re only going to add clutter to your home. Fortunately, there are several exciting DIY projects you can try if you don’t want to throw out or recycle the bottles. Turn your glass bottles into a unique hanging light fixture for the kitchen, wrap them with yarn to make gorgeous vases, or turn them into a new light for the living room.

Discover 16 creative new easy to use old bottles.

38. Use old garage door parts to build something new.

A new garage door can enhance the appearance of your home and improve its overall safety. However, the old door can be upcycled for a variety of home improvement projects that will keep it out of a dump and ensure it doesn’t take up precious space inside the garage for years to come. Convert an old garage door into an outdoor bench, refinish and paint it to make a neat headboard, or separate the panels to make raised beds for your backyard garden.

Try these 9 innovative design uses of old garage door components.

39. Give old wicker a facelift or a new job.

Summer day in the sunroom as a fedora hat rests on white wicker couch.
Photo: Getty Images

If your wicker furniture has seen better days or is getting replaced by more modern furniture, give the old pieces a facelift and a new purpose. Try painting or decorating the furniture to give it a brand-new look, turning an old wicker basket or bassinet into a plant stand, or adding caster wheels to a basket to make a rolling bin.

Go from wicker to wild with 10 easy ways to transform old wicker.

40. Transform old bikes into stylish home accents.

While a vintage bicycle may look cool, it might not still be functional or safe to ride. That doesn’t mean that it must be tossed out or left to take up useful space in the garage. Instead, put on your creativity hat and upcycle the bike into a cool planter or a one-of-a-kind bathroom vanity. You could also repurpose the wheels by turning them into hanging pot racks or lazy Susans.

Transform old bicycles into 5 new items.

41. Let leather belts help add to your home’s function and style.

Green cabinets with leather pull handles.
Photo: Getty Images

Do you have old leather belts that you never wear but can’t quite bring yourself to donate? Leather is a durable and gorgeous material, so it only makes sense that these fashion accessories can take on a new purpose. Weave multiple belts together to create a seat for a new chair, use a few with some wood boards to make a hanging shelf, or attach them to cabinet doors for a rustic new handle.

Take leather from worn to workable decor with these 5 ideas for old belts.

42. Repurpose a rake’s old tines into organization or decor.

Even old rakes can be pulled out of the shadows in the shed or garage and given a new job. In addition to providing visual interest, the tines of the rake also allow them to add function to your space. For example, try hanging a rake on the wall—tines up—and using it to hold keys or dog leashes by the front door. You could also create a stand for an old rake and hang plants from its tines.

Discover 5 things to do with old rakes.

43. Draft old drawers into doing more than storing clothes.

If the rest of an old dresser or nightstand has seen better days, don’t let the drawers end up in a landfill. Their box-like shape works perfectly for a variety of DIY projects. A few ideas to give you some inspiration include turning a drawer into a storage ottoman, converting it to a planter, or fashioning a cozy bed for a beloved bet.

Give old drawers new function with these 5 ideas.

44. Turn an old filing cabinet into something new.

Don’t let an old, unused filing cabinet take up space in your office or basement. Instead, turn it into a kitchen cart by adding a butcher block top and a side rack for hanging utensils or pot holders. Alternatively, you could remove the drawers and turn the filing cabinet on its side for storing rakes, shovels, and other tall garden tools.

Keep old filing cabinets full of purpose with these 5 creative options.

45. Empty the coin jar and put the pennies to work.

You can put the overflowing pennies from your coin jar to work for you without rolling them and taking them to a bank. Pennies are an inexpensive, yet attractive decorating asset. You can use them as mini tiles to frame a mirror, create ornamental accents for your kitchen or family room, or even to cover an entire floor—if you have enough.

Put pennies on display with these redecorating ideas with the coins.

46. Clip clothespins in new spots for a tidy home.

Clothes pins hold photos along a garland on a white wall.
Photo: Getty Images

Too many packs of clothespins in the laundry room and no clothesline? Don’t throw them out or leave them where they’ll never be used. Instead, give them a new job of hanging pictures on twine, guiding a nail for your next project, holding a place card at the table, or saving your spot in the book you’re currently reading.

Discover 10 novel uses for the classic clothespin.

47. Bring out a bucketful of uses for old buckets.

Those plastic 5-gallon buckets come in handy for many home improvement or cleaning projects. If you find that you somehow have too many buckets that are adding unnecessary clutter to your garage or shed, turn them into something new, such as a tool organizer, a toddler swing, a stool, or a side table.

Try these ideas for reusing old buckets.

48. Reuse coat rack to hang more than coats.

If you have an entryway closet, then an old coat rack might be holding nothing more than dust. Remedy this by cleaning up the coat rack and giving it a new purpose. Put it in the bedroom to hold your robe or organize clothes for the following day, use it in the kitchen to hang cookware or utensils, or seal it and put it in your garden to display lights or hang bird feeders.

Give new life to a seldom-used or vintage coat rack in unexpected ways.

49. Spring new life into old bedsprings.

Innerspring mattresses are becoming a thing of the past. If you’re ready to upgrade an old mattress, keep the bedsprings from winding up in a landfill by using them to make unique wine racks, hanging chandeliers, wreaths, or vertical planters.

Check out 7 new uses for old bedsprings.

50. Find new ways to use wire hangers.

You may avoid using wire hangers in the closet for fear of stretching or distorting your clothes. While these hangers might not be the preferred choice for this purpose, they can certainly come in handy in other ways. Reshape the hangers to make extra-large bubble wands for the kids, bend them into a circle to create the base for a homemade wreath, or attach them to old colanders to make outdoor hanging planters.

See more clever ways to use old wire hangers.