12 Uses for Old Socks

Photo: savageblackout/FlickrWhether you've lost a mate to the dryer elves, finally torn a hole through the toe of your beloved pair of old standbys, or given in to the inevitable death of the elastic, you've come to the grim conclusion that a sock is not long for this world. Or...is it? Old socks are actually one of the most fantastically useful items of torn, weathered, and beaten-up clothing you can have, so don't you dare toss that sock in the trash: it has a whole new career ahead of it.

1. Hand Duster

Old socks are perfect for hand dusting, especially those fluffy thick ones. (Remember how they picked up dust when you walked around the house in them?) Just wash them, slip them over your hand, and use them for hand dusting your furniture and other items. When they get dirty, run them through the wash again for future cleaning sessions.

2. Applicator for Shoe, Furniture, Metal, and Other Polishes

Keeping polish off your hands can be a pain. Wear an old sock over them and apply a small amount of the polish your using, before rubbing away. You'll have the full range of motion in your hand to work the polish in deep and buff thoroughly, and you won't be wrestling with polishing cloths.

3. Bean Bag

If your sock is in mostly good condition, stuff it with beans, rice, or other grains to make a heatable (and chillable) pack to relax your muscles. Consider adding lavender, rose petals, and other dried flowers and herbs to give it a relaxing aroma.

4. Drink Insulator

Socks keep your feet toasty, so why not your beverages? Cold drinks will stay cooler when wrapped in a sock, while hot drinks will stay warmer. Avoid heat loss and transfer with the use of a nice cozy wrapper that will also handily make it easy to separate your drink from those everyone else is carrying -- unless they start getting in on the used sock trend.

5. Dog and Cat Toys

Knot up a sock a few times for a cheap chew toy, or knot it around some catnip for the kitty in your life. Your animal friends will love your totally free toy.

6. Sachet

Potpourri and socks go together like ice cream and apple pie. Stuff old socks and stash them in drawers, closets, and other areas to keep them smelling fresh. You can also fill them with mothballs or cedar balls to control insets. Your quick and easy odor control solution might not look gorgeous, but it will do the trick.

7. Dishwashing Glove

Sponges can become harbors for bacteria, making dishcloths the way to go for washing. Sock dish gloves are the next step up: you can hand-wipe a dish to quickly pull grease away, and then continue with regular washing. Make sure to wash your dish cloths and socks periodically in hot water with a good grease-cutting soap and bleach to keep them clean for your kitchen.

8. Pick Up Sticks

Dropped hardware, LEGO, bits and pieces, and other detritus? Vaccuming it up could imperil your vacuum (and ensure the items are lost forever), so why not try a sock retrieval technique, as suggested by This Old House? Stick a sock on the end of a vacuum hose and turn it on -- the vacuum will pull small items forward the hose, while the sock will keep them from slipping inside.

9. Quickie Kneelers

Have a job you need to kneel for? Protect your knees with stretched-out, funky old tube socks. Cut off the feet and slide the socks up and over your knees to add a little extra padding for comfort.

10. Prevent Scratching

Have itchy skin? You can make a compress with oatmeal in a sock to sooth the irritation -- and slip dry old socks over your hands before bed so you don't scratch during the night.

11. Shoe Covers

Doing something dirty, like painting or working out in your Austin garden? Protect those shoes with a pair of oversized, funky socks. They'll minimize messes, and you can pull them off when you're all done.

12. Sock Puppets

We couldn't leave you without a time-honored suggestion.

And remember: fresh socks are always a needed item at shelters and in disaster relief drives. So if you happen to have a few spare packs around, consider donating them to charity.

Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.

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