What To Do With Old Tights: 5 Planet-Friendly Pantyhose Tips

Turn The Tide On The Most Disposable Garment In Fashion With These Uses For Old Pantyhose

Don’t you just hate it when a pair of tights rip? 

They’re effectively useless and you end up having to throw them away—but they don’t have to condemn your used nylons to landfill.

Read our guide to what to do with old tights and find endless sustainable uses for them around the home and garden. 

What’s The Problem With Throwing Away Old Tights?

Tights are one of the most disposable garments we have. Approximately eight billion pairs of tights are manufactured and thrown away each year around the world. 

Tights are made from a mix of synthetic materials like nylon, polyester and elastane which give them their stretchiness. The problem is they’re just not designed to last. Once a snag appears, it’s a quick slippery slope to gaping holes and ladders—which is why they’re nicknamed the ‘single-use plastic’ of the garment world.

If you’re not aiming for the grunge look, a snag in a pair of tights is the end of the road and they’ll likely end up tossed in the trash. It’s easy when you can just buy a replacement pair for less than $3.

But since it accounts for around 103,000 tons of hosiery waste, it’s time to put our best foot forward and find more sustainable uses for old tights. 

1. Get Creative With Upcycling

What To Do With Old Tights by Petr Smagin

Your tights get snagged and rendered unwearable on your legs but you could still wear them in other ways with a creative bit of upcycling. The only limit is your imagination when it comes to pantyhose craft projects.

If you have long hair then you’ll know that you can never have too many hair bands and you can make an endless supply with tights. 

All you need to do is chop off the feet and hip part of the tights until you’re left with the legs. Cut the legs into strips and you’ve got yourself a handy new collection of hair ties. By the way, the same technique also makes rubber band alternatives. 

Upcycling doesn’t just stop there, you can turn old tights into pouches filled with lavender to hang in your closet and keep moths at bay. 

The foot part of the snagged tights can be added to a socket puppet or you could learn how to make stocking dolls with some cleverly-placed stuffing. Thick or patterned tights make fun plant pot covers. The widest part near the waistband could be given a new life as a headband or sleeping mask. 

If you feel like making a statement about upcycling, you can make a bold pantyhose necklace out of old stockings knotted with aluminium foil or any large colorful beads. 

You could also save the material and use it to patch up holes in other garments. Visible mending is a fun way to put your own personality on worn-out clothes.

There’s even a tutorial on turning old tights into a sheer crop top with just a few snips of the scissors. You don’t even need to know how to sew for these beginner-friendly upcycling tips.

2. Recycle Tights Into Cleaning & Storage Essentials

What To Do With Old Tights by bbostjan

Old tights can be downcycled as much as they can be upcycled. The easiest way to do it is to turn them into cleaning essentials. Cut up your used tights into strips and use them to dust or wipe surfaces. They make handy polish cloths for silverware and streak-free rags for mirrors. 

If you cut the tights at the ankle, you can put your hand where the foot normally goes and use it as a duster for computer screens, blinds, or hard-to-reach places around the home. 

Speaking of hard-to-reach places, if you drop jewelry into a thick rug or carpet, tie some old tights fabric over the nozzle of a vacuum and you can safely suck it up without losing it in the machine. 

Tights can also be turned into storage thanks to their stretchiness. Slip wrapping paper rolls into the leg or use them to store camping mats, yoga mats, or Christmas decorations. 

3. Use Tights As Filters

What To Do With Old Tights by glenn-specht

The tight, strong woven mesh material of a pair of tights can be used to create a fine filter, whether it’s for making cheese, yogurt, or for preventing pips from escaping when squeezing a lemon. 

Depending on the denier (individual fiber thickness) of your tights, you could experiment with using them as reusable cold brew coffee filters or juice strainers. Just bear in mind that if you use nylon tights as food filters, you may be exposed to microplastics. Avoid using them with heat to be on the safe side. 

Prefer not to go food-based? 

If you’re a photographer, you could experiment with tying tights over your camera lens to create a dreamy light diffusion filter for your photos. 

Used pantyhose have even been known to prolong the lifespan of hot tub filters, and, if tied over a rainwater diverter, may prevent large debris from getting into the collection barrel.

4. Repurpose Tights As Gardening Tools

What To Do With Old Tights by Africa images

Who knew used nylons could be an eco-friendly gardening tool?

You might not be able to wear the laddered tights anymore but your plants can. Turn them into handy gardening tools by using strips of material as ties instead of wire or twine. The nylon is strong without chafing the stems and the loose weave of the fabric allows air and moisture circulation without accumulating bacteria or unwanted insects. 

Tie tomato plants to stakes, climbing plant stems to trellises or bamboo canes together to provide support for beans or peas. 

They can be useful for stringing onions and garlic together for storage. You could also put plant bulbs or herbs in each leg and hang them up somewhere cool and dry until you’re ready to use them. 

If you have a problem with pests nibbling plants they shouldn’t, turn tights into makeshift netting to cover vulnerable shoots. This can work for slugs, birds and deer. 

Tights at the bottom of plant pots also prevent bugs from getting in while allowing water to drain out. Similarly, securing some over a jar is an easy DIY rinse hack for growing sprouts and microgreens in your kitchen window. 

You could also fill up the entire pair with compost, tie up the waistband, cut holes along the length and make grow bags for young seeds. 

5. Recycle Tights Responsibly

What To Do With Old Tights by pixelshot

Too-far-gone pairs can be dropped off at your nearest textile recycling bank. Check out Recycle Now to find recycling banks in the UK. 

But since tights are made of a combination of nylon, polyester and elastane, they can be difficult to recycle so there’s no guarantee they will be recycled, so the best option may be to recycle pantyhose through brands offering specialist recycling programs. 

Hedoine has a recycling project which allows you to send them your old tights (whether they’re from the brand or not) to get turned into useful items like tyres or insulation. At the moment, you will need to cover the cost of postage but you’ll receive a £10 store credit to compensate. 

Snag Tights accepts their own pre-loved tights back to be turned into industrial components. They’re working on a way for customers to return them for free.

Swedish Stockings also wants your old tights and they don’t have to be from the brand. Send three pairs of synthetic tights to their mail-in facility in Sweden and receive a 10% discount on your next pair, but you will need to pay for shipping. 

Closing Thoughts On Uses For Old Tights

Standard tights are cheap, disposable and not designed to last more than a handful of wears if you’re lucky. Since they’re made from a blend of synthetic fibers, tossing ripped pantyhose in the trash sends them to landfill where they could take over 30 years to break down. 

Tights don’t have to be for our legs. Their somewhat strong, stretchy material gives them endless creative uses in your home and garden.

So pass on these uses for old pantyhose to inspire someone else to keep their snagged-up pair in circulation for longer.