Reader Joan wrote in with this question:
What does one do with old pantyhose that is no longer wearable because of holes, etc.? Is there a way to recycle this material?
That’s a great question. The short answer is no. Most pantyhose is made from nylon and it is a difficult material to recycle — and it can take up to 30 to 40 years for it to decompose in a landfill. A few years ago, an American pantyhose manufacturer had a recycling program but it is now discontinued.
Since a recycling program is not available, let’s take a look at the other two Rs, reduce and reuse.
Deciding not to wear pantyhose ever again is an option but it might not be possible to change the dress code at your office or that of a specific event. So, let’s look at some ways to reduce the amount of pantyhose used.
It might seem obvious, but buy higher quality pantyhose. The cheap ones might seem like a deal but if you tear them when putting them on for the first time, you’ve wasted money.
Take some time to find a brand that fits you properly. Some brands are more generous in the seat and thigh area, other brands are great for people with longer legs. Once you find a brand that you like, stick with it.
Look at your wardrobe and see if you can reduce the types and colours of hosiery you need. You may find that you only need black to coordinate with your winter wardrobe and sheer to coordinate with your summer wardrobe. Also, the colour of “sheer” varies drastically so find a brand that makes a colour that matches your skin tone.
Careful treatment of pantyhose helps them last longer. Before putting them on, ensure your finger and toenails have no snags and do not wear jewellery. Hand wash your hosiery in cold water or put it in a mesh bag and wash it in the machine on the delicate cycle. Lay them flat to dry, preferably on a towel (hanging causes them to stretch out of shape). Do not use detergent with bleach as that breaks down the fibres.
Store your pantyhose so it won’t get snagged on any other clothing. You can store it in your drawer in a mesh bag. Some people prefer to store their panty hose in their closet in a hanging pocket organizer.
My grandmother was raised in the Great Depression and was frugal her whole life. If one leg of her pantyhose was damaged, she cut it off. If she had two of the same pair with one leg each, she wore both pairs at the same time — both of her legs were covered and she had extra tummy control.
Besides wearing two half-pairs at a time, there are many other ways to reuse pantyhose. Bright Life Direct has one of the best list of ideas. It includes:
- Deodorize up to three or four months. Chop a handful of any pleasant-smelling herb from your garden then add a box of baking soda. Mix and tie up in fresh smelling sachet balls of nylon. Place under sinks, in cabinets, drawers or storage areas.
- Hold gauze or bandaging in place. Cut a circular strip from the part of the leg with similar size, like the ankle circumference used for the mid arm to keep bandages from sliding. Plus, it allows “breathing”.
- Store onions or flower bulbs in a stocking leg.
- Store rolls of gift wrap, wallpaper, posters in a stocking leg to help protect them from damage.
- Place pantyhose over growing vegetables such as squash to reduce damage from bugs. You can also hang some vine vegetables in this way to keep them off the ground.
Pantyhose can also be used to tie bundles of clothes, blankets, or fabric together. It also great for straining paint.
There are so many craft projects that use pantyhose. You can stretch them over a coat hanger to make angel or fairy wings or braid them together to create a rug. An internet search will generate over a million websites with great ideas.
Thanks again for your great question Joan. We hope this post gives you the answers you were looking for. Our fellow unclutterers are also a great source of ideas so keep checking the comments for more tips.
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