Best Ways To Recycle Old Towels

PET CHECK BLOG Dog under towel

\\\ Recycle Towels For Pets

PET CHECK BLOG Dog under towel

Old towels are just perfect to dry off after a day of swimming!


Recycling Towels

Don’t throw your old towels away, put them to re-use in the pet industry

Most of us possess a handful of different-sized towels and these may lose their colour and fluffy pile over time with constant use and washing. That’s millions of towels that are being discarded yearly where they can be put to good use in the pet industry.

The UK population is estimated at more than 68,000 million according to World Population Review and we are all likely to own at least one towel. Towels can last for some years but it is likely that at least 10% will be thrown away each year, that’s a whopping 6.8 million towels each year. Millions of towels that are being discarded yearly can be put to good use in the pet industry, being re-used before being recycled.

2021 Statistica provided pet stats indicating that we are really a pet-loving nation with more than 13 million dogs and cats respectively residing in our homes, so old towels can be an enormous help for pet owners.


Are your towels useable and with care labels still attached?

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Are your towels damaged?

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1. Towels that are not damaged

If your towels are just showing their signs of age then they can be donated to your local pet charity shop, especially if you have the care labels still attached. They can be re-sold in their shops raising funds for the charity.

If you are not sure where your local pet charity shop is, then check on

Telephone before arriving, asking them if they are currently accepting donations and if they want them packed in any special way. Not all pet charity shops can accept bedding and linen donations every day.

If your towels are damaged and could not be purchased at the local pet charity shop, they can still send these to the ‘rag man’, an official trade recycling firm. The charity will receive some funds for doing this invaluable recycling service of old, unwanted textiles. Again, bundle up and label the bag as ‘damaged towels’.

Local Pet Shelters accept clean towels to help with the many pets they have to rehome. They, like pet charity shops, may not always be able to take them in, so a call in advance is advisable. You’ll find your nearest pet shelter listed at

Due to the recent Covid-19 restrictions, a quick call ahead before making a special journey is a great idea because they may not be able to accept your donation immediately.

What other donating solutions are there for undamaged towels?

Don’t throw your old towels away

Pet Check highly recommends trying advertising on social media as pet owners would be delighted to snap up your spare towels.

Why Pet Owners Like Towels

Dog owners keep a bundle at the ready for wet, muddy, dog walking days, to clean off their pets before they get back into their cars or their home after walks. They’re perfect to help pets dry their fur coats quickly and not suffer from chills in cold weather.

Sometimes owners put towels into dog beds so they dry off most of the wet and mud and then can be taken out a little later, preventing dog beds from getting even more trashed with dirt. Even professional dog walkers keep piles of towels ready in their dog walking vans for the days they get caught out in the rain, walking their charges.

Dog owners use them when they take their dogs onto beaches wiping off sand, and drying their dogs after swimming towels are perfect for drying any dog after their regular bath.

Pet rabbit owners like to put them over their outside hutches carefully trying to block out some sunshine on really hot days, providing their rabbits with shade, and making sure that their pet rabbits can’t nibble at them.

Cat owners like to have them handy for drying their cats off when diving back through their cat hatches when it rains. Hand towels are just the perfect size.

The PFMA, The Pet Food Manufacturers Association, has informed us that there are an estimated 12 million dogs residing in the UK and 12 million cats (2020 statistics). That’s a huge pet population out there where pet owners will appreciate donated items.

If you want to give away your towel(s) to a pet owner then advertising it on the free web platforms is usually a quick solution that provides you with local pick-up facilities.

The best nationwide local platforms for donating to pet owners are –

  1. Olio the UK free recycling food and household items recycling website and app. Millions are using this app, borrowing items, and giving away free items.
  2. Freecycle the free recycling worldwide partnership with local groups and more than 9 million users.
  3. ilovefreegle free recycling with local groups all dotted over the UK.
  4. Friday Ad free online magazine offering free listings.
  5. Gumtree and Facebook offer free listings.

If you are looking to re-sell your towels and collect them locally, then try the usual websites such as, Gumtree, Friday Ad, and Facebook.

Good quality towels need not just be shared with pet owners but can be donated to homeless shelters and charities.

Recycling old and damaged towels

Can I put towels in my landfill or recycling bins at home?

Generally, the answer is no, but each local authority has a differing recycling policy and yours may have a special collection point, especially for towels in your area. If you want to check, look up your council website.

2. Where do I recycle very old and damaged towels?

Recycle Now provides the UK public with details of their local recycling plants.

Towels fall under their very loose category definition as ‘Clothing and Textiles’ and can be recycled. The website provides all the nearest points for you to take your towels to, by simply popping your postcode into their search finder. They do ask that they are packed well and some sites ask you to put them into a bag.

Because of the recent huge pandemic crisis, some of the points may be closed or temporarily suspended, as they try to get back to normal collection services or re-arrange local services.

What are pet microfibre towels?

These are special towels designed to dry off pets quickly where the towel holds up to eight times the normal water according to their manufacturers. They are soft and can double up as snuggle blankets. Most pet stores online and high street sell these useful items and can be a great gift for your friend, colleague, or family member that owns a dog or cat, most, unfortunately, are made of synthetic fabrics which are fabrics that are much harder currently to dispose of in time and recycle.

\\\ The History Of The Towel

How Towels Have Developed

Today, some of the finest quality towels are bought from Turkey which is associated with producing the earliest towels in the city of Bursa, during the 15th century, when the use of towels spread globally.

Towels called ”Peshtamal” were large pieces of cotton or linen fabric that wrapped around the lower body.

Peshtamals were used in Turkish hammams, and spas before they were used domestically being light and absorbent.

As the world produced more cotton and industrialization grew across Europe, 19th century, more variations emerged, becoming cheaper, and bringing towels to the masses and where the shape changed becoming wider.


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