old blue jeans
Photo: Mark Weiss
Those old jeans aren’t quite ready for the dumpster. Here are some ways to put them to good use around the house.
More than 130 years ago, tailor Jacob Davis convinced a Gold Rush merchant named Levi Strauss to help him sell work pants reinforced with copper rivets. Now, jeans cost as much as a used car. So it pays to recycle ’em—like we do.

1. Make a nail pouch. Cut away the pant seat but leave it attached to the waistband. Hold the seat to your waist and fasten the waistband in the back. Fill pockets with nails.

2. Hold Your Pencils. Cut out one back pocket and nail or glue it to the side of your shop cabinet as a pencil holder.

3. Repair a Rust Spot. Got a hole in the floor of your old beater? Buy a quart of liquid fiberglass, dip a swatch of denim in it, then smooth it over the hole. Once it cures, the fabric will become a rigid patch.

4. Bolster insulation. To close small gaps around framing, soak cut-up jeans in a mixture of borax and water. It will dry into fire-retardant, mildew-resistant, insect-repelling insulation.

5. Make a shop weight. Cut off one pant leg and sew up the bottom end. Fill with sand, and then sew the top end closed to make a sandbag that can steady a workpiece.

6. Soothe Muscles. Cut off a foot-long section of one pant leg and sew up the bottom end. Fill with rice, and sew the top end closed for a microwavable heating pad.

7. Create Tiebacks. Cut out and save double-stitched inseams: They can double as ropes.

8. Pattern a paint job. Ripped into rags, your old jeans make great applicators for a mottled glaze or faux finish when painting.

9. Make a tool wrap. Cut off a 10-inch section of one pant leg, measured from the bottom hem. Rip the inseam out but leave it attached at the hem. Place the fabric on a flat surface, inside facing out. Place tools on fabric, fold closed, roll up, and tie with the inseam.

10. Make ladder guards. Tape scraps of denim to the ends of an extension ladder to protect your house’s siding.
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