Do you want to reduce the amount of single use plastic you throw out every day? In this tutorial I explain how you can make your own reusable cotton pads and make your bathroom a bit more eco-friendly.
I consider myself a fairly eco-conscious person. And still, when the time comes to put out the thrash, it baffles me how much waste we throw out every day.
When I first heard about plastic free July, I was pumped to join the movement. But man, it’s HARD to find everyday items that are not packaged in plastic.
New shampoo? Nope, that comes in a plastic bottle. Deodorant? Oh wait, you have to get passed those layers of plastic first. A quick energy bar as a snack? Hello, plastic wrapper!
By the way, if you’re interested and are looking for more ways to reduce your use of plastic, I have a guide with tips to avoid single use plastic items.
This month the timing couldn’t be better for a project I’ve been wanting to complete for months now.
Our wash cloths have done their duty for four years now, and many clay masks and cleansing balms later, they’re in need of a change.
I found a set of organic cotton low impact wash cloths (similar to these organic fair trade wash cloths) that will serve as the perfect replacement for the next years to come.
Of course I wasn’t just going to throw away my old wash cloths. I’m going to turn them into cute little cotton pads instead!
Making your own reusable cotton pads has a ton of benefits:
- You repurpose an old item – I’m not sure what the original color of these wash cloths was anymore. Their color has faded or changed so much over time that not one looks the same. These wash cloths were in dire need of replacement, but they will not go to waste!
- Your thrash can stays empty – you wash them with the rest of your washables, it’s as simple as that.
- No more single use plastic packaging – I mean seriously, it seems like they keep inventing excuses to wrap additional layers of plastic around these items.
- It looks hella cute! – point made 🙂
Turning your old wash cloths into round cotton pads is an easy project any beginner can do. I decided to sew mine by hand, but if you have a sewing machine and some basic sewing skills, you can let the machine do the hard work for you.
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Materials You’ll Need
My philosophy behind this tutorial was to re-use and reduce. That’s why I only wanted to use materials I already had at home.
For this tutorial I used 2 very simple materials:
- old and clean wash cloths
- embroidery thread and needle
Don’t worry if you don’t have either of these items in your home right now.
You can buy the fabric by the yard, like this hemp and organic cotton terry cloth fabric or this bamboo terry cloth fabric. Or you can re-purpose a different fabric (or an old, soft towel) you already have at home.
The fibers of my old wash cloths are pretty ‘rough’. I like the extra bit of exfoliation you get from using them, but you might find a soft terry cloth fabric more pleasant to use.
Especially around your eye area you have to be extra careful with scratch fabrics.
The quality and feel of your homemade cotton pads will of course depend on the state of your materials. If your wash cloths are too far gone, recycle them as cleaning rags and opt for a new fabric instead.
Now, here comes the fun part. How to DIY your own cotton pads.
First we’ll need a template. I used a small glass and a marker to trace the shape I wanted onto the wash cloth. These are a similar size and shape as the ones you’d buy at the drugstore.
I don’t recommend using a permanent marker for this. As long as you can see where you need to cut, more or less, you’re good. Permanent markers won’t fade in the washing machine, so I recommend using a pen or pencil instead.
You can also cut squares or any other shape you like. Squares especially will be much easier to sew with a sewing machine.
Cut each circle out of the wash cloth and they’ll becomes 2 circles, as you have a front and a back piece.
I guess you could use each individual circle as a cotton pad, but to make them a bit sturdier and stop them from fraying as much I sewed both sides together to create 1 thick(er) circle.
To attach the front and back piece I used bold colored embroidery thread.
As usual, I decided to wing it and see what stitch would work for me. Once I decided on a look, I went for it and sewed every circle the same way.
If you want a professional tutorial on how to sew a round pad, here’s a clear tutorial on how to do a blanket stitch.
How To Store Reusable Cotton Pads
I made 2 separate containers for my zero waste cotton pads. First I made a container to keep all the clean cotton pads in.
They sit in their own custom made re-purposed glass jar. Thanks to the clear glass my cotton pads are on display for anyone to enjoy in my bathroom.
I leave the lid off, so all you have to do is reach for the top cotton pad and you are ready to cleanse and wipe.
But then what? When you use disposable cotton pads they go straight into the thrash can. Where do my homemade cotton pads go?!
That’s why I made a matching ‘dirty’ jar. Once I’ve used my zero waste cotton pad I throw it into the ‘dirty’ jar. Just make sure to keep the lid off and check if they can naturally air dry.
You can also immediately throw them in a washing bag ready for their wash. You can find more info about how to keep these zero waste cotton pads clean below.
In this post I share a tutorial on how to clean jars for beauty purposes. In this case you won’t need to sterilize the jars as thoroughly though.
How To Re-use Glass Jars as Containers
These are the materials I used to make the zero waste jars:
- clean, re-purposed jars
- glass paint marker
How To Clean and Re-purpose Glass Jars:
- Soak the jars in hot water and dish washing soap to remove the label
- Clean the jars in your dishwasher
- Optional: swipe them with some rubbing alcohol once dry
To recognize which jar is for what pads I deliberately went with two different sizes of jars. To make it extra clear I also wrote down which jar contains the clean cotton pads and which jar the dirty ones.
To write down which jar is which I used an acrylic paint marker. You can use these to write on a bunch of materials, including glass.
I pulled out my best hand lettering skills and tried to make a swirly design. I still need a lot of practice as you can see, but I’m happy with how they turned out.
How To Clean Reusable Cotton Pads
As time goes by you’ll notice the pile in the ‘clean’ jar shrink and the one in the ‘dirty’ jar expand.
At least once a week I throw all of the used cotton pads in one of those washing bags you use to wash your delicates, like bras.
Make sure your bag closes with a zipper or a tight rope. Otherwise you’ll be picking up cotton pads all over your washing machine!
How To Wash Reusable Cotton Pads:
Washing your reusable makeup remover pads is very easy:
- Gather your used cotton pads in a washing bag. Make sure the bag closes tightly.
- Throw in your washing machine and wash with your wash cloths and towels.
- Let the washed makeup remover pads air dry before storing them back into your ‘clean’ jar.
- Needle or sewing machine
- glass or other template
- washable marker
1. Use a template (like the opening of a glass) and trace along the edge of the glass. One wash cloth makes about 4 cotton pads.
2. Cut the circles out of the fabric. You now have 8 circles.
3. Sew 2 circles together with a needle and thread. I used thick embroidery thread in bold colors. Make sure you don't leave loose ends.
- Repeat as often as you like until you've got the quantity you want.
- For more detailed information about this tutorial see section above.
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There are other ways to make your own reusable cotton pads. If you have some pretty good crochet skills for example, you can try this crochet cotton pad tutorial.
You can of course also buy a pre-made set of reusable makeup remover pads, like these microfiber cotton pads.
Are you loving the zero waste ideas and want to take your bathroom to the next eco-friendly level? Here are some more eco-conscious ideas to incorporate into your daily routine:
If you like this DIY, than don’t forget to put a pin on it!