Hotel Towels for Farms

+ OK. Here is a question. What happens to old hotel linen? I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Maybe I have spent a little too much time in hotels. When their sheets get too old or their towels loose their fluffiness and those blankets get pilled. Where does all that stuff go?  All I can find is that they throw them in a dumpster.  Then they pay to have them hauled away to the dump. Surely we can do better than that! Does anyone know anyone in the hotel industry we can ask and get a real answer. I am getting no joy so far. Surely they do not just throw them out!cows in field

Couldn’t we collect them and fold them up and give them to the homeless or the food pantrys or someone who can use them for rags. Or something? I would use old towels. All farms need towels. Can we think on this?  I hate waste. Don’t you hate waste? Plus, and this is somewhat of a secret, I love rags. Any rags.  Well washed faded fabrics. I love to fold them and stuff them in my drawers. I love milking rags and dishcloth rags and floor cloths.  Many of my clothes could be called rags, but I love them.

I want to save the hotel towels and sheets and give them a second use. And I KNOW we can find a use for them.  Dogs?  Abandoned dog sheets? People need sheets too! There must be an answer.

I will call the campaign – Save the Rags. (Actually I think that may need some work. But you know where I am heading). Ideas?

Beatrix  (Beatrix is such a big name – I think I will call her Beatrix Potter – it is gentler somehow) Beatrix Potter was out in the field yesterday morning with her bad tempered mother (not all mothers are nice you know). We had some rain and winds then it cleared for a while into a lovely wistful day and all the animals moved slowly out into the light.  Whenever I could get my hands close to the calf, I patted her nose and gave her big strokes and chats. Though Elsie was onto me, she was a bit calmer yesterday.

Beatrix Potter gamboled about, drinking on and off, touching noses with Aunty Del – then led her mother by her nose back to the barn.  Elsie may be tough as nails with me but with that baby she is all marshmallow.

I locked them both into the barn  last night. For the meantime I would rather they stuck close to home at night.


Did you see the pussy willow in the header – we have a daffodil too.


Beatrix Potter. (I think I will call her Potter for short, see how these things evolve – though you have to say it with a New Zealand accent Potta’ ) – Potter slept all afternoon in a bed of straw by the barn. A sunny spot out of the wind is the perfect place for a baby animal. If I make a dry slightly elevated bed for an animal they always go and lie in it. Always. A soft dry bed in the sun is one of the most important requirements of an animal. We all seek sunshine. This is why I worry for children (and adults) who seldom get outside.  It is against nature to live in artificial light in hard rigid chairs all the time. A little sun brightens our spirits, allows our rhythm to settle, empowers intelligence – gives us life- literally.

Now, of course you and I are hoping that Lady Astor will calve soon so I can try to graft her calf onto Elsie.  I am not sure if Elsie the Wild will take another calf. But it is like being a sculptor. I have never studied  sculpting so how do I know that I am not brilliant at it. I think this about tennis too. I have never actually tried to play tennis but I do sometimes wonder whether I may have been amazing if I had. In fact I think I might be a REALLY amazing tennis player. Deep down.  On the Inside. Care for a match? So we will give Elsie the benefit of the doubt. She may well be a wonderful  nurse cow. Though it will involve some very, very careful work.

Just like: we may be able to save all those hotel towels from oblivion.

And now for the bestest rubbish shot with hilarious content.cats and goats

Do you remember Sesame Street? “One of these things is not like the other!”

From a different angle. Yes, it is one of Marmalade’s kittens sleeping with the goats.  If you lay down with goats you will wake up with – well – Goats.


Good morning- Another interesting Marmalade baby fact – though I have not got it on film yet  –  Her boy kitten. (we call him The Boy Kitten – ok that is deep),he  sleeps nights in the Hut with Tima and  Tane: the kunekune pigs.   And hangs out with them in the fields during the day. He has even been seen sitting on top of Tane in the sun.  Tane standing very still as The Boy Kitten sits up on his wide haunches kneading Tane’s back with his feet.  I will stalk them for that shot for you.

In the meantime – Have a lovely day

Your friend on the farm



84 Comments on “Hotel Towels for Farms

  1. What about ‘share the rags’? I take my old towels to the homeless support group here in Alice Springs, and also to the RSPCA to use for their animals. It makes so much sense to do that, I wouldn’t dream of throwing them away! Love the kitten sleeping with the goats.

  2. I love my clothes and in fact also our furniture more and more as they become more and more “ragged” , a kind of proof of “good life” and our history; when people throw them out and buy new things, they somehow loose a sense of history, and the beauty of getting older !

  3. OK I burst out laughing at your “I like to stuff rags in my drawers”!! Sorry my imagination ran away with me 🙂
    I have always kept ‘a rag bag’, and have some great rags for all sorts of jobs. The best are the old flannelette sheets, so soft still for delicate cleaning. Do lots of painting (house, fences etc. not art) so always need rags for that too. Will try to do some research for you.
    Love the cat in the with goats!

  4. Isn’t it just wonderful how green the pastures are becoming! I wonder if The Boy Kitten knows he’s not a kunekune?

  5. Celi I used to work in a very high end hotel in central London and every year they would change pretty much everything linen wise – tablecloths, napkins, towels and sheets and then maybe every two years things like mattresses, tvs etc. All the staff who were interested put their name in for a draw and you’d get whatever you drew out. I think over 30 years on I still have some of those sheets (I never won a tv or a mattress which would have been very handy to a young, impoverished reservations agent – me – at that stage of my life). I made skirts and dresses out of linen tablecloths and shared the napkins out with friends who are still using them. Don’t know if this happens at all hotels, but that’s how it worked in “mine”! I’m sure it would be worth talking to some, especially the luxury chains who only used top quality stuff which lasts and lasts!

  6. When I saw the title of today’s post, I thought you were going to confess you brought home some towels from your recent trip.

  7. Reading Chic Andaluza comment above, it appears there is hope. We are about to go into winter here, so there are always appeals for donations for blankets, I suppose they would welcome towels and sheets too, for our many informal settlements (read squatter camps). Dog and Cat shelters/rescue groups are always most pleased to receive donations of the same – year round. There should never be any reason to take such items to the dump. Laura

  8. One of the local high-end hotels here in our town donates all of their towels and linens to our local Humane Society. I think all you have to do is ask them.

  9. I would think that most hotels would have a plan for that, don’t you think? I know I read of one endeavor where someone collected all the bits and pieces of hotel soaps that were left in rooms after guests left and they actually had a process of melting them down (or something) and re-making them into new soap that was perfectly fine. You know I thought that was genius because there are always bits and pieces left, right? I wish I could remember where I saw that but it was several years ago. I agree—so much waste goes on and we need to do our part to eliminate as much as we can. I can’t wait to see the Boy Kitten on pig picture.

  10. Seems sad after seeing how much Elsie loves her calf to take Lady Astor’s away from her :-/. Isn’t there a way to share milk with you and the baby?

    • Share milking was my first choice, in fact that is why i was going to milk two.. however the milk is to raise the pigs, and the beef calves for my fencer. So I can get more fences built – we will see.

  11. Way back when I lived in San Diego, one of the fancy hotels would have a big sale every year. I think it was open to the public. They would sell furniture, linen, dishes and other hotel things. Great deals!

  12. Hotel bed linen is something which has never really been one of my biggest thoughts but I shall surely have a wee think about it now and if I find out anything I will tell you.
    You have got a funny farm, rebellious cows, cats living with goats and pigs……..but what hilarious stories they do make

  13. In my past life I was married to a restaurateur and our old linens were either given to the staff or donated to the Salvation Army or SPCA. When he was younger he ran hotels, as did his father before him, and the story was the same: charity and staff. I’m pretty sure all you will have to do is ask. These days our old rags usually end up in R’s garages for use on one of the racing engines or a project car. Come to think of it, our good tea towels, towels and a good amount of clothes which start off life as lovely, fresh items, eventually end up in the garages one way or another…some way before their time…lol.

  14. During one of my summer visits to my Mom, I cleaned out her overstuffed towel closet, and convinced her to let me put the big bag of old towels in the garage. As she never wanted to get rid of anything, relocating them to the garage…so they were there just in case they were needed, was okayed. The crazy thing is that my Mom has passed, and I now have the big bags of old towels that I use daily! Most of the towels are over 40 years old! And I love using them! 🙂

    • I have a great fondness for old towels, that lovely washed cotton.. I hate new towels and always sort through to find the old thirsty ones – it drives my mother in law quite mad .. but I do get all her old ones! c

  15. Well I start at the top I tried the Dorchester…they get their linen from a supplier and any worn out stuff is disposed of by this other company, possibly to the employees or some is sold in a special shop, also some is donated to rescue centres and homeless charities…..I shall ask the Queen what she does with hers..I bet they get patched!

    • hmm.. maybe we need to check out those suppliers, i think that many of them do this.. the only used hotel linen I could find for sale was tracked back to a chinese company so I wonder if they buy a lot of it up too..

  16. Do you sound like Professor Snape when you call, “Potta”?
    I’d love to see the cat climbing on the kunekunes – I’m sure the farmy is part Sesame Street.
    My ex girlfriend’s (from Michigan) family run a huge linen laundry business. I believe a lot of older towels, etc., get filtered out during the cleaning process, so it might be worth looking up local laundry companies who probably deal with multiple hotel businesses and restaurants 🙂

  17. You, Celie, are also an amazing person. And you post gorgeous pictures.
    “A soft dry bed in the sun” is where I had my afternoon nap, on the swing hammock on the patio. I was too hot, and slept for too long, and now feel absolutely dreadful!
    Beattie or Potter or Potty, whatever, is a beautiful animal. I hope Elsie can be persuaded to foster Miss A’s calf.

  18. I have done housekeeping in small hotels back in the day. We would turn old towels into cleaning rags and the sheets were given to someone who ripped them up and made rag rugs with them.
    I do not miss ironing all those pillow cases!!!!! Nice to see that the kittens are making new friends!

  19. SPOT ON AS ALWAYS! I have been taking my old towels into the nursing home for folding sessions – better success with this kind of activity than anything structured. Odd socks will be next! I adore you, Ceci!

  20. I love bib professor’s comment about seeing things age, and honoring them as signs of a good life. Yes, I like that a lot. Don’t have any idea what happens to hotel sheets. I am always scratching my head about where restaurants put all the uneaten food! And when I’m in the US, that’s quite a lot at our table…not used to the portion-size. The rag project is a good one. The cats sleeping with the goats and the pigs is funny. If you can catch that with your camera, than you really are a wonder woman. x

    • restaurants throw uneaten food in the dumpster, I know because it is a rule that they cannot give the left overs to me for my pigs.. I have taken to asking for half portions please, you have ni idea what consternation this causes! c

      • In Australia there is OzHarvest is Australia’s leading food rescue charity. We collect quality surplus food, distribute it to people in need and divert food waste from landfill. I went a talk given by the founder Ronni Kahn, she’s amazing 🙂

      • Have you tried a smaller, local restaurant for scraps for the pigs. We live outside a very small town but I know of two of the restaurants that scrape all the food left of plates into big plastic trash cans which are picked up each evening and taken for pigs. The people who pick up the full bins leave an empty in it’s place and everyone is happy. Try a small, local place and explain that all they have to do is drag it to the back door.

        • I have a restaurant that puts kitchen scraps out for me, not from the tables we were getting too many tissues and plastic pots and forks and all kinds.. plus the health issues for pigs. but potato peelings etc are fine.. c

  21. Hmmm, now I must visit with Uncle Google to see what happens to old towels and bed linens. I’ll bet he knows. He knows everything.
    How funny that the kittens have adopted all other manner of farm animal, and not stayed together or with their mother.
    I believe I have sent you a link to a forum that may be helpful to you with Lady A and Elsie. Maybe not. Here it is again, just in case you’re interested.

  22. A lot of stuff gets auctioned off if it’s in good condition, and given away if it’s not. I actually have a couple of huge white damask ex-restaurant tablecloths which are marvellous for Christmas gatherings. Most of the stuff is such good quality that with gentler domestic use it lasts forever.

  23. I love the photo of the goats and the cat sleeping together, animals are funny in the friendships they make! Made me laugh thinking of you saying potter in the manner of snape, and stuffing your drawers with rags! Ha ha. x

  24. You asked a very good question here and I shall see what I can find out shortly. As a quilter, we saved all our tiny scraps that would normally go into the trash and put it in a bag until we had enough. Then we all got together and sewed circles of old unwanted fabric and stuffed them full of those tiny scraps to make beds for dogs and cats at the animal shelter. I still save my scraps for that purpose. There is too much waste going on and I certainly hope you can find a place for inexpensive (cheap or free) linens. By the time something leaves my house, it’s hanging by a thread. Animals always get on so much better than people. I loved seeing all the photos. Beatrix Potter is a grand name and one even I would like to live up to. She was an admirable woman.

  25. I can’t believe how small those goats are now that I see them next to a kitten for comparison. They really are babies. I, too, cannot wait to see the kitten/kune kune shot. It doesn’t surprise me how well these kittens get along with the other small animals given that they were partially raised by the Boo Nanny. I’m sure anything in the vicinity of “dog-sized” seems quite normal to them as an extended part of their pride.

  26. I know that The Salvation Army in Ontario takes rags or things you suspect might be useful only as rags. Animal rescues always need towels and bedding. Anything pure cotton or linen can be composted (I’ve done this with dishcloths and tea towels that are too stained or too thin to be useful for cleaning). I’ve also used grotty and falling apart rugs, covered with straw or chipped wood, to make garden paths and suppress weeds. In Japan there is a thing called wabi sabi which has to do with valuing old, well used and mended things.

  27. I laughed out loud when I read about The Boy Kitten atop Tane, doing the cat “Happy Feet’ kneading !! And I sooo agree with you about ‘waste’ – and the fact that many people, esp. farmers, can use old sheets and towels. I remember using an old towel to dry off the twin goats, Oberon and Fairy, after they were born.

  28. Rags, I have a hidden stash, safe from my husband, the rag thief. I use old bedding, sheets and such for birthings; they work perfectly for that. Oh, and for covering gardens from frost, and for painting outdoor furniture, (so that I don’t paint my grass).

    Beatrix Potta’ how lovely. One of my favorites you know. I have a chook named Vita (as in Vita Sacksville West), painters of gardens in words and in deed. Love.

  29. If you would like to donate to the two people shelters in Kankakee, I can show you where they are. There is a food pantry in town as well.

  30. I have the same love affair with rags….. and bags…. good sturdy bags come in very handy. My husband cleans out my stash whenever he can. And when he does, and we need a bag or rag -> I look at him and say “Told you so” no go get your favorite tee-shirt and use it as a rag!!!!! Since I have none!

    I’m tough like that…. Or I like to think I am….. I’m really just a pushover and wimpy. 😉

    Love the name Beatrix Potter!

  31. I will be astonished if it turns out that hotel towels are simply sent to landfills. There is (to be business-minded about it) actual cash value in fabrics that can be recycled, repurposed, sold on to other countries, etc., and there are organizations (like the Salvation Army in the US, I think) that use such methods to extract some income from even garments and fabrics that are no longer in good enough condition to be used for their original purpose. The “rag trade” lives.

  32. Save the Rags! I love it. Okay. It harkens back to other, er, female issues. All the better to coin the phrase. I tend to keep my towels. They become dust rags and used for washing cars. You have me thinking now of how else they might be used -and who could use them. 🙂

  33. I still have sheets towels and tablecloths that came from my late mother in law. She was married in nineteen hundred and eighteen. Yes, I did mean 1918, when her childhood sweetheart returned from the WW1.. The sheets are far better quality than we would get today, They take forever to dry and need ironing, Serious ironing. I use them as dust sheets to cover furniture and the floor when painting and on occasion to soak up spillage. Old towels have many uses and move down the scale until they are indeed rags. I did find something when I was clearing a wardrobe and immediately you came to mind. A pair of ski trousers, UK size 12. Any good to you? Let me know and I will mail them to you. I’ll email you a photo. Loved the photos today and wondered how Boo felt with the kittens playing & sleeping with the pigs and kids?

  34. I think it is a great idea to get hold of hotel sheets and towels and do something with them. I hate waste. We take our old towels and blankets to the RSPCA in Australia.

  35. We put discarded linens in the storage building and use for rags, covering things, and collecting ripened fruit. I love putting old sheets under the fruit trees, then give the branches a little shake and fruit is easily cinched up in the sheet. There are all sorts of uses for cloth as rags.. we don’t waste a thing here. I also pick up old tea towels when I can find them. They’re soft and wonderful to use for baby wildlife while we’re raising orphans!

  36. The very posh Versace Hotel on the Gold Coast donates all their “used” linens to our Women’s Service. I say “used” advisedly, as they don’t look used at all, I think they’re changed every quarter. We have transition houses attached to the refuge, where women are supported before heading out on their own and it’s to these women who’ll be setting up house again we give the linens to. As well as towels and sheets there are beautiful thick luxurious towelling bath robes, the looks on the women’s faces when they’re each given one of these is priceless….a wonderful gift for women who have left everything behind. Myself and another member of the committee just went door-knocking asking for things and now have quite a few hotels hand on their used goods to us.
    I love old linens to use as rags or use the good parts to repurpose into quilts or the backing for quilts, or cut into strips for rag rugs and baskets…..and so many uses for old soft towels….dog towels, wrapping sick chickens in, underneath incontinent old kitties. Nothing needs to be thrown away until it’s threadbare and then it can go in the compost.

  37. a couple of places i have worked at would buy used, washed, sanitized, towels and cut up pieces of bedsheets, even t shirt material scraps, by the pound for shop rags. they would be compressed in cardboard boxes, weighing 5 pounds or so

  38. My cat growing up hung out with the pigs and sheep and one ewe actually let her sleep and cuddle in on her rear flank – weird sight to see at first and then it just becomes the norm. I had one pig by the name of Lulu that loved to played ball with a big rubber ball and she would come if I called her. Animals could teach the human beings a thing or two about acceptance among different species 🙂 Happy Day!

  39. I had a specialty painting business for years and we used to buy rags by the pound. We specified cotton knit ‘t shirt’ rags but they had all kinds.
    There’s also a collection box for the local Linus Project at the five and dime/hardware store. They make blankets and lap robes for people in need. The local women’s league at the Catholic church does the same.
    I’m stalking a photo of Her Majesty Fanny curled up tight against portly Percy’s belly. So far no luck, she’s much to alert to sneak up on. When it’s cold Percy buries himself in his bedding and she lays on top of it.

  40. Love Beatrix Potter: she was a conservationist as well as a brilliant author you know!! But will Potter be followed by Jemima Puddleduck and Mrs Piggy-Winkle avec Company on the farmy name lists! 🙂 ? A new avenue to explore!! Haven’t thought of ‘old’ hotel linen but surely in this day and age some use in the way of sales or donations is found . . . well quite a few in the Lounge personally know of such . . . and, oh yes, the last photo of the kitties and goats comfortable co-habitation will now welcome me to my computer each morning: looks fab!! Hope your hand better . . .

  41. My mother cleaned out some boxes from storage the other day which had all our old baby clothes in them. The clothes went to my sister’s kids but the old cloth nappies I grabbed – excellent as rags, they are super absorbant and will clean up anything!

    • I loved those old cloth nappies. After my children grew out of them they were rags for YEARS! I had forgotton all about them – thank you Miss Kitty!

  42. It’s rare in our house any rags are thrown out, and old sheets & towels never. They are used for cleaning, drop sheets, in the shed or at the G.O.’s work site.
    I think the answer as to what happens to hotel linen is as varied as the hotels. Some hotels do sell off furniture via agents. I’m never inclined to steal hotel towels but for one job I stayed 4 nights a week at the Radisson in Sydney for about 9 months, and at the end I really wanted to steal a bed… they were divine!
    Wonderful pics. They put a smile on my dial 🙂

  43. No! I cannot believe the hotels dump their old linens and towels. That is terrible! There is SO much that can be done with them. Sorry I have not way to help but I am looking forward to hearing how you get to the bottom of this and I cannot wait to see the boy kitten photos.
    Have a happy farmy day C.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  44. Some hotels use linen services that manage their linens/towels. Old items are often sold to others / recycled into new items. Salvation Army is glad to collect donated “rags”. Maybe it’s like marginal produce at grocery stores/restaurants – they are happy to donate to shelters if anyone asks? This day and age people have wised up to making money off unwanted items, so doubtful things are tossed even from hotel chains.
    Never have enough old “rags” /towels around here – dogs, car, house…never enough. But it does seem the quality of sheets and towels have gone down – doesn’t mater the thread count (there are multiple ways of counting for “thread count” to make one look better than the others), the sheets and towels aren’t the old heavy workhorses we had from Sears as kids (Mom always bough sheet from Sears as they were good quality and held up). Salvation Army gets the rags that get culled once a year. (but not the old nappies – still holding up! – We sailed. Cotton diapers were a must – plastic’s bad in heat and sun.)
    Our city animal shelter and a couple of rescue groups welcome old towels and blankets. I make a lot of simple pet beds out of “rags”/towels for them each fall as the weather turns cooler and wet.
    “Knickers” and “drawers” were in common usage when I grew up.
    Surprised there’s not battles over a nice hay pile in the sun. Not much sound nicer – even for human kids!

  45. Oops, I’m a day late here but thought I’d chime in to. Same here with the old linens…most I’ve had for years and then get donated to either our local animal shelters, vet’s office, salvation army or to our garage supply for rags. I would hate to think that hotels throw them out but like some one else said…money can be made on gently used items so I’m sure they get sold. I’m going to call a few hotels around here and find out what they do with their older linens. Yes, and it kills me that restaurants can’t give away food to even farmers for their animals…(it still bothers me that I had to waste that pancake in Portland) Why do restaurants serve such huge portions anyway? Because this country eats too much, that’s why! Ok, enough of my ranting…I too cannot wait for the photo of Tane and his kitten! 🙂

  46. Like the rest of the Fellowship, I’m a rag-and-bone woman myself, using mine until they disintegrate. And when they finally do *that*, the all-natural-fiber ones (cotton, linen, etc) get snipped or shredded into pieces and go into the compost for nest-making and soil-filling. You are so right: more care should be taken about making long-term use out of stuff like that than it often is, but I do think slightly more users are getting smarter about it, too. I will be posting about my rags’ (and other treasured “spoils'”) odd journeys soonish as well, just have to finish a little photo documentation first. Lovely post, as always! 🙂

  47. It looks like good sleep there with the goats. How funny the male cat hangs out with Tima and Tane. I guess they’ve made friends.

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