15 Ways to Re-Use Plastic Milk Jugs

March 15, 2012 21 comments View all articles in Re-Use-It

Plastic milk jugs are handy tools: not only can they be used for storage, but they are also easy to cut and reshape for general repurposing around the home. With a little time and ingenuity you can keep that plastic out of a landfill and turn those empty milk jugs into something useful, handy, and green.


  • Bird Feeder: One great use for an empty milk jug is to turn it into a quick-and-easy backyard bird feeder. Try cutting a few small holes on opposite sides of the milk jug and running a small wooden dowel through the holes. Cut a few slightly larger holes above the dowel to provide easy access to the seeds you are going to put inside. Hang the bird-feeder/milk jug from a branch and enjoy as a whole host of wildlife stops by for a free lunch.
  • Plant Marker: Using a marker and a ruler, trace out several long strips along each side of the milk jug. Make one end wide enough to write on and the other sharp enough to stick in the ground. Use scissors to cut out each plant marker and then use your new creations to label each new section of your garden.
  • Votive Candles: Need an easy way to light up your sidewalk for that evening BBQ? Try cutting off the top of a few milk jugs and filling the bottom with fine sand. Place a candle on top of the sand and you've got yourself an instant (and green) sidewalk decoration.
  • Water Weights: If you need something to tie that tarp down during windy days, try filling a few milk jugs up with water. To keep the tarp from moving around tie each corner to the handle of your milk jug.
  • Chain Storage: If you live in a part of the country that has snow, then you probably know how rusty and dirty those traction chains can get. Instead of throwing your chains in the trunk next time you are done with them, try storing them in a few milk jugs. Simply cut off the top half of the milk jug and place the chains all in one place. The upholstery in your trunk will thank you, and you won't have to hunt around for the chains next time you get stuck in the snow.
  • Scoop: If you need a scoop for your laundry soap, kitty litter (or anything else for that matter) try cutting off the bottom of a milk jug. Seal the hole at the top by firmly tightening down the lid. Grab the new scoop by the handle and let your imagination run wild. Take it to the beach for building sand castles! Dig a hole in your garden! Don't say we didn't warn you about all the fun you're going to have.
  • General Storage: Tired of all that clutter in your garage? Try cutting off the tops of several milk jugs and using them to store those small garden tools, nuts and bolts, and other similar items. Empty milk jug storage containers line up nicely on a shelf and can easily be labeled with a permanent marker.
  • Car Organizer: Speaking of general storage, if you've got kids (or just a lot of stuff in your car) try cutting off the tops of a few jugs and using them to hold toys, rags, motor oil, gloves, or anything else you find rolling around on the floorboards while driving around town.
  • Cooler Coolers: If you're planning a party outside on a hot summer day and need to keep those drinks cool, try freezing a half-gallon milk jug filled with water and placing it right next to that six pack. Up-cycling your milk jugs and reusing them as ice packs is the ultimate green way to stay cool.
  • Seed Starters: If you want to start your own garden indoors before the first thaw, try cutting a few milk jugs down to size for seed and plant starters. Simply fill each jug with potting soil, plant your seeds, water, and enjoy your future garden. For better drainage, try poking a few holes in the bottom of each jug.
  • Houseplant Trays: Got a few plants around the house that leak each time you water them? Remove the bottom 2 inches of a milk jug and place it under each pot.
  • Plastic Bag Dispenser: Cut off the bottom of the milk jug and hang it upside down on a wall. Fill the jug with those unused plastic bags and pull them out one-by-one from the open hole at the bottom. You can re-use your plastic bags each time you go to the grocery store and re-use your plastic milk jugs each time you bring another one home. It's a win-win situation!
  • Water Saver: If you want to save a bit of water in the toilet, fill up an empty ½ gallon milk jug with sand and place it in the tank on the back of the toilet. The jug will take up extra space by displacing water and keep the toilet from using too much each time you flush.
  • Lego Storage: Lego purists may gasp at this one, but empty milk jugs are a great way to store small Lego pieces or other smaller toy.
  • Dry Goods Storage: Milk jugs are also handy for storing dry goods such as rice, sugar, flour, salt, and other similar goods. Unlike the more expensive Tupperware alternatives, milk jugs generally use less plastic and don't cost anything extra to purchase.


Mary on March 16, 2012 at 10:24 p.m.

I cut out the tops off to make a large scoop holder/pitchers with them (handles make great holders for anything it can hold! like a pitcher)

Lisa Brown-Hite on April 30, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.

Here's another idea.....if you don't have water efficient toilets, you can fill a gallon milk container with water and place it inside your toilet tank! You'll save a gallon of water with every flush! I've done this in my house and it works like a charm.

Sue on Dec. 3, 2013 at 6:25 p.m.

I have horses in stalls. To fight boredom, I fill the gallon milk jugs with food (a little bit to rattle & make noise). Then I hang them from the sides of the stall on long strings.
The horses play & toss them trying to get the treats.

Pammi on June 2, 2014 at 9:25 p.m.

When I was about 12 I learned how to make a beach tote from a gallon milk jug and fabric. I am sure I could do it again, it went together easily the fabric was attached with brads, and had a casing with a drawstring. This was a Vacation Bible School project in 1969.

Bobbi on Sept. 6, 2014 at 6:55 a.m.

I cut my jugs in half and then place the top half inside the bottom half. Then place soil in the top half, with the lid off, and plant my house plants in them if done right you end up with a self watering planter and the handle of the jug becomes the watering spout. I have pictures showing how if you would like to see.

Daniel on Oct. 3, 2014 at 1:55 p.m.

I would like to see that Bobbi!

Valerie on Oct. 3, 2014 at 4:45 p.m.

Like the one for recycling plastic bags although, our island of Hawaii has a plastic bag ban now so I think I would convert it to become a trash bag dispenser now.. the roll would probably fit nicely in either the quart or gallon jug.

Matt on Oct. 3, 2014 at 7:15 p.m.

My dad always froze a bunch before a camping trip or anytime we needed ice for the coolers. Once frozen place in a clean sink use a big knife or a meat tenderizer and break into pieces. You can also leave them whole as well.

Diana on Oct. 3, 2014 at 7:42 p.m.

Please share picture Bobbi of self-watering planter. Thanks.

Brenda on Oct. 3, 2014 at 9:47 p.m.

I cut the bottom out and place the jugs over tender transplants in the garden, pushing the jug down into the ground some. They have their own little green house. Once the plant is well established and starts peeking out of the top I can remove it.

Pat on Oct. 4, 2014 at 3:51 p.m.

I love these many ideas! What a nice way to recycle and keep this plastic out of landfills.I wish some of these had photos to go with the ideas. Thanks everyone!

Judi on Oct. 4, 2014 at 11:15 p.m.

Cut the bottom off and use as a funnel for oil or gasoline, windshield washer fluid, etc.

Shuba on Dec. 10, 2014 at 11:03 a.m.

Do you know if we can resuse these to fill it with milk again. i'd like to be able to fill the half gallon ones for milk to send to my LO's daycare.


Annette on Feb. 11, 2015 at 6:21 p.m.

I filled mine with water and used it to keep a cover on the pool .

Mike on March 29, 2015 at 11:36 p.m.

I go thru 3 gal milk week alone, and try to go 'green' so I use my for dry goods storage e.g. rice, beans, grains, etc for SHTF stuff since the plastic is good n sturdy unlike plastic wrap. Also use for funnels (w/ lids to prevent leaking) for various uses, and so much more that others share in the previous posts. Thank you all, and we seriously need to recycle and reuse what we can to help our future bloodlines not have to mess with OUR trash here on Earth.

Bethany on June 9, 2015 at 3:14 p.m.

You can also use them as "drip" systems in your garden. Cut holes about 1 inch from the bottom on all sides if between plants (or on the side facing your plant), then dig a hole and "plant" the jugs, filling in the space around them. They should be installed about 1-2 feet from the plants to encourage root growth. Leave the caps on, so you can take them off when you water, and put them back on once they are full. Works to save water, and keep the ground continually watered.

Louise on June 9, 2015 at 3:23 p.m.

I take the lids off and cut the bottoms off gallon jugs and place them over seedlings in the garden. Mini hot houses for the plants. Gives them a good start, while protecting them from the wind (and maybe a late spring frost).

June on June 9, 2015 at 4:59 p.m.

how do you clean them out before you use them to keep them from smelling and molding? that is the biggest thing i worry about

Ally on June 9, 2015 at 5:02 p.m.

My Dad used to cut the bottom off, take off the lid, and voila! A protective mini greenhouse for a young seedling of some kind. He rarely threw them out and the shed was full of them when he died!

Violet Sunderland on June 10, 2015 at 1:12 a.m.

Having water shut off at the street only happens very rarely for a plumbing repair, or power to a well pump could be off for a while, so keeping a number of water-filled gallon jugs for toilet flushing is good insurance. Any that contained distilled water on purchase can go in reserve for kitchen use should the need arise. I've also carried a couple of jugs of water in the car trunk in case of water/heater hose ruptures. Keeping the motor from overheating until being able to reach help can become the top priority.

Jeanette on May 16, 2017 at 4:02 a.m.

Hey guys I've made an ottoman with milk bottles, duct tape, a pillar weasel and sponges. It's great for watching movies!

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