10 ways to recycle your old tablecloth

I love the look of wood floors. I also have a dust allergy and since rugs and carpets tend to retain dust the wood laminates and flooring seem to help. I use a central vacuum system so the dust is not recycled back into the air, leaving me a sneezy mess for hours after I’ve finished cleaning the floors. After vacuuming, I whip out my Swiffer to finish up the cleaning. It looks great until it rains. Let me explain.

My 95 pound goldendoodle doggy, Slapshot, is active and playful and his big paws get very dirty. I keep old towels and rags by the back door to wipe his paws when he comes in from my backyard. Neither of us is very proficient at getting the dog to stand on 3 legs while the fourth gets wiped off. At the first opportunity, the dog trots off and inevitably I’ve missed some of the mud on his paws and it gets distributed on the floors.

Then we added another goldendoodle doggy, Daisy Mae, to the family and the dust and mud seemed to increase exponentially. With two dogs, they tend to wrestle and chase each other around the back yard. My back yard is fenced in, but it’s not nearly large enough for these dogs to run freely. They have a kind of running circuit they’ve developed, which has resulted in paths that have worn the grass away leaving only dirt.

Every time it rains, the dog-worn dirt paths turn into mud. This was messy enough when I had just one dog, but with the two of them they have expanded their dirt paths into mud pits. They romp around and cover themselves and each other with mud as they play. When they come back into the house, they smell like swamp things. Since the paw wiping attempts can’t eliminate all the dirt the floors tend to get filthy and the dust increases.

In my dream house I now include a shower stall in my laundry room so I can spray the dogs and wash them off every single time they come in. Maybe, since it’s my dream house, I can rig something up kind of car wash style so the dogs have to pass through that and the bathing occurs automatically when they reenter the house. I definitely want to include those swishing cloths at the end and the blow drying, so by the time the dogs emerge they are both clean and dry.

Since my dream house doesn’t exist, and I like to recycle and save money, I was pretty happy with myself when I thought of putting an old vinyl tablecloth just inside the back door. Those flannel-backed tablecloths are easy to clean but not especially long lasting. A few mishaps with the scissors while working on a homeschool project can leave holes pretty easily. A cat jumping onto the table can leave claw perforations and sooner or later the table cloth needs replaced. It seemed such a waste to just throw it out. When we had a rainy spell, the inspiration to use it as a floor mat hit me like a mud pie in flight.

It didn’t eliminate the mud that the dogs tracked in, but it contained some of it and I could just toss the tablecloth into the washer as needed. It worked better than my previous attempt to contain the mud by layering newspapers across the laundry room floor. The dogs tore the paper up, and then the cat peed on them. Enough said about that.

Then my inspiration kicked up a notch and I realized that the tablecloth would actually absorb some of the wet mess if I put it on the floor upside down so the flannel back was facing up. Please don’t ask why I didn’t think of this until several days into my tablecloth floor mat idea, because I don’t have a good answer. It seems so logical in retrospect.

Now when I let my muddy dogs in from the mud pit known as my back yard, I keep them standing on the flannel for a few minutes. It seems to help wick away some of the moisture on their paws so there’s not as much to try and wipe away. It doesn’t get rid of all the mess, but it does lessen it considerably. That got me thinking about other uses for my tablecloth, and you can add your own ideas to mine. Here’s what I came up with:

If you have an old flannel back table cloth, you could cut it into large pieces and use them for:

  1. changing pads
  2. art smocks
  3. under messy painting and art projects
  4. muddy boots and shoes parking mat
  5. car floor mats
  6. camping mats to keep your seat dry
  7. drying pad for hand-washed items
  8. under pet food and water dishes
  9. seat protectors in your car when kids and pets are wet or muddy
  10. under bowls when cooking with children (anti-slip and drip catching)

By the time my old flannel-backed tablecloth is worn out, I’ll have another one with holes and rips ready to replace it.

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