10 Uses for Recycling Plastic Milk Jugs

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uses for recycling plastic milk jugs

10 Uses for Reusing and Recycling Plastic Milk Jugs

Some of the best methods for recycling plastic milk jugs are to reuse them! Try some of these tips for recycling plastic milk jugs and save money at the same time!

  • Cut the tops off of plastic milk jugs, poke holes in the bottom and use them to start seeds.
  • Cut the bottom off of a milk jug and use as mini-greenhouses to cover plants. Remove the cap on warm days to let heat out and remove altogether when it gets hot in there so you don’t fry your plants.
  • Cut the top off, fill with sand and pour some used oil over the sand. Keep it where you can put your hand tools in there to clean and oil them all at once.


  • Cut the bottom off of a 1/2 gallon jug of milk or juice and make it into a scoop. These work great to scoop out bird seed, fertilizer, grass seed, sand and many other things like that.
  • You can also use old plastic milk jugs as weights. Fill them with dirt, sand or even water. These work well if you need to tarp something like a pile of firewood or if you need to hold bird netting or row covering down on the sides. Just tie a cord to the jug handle and then tie the other end to a corner or grommet in the tarp and let them hang. (Note: If you fill them with water and leave them in the sun, the plastic will break down.)
  • Cut milk jugs into long strips and mark them with Sharpies as plant tags.
  • Fill plastic milk jugs with sand or rocks about 1-2 inches deep. Then poke 2 or 3 very small holes in the side at the bottom. Fill it with water and it makes a great drip irrigation system for your plants. Just refill with water and a scoop of liquid fertilizer (as needed) and water. The plants do better with a slow trickle than a huge dump of water.
  • Cut the bottom off about 2 inches from the bottom and use as plant saucers.

  • Cut a section out of the front on the side opposite the handle and then use it to harvest berries and cherry tomatoes.
  • A full sized milk jug is one gallon, so use it as an easy measure when watering with liquid fertilizer.

…and here’s a bonus tip for recycling plastic milk jugs that I thought was too important not to use!

  • Cut the bottoms off of plastic milk jugs and put them over plants you don’t want to hit when spraying weed killer.


What creative ideas do you have for recycling plastic milk jugs?

I place them in the bottom of super large planters for filler and then I don’t have to use as much soil. Jill


photo by: www.bluewaikiki.com


  1. Bea says

    Jill, I found a couple of recipes I thought you might like from a book I have from 1922 called, “Good Housekeeping Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries.” The first is called, “Peach Cream Sherbet” and the ingredients are: 2 cups mashed fresh peaches, 1 cup cream, 1 cup sugar, chopped marachino cherries. Sprinkle the sugar over the peaches and let stand for 3 hours. Fold in the cream that you whipped stiff and freeze. Garnish, when serving, with chopped maraschino cherries. Canned peaches may be used, in which case the sugar is reduced to 3/4 cup. The other recipe is called, “Porcupine Pears” and the ingredients are: 1 can halved pears, salted almonds or peanuts, halved. Drain pears and save syrup. Stick the round side of each pear half with salted nuts, giving the appearance of a prickly pear. Arrange two or three halves of pears, according to their size, in each individual serving dish and pour some of the syrup around them. I never heard of these recipes before and thought they are unique.

  2. jill says

    Bea, these both sound so good. I love frozen fruit desserts especially for summer. I love pears too and they are really good for a nice change from peaches and apples that we use so often.

    I like to take canned pear halves and put a small scoop of cream cheese in the center and then sprinkle it with grated cheese. Your version does sound healthier and since I love nuts on anything I will have to give it a try.

    I also love blueberry bagels and blueberry cream cheese. I don’t have them often but Tawra will get them for me for a treat like on my birthday. Well one time I ran out of bagels but still had the blueberry cream cheese left so tried it spread on a canned pear and I thought I had died and went to heaven when I tasted it. It was soooo good.

    Thanks for 2 good recipes,

  3. Bea says

    You’re welcome Jill. I just love your recipes and will definitely make the ones you just mentioned. They sound so good. I love cream cheese and blueberry anything. Do you know I have made that Cinnamon Bacon a couple of times lately? It’s so good. In fact, this morning for breakfast I had four slices of the Cinnamon Bacon and blueberry muffins. So delicious. I like fruit too, and I will be trying the recipes I gave you myself real soon. Peaches are so good and so are pears and that frozen peach sherbet looks refreshing for a warm day.

  4. says

    here is a tip for getting rid of ant hills.
    take a bag of corn meal and sprinkle it around the hill.
    The ants take in it because it smells like food but they starve to death because they can’t digest it.
    I have done this for 2 years and the ants are gone.
    No chemicals used so it is safe for pets and children.
    One man out at the club house came with a bag of chemicals poured his $20. worth on 3 ant hills. I used my $2. bag of cornmeal and his ants survived and mine were gone.
    I do not like chemicals so I thought I would pass this tip on.

  5. jill says

    Grandma I am going out right now and try your tip. I have been fighting ants for a couple of summers and can’t seem to get rid of them so will try this and see what happens.

    Thanks, Jill

  6. says

    here is another out doors tip that I know works.
    if you get mosquitoe bites or black fly bites that itch like crazy. Rub the bites with the inside of a banana peel.
    Don’t know why it works but it does.
    You can freeze the peel in bags so you don’t have to have banana’s in the house. Just freeze the peel cut into small pieces and you are off to the races.
    I live in black fly and mosquitoe country and we spend a lot of time out doors. With me being allergic to the point of illness this tip was taken serious by me. I was at the point where I hated to open the door for fresh air. Now I get rid of the itch and don’t swell up with every bite.
    Those Off candles work great to keep the hordes away from people.
    We take them camping and put one in front of the tent door so no bugs enter when you do. No smell at all from them. We also put them on the ground under picnic tables so our ankles don’t get bitten but the effect rises and bugs go elsewhere.
    I love the outdoors but the bugs make it very uncomfortable so I try all the tricks and these two work.

  7. Paula says

    Hi…If you cut off the bottom (2-3″ deep)and slip them over furniture legs, they make great furniture glides (over carpet)…Check for smoothness before trying this on bare floors (to avoid scratches)… Cut off the bottom 1/2 and use the top as a jumbo funnel-dustpan (to get soil/birdseed/cat litter/snow chemical back in their bags)…. The zip ring/seal and cap make GREAT cat toys (so do drinking straws). Our 3 cats LOVE them MORE than the balls, furry things etc that cost $$… Jug bottoms also make great palettes for paint mixing, and for keeping small beads/hardware (like screws, small parts) in control during a project/repair, travel bowls for pet food/water (or for feeding strays),…Cut the bottom of milk jug leaving a shallow ‘dish’, cut a small X in the center, push a paint brush handle through the X (brush is on the ‘dish’ side)- now when painting overhead, the drips go in the ‘dish’ and not on you….Let’s be THANKFUL this weekend and pray for the souls in JAPAN, and the US families affected by the flooding/rain…God Bless!!!

  8. Nadine in Nevada says

    We rinse them out and save in a box in the garage. When we are ready to go out shooting we fill them with water and couple drops of food coloring. We use them as targets. We also use plastic water bottles.

    They can be used over and over – though duct tape doesn’t quite seal up the holes. The second time we fill them with sand.

  9. Colleen G. says

    I’ve got one most people wouldn’t think of. We use washed jugs for collecting Maple sap during the sap run in the spring. We also use buckets but the jugs work good an the slower producing trees. The taps(spouts) my husband uses connect to plastic tubing. We drill the same sized hole in the lid of the jug and push the tube through. Instant dirt free sap collector.

  10. mildred lane says

    gallon jug-poke 5,6 holes in bottom,cut out the indentation on the front of your jug (about the size of your fist),hang by handle in tree and you have a cheap bird house.
    I have a fig tree in front of my den window and hang them there. Nice to set in my warm house and watch them.

  11. mildred lane says

    gallon jug-fill and store for when water has to be turned off or for survival.
    fill and keep over night to let the chlorine evaporate for fish tanks.
    freeze for cooler to take on picnic-no mess from melted ice,then you can drink the water as it melts or you can freeze juice etc and do the same thing.
    fill to water house plants.
    Use to refill the radiator when traveling.

  12. Angie M. says

    Paula, I used to have a cat named Sassy and her favorite toy in all of the world was a plastic ring off a gallon jug milk cap. So many good memories of that cat batting the little green milk rings around on my laminate flooring in the kitchen, dining and living rooms. We used to find them under the refrigerator, couch, etc. when we cleaned. LOL! :-)

    Nadine, thanks for the tip about using the jugs as targets. My husband, sons and I shoot a lot and we had never thought of this. Excellent idea! Thanks!!! :-)

  13. Ann says

    I cut through the bottom of the handle and a hole in the side and hang it on my cloths line to hold my cloths pins.
    I cut to top off so my DD can use at the beach to make sand castles and or in the snow to make “bricks” for snow fort walls.
    I pre mix Koolaid and freeze in our deep freze to help “take up space” and then I always have (very) cold koolaide on hand when compamy comes over with kids. We just leave the jug out and it thaws as the day goes on.
    We also use these as “icepacks” in our cooler when we go out for the day. The drink thaws and the rest of the food stays cool but dry. Much better (and cheaper) than ice that you’ll just throw away.
    My friend uses a few of the frozen water jugs to cool off her pool in the summer when the water temp get too high.LOL.
    So many uses …so little time!

  14. Jess says

    Growing up we’d cut a section of the top off opposite the handle and use it to hold the toilet brush or plunger. Keeps the mess off the floor and beats spending money for a fancy container for something so dirty.

  15. Paula says

    Angie-WOW we had a cat named SASSY too!! Her favorite toy was eating through our new sheetrock walls!!! She was given to a family whose cat had run away….

    Re: Milk Jugs….LOVE the pool ice cubes!!!lol…I’ve seen people use the jugs filled with sand/water to weigh down pool covers too!!!

  16. says

    this list almost makes me wish we could get them here.
    plastic milk bags are all that is available.
    We did the same thing for target shooting when we could get the jugs. Also kept some empty and had moving targets on windy days.
    My neighbour has a great dane dog and she uses old washed out bleach bottles to throw for him to chase. anything smaller he eats. The milk jugs would be great for that game.
    They would be good for hanging over the sides of boats so the dock doesn’t damage the paint.

  17. Karla says

    I save the milk jugs to fill with water and place around my tender new plants in the garden. The sun heats the water during the day and I can place a plastic cover or old sheet over them at night. The cover is elevated over the jugs and the plants stay warm in my little tents. Much cheaper than “Wall of Water”, which can be pricey if you have a very big garden. I just use a rock to keep the covers from flying off.

  18. MARY says

    we live on a lake and you can also tie a bunch in a line with cord to delineate the lake drop-off line so peole will know where the shallow water ends.

  19. Sophie says

    Cut half of bottom making cut extend toward handle of half gallon jug, thus making a scoop shape. This is great for cleaning gutters, now messy hands. Just scoop up and into garbage can.

  20. michele says

    We had two cats that just loved the rings off the jugs, as well. In fact they loved them so much that they would dig them out of the trash if I was seen throwing them away. We had to make sure the cats were not in the kitchen when we trashed them.
    I use cleaned out jugs to wrap baby presents in. Sounds funny, but if you carefully cut a hole where the expansion circles are, to make a door of sorts, you can fill the jug with small rattles, silkies, and I will take a onesie and decorate it…and use some cute iron ons or paint it with the slogan that says “Got Milk?”…anyhow as cheesy as it is people just get a huge laugh out of it. If you want to cover the edges of the hole with tape it won’t be as sharp, and looks a bit more finished.

  21. sue demele says

    ive used my gallon milk jug as a sink an toilet plunger..for years and yes it works…just push the neck in and push the jug in and in most cases it unstops the clog..it forces the air out …

  22. Carol says

    I recently read somewhere (sorry, don’t remember where) that you can cut circles from the flat sides of plastic milk jugs to use between homemade hamburger patties for the freezer. Individual patties pop apart very easily so you can just take out however many you need. They are washable and reusable. I’d cut them just a bit larger than the patties, leaving enough of a lip to grab onto, to make them easier to work with. I love this idea and plan on making some TODAY.

    • JUDI says


  23. Polly says

    I keep a few milk jugs filled with water in my garage as fire water. With welding and other tools that might spark and start a fire. Or just to wash hands.

  24. Sheri says

    I also use the jugs for ice in my 5 gallon igloo so our lemonade doesn’t get diluted. I can keep that same jug of lemonade cool for days this way trading out the melted jug for a frozen one.

    I like the idea of using the jugs for drip irrigation!

    Some people use a full milk jug in their toilet tank to take up space and save water if they don’t have the low flush model.

    We have frozen our milk in the jug to keep our food cold on trips and drink the milk as we go.

    In Girl Scouts, we used to hang a clean milk jug with water and a bar of soap in a stocking on a tree for washing hands. The jug had a small hole at the bottom plugged with a nail until it was time to use it.

    I used the empty and clean milk jugs for potty training my boys. During their diaper change, after getting their diaper off, I offered the opportunity to go potty in the jug. They liked the noise it made. I also kept an empty jug in my van for potty emergencies for my boys. I found some square funnels to use for my girl, but it never made it into the car so we could try it.

    • Emilie says

      Awesome idea to keep one in the car for potty emergencies! My son had to use a nasty port o potty the other day before we could get to our destination. Would’ve been much better!

      • says

        I keep an ice cream bucket, the kind that has a lid and handle, in the car. I line it with a plastic bag and then if someone has to use it it gives you a nice large opening and you can put the lid on it. I have been in a snow storm where I couldn’t get the car doors open with 2 young kids and all I had was a paper cup so I now try to be prepared for anything. Keep one in my storm shelter too because I made the mistake of drinking a cup of tea right before the tornado sirens went off. Where was my brain. : )

  25. Ben says

    One summer I filled a clean empty milk jug with water in the morning and set it on the dashboard of my car. The windows were rolled up and the car sat in the hot sun all day. In the late afternoon I removed the milk jug and turned it upside down with the top on and placed it in the net of a basketball goal. Since I was in a remote location where I wouldn’t be seen I gave myself an outdoor shower by standing under the milk jug while unscrewing the cap slowly. Using shampoo, soap and a rag there was enough hot water in the jug to clean my entire body.

  26. Bob says

    Not the classiest use for milk jugs, but saves money.

    It’s well known that full refrigerators & freezers use less electricity than empty ones… one big reason is lots of cold air just ‘falls out’ whenever the door is opened. [1]

    Those of us who live alone almost never need all the available refrigerator or freezer volume.

    By saving, washing out, drying and replacing the caps, one can fill most of the un-needed space, and quickly add/remove jugs as needs warrant. Actually anything that occupies space will work for this purpose. Jugs are just easy to manipulate and/or wash off should something spill on them. They also pass a little light.

    Don’t tightly pack around, or block air vents and the like…

    If you live in an area with frequent power failures, fill some of the freezer jugs with water… they’ll help retain cold longer sans power. IMPORTANT NOTE! Full jugs you freeze will expand quite a bit…don’t tightly pack in a bunch of them full of water, or they could damage your freezer… freeze full ones one or two at a time. Also note that they won’t stand up well full of ice. I’ve yet to have a filled one split, but I also never re-freeze thawed full ones… they get tossed. Your mileage may vary…

    I don’t think I’d drink any water from these jugs, as the plastic they’re made from is porous, and extremely difficult to thoroughly clean…

    [1] Don’t bother filling the un-used volume of top loading refrigerators or freezers… it’ll accomplish nothing.

  27. Dollie says

    My 3 kids uses the milk jugs as bird feeders by cutting the circle indends out and wrapping the edges with white tape. They each have there own feeder and they make sure the birds are fed. It helps the kids with responsability.
    I also have some in trees that have the handle and about 3inches from the bottom left for hanging with water for the animals and that also works for in the car with our dogs and feed and water bowls for traveling.

  28. Michelle says

    A few years ago I read an article about dry canning (in the stove) dry foods like flour. I liked the general idea, but have been told it can be dangerous. So now on grains I use pretty quickly I cook them at a low temperature for a hour, and store in milk jugs….no bugs. Long term storage is a bit different because I still bake it, but then I put it in glass jars and seal with the can sealer I have. Either way it keeps the flour really nice until it gets used.

  29. Shirley says

    I brew my own tea, after adding sugar and ice cubes I pour it into clean milk jugs. This saves your pitchers from tea stains. I can usually use a jug 3-4 times before I have to throw it away. By making my own tea I can make 4 gallons for the price of one store bought gallon.

    • says

      Shirley I still can’t believe that people actually pay to buy ice tea already made up from a store. Being able to buy tea like that is a relatively new thing. I laugh because in these so called hard economic times they are coming up with the craziest things for people to spend money on and people are buying it. Even though it has been around for a few years I remember when bottled water first came out. I said really? Who in the world would pay 50 times the amount to buy water in a bottle. Look what happen with that. I’m thinking if I could think of the dumbest thing for people to buy and sell it I would be a millionaire.

  30. Doris says

    I have cut the milk jugs in half and place them under pumpkins and cantelopes when growing in the garden so they produce does not rot

  31. Cindy says

    I cut a hole in the side of the gallon size milk jug and stuff it with plastic bags. It holds a lot and doesn’t take any room at all. I keep the milk jug on my pantry shelf and when I need a plastic bag I just pull one out.

  32. Michelle says

    I like to make little felt ornaments at Christmas time. I cut the flat sides from the milk cartons to trace my patterns onto, then cut them out, so I have a sturdy pattern that lasts forever! This technique has come in handy for sooo many things. :)

  33. tricia says

    you can make ice in them and use them to prechill a cooler. all coolers will stay cooler longer and keep ice as ice longer if they are prechilled. noone needs to waste a dime on those 10 day coolers, they are same thing. you have to prechill those as well. i bought one, went to koa and bags of ice, four in a row, just melted in there. then the 5th one kept all weekend. keeping them in the freezer also helps in power outages, keeping your stuff colder longer. so its always good to have a few in the freezer frozen at the ready.

  34. Emilie says

    I make mymown liquid laundry soap and store it in milk jugs. Haven’t tried yet but this summer want to try the frozen jug in the car seat when we go to the zoo.


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