How to Make Home Insulation From Recycled Clothing

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Consider reusing old jeans as insulation.
Consider reusing old jeans as insulation. (Image: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, WikiMedia Commons)

Insulating your home is one of the more economical ways of increasing your home's energy efficiency and can lower your utility bills. Using recycled clothing for insulation allows you to help the environment and keep your family free of the toxins that can be present in fiberglass insulation. In some cases, you may even qualify for a tax credit for insulating your home. Be sure to check with your tax adviser for details.

Things You'll Need

  • Recycled clothing insulation of sufficient R-value
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves (especially if replacing fiberglass insulation)
  • Safety goggles
  • Flashlight

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To determine what the sufficient R-value is for your insulation needs, review the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Insulation Fact Sheet. The calculator within the fact sheet is based on new or existing construction, type of heating unit and your ZIP code.

Measure the space you intend to insulate. Remember to measure the space between joists. This can vary depending on the age of the house.

Pastorius, WikiMedia Commons
Pastorius, WikiMedia Commons

Purchase a little more insulation than your measurements indicate you need. Sometimes you get a tricky spot that requires wiggle room, such as around a chimney. Bonded Logic, InsulTechnologies and Green Jeans Insulation specialize in insulation made from recycled clothes. In fact, you can donate used jeans to them in some cases.

Courtesy of Bonded Logic Inc.
Courtesy of Bonded Logic Inc.

Prepare the space you intend to insulate either by removing old insulation or simply ensuring you have no problems to contend with before beginning (such as a squeaky floor board above if you are insulating a crawl space). Check manufacturer recommendations before placing new insulation over old.

Wearing safety goggles, gloves and a dust mask, start working the insulation into your intended space at the most difficult spot. For instance, in a crawl space go to the farthest point in and work your way out. This way, the hard areas are done while you are fresh. Use the putty knife to help ease it between wall, floor or ceiling joists.

Courtesy of Bonded Logic Inc.
Courtesy of Bonded Logic Inc.

Bring the utility knife along as you work your way up and down the crawl space or attic. That way you know where it is and don't have to stop and look for it if you find you need to cut the insulation to get around something.

Tips & Warnings

  • Having an extra set of hands for this project would be good, especially if you are insulating a crawl space, since you may need help with a flashlight. This project can be done in little bits at a time. If you are replacing existing insulation, take out the section you think you can do that day rather than all of it at once.
  • Please note, simply placing your old clothes around the attic constitutes a fire hazard (not to mention a possible nesting haven for rodents). Recycled clothing insulation has been properly treated for fire safety. Always read manufacturers' instructions and safety guidelines before beginning your project.
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