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How to Make a Rag from an Old Tee Shirt :: DIY Home Improvement Essential Skills


Let’s face it – painting, be it a piece of furniture or a whole room, is probably one of the most common and widely tackled DIY home projects. One of the things that makes painting perhaps so easily accessible – the limited array of tools needed to complete a project successfully.

Let’s Talk Essential Tools for Painting

Let’s Think: Roller, Roller Cover, Roller Tray, Paint Brushes (let’s say a few sizes), maybe a Paint Pail plus a Drop Cloth. Easy, and because all these items can be purchased for less than about $15 each, you can see just why painting is so approachable.

Now, if you have done a few paint projects, then you know – there are a few other, and not necessarily purchasable, tools that can come in quite handy for a paint job.


On Paint Clean Up

If I take my time setting up, and if I’m using a latex, acrylic or any other type of water-based paint, I’ll surely fill up a small bucket with water and add a teeny squirt of dish detergent.

That’s it – and I can assure you there is almost no splatter, drip or drop ending up in the most inconceivable, yet unwanted location that can withstand a quick dab of a rag (or a sponge) dipped in that soapy solution.  It’s true, and regardless of the surface … as long as you get to the mess within a given amount of time – say 10 seconds.

I know not all paint clean up requires that soapy solution.

* Paint Clean Up Sure as Heck Requires a Rag

Now, if you are pro painter and you are doing it, well, all the time – it’s probably a good idea to purchase (a) Box of Rags. Yes – they can be found at your hardware store and/or at your home center, and these heavy, yet low lint clothes are perfect for quick clean up, especially on any hard surface.  But hey, wait – if you are like me – a diyer, you probably don’t want to spend the money … Right?  Right.

So, you turn to a solution that perhaps your grandparent’s used, yep – shred an old curtain, a table cloth, or my own personal favorite – an old garment that has perhaps been worn long past its useful life.  For me, of course, and today – this often translates into cutting up an old tee shirt.

A good rag-making session is often a great way to tackle a probably much overdue purge of those dresser drawers.


Making a Rag Best Practices

It’s funny – I can clearly remember a hot summer’s day, a few years back, when I was sent to caulk a whole house. When I arrived on this job, I found to my dismay I was lacking anything near resembling something I could use to do my clean up. (Whoops!)

Without much thought, and without a wife (at the time) to worry about the things I do with my clothing, I pulled the shirt right off my back and went at it ripping and tearing. Voila! A Rag!

Actually two, and that’s one way you can surely do it. But it seems I have learned, through the years (ha!), that this may not be the best way to go about it. I mean – there may in fact be some … How To turn a t-shirt into a rag … Best Practices.

* How to Make a Rag from a Tee Shirt – Pictorial Step by Step

Below you’ll find images I shot recently while working on painting at some of my wood windows, a sorta procedure I use when making a rag. And I know, it is by no means the only way to do it, and I am pretty sure that you, dear readers, have your own awesome tips. Plus, I’ll concede, you may not even like the idea of using a tee shirt in the first place. What do you think?

(Click to the first image and then the left and right arrows to scrolls thru the step by step. For more many more How Tos, see our category – How To.)


Selecting the Right Tee Shirt to Use as a Rag

To put is plainly – a quality tee shirt will produce a quality rag, and any shirt that you pick, as hinted at above, shouldn’t put off a whole lot of lint.  All Cotton, let’s say, is a good choice – and something soft.

On the topic of softness, it’s probably also a good time point out that these rags have many uses beyond just paint clean up. For example, they come in handy with cleaning tools, wiping down surfaces, buffing, and so on. While the softness factor is important with some of those tasks, with paint – soft is not really of ultimate import. Something a little stiffer may be better.

Generally, white is usually the best among a rainbow of choice – and yes this does have to do with the lint element from above too. (Ironic perhaps because white tees are usually the first that need to go during any drawer purge.)


What Do You Think?

I’ll check out here saying the comment section, as always, is open below and I would love to hear how you do it. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

For much more on Painting from Building Moxie and to learn more about the DIY Essential Skills, click the links provided here. ~jb

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