10 Resourceful Uses for Milk Jugs

Updated: Dec. 01, 2023

Once you're done with that gallon of milk, don't throw the jug out! See brilliant uses for old milk jugs.

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close up hands using a milk jug as a watering can to water a hanging plant with red flowers
TMB Studio

Watering Jug

When my trusty old metal watering can rusted through, I decided to reuse and recycle instead of buying a new one. I rinsed out a milk jug and drilled a few holes in the cap. It’s a good size, lighter weight and easy to carry. — Matt Boley

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Milk Jug with holes holds a blue Cord inside
family handyman

Extension Cord Holder

Keep your long extension cords tangle-free and easily accessible. Cut the top off a plastic milk jug, leaving the handle on for carrying. Cut a hole in the side at the bottom for the receptacle end of the cord, and coil the other end of the cord inside the jug for carrying and storage. — Cathy Livesay

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close up of hand using a milk jug as a scoop to poor dog food into a bowl
family handyman

Pet Food Scoop

I’ve read many hints that advise the reader to cut off the tops of plastic milk jugs and use them for funnels. I’ve found that if you replace the cap after cutting the top off, you can use the milk jug for a scoop, too. It’s perfect for handling potting soil, fertilizer or pet food. The no-scratch plastic also makes the milk jug scoop ideal for bailing water out of your boat. — Ray Dean

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close up of hands using a Milk Jug as a Funnel to pour glue into a small container
Family Handyman

Simple Skinny Funnel

If you’re in need an easy-to-make disposable funnel, we have the perfect solution for you.

Simply cut off the handle from a gallon water (or milk) jug, and use this to serve as a disposable funnel. This funnel will help you to drain anything from your leftover wood glue to the old oil in your leaf blower. This handle funnel will help you get to hard-to-reach places and small bottle openings. When you use this funnel to drain old oil, it directs the oil to the drain pan without spilling a drop. It’s also smart to use this disposable funnel for messy projects because you can just throw it away once you are done.

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milk jug in a dirt garden bed with a small tomato plant growing up the side of the container
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Protect Sprouting Plants

If you cut a hole in the top of an empty gallon jug (like a classic plastic milk jug), you can create an effective enclosure that will protect planted seeds and new shoots from birds and rodents. For busy gardens, get a marker and write the name of the plant on the jug so you know what’s growing beneath without needing to check your seed packets: Remember to eventually take the jugs off as shoots develop to avoid mold.

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close up of a woman putting Milk Jug bottoms underneath the legs of a chair to help move Furniture on a rug
family handyman

Milk Jug Furniture Movers

When you have to move heavy furniture on carpeting, don’t just drag it around. That’s hard on your carpet and you might damage the furniture legs. Make the job easier with these homemade moving pads. Cut the bottoms off four plastic water or milk jugs with a utility knife and rest each furniture leg on its own slider. The rounded, slippery bottoms make them perfect for furniture moving. Yes, you can buy fancier versions of these things, but these work just as well, and best of all, they’re free!

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gloved hand scrapping a pudy knife on a milk jug with a whole cut in the side
family handyman

Furniture Stripping Helper

When stripping old paint or varnish, how do you get rid of the stuff once it’s on your putty knife? Cut a semi-circular opening in the side of an empty gallon jug, then clean the loaded scraper on the flat edge of the hole. When you’re done, and you want to reuse some of the stripper, upend the jug and use the neck of the jug as a funnel to pour the stripper into another container.

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a spool of jute twine in the bottom of a milk jug cut in half with a string going through the top opening of the other half of the jug
family handyman

Tangle-Free Twine Storage

Can’t find your twine to bundle that pile of recyclables? Try reader Norm Hoch’s slick twine dispenser solution. Cut the bottom 4-in. off of a 1/2-gallon plastic milk or orange juice jug and load the container with a fresh spool of twine that unwinds from the middle. Then thread the twine through the jug opening and tape the jug back together. Cut an “X” in the cap with a utility knife to keep the twine from falling back into the jug.

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three Milk Jug Bird Feeders of different sizes filled with bird seed sitting on a work bench
family handyman

Build a Bird Feeder

A water or milk jug winter bird feeder is easy to make and inexpensive. Rinse out the jug, cut open the sides, cut or drill holes for a thin dowel or chopstick perch, add the birdseed and hang it in a tree. You could decorate the plastic jug DIY bird feeder so it doesn’t look like you’ve hung your recycling in your yard.

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three half gallon plastic milk jug with flowers hanging on a fence
family handyman

Hang Your Plants

Those plastic milk jugs can be cut and used as planters. Try hanging them from a fence with wire coat hangers.