20 Creative & Inspiring Milk Jug Crafts: Upcycling Ideas

Did you know you can create artistic crafts from nothing but milk jugs? Save money and time with these milk jug crafts and ideas.

A collage of milk jug crafts.

Since getting goats, milk jugs are few and far between in my home. As much as I enjoy pouring farm fresh milk from a 1/2 gallon mason jar, I long for having a milk jug (or twenty) in my life. Thankfully many people still use them and dispose of them daily. That might not be so hot for the environment, but it comes in handy for upcyclers like myself. With these ideas, not only will you stop throwing away your daily/weekly milk jug, you’ll probably be asking friends and family to save them for you as well.

Don’t forget, before crafting and upcycling with your empty milk jugs, make sure to clean them properly. No one will appreciate your creativity if the end result smells like sour milk.

Uses for Milk Jugs in the Garden

I might be partial, but this first use for an old milk jug is my absolute hands-down favorite. Why? Because it’s my article and my greatest gardening trick.

#1 Winter sow with a milk jug.

If you haven’t heard of the method before, winter sowing involves starting your seeds in the dead of winter (yes, even with snow) in miniature greenhouses. Because of this technique, I’ve successfully grown watermelons in Maine. I’m harvesting kale when others are just planting the seeds. Get more details here.

Poking holes in a milk jug greenhouse.

#2 If winter sowing isn’t your thing, start your steeds traditionally in them.

These milk jug planters are even self-watering! She even has instructions for protecting your young transplants with a milk jug cloche (a clear plastic or glass cover that is used to protect plants from cold, wind, and pests) when you move them out to your backyard. See more here.

A self watering milk jug planter.
Image courtesy of Preparedness Mama

#3 Make a cheap olla from a milk jug.

Ollas are typically clay pots, but they can be very pricey. The way they work is that they slowly trickle water deep into the soil (where the roots are located) as the soil dries. Check out the video tutorial for making one from gallon milk jugs.

#4 Water your plants with a milk jug.

I’m not great at houseplants, though I’ve accumulated some tips for keeping them healthy, watering is something I often forget. This water jug would be great for popping on a counter. It wouldn’t take up much space and it would be easy to carry around the house without sloshing on the floor. I really like that the lid is used as a sprinkling head. Tutorial here.

A milk jug watering can.
Image courtesy of A Journey to a Dream

#5 Instead of buying a drip tray…

I don’t have a photo, but as I look at my garden herbs sitting on my kitchen window sill for the winter, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that a 4″ pot fits beautifully in the bottom portion of a milk jug. Just cut off the bottom and fill it with some small rocks and stones. This works great with rosemary that appreciates dry roots but desires high humidity.

#6 Make sure to mark your plants.

Have you ever thought your seedlings were broccoli, but they ended up being brussels sprouts? Been there and done that. This is a great way to label your plants so you can avoid confusion down the road.

Milk jug plant markers.
Image courtesy of The Prudent Garden

Uses for Milk Jugs Around the House

Instead of tossing your container when you’re done, why not designate a place to save them for these awesome alternative uses around the house?

#7 Make a quick dust pan or scoop.

Okay, so this might not be the most practical thing on earth, but if you’re in a bind, this is good to know. Get the step-by-step instructions here

A dust pan/scoop cut from a milk jug.
Image courtesy of Instructables

#8 Create free storage containers.

I’ve used this upcycle to create a storage container a few times. I used to keep my son’s cloth diapering accessories (Snappis, inserts, cloth wipes, etc) in milk jugs set up like this. Instructions can be found here.

Fabric organized in milk jugs hung from a pipe.
Image courtesy of Sew Many Ways

#9 If you need more structure to your storage…

With the addition of some foam board and chalkboard paint (make it, don’t buy it) you can be uber-organized. Get the details here.

A blue painted milk jug organizing school supplies.
Image courtesy of All You

#10 Feed your budget.

If this milk jug piggy bank isn’t the cutest thing, I don’t know what is. Okay, maybe a puppy playing with a goat kid would be cuter, but this is pretty darn cute. The only thing better than saving your money in a piggy bank is saving money by not buying a piggy bank. Tutorial here.

A black and white piggy bank made from a milk jug.
Image courtesy of My Life Is a Journey

#11 Keep the lights on when they’re out.

I saw this hack years ago and have used it ever since when the power goes out. It utilizes a headlamp and a jug of water to create a survival lamp that will cover a whole room. It can be carried by the handle which allows kids to travel from room to room easily. See it here.

A survival lantern made from a milk jug.
Image courtesy of DIY Thrill

#12 Make a handy milk jug toilet brush holder.

The only thing worse than the chore of cleaning the bathroom (I’m living with three boys here, so I’ll give you a moment to sigh your condolences…) is having that nasty water getting on the floor. I have one of those brushes that comes with a holder, but my cherubs figure out how to knock it over all the time. I think this might be a bit more balanced. Details can be found here.

A toilet brush holder made from a milk jug.
Image courtesy of The Purple Martin

#13 Take your lunch to go with a milk jug.

Next to the winter sowing, this might be my favorite idea for upcycling milk jugs. This idea is pure genius and it’s really easy to do. Find out how here.

A reusable sandwich holder made from a cut up milk jug.
Image courtesy of Farmish Momma

Uses for Milk Jugs Outside

Are you ready to move outside? These creative hacks will make your homestead run more smoothly.

#14 Make a bird feeder with a milk jug.

Bird lovers are going to treasure this piece on 13 Ways to Build a Bird Feeder from Milk Jug due to its sheer simplicity and eco-friendliness. That is not to mention, ample bird-watching is guaranteed!

A decoratively painted milk jug turned into a bird feeder.
Image courtesy of Guide Patterns

#15 Create outdoor ambiance.

This chandelier is actually really cool and I’m thinking it might be just what the chicken coop needs. Who’s with me? You can get the complete instructions and add some light to your outdoor spaces here.

A large circular chandelier made out of a PVC pipe, christmas lights, and milk jugs.
Image courtesy of Urban Gardens Web

#16 Feed your chickens their oyster shells.

Although this tutorial is for a dog waterer, I use the same setup for our chickens for housing their oyster shells. I just leave a bit more of the top to create a hood and I drill tiny holes in the bottom to make sure it doesn’t collect water. See how to make it here.

A dog drinking out of a milk jug.
Image courtesy of Instructables

Crafts Projects & A Game for Kids

Do your kids ever wake up and want to have a crafty morning? I have a 10-year-old budding artist that is always looking for ways to make something creative. An old milk jug is sometimes just the right material for the job. Let the thrifty fun begin!

#17 Butterflies for the windows.

The type of plastic milk cartons are made from is pretty versatile as far as crafting goes. You can cut it easily with scissors, use hole punches on it, stick it with hot glue, and best of all you can draw on it with sharpies with great results due to it being semi-opaque and mildly textured on one side. Because of this versatility, you can easily make cute things like these window butterflies.

Six multicolored butterflies made out of milk jugs.
Image courtesy of Alpha Mom

#18 Spooky Halloween decor.

These milk jug ghosts are super easy for little kids to make with a permanent marker. If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging for older kids, these skeletons are just precious.

Ghost faces drawn onto milk jugs with sharpies and light up with fake candles.
Image courtesy of Mom, Wife, Busy Life

#19 Enjoy an awesome outdoor summer game.

This Water Balloon Toss Game is perfect for cooling off this summer. Make this DIY Milk Jug Water Balloon Launcher for a fun and wet summer outdoor game with the kids.

Two cut up milk jugs with tie dye duct tape around the cut edges and a stack of water balloons.
Image courtesy of Kid Friendly Things to Do

#20 Milk jug owls in a variety of colors.

Owls look like an absolute hoot to make. I’d love to take credit for that shameless pun, but I stole it from the creator of this fun project. Check it out in the video below.

If you’re looking for more craft projects, be sure to check out 12+ Fun Ways to Upcycle Holiday Cards After the SeasonMason Jar Crafts You’ll Love to DIY, and Upcycle Pill Bottles with These 22 Fun & Creative Ideas.

What are your favorite upcycling projects for milk jugs? Tell me all about it in the comments below. I love getting new and creative ideas.

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A pinterest-friendly graphic promoting milk jug crafts.

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  1. Fast Money says:

    I got what you mean , appreciate it for putting up.Woh I am happy to find this website through google. “Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up by itself.” by Woodrow Wilson.

  2. I can’t find the information for the supply caddy ?Every website has the same link for but I don’t know what getting a peach cobbler out of the oven has do with anything?

  3. I love recycling things so much! It’s good for the environment! We can also save up money for another thing!

  4. I cur away the top side away from the handle and use them to soak artbrushes. Different kinds and colours of paint in each. Stand them in empty jugs.. the pint size… to dry them.

  5. I use them as mini greenhouses in the garden. I cut off the bottom and put a hole in the cap. Prepare my garden soil/spot where the seed is to be planted and plant the seed and water it very well. Then I take the jug and lightly push it into the soil around the seed making a light indention of it in the soil. Pull some of the soil away and lightly bury the bottom of the jug. (At this point I sprinkle DE over the soil to protect the seed from bugs). Take a bamboo stick (I recycle Venetian blind parts)and shove it through the jug cap, down through the center of the jug and into the soil to anchor the jug. Screw the cap on or if it’s warm in your area leave it slightly open to circulate air. At this point I make a outer water trough around the jug so I don’t disturb the seed. Then I take DE and dust the outer part of the jug to keep bugs off for a while. I’ve had wonderful success with this and at the end of use the jugs stack-pack away nicely. and I just take the stake & cap and keep them connected in a bucket till next time.

  6. Bettye Mitchell says:

    Great ideas, thanks.