11 Useful Things You Can Do With An Empty Milk Jug

collage of three photos showing various ways to reuse plastic milk jugs

Empty Milk Jugs Are Full Of Possibilities

My mother and grandmother were experts at recycling and upcycling, and could find practical ways to use everything from food containers to zippers. I’m glad I had them to show me the way, because it’s given me an endless source of inspiration for blog posts!

Whether you’re looking to save money, help the environment, or use your resources more mindfully, upcycling (or “creative reuse”) is a great way to do that. I enjoy the creative challenge of finding ways to reuse things, but with plastic milk jugs in particular, the possibilities are almost endless!

Read on to learn 11 ways you can reuse empty milk jugs (and save money while you’re at it!)

11 Creative Ways To Reuse Plastic Milk Jugs

gallon plastic milk jug filled with water and frozen sitting on a table

1. Ice Pack

Use a milk jug to make a giant ice pack for your cooler. Pour water into an empty jug until it’s just shy of full, then replace the lid and freeze until solid. It’ll stay frozen a lot longer than a bag of ice would, and you can drink the cold water as it melts!

Related: These Are The 9 Best Containers To Save And Repurpose

watering a plant with a plastic half gallon milk jug with holes poked in the top of the lid

2. Watering Can

A half-gallon milk jug makes a great watering can for houseplants, while a gallon-size jug is great for watering pots and other outdoor plants. Just poke a few holes in the lid to create a gentle sprinkling effect, and it’ll be ready to use!

Related: “Why Didn’t I Think Of That?” – Part Five

plastic gallon milk jug that has been refilled with water with a headlamp around the outside creating a lantern effect

3. Lantern

A milk jug full of water makes an ideal lantern or nightlight for a camping trip. Simply strap a headlamp to the jug with the light facing in, and the water will give you a source of soft, diffused light.

Related: “Why Didn’t I Think Of That?” – Part Six

plastic gallon milk jug with the bottom cut off sitting over a plant in a raised garden bed

4. Mini Greenhouse

Enjoy a longer growing season on both ends by using milk jugs to protect tender young plants from frost. Just cut off the bottom of the jugs and place them over your plants. (As an added bonus, they’ll help keep out hungry bugs and snails as well!)

Related: 13 Clever Hacks That Will Save Gardeners Time And Money

woman reusing a half gallon plastic milk jug that has been cut in half as a scoop to put dog food into a bowl

5. Scoop

Cut off the top part off of a milk jug while leaving the handle intact. Clean up any sharp or rough edges, and voila, you’ve got a handy scoop you can use for pet food, potting soil, or anything else, really! (If you keep the top part, you can remove the cap and use it as a funnel!)

the bottom of a half gallon milk jug that has been place under the leg of a table

6. Furniture Sliders

Cut the bottom surface off of four milk jugs using a utility knife and use them as furniture sliders. Just set each furniture leg on its own slider, and the plastic will slide easily against most types of flooring. Not only do they work as well as the ones you can buy, but they’re free too!

half gallon milk jug with part of the jug cut out that has been filled with kitchen utensils

7. Grill Utensil Caddy

Remove the top section of a milk jug (keeping the handle intact), then fill it with your grilling tools like forks, tongs, and sauce brushes. The sturdy jug makes it easy to tote your cooking tools to where you need them, and it’s easy to clean up too, making it a game-changer for any grill master.

woman reusing a plastic milk jug filled with water as a weight to workout with

8. Exercise Weights

Keep your muscles strong by using milk jugs to do resistance training! Just fill a couple of plastic milk jugs with water (1 gallon = 8 pounds) to instantly step up your home workouts.

the bottom of a half gallon plastic milk jug underneath a plant

9. Plant Tray

Nothing’s worse than watering a houseplant and having dirty water leak everywhere. Prevent such leaks by removing the bottom 3″ or so of a plastic milk jug and using it as a tray for your thirsty plants. For plants that need to be kept moist, adding a layer of marbles to the tray can help slow down the evaporation of any water in the tray.

woman putting change into a plastic half gallon milk jug that says

10. Piggy Bank

Place an empty milk jug somewhere it will be out of the way, but easily accessible, then fill it with any coins or small bills that end up in your wallet or pockets. Use it regularly to build up a nice little “Fun Fund” of money you probably won’t even miss!

gallon plastic milk jug with the middle cut out hanging from the edge of a room and filled with bird seed

11. Bird Feeder

Inspiration from Finding Myself Young

With a milk jug, a wooden skewer, and a few simple tools, you can make a great DIY bird feeder that’s accessible from both sides. Just add bird seed and hang it near a window to enjoy hours of birdwatching pleasure!

Looking For More Ways To Reduce, Reuse, Or Recycle?

How do you reuse milk jugs at your house?

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Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • I have to chime in here on ways to use a milk jug. I take a gallon milk jug and stuff into it the plastic bags we receive from the grocery store. Just cut an opening off the top, large enough to get your hand through – leave the jug handle intact. Stuff away! I keep it under my sink with a smaller quart size jug for bread wrappers and green bags from the product department. Just works for me. When I go to Aldi’s, and similar stores where I bag my own groceries, I just put the jug in my shopping cart to reuse the bags – over and over. . . .) Cheers!

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