20 Great Uses for a Bandana

These days, the bandana is so much more than cowboy couture! The classic patterned kerchiefs we know and love have made their way into crafting, fashion, decoration, and even play a role in human health and survival. Here are 20 offbeat, awesome, useful, and sometimes brilliant ways you can rock a bandana. (See also: Practical Uses for Bobby Pins)

1. Fabric Napkin

Bandanas are a cheap and fun way to give a dinner party, barbeque, or picnic a little extra pizzazz. They don't show stains like white napkins, and have a little more class than a paper towel. Try these fancy folding techniques, if you do decide to throw a bandana-enhanced soiree.

2. Scarf

Wearing a bandana will keep your neck from being too cold, too hot, or too sunburned. It's light, and you can always switch it out if you have another.

3. Trail Marker

Because bandanas are so easy to see and to tie, they're great to mark a trail for those who are following you, or in case you yourself get lost. Just make sure to tie that bandana tight, if it's important to you or your fellow hikers. (See also: Outdoor Adventure Basics)

4. Halter Top

When the summer months are upon us, it's important to feel comfortable. Making or buying a bandana halter-top can prove a fashionable and inexpensive way to beat the heat. Make your own halter-top with your favorite bandana, or buy one in nearly every color under the rainbow!

5. Hair Tie

When your hair needs to be tied back and out of your face, a bandana can help. Tie your hair up in the bandana like a bow, or tie the bandana around your head and tuck your hair in. Either way, you're good to go.

6. Ice Pack

A bandana's size and thickness makes it a great candidate for a makeshift ice pack if you're sore or sustain an injury. Put ice or frozen veggies in the bandana, and make contact with the injured area. You'll be on the mend in no time. (See also: 8 Natural Ways to Relieve Sore Muscles)

7. Wrapping Paper

When you wrap a smaller gift in a bandana, you're really giving your friend the actual gift and…the gift of bandana'd possibility. (Bonus points if you print out this list as a part of the gift).

8. Lamp Shade

A DIY bandana lampshade can be a super fun addition to your dwelling. You can drape a bandana over a wire lampshade frame or sew it onto an actual shade for more structure. Either way, make sure your bulb is appropriate for the fixture… bandanas are awesome, but they ARE still flammable.

9. Wash Cloth

In a pinch, a bandana's cloth body can be used to wash with soap, water or cleaning solution. It's small enough that it can be wadded up for extra pressure, or kept unfolded to cover more area.

10. Team Accessory

If you're like me, you love an impromptu game of basketball, baseball, or capture the flag. Use a bandana around your arm, neck, or leg as identifiers for one team, so the game doesn't get confusing. Hey, it's better than skins and shirts, right?

11. Basket

Keep a kerchief with you to carry smaller things in the woods, at home, or in your purse. Sharp edges won't usually tear your bandana, and the sturdiness of the cloth will keep most things safe and secure!

12. A Sit Upon

Need a clean, comfortable place to park your backside when you're out in the world? Try making your own bandana sit upon! Bandanas are the perfect size for a portable pillow, so you can be comfortable and not get dirty when you're having a seat.

13. Beach Bag

All you need are two bandanas, some cord, and a safety pin to make a conveniently sized, versatile little beach bag! These are great because you can take them anywhere, and if they get dirty you can just pop them in the wash.

14. Playing Cards Holder

Lost your cardboard playing card case? No worries! A bandana will hold your cards comfortably and securely. Open your bandana, put the cards in and fold them into the fabric, tying the bandana at the end.

15. Dog Accessory

Putting a bandana on your dog useful in identifying your dog and absorbing sweat on a hot day. Also, it's doggone adorable! (See also: Dogs Walk Easy With the Easy Walk Harness)

16. Glasses Case and Lens Cleaner

It won't protect your glasses if they, say, get run over by your Dad's tractor, but keeping your sunglasses in a bandana is a great way to clean and protect your glasses while on the go.

17. Water Filter

We don't often think about cloth as having holes, but the tiny little holes between a bandana's fibers can make a great way to filter water while camping. Clean water is important; who knew a bandana could help?

18. Sling

If you aren't too outrageously small or large, a bandana can make a great impromptu sling in times of injury. If you're camping and you get into trouble, your bandana might be the thing that helps keep your injured appendage secured! (See also: Items You Might've Forgotten in Your Emergency Kit)

19. Window Curtain

The bandana's fun patterns and thickness make it a great candidate for curtains! Small windows may just need a couple, but big ones could mean sewing multiple bandanas together, like so.

20. Sleep Mask

Need to sleep but it's too bright out? A bandana can help! Fold the bandana and put it over your eyes, or tie it around your head for more secure mask. Sweet dreams, happy campers!

How do you use a colorful, versatile bandana?

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20 Great Uses for a Bandana

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Guest's picture

When we were growing up we always used bandanas to tie up our hair and keep it clean. They make great makeshift bibs for toddlers {tell them you are playing cowboys

Guest's picture

wow...lots of interesting ideas here!

the only thing that drives me nuts about bandanas is once you wash them they are no longer a perfect square due to shrinkage in one direction. on some projects that would make a difference.

Guest's picture

This is the best list-of-ideas post that you've done in the past few months that I have been reading this blog. I can't wait to try a few of the projects!

Guest's picture

Hi! Somehow this morning my internet savvy husband found your blog (I think back tracking where my blog visitors have come from, or something like that). I'm honored to be included in the list!
Yes, the Toddler Bandana Dress is simply two bandanas sewn together on the bottom of a pre-made t-shirt. Simplest dress in the world! I got the pattern off of ebay, and I have made several.

Thanks again, great list!

Guest's picture

I were a bandana everyday, because I have dreadlocks, which are too long to leave hanging down, but to short to tie up, so I tie a bandana under them, how ever I fold the bandana in half along the diagonal..

Guest's picture

When I was in high school my Girl Scout Troop would canoe on the Colorado River. We would make 'bathing suit tops" out of two bandanas. Fold each in half on the diagonal; tie the 'tops' (the 90 degreee angle corners) together with the smallest knot possible; tie one set of long ends around your body; pull the other set of long ends up, twist if desired to take out the edge slack, and tie behind neck. And no, there will be no pictures.

Guest's picture

It looks cute but your instructions link for double bandana wrap top needs an update!

Guest's picture
Tyler Wallace

Dogs don't sweat.... The rest is pretty nifty though

Guest's picture
Shane Kennels

Hey! I love your ideas! I am definitely a fan of bandanas. It just goes along with your OOTDs and you can always make matching designs and harmonious colours. Thank you for these tips, will try some of these, for sure! :)