Many of us regularly donate our old clothes to organizations that collect old clothes from individuals and donate them to those in need or sell them to make money for charity – which is great!
But what if you have unwanted clothing that doesn’t meet their guidelines? What do you do with it?
There are many reasons why a piece of clothing might not make the cut for donation, but this does not mean it has lost its usefulness.
These tips and repurposing ideas will help you find a new life for old textiles and avoid them ending up in landfills.
Local Thrift Stores – Donation Requirements
If you decide to make a clothing donation, make sure they are clean and dry.
Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and other thrift stores and charity shops only accept certain items (such as coats, shoes, books) and they don’t want clothing in poor condition.
Your donation must be in wearable with no rips or tears.
If you are donating your clothing because you think it is not in a good condition – either too damaged or too bobbly to wear – then chances are thrift stores won’t want it either!
Mending of course is always an option. But if your clothes are too far gone for that there are plenty of ideas below.
Sometimes a local animal shelter will accept old clothing for use in pet beds, but not all – so check ahead if this is an option you have been considering.
Some will also accept fabric scraps for use in bedding.
Textile Recycling Companies
Some textile recycling companies can recycle your old clothing, but not all of them do.
You may need to contact more than one before you find a company willing to take what you have.
Be aware that textile recyclers are usually only interested in clothes made from natural fibers like wool and cotton so synthetic fibers such as polyester won’t be accepted by these types of companies either.
Also keep in mind that textile recycling companies are often located in Asia even if donations are accepted in the US or UK, so shipping clothes there might negate the environmental benefits of recycling them!
Insulation and Building Materials
Yes, you read that one right! There are some super innovative companies that are using upcycled clothing to make insulation material and even bricks!
You may be able to find some companies in your area who would take donations but not all – so have a quick google of insulation made from clothing + the area you live in and see if you can find anyone keen to take your clothes!
If most of your piece of clothing is in a usable condition but it just doesn’t suit you anymore or it has enough damage to be un-donatable then ‘refashioning’ it into another type of garment or outfit accessory could be an option.
Here is another post all about ideas for refashioning and rewearing your old clothes:
Turn your Clothes into Fabric
If you sew – you could cut up usable parts of your old clothes to use in scrappy sewing projects or quilts.
Turn your Clothing into Cleaning Rags
As well as the upcycled craft idea below, clothing can usually be repurposed into cleaning cloths, rags and dusters no matter how far gone it is – so do not throw them out just yet!
Use a pair of pinking shears to cut your clothing into manageable rag sizes – the pinking shears will stop the edges from fraying so you don’t need to hem them.
I often do this with semi-moth eaten tops made with that waffle textured t-shirt material. They make great scrubbers!
Here is a post about some other practical household items you can make from upcycled textiles:
Upcycling & Repurposing your Clothing into Something Completely Different!
Below is a list of fun project ideas and tutorials to get you started reimaging your old unwearable clothing!
What will your old t-shirt or sweater become next?
Upcycling Crafts for Old Clothing that Can't be Donated
How to Make a DIY Felt Rug Out of Recycled Sweaters
If you follow the blog you know I love a rag rug. Including rugs made from old sweaters. This one is particularly striking!
How To Make An Upcycled Sweater Mountain Cushion (Pillow)
Here is another fun use for an old sweater - how cute are these?
I love a denim picnic blanket and have made two already. This first one I made used up 10 pairs of old jeans that had rips and tears in them.
Blue Jean Planter Upcycle Your Jeans!
Fun and funky planter made from an old pair of jeans!
How to Make a Braided Storage Basket with Handles
Fun Boho Look Storage Basket made from upcycled clothes.
Easy, No-Sew TShirt Bag Tutorial!
These t-shirt bags are super popular with kids and can be a great raindy day afternoon activity. For more upcycle projects for kids check out our post here.
An old denim skirt repurposed into a handbag.
Upcycled Sweater Ornaments
It's never too early to. start making Christmas ornaments. Here is a cute one made from old sweaters.
Darling Sweater Ornament Tutorial » Homemade Heather
And another take on a sweater Christmas ornament!
Recycled Jeans Mason Jar and Napkin Rings
A cute way to use some of the more difficult bits of a pair of jeans to reuse. Check out my tutorial on how to cut up old jeans for upcycling too.
Reupholster a Chair with Colorful Denim
This is such a great idea for reupholstering a chair. Denim is super hard wearing so should hold up well!
Last year I made 18 different things with two of my husband's old shirts. This is one of them - a fun macrame alternative wall hanging.
Recycled Denim Bins Hand Sewn From Pants!
Another cute way to upcycle old jeans.
Upcycled Embroidery Hoop Wreath
This project upcycles an old sweater and an unused embroidery hoop to make some unique wall art.
Upcycled Fabric Letters and Numbers – Danya Banya
Super cute upcycled gift for a child.
Star Wars Canvas Art - Made With Upcycled / Reused T-shirts
Repurpose old t-shirts into some nostalgic wall art.
Another use for difficult-to-use bits of old jeans - the seams.
Upcycling A Leather Coat into a DIY Leather Bag
A super cool repurposing of an old coat!
How to Turn a Sweater Into a Handbag - Easy Sew
Another fun upcycled handbag - this time made from a sweater!
Want to keep upcycling? Here are 18 ideas for how to use up old men's dress shirts!
I hope this post has helped you find some ideas to give your unwanted clothes a second life! I’d love to hear about other ways you have upcycled and repurposed your old clothes. Leave me a comment or tag me on social media @upcyclemystuff!
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