I’ve decided to do a deep cleaning out my wardrobe, and donate some of the clothes I no longer wear.
However, after I’ve skimmed through a mountain of unwanted clothes. I wasn’t sure what to do with them.
Why? Because while I’ve started with the idea of donating them, some were too stained or too worn out.
To save you from endless monologues, stress and waste time, I decided to share my experience with you.
Here is what you can do with old clothes that you can’t donate anymore; top 20 tips.
1. Drop Them Off At An Animal Rescue
Animal shelters are always in need of old garments, fabrics, blankets and even towels to use as beddings for the animals under their care.
Old clothes are easier to clean, and there’s no fuss if the animals break them a bit here and there.
For that, consider dropping off worn-out clothes at a local shelter.
I’ll help staff and volunteers turn those places in welcoming homes for our fluffy friends.
2. Compost Natural Fabrics
Composting means turning organic materials into a matter that feeds back the environment.
In our case, composting fabrics such as cotton, wool, and silk, back into the soil.
The compost is then used to grow fruits, vegetables, and all sorts of plants.
If you’re into gardening, this approach of discarding old clothes could be the most environmentally friendly of all.
That said, ensure that the clothes you plan to compost are all-natural.
The fabrics must be free from anything synthetic such as spandex or polyester, or it won’t decompose.
Also, make sure you remove all metallic and plastic parts, such as buttons and zippers.
3. Reusable Tote Bags
Have t-shirts with too many coffee and wine stains to count?
Here’s another eco-friendly way to dispose of them.
Turn them into hand-made tote bags, for grocery shopping.
Best part? You can match them to your outfits and accessories.
Instead of tossing away plastic and paper bags every time you buy something, you can create and carry your own tote bag.
Lesser waste, more glam!
4. Apparel Recycling Programs
Companies like H&M often offer ‘take-back’ programs designed to help you get rid of old clothes.
Once collected, these garments are sent to the nearest recycling plant.
Best part? For every bag of textiles you drop off, H&M gives you a 15 per cent discount on your next in-store purchase.
It’s a win-win situation!
5. Art Refresh Old Clothes
Whether you’re turning old socks into puppets for the kids or cutting up an old flannel shirt into patchwork for your jeans, there are endless options here.
Get creative; use old clothes as your artistic medium.
It is the best way to cover up stains and brighten up a look, by adding a pop of colour.
Pay the local craft store a visit and get some iron-on letters.
Grab an old sweatshirt and press them in to create a whole new look!
6. Kids Dress-Up Box
As a young girl, I remember digging away at my mom’s closet and sneaking her dresses away to play adult dress up.
And I imagine, most kids love playing pretend too!
So, help your kids have fun with your old hats, jackets, and shoes.
You’ll be surprised at how creative the little ones can get.
7. Garage Sales
Garage sales are a great way to give away old clothes and make a few bucks while you’re at it.
You could also choose to donate the proceeds to local charities – instead of clothes.
Either way, it is a worthwhile contribution and exciting process.
8. Clothing Swap Party
Swapping clothes is an excellent way to socialize ‘around’ your old clothes.
In the process, you can make sustainable additions to your closet.
Is it complicated?
Not at all. Call five+ friends and have each bring at least five garments they no longer wear.
Then, get the party started!
Tip: Play it safe and hold it outdoors so that everyone can stay socially distant and still be able to enjoy the fun of it all.
9. Distressed Denim
If you’re into distressed denim, you’re in luck!
Here’s how to convert old, oversized jeans, into distressed masterpieces, in a matter of minutes!
Start by removing the back pockets.
Cut up the back of the centre seam.
Then, you need a few stitches to put everything back together again.
Pair it with a black leather jacket and you’ll end up with a fashion staple that you’re bound to love.
10. Stitched T-Shirts Blanket
Whether it’s a band t-shirt you’ve purchased years ago or a sweater your mom knit for you at Christmas, you’re bound to have clothes that hold real sentimental value to you.
These are pieces you can’t donate or discard, no matter how worn out they are.
However, you can keep them alive by putting them together into a blanket.
My mom made one for me, years ago, and it’s still something I hold dear to my heart.
The blanket will hold meaning to you because of the clothes sown into it.
And if these garments have a particular scent, that’s even more memories for you.
11. Sweaters Cushion Covers
DIY cushion covers? I’m in!
You can upcycle pretty much any old sweater or cardigan into a cushion cover.
First, these cushions will make your room look cosier.
Second, it only takes a few minutes to make one.
12. Tie-Dye Style
Tie-dye was hitting it off in the 80s but 2020 has brought the style back.
It’s as easy as folding your t-shirt in a spiral and soaking it in bleach, for a new, quirky shirt!
All you need is bleach and the garments you want to dye, and you’re good to go.
13. Cozy Knitted Mugs
Is scorching hot coffee your morning brew?
Then, you need a sleeve for your mug!
A fashionable sleeve will keep your drink warm while preventing the heat from transferring to your hand.
I think knitted sleeves look cute on ANY kind of mug or jug, so give it a try if you’re a sucker for hot beverages.
14. Embroidered Couture
Sounds complicated but you only need a needle and thread.
Step by step, the idea is to embroider a design (anything you like) onto your old clothes or denim.
It could be a flower on your jeans or the name of a loved one on a sweater.
By adding embroidery to your clothes you give them a personal touch and a spark of originality.
15. Trendy Headbands
An old flannel shirt will work wonders as a headband or scarf.
Head scarfs are cute accessories to any outfits.
Moreover, certain patterns such as tartan and checkers are bound to attract flattering comments anywhere you go!
16. T-Shirt Slippers
T-shirt slippers are indoor flip-flops turned into home slippers for the summer season.
All you need are strings and strips of an old t-shirt.
Weave them into the bottom of your slippers and you’re done.
These slippers are washable, so cleaning them will never be a hassle.
17. Rugs For Home
What better way to repurpose old clothes than to turn them into a doormat?
Whether you choose to knit, crochet, or sew – the rug will feel thick and full of vibrant colours.
An own-made doormat can bring your space together, and add a sense of personality to your room.
18. Socks Air Freshener
The fastest way to repurpose old socks is by using them as room air fresheners.
Ironic, but stick with me.
You can fill them up with whatever scent makes your day, be it vanilla or potpourri.
Once you close up the ends, just toss them into a corner or into your cabinet of smelly shoes and let it work.
19. Hand Them Down
Hand-me-downs are a great option for younger siblings, and even for family friends with younger children, looking for sustainable clothing options.
That said, be honest about any stains or damage on the clothes you send.
Also, wash them before you pass them along.
20. Old Shirt Towels
A great alternative to upcycling clothes beyond repair is to reuse them as kitchen towels (instead of paper), to wipe surfaces clean.
Cut your shirts up into rectangular pieces and fold them up for future use in the kitchen.
There’s plenty of things to do with clothes that can’t be donated.
All you need is time and a bit of creativity to get it done.
I hope this article inspires you to recycle and reuse clothes beyond donation or repair.
WTVOX – Voicing the Future of Fashion
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If you like my tips on what to do with old clothes that can’t be donated, here’s your turn:
- Which of these ideas have you already tried and liked the most?
- What are your favourite ways to dispose of old clothes?