7 Ways to Recycle Your Unwanted Clothes

Everyone has some clothes in their wardrobe that they no longer wear – maybe they no longer fit, have lost their shape, are stained or are just out of fashion. Whatever the reason, the chances are you have some clothes, curtains and/or bedding that you need to get rid of.

What should you do with these textiles that you no longer want or need? Please don’t throw them in your normal rubbish bin, as they will just go to landfill. Below we look at your options:

Make Do & Mend

Instead of getting rid of clothes that have problems – a stain, a rip, a broken zip or that don’t quite fit right – why not alter them?

  • Give a repair a go with a needle and thread! If it’s not your thing, why not ask a friend or family member for help?
  • There are many shops that offer alteration and repair services for clothes, if you really love the item but can’t fix it yourself.
  • Stains can usually be removed. Good options for removal vary depending on what caused the stain but include Vanish and white vinegar.
  • Some clothing items, such as jeans and jackets, lend themselves well to patches, which are easy to sew on and extend the life of the item dramatically.


Image credit: Pixabay
  • Textiles and unwanted clothes can be made into many other things such as cushion covers, blankets, bags or toys.
  • Use old textiles for lining your cat or dog’s bed.
  • Compost textiles made from natural fibres. Add small pieces gradually.

Friends, Family or Events

  • Friends or family might want your old clothes, so have an ask around. Why not arrange a clothes swap party at your house?
  • Events such as clothes swaps for strangers are becoming more popular, and are a good way to replace your clothes; donate the ones you no longer want, and buy some you prefer.


  • Some charities push bags through your letterbox to fill up and place outside for collection. Why not take advantage of this next time, and help a charity out?
  • You could always drop your clothes off with a local charity shop too, who will then re-sell them if they are in good condition or sell them on for ‘rags’ if not. Some of these clothes also make it abroad to places like Ghana.
  • Many of the larger supermarkets in the UK have recycling centres in their car parks, which often include a textile or clothing bank. This is collected by local charities.


  • Companies exist that will pay you, per kilo, for bags of your old clothes. These clothes are then either sent to people in poorer countries or sent for recycling.
  • Ebay is a good online marketplace for selling your clothes – this works best for good quality clothes from well-known brands (for example, Next or River Island). Beware of rising seller fees though.
  • If you have a lot of clothes or a mixed bunch of items you’d like to sell, you could consider selling at a car boot sale. These vary in cost to attend, so make sure you have plenty of stuff to sell so you are more likely to make a profit.

The High Street

  • Some high street retailers collect unwanted clothes in-store, and Marks & Spencer even offer a discount off your next purchase if you use this service.
  • If you have any good quality vintage items, you could try taking them to a vintage re-seller (or, again, try selling them on ebay).
Image credit: Pixabay
Image credit: Pixabay

Fabric Recycling

  • Your local council or charity shops might collect textiles for recycling which are no longer any good for their original use.
  • These textiles are sorted, shredded and then often used as stuffing in the furniture industry amongst other things.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

Published by

Lucy Ravenhall

Lucy is a long-standing editor of the Forge Recycling blog and loves writing about her environmental passions.

One thought on “7 Ways to Recycle Your Unwanted Clothes”

  1. Hi There,

    I google through and saw your 7 ways to re-cycle un-used items such as toys, beddings and clothes. I am interested if you could kindly help donate to our newly opened Vulnerable Children Home in the Catholic Archdiocese of Mt. Hagen, Western Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea. We have 14 vulnerable children at the centre at the ages of 13, 11, 10, 7, 6, 5, 4, and 3. It would of great help from your end to help donate un-used items. The vulnerable children from this part of the world shall remember you for helping them.

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