8 Useful Ways To Recycle & Repurpose Used Clothing

Do you have the bag in your closet corner? Most people have one. It's the bag or box where used clothing goes to be donated (or forgotten.) You may have been organizing your closet into "keep" and "don't keep" piles and decided to put all the "don't keep" clothes in one location. What if there was another option for your clothing other than sitting in a bag collecting dust?

Questions About Sustainability in Clothing 

You may have some questions about sustainable practices concerning your clothing. You don't have to have a capsule closet or minimalist wardrobe to incorporate a few green practices into your clothing habits. Let's explore how to recycle and repurpose your old clothes and how to know when to replace them.

How to You Recycle Clothing? 

You probably already know how to recycle cans, glass, and plastic waste. In some regions, recycling is a typical practice, but if you live somewhere where recycling isn't promoted, you may have some questions. How do you recycle clothes? Recycling ensures that your clothes can be reused in the future. That being said, recycling clothing includes taking items to drop-off recycling boxes, donation centers, or resale shops to have a second life.

What Is Repurposing Clothing?

Have you ever repurposed a piece of furniture in your house? It doesn't have to be a complicated process. A piece that you previously used for one function gets used for something different so that you don't have to buy a new piece of furniture. It's the same with clothing. You can turn one article you thought about throwing out into something brand new and valuable to you.

Creative Ways to Repurpose Old Clothing 

You've probably tried to repurpose a garment before without even knowing it. Remember when you played dress-up as a kid? You might have fashioned a blanket into a makeshift toga or tried on your mom's t-shirt as a dress. Repurposing your clothing is a worthwhile effort that can help you hold on to beloved memories while reducing your waste. Let's explore some creative options for repurposing clothing. 

1. Make A T-Shirt Quilt 

Does your child have dozens of school t-shirts that they've outgrown? Most people don't want to wear a shirt representing a school they don't go to, so dropping them off at a donation center is not ideal. You can remember their exciting school memories by stitching their t-shirts into a quilt. That way, their well-loved t-shirts can still comfort them even if they don't fit anymore. 

2. Turn Jeans Into a Draft Stopper

Do you have an old pair of jeans and a door that constantly lets in cold air from the outdoors? Before you throw your jeans out, you can use them to help stop your draft. Sew the jeans into a round snake-like shape that's the length of your door. Stuff it with cotton and lay it next to the leaky door to keep warm in cold weather. 

3. Turn an Old Men's Shirt Into a Dress 

This trick is one of the easiest ways to repurpose clothing. If you have a men's t-shirt that someone in your family has outgrown, try making it into a child's dress with a belt around the middle. It will likely fall past their knees, making it the perfect length for a dress. You may need to roll up the sleeves, but it's a cute way to give an old t-shirt a new purpose. 

4. Use an Oversized Shirt as a Skirt 

Here's another trick to get more use out of an old article of clothing. Do you have a long-sleeved wide-necked shirt that you don't enjoy wearing anymore? Perhaps it doesn't fit your shoulders right, and you've thought about donating it. Instead of throwing it out, you can fashion it into a skirt. Here's how:

  1. Slip the shirt on, then put your arms through the neck instead of the sleeves.
  2. Pull the shirt down until the neck is at your waistline. 
  3. Cross the sleeves over one another tightly in the front.
  4. Either tie the sleeves into a bow or tuck them behind the opposite sleeve.

5. Make T-Shirts Into a Produce Bag 

This repurposing tip can help you reduce your plastic waste at the grocery store! If you have a few old t-shirts you were considering throwing out, try this instead. Cut the sleeves and neck off your t-shirt to have one connected piece of fabric. Sew the end you just cut straight across – this will be the bottom of your bag. Next, cut two holes on the opposite side as handles. You can use this t-shirt bag for produce while shopping at the grocery store.

6. Create a Pillow-Case Romper 

Do you have pillowcases that are collecting dust in a hall closet? You can turn them into cute rompers for your toddler. To do this, cut holes for your little one's legs in the stitched side of the pillowcase. You may want to attach some elastic to help it stay tight to their legs. Next, attach pieces of ribbon across the top as straps. It may take a little time and love, but the result will be adorable. 

7. Turn Well-Loved Shirts Into Framed Memories 

If you don't want to create a t-shirt blanket out of your old t-shirts, there's another option for you. Try cutting out the fronts of each shirt that contain the memorable logos. You can frame these in 8'x10" frames or another size of your choosing. You can either display these on your child's wall or keep them safe in a memory bin.

8. Recycle Used Clothing 

Are you thinking of recycling your clothes instead of repurposing them? It's a much better alternative than tossing your clothes into the trash. Recycling your gently-loved apparel is a great way to ensure another person can enjoy your clothing as much as you. Let's look at a few fantastic options for recycling clothes.

  • You can practice sustainability by dropping your clothing off at a resale store and make a few dollars in the process.
  • Allow someone else to have fine pieces of clothing by donating your gently-worn quality pieces at a donation center. 
  • Give back to the earth by taking your clothing to a textile recycling bin instead of throwing them away.  

When to Replace Clothing Basics 

At some point, you have to know when it's time to retire your kids' old clothes and replace them with durable new items they can use for years to come. When you notice certain pieces of clothing have stretched, stained beyond repair, or are tearing at the seams, it's time to replace them. When you do, you can find the clothing basics your family needs at Mallary by Matthew.  


Whether you're cleaning out closets or you're in the process of upgrading your children's clothing to include high-quality basics, recycling old clothes is a great practice. You can remember your well-loved clothes by turning them into something new and practical. If not, you can let someone else enjoy them by recycling your used apparel. Both of these practices are steps in the right direction of sustainability and caring for our planet. 



How to Recycle Clothing & Accessories | Earth 911 

27 Creative Ways To Reuse Old Clothing | LifeHack 

How To Recycle Clothes & Shoes That Aren't In Good Condition | Bustle