Sustainable fashion

What to do with old clothes?

Spring is around the corner, and so is spring cleaning. We’re one step closer to the inevitable question of what to do with our old clothes. As someone, who recently decided to clear out her wardrobe, I struggled with this question after seeing the mountain of unused clothes. Some of which I was more than happy to donate, but the rest were either too old and worn out or too good to just be given away. Considering that the UK has more than 200 tonnes of yearly textile waste with 1.7 kg of landfilled textile waste per person, I guessed I’m not the only one who is struggling with this question. So, here are some great options, that I’ve learned along the way, of what to do with your old clothes.

Recycling box full of clothes.

1. Donate

Donating your unwanted or unused garments to a registered charity or people in need is the best option for your old clothes. If you have too much to carry, some charities, such as the British Heart Foundation and the Cancer Research, offer a free collection service from the comfort of your home. 

2. Sell

It’s completely normal if there are some pieces you rather not donate, but make money from. I’ve been there, as I had tonnes of unused garments I’ve only worn once or twice (guilty). If that’s the case, you can put your clothes for sale online via apps like Depop or Vinted. I found them to be much easier than using websites such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace, as you don’t need to deal with the postage as much. 

Alternatively, you can try your local car boot sales but be aware that they are tough gigs, especially if you’re not willing to sell your clothes for less than £5-10. However, if you have a lot to get rid of in a short amount of time, then a car boot sale can be a fun way to do that. 

3. Swap

The other alternative to selling your clothes is to do a clothes swap. You can organise a swapping party, where you invite your friends to bring their unwanted clothes to exchange some goodies for free! GetSwishing has a step-by-step guide on how to throw a killer swapping party. Or you can search for local clothes swap events, where you just show up with your unwanted clothes. This is a great way for building a sustainable wardrobe

4. Rent

If you don’t want to get rid of some of your clothes but need to have more space or want to make more use of them, you can try renting them out. My Wardrobe HQ and By Rotation are renting platforms that you can use to make some cash from your garments whilst creating a bit more space. It’s also a great option for having new pieces for one-off occasions. 

What to do with old clothes that cannot be donated or sold?

But what about the ones that are too old with nasty stains or even with holes? Don’t worry, there are some great options for that bunch too!

 Recycling old clothes. Old blue jeans cut pieces and sewing materials ready for recycling and scissors on white background.


This is where you can let your creativity run wild. You can get rid of the stained or damaged parts of your garments and use the rest for upcycling into something new, such as masks, tote bags, cleaning cloths or even patchwork cushions and quilts!

Donate to animal rescue

I was very surprised to learn this was an option for my old clothes – and what a great option it is! Animal rescue centres always welcome old garments and textile products to use as bedding or blankets for the animals they take care of. As long as they are clean and not completely torn apart, they will be perfect for our fluffy friends.

Use recycling programs

Some high street retailers offer great recycling programs for your old garments in exchange for discounts or gifts. H&M’s recycling program or Shwop recycling program by M&S are just two examples of many. Why not try them out?

As you can see, there are plenty of great options for your unwanted or unused clothes. Whether they are brand-new or completely worn out, only a handful will be fit for the bin. With a bit of time and creativity, you can find ways to recycle nearly all your clothes, if not all. If you have other creative ideas, make sure to share them with us in the comments below!

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