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How to Recycle Old Clothes

We’re all pretty aware about the benefits of recycling for the environment these days. The saying goes - reduce, reuse and recycle. But how does this apply to recycling clothes?


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How to Recycle Old Clothes

We’ve put together a guide on how to recycle clothes in some conventional and unconventional ways that you may not have thought of before.

How to Recycle Old Clothes, Conventionally

Most people just throw their old clothes in the rubbish when they're done with them. This is bad for the environment, in that most of those fabrics and articles of clothing will just sit in our landfills and take years, if not decades, to disintegrate. However, it’s also a missed opportunity to reuse those clothes.

Here’s how to recycle clothing the conventional way:


Of course, this is a favourite way for many to get rid of clothes they no longer want. There are plenty of people less fortunate in the world, who rely on donations of clothing for themselves and their families. If you don’t directly know of a family in need to donate your clothing to, consider donating to your nearest hospice or charity shop in your area.


Another great way of getting rid of your clothing - and to make a quick buck or two while you’re at it - is to sell. Consider throwing a garden sale or side-walk sale and selling for greatly reduced prices. One thing to remember here is that it’s wise to only sell items of clothing that are still in good condition.

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For both of these options, we highly recommend they are washed well before giving them away or selling them. Wash your old garments with Skip Auto Washing Powder to give them a renewed lease on life before they go to new owners.

How to Recycle Old Clothes, Unconventionally

Donating and selling are both great choices, albeit the most obvious but they still have the potential to one day land up in landfills if discarded by their new owners. Here are two great – and unconventional – ways to reuse old clothes and even make them work for you.

Upcycling Old Clothes

Upcycling is a great way to reuse old items of clothing. There are so many great ideas out there on how to upcycle old clothing, here are our favourites;

  • Turn old cotton t-shirts into pillowcases. Use these pillowcases for any outdoor activities like camping or picnicking so you can save your good linen for indoors.

  • Use old curtains and make them into lampshades. Strong fabric like curtain fabric, can be repurposed into cute bedside lampshades.

  • Cut up old pieces of shirts or jeans and create a patchwork quilt. Something that could be a keepsake in the family.

  • Cut old t-shirts or pyjamas into squares and use them as cloths for cleaning, or even cloths to keep little hands clean. This will reduce the use of paper towels and wet wipes too.

Recycling Old Clothes

Did you know that old fabric can also be recycled to make new fabrics? Companies like ReWoven, turn textile waste into new items. Consider looking for companies near you that collect fabrics and old textiles and repurpose them into new, reusable goods.

Composting Old Clothing

We will bet that when you asked, ‘how do you recycle clothes?’, you didn’t think of this option. A super unconventional way of ensuring your old clothing doesn’t clog up our landfills, but instead turns into wholesome waste, is to compost it.

You can compost a variety of fabrics that are made of natural fibres like wool, cotton, or silk. Simply cut them up into small pieces and add them to your compost heap. Make sure you haven’t put anything plastic or metal in there though like buttons or zippers, as these will not compost down.

For more clever sustainability hacks and other clothing tips and tricks, visit Cleanipedia today.

Frequently Asked Questions on Recycling Clothes

How can you Recycle Clothes?

There are many ways to recycle old clothes like donating, selling, repurposing and even composting.

What Clothing Items can be Recycled?

When donating or selling items, you can use any old clothes that are in good condition. For upcycling, repurposing or composting you can use any fabrics at all.

Why is Recycling Clothes Important?

Recycling ensures a longer life span for clothes that you don’t want, and it prevents clothing from landing up on our landfills and taking years to decompose.

Can Clothes be Recycled in South Africa?

Indeed! Find out more about companies that recycle old fabrics in our blog above.

How does Recycling Help the Environment?

Recycling, reusing or repurposing old fabric and clothing makes sure that they do not get thrown away and end up on the landfill and trash heaps, without a chance to decompose or become something useful.

Originally published