How To Recycle Old Clothes

recycle old clothes

Wouldn’t it be great if clothes could last forever? Unfortunately, even after the normal wear and tear of washing and drying, most clothes will eventually wear out. However, when you want to dispose of old dirty clothes that are no longer in use, please stop throwing them in the trash and try recycling them. For clothes that are still fashionable, the donation is an easy choice. But what about clothes that have exceeded their quality? Read on to learn how to recycle clothes and shoes that are in poor condition. 

Why recycle used clothes 

The EPA report states: “The main source of textiles in municipal solid waste (MSW) is discarded clothing, although other smaller sources include furniture, carpets, tires, footwear and other non-durable goods such as bedsheets and towels. In 2015 the total textile waste of China was 16 million tons, accounting for 6.1% of the total municipal solid waste 2015. This is equivalent to 100 pounds of textile waste per capita that year! 

In 2015, clothing alone accounted for 4.5% of the city’s total waste, and less than 1/3 of it was recycled (source: EPA). The good news is that it isn’t hard to reverse this trend because if we dispose of them properly, most clothes and shoes can be easily recycled. 

How to recycle used clothes 

You can recycle old clothes and shoes in 5 simple ways. From textile recycling to local thrift stores, doing the right thing is easy. 

Textile recycling: 

If you are not familiar with textile recycling, you may feel daunting when you don’t know where to start. First search for a clothing recycling bin in your area. Many of them can take clothes under any circumstances and allow you to decentralize merchandise for free. American Textile Recycling Service is a company that will collect donations and arranges your textiles at the drop-off point. Sites like Recycle Now can help you find the right trash bin in your area. 


Donate items that can still be worn/used. Goodwill donations go through multiple sales channels before they are finally collected. If you do not live near Goodwill or the Salvation Army then please contact other second-hand stores near you to find out which recycling programs they have implemented. 

Go to retail:

More and more retail stores are accepting used clothes to encourage proper recycling. Madewell, Levi Strauss & Co., H&M, and The North Face stores will accept your second-hand clothes and shoes, recycle them, and even give them rewards. 


As long as it is not blended with natural fibers (such as polyester, spandex, rayon, or nylon), fabrics made of natural fibers can be composted. Compostable fabrics include: 

  • Cotton
  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Cashmere
  • Hemp
  • Bamboo
  • Linen

The two steps to properly prepare composted laundry to include:

Shredding :

Cut your fabric into small pieces, which are easier to decompose when scattered in the compost bin.

Remove non-biodegradable materials :

These materials include zippers, buttons, labels, synthetic fabric decorations, etc. 


You can easily convert softer fabrics into cleaning cloths. This saves money, keeps the house clean, and can do the right thing by reusing old clothes. I put the recyclable cotton fabric under the sink so that I can use it like a “bar mop” when cleaning after meals. I use a DIY cleaning solution and microfiber cloth to wipe the surface.

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