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How to Recycle Old Clothes to Give Them a Second Life

Got a lot of clothes you don’t wear anymore? Don’t chuck them out! Instead, learn to repair, prepare and recycle old clothes with our guide.


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Most of us are probably guilty of having too many clothes, and of not wearing half of the ones we do have; or throwing them away when our style changes. But is that really the best way to deal with old clothes? Definitely not!

Clothes recycling is a much better answer to how to get rid of the old items in your wardrobe. Whether they’re faded, ripped, or you just don’t wear them anymore, they’ll always be useful to someone else, making chucking them away completely unnecessary. To help you recycle your old clothes, here’s everything you need to know.

Keep a good quality detergent, such as Surf Liquid Detergent in your cupboard at all times so that you can clean the items you’re taking to the clothes recycling points.

Repairs and DIY Old Clothes

If you want to donate old clothes, but you have items with rips, tears, and missing components, don’t throw them away! Instead, get a little crafty and do some DIY to fix them. It won’t take long, and it’s worth it for the benefits clothes recycling has.

  • When it comes to DIY, old clothes don’t always need much to repair them. If a pair of jeans has a rip, you can either sew it up, cut them into a shorter style, or sew on a patch to cover the hole.

  • Recycle old clothes with missing buttons by making it a fashion statement, replacing those that are missing with funky, contrasting design.

  • If a shirt has frayed sleeves, simply cut them down and hem the edges to make a short-sleeved top or a vest.

Be creative with your solutions, looking at how you can fix an item of clothing rather than chucking it away, so that someone new can love it.

Preparing to Recycle Old Clothes

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Before you head down to the charity shops or, if there is one in your area, a clothes recycling bin, you need to learn how to recycle old clothes properly so that they can be used again. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Repair any damage using the advice above.

  2. Wash the clothes using a quality detergent, such as Surf Liquid Detergent, to make sure they’re clean.

  3. Check the pockets for any old junk or items that you forget you’d put in them.

  4. Pack the clothes into bags you don’t mind leaving behind, such as big bin bags.

Places to Recycle Clothes

When it comes to recycling clothes, ideas of where to actually donate or drop them off are often the thing that holds people back. Here are some places you might be able to go:

  • Charity shops and centers often accept old clothing.

  • H&M has begun to bring their clothing recycling initiative to areas such as The Dubai Mall, Mall of The Emirates, and City Centre Deira, so find out if your local branch accept clothing donations.

  • Emirates Red Crescent often put out clothing donation boxes, particularly during Ramadan, so save up your clothes until you find one in your local area.

  • Use Facebook groups and Freecycle to give away your old clothing for free.

Once you’ve got plenty of recycling clothing ideas for repairing damage, and you know how to prepare your clothes for donations and where to drop them, there really is no excuse for throwing them out! Learning how to recycle old clothes really is easy. Make an even bigger difference by spreading what you now know with your friends and family, and let’s all do our best to make a positive change.

  • Repair old damage to clothes by getting creative rather than chucking them out.

  • Use Surf Liquid Detergent to clean items before donating them.

  • Find out where you can recycle old clothes in your local area.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on recycling old clothes

How can you recycle old clothes into something completely new?

There are some super simple and fun ways to upcycle or recycle old clothes into something new. Got an old over-sized shirt? These make a perfect DIY apron with a little bit of alteration. If you’re into knitting or crochet, old t-shirts can be cut up and used as yarn to make a chunky fruit bowl, foot pouffe and more. You can even turn old jeans into the ultimate eco-friendly bag for life. If you can dream it up, you’ll probably find there is a way to turn your old clothes into it.

Where can you donate old clothes in the Philippines?

If you’re wondering where to donate old clothes in the Philippines, we’ve got you covered. There are a number of great charities who will gladly accept your donations. For example, Uniqlo stores provide non-government organizations with clothing to distribute to refugees; Segunda Mana is a non-profit organization who help under-privileged youth; and Precious Heritage Children’s Homes help orphans and more who are in need. You can also donate to places such as Goodwill, Red Cross, and Abot PH.

How else can you style your old clothes?

If you want to learn how to style your old clothes to wear them in new and exciting ways, here are a few ideas for you. With just a little bit of imagination and a few tools you can completely transform any outfit. For basic changes, add an accessory like a belt. For more exciting changes, create an upcycling toolbox with needles, thread, dye, and any other embellishments such as buttons and ribbon. Basic adaptations could include turning up the hem on skirts and dresses to turn maxi styles into mini styles, swapping a zip on an old cardigan for buttons or simply changing one set of plain buttons to pretty patterned or brightly coloured ones. For a more extravagant change, why not consider changing the colour of your clothing with dye. You could swap to a different solid colour or even try your hand at tie dye.

Originally published