Did you know that people only wear 20% of our closet, 80% of the time? When you’re ready to downsize your wardrobe to the things you actually wear, what’s the best way to get rid of old clothes that you’ve loved so much?
When you’d prefer to see your old clothes go to a good home and not straight to the trash, check out this list of where to sell, swap, donate and recycle your old clothes.
Where to Sell, Recycle and Donate Your Old Clothes:
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Where to Sell Your Clothes
If you have quite a few name brand clothes or items that are still in very good condition, you can go to for-profit secondhand stores and apps like Poshmark, Shopify, Buffalo Exchange, eBay, Platos, or some local consignment shops. Selling your clothes is a quick and easy way to earn a little cash, but you can kick it old school and host a garage sale.
Go to or Host a Clothing Swap Party
A clothing swap party is where everyone attending brings an agreed-upon items of clothing or accessories from their own closet. This is great even after you purge and you just want to rotate a few specific items out.
Clothing swaps are great because you’re getting ahead of spring cleaning, and, if you add some wine, it even feels like a chic or eclectic party depending on your friends. Once the swap is over, you’re probably going to have leftover clothes that just didn’t find a new owner. When in doubt, donate!
Where to Donate Clothes
We do not discourage any form of donation, but it’s good to know all your options. When a big bag of donated clothing is dropped off at a thrift shop, or even if you used a clothing donation pick up service, not all of it is sold, recycled, or even put out on the shelves.
To ensure your items are going to be sold or recycled, we encourage you to find charitable organizations or clothing drives that take specific items. Your clothing may fit someone better in a particular niche charity rather than a generic one. Goodwill is obviously a well-known fall back for donating most of your goods, so no one really has any reason not to donate clothing. But by spreading your clothes to charities seeking your items, your kind donation will go a lot further.
Does Goodwill Recycle Clothes?
Yes, they do! Clothing that isn’t able to be sold in Goodwill’s thrift stores is sent to a textile recycler. If you’re looking for a donation center that does the most good for the community and the environment, we highly recommend donating your clothes to Goodwill, since Goodwill does recycle clothes.
Clothing Donation Bins
Before you go and google “clothes donation bin near me”, you should know that not all clothing donation bins are operated by or for charities. Some of the clothes donation bins you’ll find in your area might actually be operated for a for-profit organization with a charitable-sounding name. It’s always best to stick to the clothes donation bins that clearly state the name of a reputable charity, like The Salvation Army or the American Kidney Fund.
Men and Women’s Work Clothing
You can donate men’s business clothing to Career Gear and donate women’s business clothing to Dress for Success. Both have multiple locations in the United States. They are known for not only helping people find the right outfit but also for ensuring they have what they need to prosper in the professional world.
Men’s suits are welcome at Career Gear, but if you’re hard-pressed to find a location near you, Men’s Wearhouse has an annual Suit Drive where they accept gently used professional attire to support nonprofit organizations like Dress for Success and Career Gear.
Looking in your closets, you are likely to find two or three dress shirts, trousers, skirts or dresses that you haven’t worn or needed for years. Don’t let the “what if” drag down spreading the love. These items obviously haven’t worked for you in a while, so donate business attire that could help someone else on their path to success.
Gently Used Bras
Donating lightly worn bras to the right charity is important as a large portion of general thrift stores don’t sell bras, meaning the majority received are just tossed, defeating the purpose of donating. No good points for anyone. A few bra donation organizations you should look into are I Support the Girls, Free the Girls, The Bra Recyclers, and Donate Your Bra.
Another great way to donate lightly used bras are by contacting local domestic violence shelters or homeless shelters and ask if they accept bra donations. It’ll most likely be a yes as many people aren’t aware of how hard it is to come by bras in donations.
Donating Wedding Dresses
Donating a wedding dress saves another bride a notable chunk of their wedding budget. Purchasing a worn wedding dress can save money for a bride anywhere between $200 to $1500. Talk about women empowering other women. ✊ A few places that accept worn wedding dresses are Brides Across America, Adorned in Grace, Brides Against Breast Cancer, Cherie Amour by Success in Style, and the Brides Project.
Obviously, the idea of a wedding dress is for brides to (hopefully) only wear it once. Some are more sentimental than others and want to hold on to theirs, others see no point doing so and instead decide to help another girl out with getting to say yes to the dress.
Prom and Formal Dresses
Throughout your life, you’re bound to get put through a few formal events. You might love them, others might hate them, but we all have one thing to remind us of that ceremony: the overpriced outfit. Just get rid of them. You know you’re never going to wear them again. A few places to donate your prom dress or suit to are Operation Prom, the Cinderella Project, The Princess Project, Priceless Gown Project, Every Girl’s Dream, and Project G.L.A.M.
During the holidays, many coat drives pop up in well known retail stores like J. Crew or Burlington Coat Factory, where they’ll give you a discount in return for your old coat donation. You should also check out One Warm Coat to see if you can find a drive near you, or you could even host a coat drive yourself.
The right shoe can do anything, from saving someone’s life to landing a job. If you have any that are collecting dust, check out donating your shoes to From the Sole, Soles4Soles, One World Running, The Shoe Bank, or Green Sneakers. If your shoes aren’t in great condition, you can always have them picked up for eco-friendly disposal, too.
Kids grow like weeds – crazy fast. Help keep a child in clothes that fit them correctly by donating your kid’s gently used clothes to the right charity. You’ve probably heard that Salvation Army and Goodwill accept gently loved toys, kid’s clothing, and old baby items. You can also look into hospitals, shelters, churches, and children’s homes or foundations like the Orphan Life Foundation, Room to Grow, Baby2Baby, and Clothes for Kids.
More from the Trash Talk Blog: Are you ready for a little competition with yourself? Challenge yourself and do The 40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge: Give up Your Mess! ❯
Where and How to Recycle Clothes
Now, this is very important. Please do not donate the worst in your closet. You know, the clothing or accessory you wouldn’t even want your mother, grandma, or loved one borrowing or even seeing. Before tossing these items, triple-check the ways that you can recycle them.
If you don’t know what to do with old clothes that cannnot be donated, recycling them is your next most eco-friendly bet to ensure you do the most good.
Did you ask, “But why?” C’mon. Did we miss something, or do we all live on the same planet? We’re trying to keep the environment alive and well. Thanks to “fast fashion,” the U.S. alone contributes to about 21 billion pounds of textile waste to landfills each year. Did you know leather shoes can take up to 40 years to decompose? If you’re shocked by that, rubber-boot soles can take up to 80 years! Nylon fabrics can take 30-40 years to break down, and wool clothing can take up to 5 years. Even cotton can take up to 3 months to break down. So, let’s work together by diverting clothing from landfills for as long as we can.
🚮 Want to know how long it takes other garbage to decompose? Learn more here!
Upcycling your clothing, which is creatively reusing old textiles, is useful for not only reducing waste in your home, but it saves you money. One example of upcycling is through reusing cotton t-shirts to make fabulous cleaning rags. Get creative with it and cut them into squares or other shapes for things like cleaning, napkins with crazy designs, or tie-dye hankies. There’s no limit to the creative things you can make!
Composting is the process of making a heap of wet organic matter, also known as green waste, out of leaves, grass, food scraps, and other organic materials. Some people choose to do this at home to lower their waste and reduce their environmental footprint. If your clothes are made from natural textures and fibers like cotton, wool, silk, etc., you can compost them.
Recycling Clothing and Textiles
Textile recycling is when textiles are salvaged from old clothing and then recovered for reuse depending on a number of things like durability. Some for-profit companies like H&M and Levi Strauss & Co. encourage customers to bring back old clothes to their retail locations, so they can be reused or recycled. This isn’t exactly the best option, just cause the clothes often are sold internationally and only a small portion of the money will go to benefiting the needy.
Book Eco-Friendly Clothing Disposal Pickup
If you’re getting rid of old clothes and you don’t want to deal with finding the right charity or don’t have the time to recycle each item properly, you can always depend on an eco-friendly junk removal company to pick up your old clothing bags.
There are so many benefits of getting a junk removal company, but if you value being environmentally conscious, it’s important to pick a company like LoadUp. We believe in eco-friendly disposal methods, strive to recycle when possible or finds the next best, greenest alternative when disposing of old clothes, wardrobes and dressers, and more. Once you schedule an appointment, our Loaders pick up each and every bag of clothing whether it’s a luxury in-home pickup or a convenient curbside pickup.
While you’re doing this, consider allowing your decluttering frenzy to extend over to other household items. Getting rid of old recliners, unused exercise equipment, or household junk is very similar to clothes as it can be all be sold, recycled, donated, or hauled away.
Trade Consumer Habits for Sustainable Shopping
Whether you’ve experienced the KonMari power or not, everyone needs to get rid of old clothes eventually. It’s a wonderful way to unburden yourself from clothes of the past that you subconsciously retired yet have held on to for way too long.
However, once you’ve gotten rid of all your old clothes, you might eventually get a need or itch to go shopping. In order to stop the vicious cycle, we need to stop purchasing clothes every season just to fit in the latest craze. Don’t lose all the progress you have made by decluttering and donating!
Keep minimizing your closet and check out ways to maintain an environmentally-conscious lifestyle through shopping sustainably! There are plenty of bloggers that show ways to make a million outfits out of a very limited closet, also known as a capsule wardrobe. It’s possible and actually pretty easy once you get the right basics.
Does the declutter bug have you doing more than clothes? Learn how to get rid of anything!
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