What to do with old clothes?

A peek in the average British wardrobe will confirm that we’re living in increasingly throwaway times. In the UK around 336,000 tonnes of our unwanted clothing gets thrown away every single year. Which? discovered that the average UK household owns about £4,000 worth of clothing, a third of which hasn’t been worn for over a year!

As the ‘haul culture’ continues to grow in popularity and the rise of low-cost retailers competing with various, tempting offers, it’s no surprise the British public are hooked on fast fashion. But it’s not sustainable.

It’s inevitable that on occasion you’ll fall out of love with your clothes. Perhaps a change in body shape means the garment no longer fits like it used to, your children have simply grown out of them, or fashion no longer permits this item to be deemed ‘in’.

Whatever your reasons, before giving your clothes the heave-ho, consider whether they could be reused in some way or another. Below are some of our top suggestions on how you can ensure your old clothes do not end up on the landfill pile.

Sell them

You could potentially be sitting on a heap of cash if you have a wardrobe crammed full of clothes that you never wear. Selling online has never been easier with an abundance of apps and services allowing us to earn cash from our unwanted clothes, instantly. Save the Student has put together a list of some of their best options, as well as some top tips to help you start raking in the cash.

Give them to high street shops

There are now plenty of high street stores including H&M and Marks & Spencer hosting ‘shwop’ boxes to pop your donations in. Your donations will then be dealt within one of three ways:

  • sold as second-hand
  • reused to turn into other items or
  • recycled


Donate them to charity

The UK already donates around a third of its unwanted clothes to charity. Not only is it green and helping to save our planet, but your unwanted items could be loved again by someone else. Bag them up and hand to a local charity to turn into life-changing cash. Not sure where to take them? Simply visit Charity Retail Association who’ll be able to provide you with a list of retail outlets within a five-mile distance of your location.

If you’re unable to drop off your items very easily, then many charities such as the British Heart Foundation offer free collections instead.

Bring them back to life

Sometimes all you need to fall in love again is to add a little bit of sparkle or colour to bring the piece of clothing back to life. ACE for Colours has been specially formulated to remove the toughest of stains and yet gentle enough on even the most delicate clothes such as silk, wool and even cashmere. It’s the original ACE fabric stain remover that makes all fabric colours shine.

Swap them

For those preferring the idea of a wardrobe refresh without spending a penny, then consider attending – or even hosting – a clothes swapping (known as ‘swishing’) event. It’s the easy way to update your wardrobe and the best bits: it’s guilt-free and fantastic for the environment. Find your nearest swishing event(s) here.

Upcycle them

From adding flowers and using iron-on hem tape to making cut-out lace shapes, to shaping an old scarf into a wrap and cutting an old maxi dress to make a colourful summer dress, there are numerous things you could do with your old clothing to give them a new lease of life. Take a look at BuzzFeed’s ‘No sew ways to transform your clothes for the summer’.

Drama groups / schools

You may not have the time to spruce up your old clothing, but local drama groups and schools may want those in good condition to use and adapt for costumes in amateur dramatic performances or school plays.


Recycle with your local council

If you can’t fix, upcycle, sell, share or donate your unwanted clothing items, they can still go into a textile recycling bank. Socks, pants, even old curtains can all be reused some way or another. To find out about some of your nearest recycling options, use the Love Your Clothes recycling locator.

What do you do with your old clothes? Do you do something we’ve not mentioned? If so, please share your ideas with us at @ACECleanUK on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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