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How to Reuse or Recycle Old Clothes

Updated on February 12, 2018
hsschulte profile image

I love to share my favorite patterns on the web for people out there who like making things as much as I do!

Reuse Old Clothes

Sweater Reuse
Sweater Reuse

Recycled Crafts to Turn Old Clothes into New Items

Long ago, people used leaves and hides for clothes. People eventually learned to weave cloth from natural fibers such as wool and cotton, but clothing was hard to replace. People took care of their clothes and reused them to make new things when they had outworn their usefulness.

In the early 1900s, factories began making cloth using chemicals rather than natural fibers. We call these chemical fabrics "synthetic fabrics." These synthetic fabrics, such as rayon, polyester, and spandex are so affordable and readily available that we stopped conserving them. People today have many more clothes and throw them away when they no longer want them.

Recent statistics estimate that 700,000 tons of fabric end up in the landfills each year! We all have old clothes that we no longer wear, with a little inspiration, we can reuse old clothes to make something usable! Browse the collection of recycled crafts below for ideas.

Recycling Old Clothes

Handy Tips and Hints to Recycle Used Clothing

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of waste we produced from 1980 to 2005, increased 60 percent. Many of us are doing our part and trying to reduce our waste by composting and recycling. It is a commitment and we are rising to the challenge, shunning our old wasteful habits, but there is always more to learn as recycling doesn't seem to be instinctive to most of us.

Don't forget to recycle your old clothes! Instead of throwing them away consider:

1. Giving them to someone you know.

2. Giving them to charity.

3. Hosting a clothing exchange party with your friends.

4. Consigning them to earn some cash.

5. Cutting them up and use them for rags to clean your home.

6. Make one of the really cool and unique crafts to reuse old clothes listed here!

Reuse Old Sweaters to Make a Quilt - Easy Directions to Make a Quilt from Old Sweaters

Recycled Sweater Quilt

A beautiful quilt made from old sweaters:

1. Cut the sweaters into squares.

2. Use a sewing machine to stitch the square together.

3. Sew backing on the sweater squares and hand stitch around the edge for a beautiful finished quilt.

How to Reuse or Recycle Clothes to Make a Quilt

Eco Craft Upcycle Project Ideas from

Tote from a Tank

tank top tote bag
tank top tote bag

A Tank Top into a Tote

This craft project promises to make quick and easy work of creating a tote from an old tank top. Simply sew the bottom of the tank closed using a machine, then embellish the tank with fabric paint. The instructions give other cute ideas for tote decorating.

Tank Top into a Tote

Scarf from a Sweater

Recycled Wool Sweater Scarf
Recycled Wool Sweater Scarf

Sweater Scarf from a Recycled Wool Sweater

One More Way to Reuse old Clothes You Love

Teens will love this craft. If you have a sweater that is loved, perhaps it is just the right color, or goes great with a certain jacket, what do you do when you can't wear it anymore? Make it into this trendy hooded sweater scarf. They are stylish and it is the perfect solution when that favorite sweater gets a hole, because it allows you to keep wearing it! Super way to recycle a wool sweater, I made one from a beloved Merino wool sweater.

Recycled Sweater Hooded Scarf

T-Shirt Quilt

Quilt made out of reused t-shirts
Quilt made out of reused t-shirts

Reuse Old T-Shirts to Make a Quilt

How to Reuse Old Clothes as a Quilt

If you are like me and you still have clothes from high-school, this is a great way to put them to use and clear out your closet. Make them into something you can use... a Quilt. Pure genius and this looks so amazing with the right border.

Reuse Old T-Shirts to Make a Quilt

How to Make a Dress from an Old T-shirt - Reuse Old Clothes to Make New Clothes :)

Here is a quick Youtube video that explains how to make a dress from an old tshirt. The t-shirt can have logos on it, as long as the logo doesn't show through to the opposite side. Also, avoid old t-shirts with stains or holes.

Pillow Made from an Old T-Shirt

Another perfect use for an old t-shirt that you can't bare to part with, but has seen better days. That t-shirt may have a hole, or no longer be in style, but it will still make a perfect pillow.

T-Shirt Pillow

Placemats from Clothes

Reuse or Recycle Old Clothes to Make a Placemat
Reuse or Recycle Old Clothes to Make a Placemat

Placemats and Napkins

Recycle Sheets or Table Clothes to Make New Table Wear

Old Sheets, or table clothes that are worn can be transformed into placemats and napkins for your table. Any clothing that you wish to reuse or recycle can be made into placemats, but old sheets and table clothes usually have enough yardage to make matching sets. Just cut any seams or worn parts of the fabric off and use as you would use new material. You'll also need some bias tape and a sewing machine.

How to Make Placemats and Napkins

Reuse Denim for Fabric Roses

Make a Fabric Rose
Make a Fabric Rose

Have You Ever Considered Making Fabric Roses?

Reuse Old Clothes to Make a Fabric Rose

The rose in the photo was made using old blue jeans, but you can make a fabric rose from any type of fabric. All you need is a pair of scissors and some craft glue. Fabric roses are very quick and easy to make. A perfect craft for a young girl.

How to Make a Fabric Rose

A Wreath Made from Scraps

A holiday wreath make from old clothing scraps in select colors can put your old clothes to good use and help you decorate for the holidays at the same time.

Holiday Wreath from Reused Old Clothes

Glad Rags

Recycle or Reuse Old Clothes to Make Glad Rags
Recycle or Reuse Old Clothes to Make Glad Rags

Reuse Old Clothes to Make Glad Rags

Another Practical Way to Reuse Old Clothes

This may seem out of the ordinary to some, but if you have greened your life to the point that you've given up everything disposable, glad rags are a must for women. You can recycle any old cotton clothes, towels, or rags in your home to make glad rags. Cotton tends to be the most absorbent of all materials, so it's a good idea to consider the type of fabric you are using before making these.

How to Make Glad Rags

Latch Hook rug from T-Shirts

Latch Hook Rug from T-shirts
Latch Hook Rug from T-shirts

T-Shirt Latch Hook Rug

Here is another rug that can be made from t-shirts, but it doesn't require sewing. Do you remember those latch hook kits that you used to buy at the store? Well, this is the same idea except instead of yarn, we use t-shirts.

Laura has a very detailed explanation of how she made this latch hook rug on her blog. I've seen it done other places, but other instructions were not so detailed. Laura dyed the fabric the color she wanted before starting and made a very large rug.

This recycled t-shirt project appeals to me for 3 reasons: First, who doesn't have old t-shirts that they need to get rid of? Second, can't we all use extra rugs? Third, there is no sewing. Hooray!

Latch Hook Rug from Old T-shirts

You'll Find More Amazing Ideas to Reuse Old Clothes in These Books

If you enjoyed the idea of reusing old clothes, you'll find lots of inspiration in these craft reuse books from

TShirt into a Handbag

What do YOU do with Your Old Clothes?

See results

Tell us what you think of reusing old clothes.

© 2010 hsschulte

Do YOU have More Ideas to Reuse Clothes?

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    • profile image

      343 2 years ago

      Really interesting.

    • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image

      OUTFOXprevention1 4 years ago

      Great info! We are so wasteful sometimes. People need to start being ok with reusing things more.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      Great ideas for re-purposing clothing, many of which I have done. I never thought of a purse with my undies, though, oh my!

    • M Teubert profile image

      M Teubert 4 years ago

      Great ideas! I reuse everything. You can see some of my ideas on my lens We all live in a disposable world :) I'm adding you to my list of relevant lenses!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      We are specializing in textile reyclcing machine. These machines could recycle the waste into fiber. The fiber could be used for filling the funature, open end spin, medical cotton etc. It will take instand of new cotton sometimes. My email:

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 4 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Wonderful and creative ideas here! I would love the t-shirt quilt or old sweater pillows for myself or for gifts. Wish I could sew...better learn one of these days to make these cool items.

    • MaxMunch06 profile image

      MaxMunch06 4 years ago

      Cool ideas! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      You could make pets clothes that is another thing I do

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 5 years ago

      There's a lot of great ideas here. Great lens!!

    • billiboy profile image

      billiboy 5 years ago

      We Recycle Old Clothes but your´s butifule.

    • profile image

      laurenrich 5 years ago

      Great ideas. I will try several of them for myself. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      JackThompson21 5 years ago

      No ideas here... you pretty much covered everything!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 5 years ago

      Wonderful ideas you have :)

    • profile image

      ErnestGregorski 5 years ago

      This lens is stellar! Nice job :)

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      I save the snaps, clips, and buttons to use in crafts and use the cotton cloth for household rags. My husband keeps an assortment of old clothing to use as patches for his work clothes.

    • dawnsnewbeginning profile image

      dawnsnewbeginning 5 years ago

      Full of great ideas!

    • TarahFlesch profile image

      TarahFlesch 5 years ago

      Very nice lens!! :)

    • IssacAlouf profile image

      IssacAlouf 5 years ago

      Love this :D

    • AllPurchasingSo profile image

      AllPurchasingSo 5 years ago

      This is great! Here at All Purchasing Solutions we began thinking the same thing and here we are with our own wholesale used clothing company :) Check us out if you have a chance

    • profile image

      GabrieleRatley 5 years ago

      Superb information, thanks!

    • profile image

      adrianjohnstone 5 years ago

      Great lens, thanks for sharing!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      You just gave me a couple really good ideas for creating shopping bags out of my old clothing. Thank so much - you really are a great help.

    • LonnieMahajan profile image

      LonnieMahajan 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • HomeDecorKnight profile image

      HomeDecorKnight 5 years ago

      Amazing! interesting idea about using of old cloth.

    • profile image

      AmyEbbinghouse 5 years ago

      Working on a crochet t shirt rug right now- the latch hook one is my next project- have a bunch to make for Christmas gifts! Nice lens!

    • profile image

      kawasts 5 years ago

      awesome tutorial

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      its a great idea that i do @home too, 100% cotton shirts are great for splattering bleach on, trust me its way cool!!!!

    • TheGourmetCoffe profile image

      TheGourmetCoffe 5 years ago

      Great ideas for clothes recycling. Old towels definitely are something we recycle and enjoy until the last thread! Thank you for sharing. Also "liked" your lens!

    • AskPat profile image

      AskPat 5 years ago

      Love the ideas! Thanks for sharing!

    • beamee profile image

      beamee 5 years ago

      You give me an idea. Thank you!!!

    • profile image

      DecoratingMom411 5 years ago

      I haven't really thought of making some of these from old clothes. These are great ideas, plus you get to recycle too which is always a good thing.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      Great ideas here! Love the sweater quilt and the rag rugs! Super lens and kudos for making the upcycling monsterboard!

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Good ideas for the favorite clothes you just can fit any more!

    • profile image

      gradientcat 5 years ago

      Great ideas, next time I have some old clothes, I'm going to consider a re-use project.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Great idea! Now I know what happens to the clothes I donate to Goodwill. Squid Angel blessed.

    • profile image

      sherioz 5 years ago

      These are wonderful ideas. I usually give my old clothes to a charity bazaar - and sometimes pick up something "new" there as well. But the possibility to use them myself for something is something to think about.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      A lot of great Ideas. Thanks. We lost my husbands nana in December and we didn't know what to do with her clothing as my mother in law did not want to donate it. I was given the task of doing quilts told my mother in law that it would be to much for me to make quilts for every one. I am going to make pillows for the adults and older kids and then for the 7 younger ones I will be making teddy bears. I found that on I think it was.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      a lot of great idea how to use an old clothes

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @LouisaDembul: I do that w/the cheap fabric remnants bought from Walmart for cents. Mostly Barbies, but occasionally enough to make a curtain, tablecloth, and even clothes (real & dress-up) for my toddler nieces. I do get aggravated at the sewing machine and my lack of know-how on it, occasionally, but would be interested in ANY pattern-type ideas for doll clothes (even baby doll) or little girl sz 5 & 6s, etc....Thanks!

    • profile image

      freeelectricity101 6 years ago

      Awesome! I love this lens!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      Lots of good tips here how to recycle old clothes. We often make clothes for the dolls from old clothes.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Recycling is the way to go! Love your ideas to reuse and recycle old clothes.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Recycling is the way to go! Love your ideas to reuse and recycle old clothes.

    • profile image

      lensesbyjames 6 years ago

      Instead of giving away clothes these are some great alternatives.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      Fantastic ideas for reusing old clothes. I was just reading a pet rat lens (I have a pet rat) about reusing old clothes to make fabric levels and hammocks for the cage.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I love recyling lenses. You have provided a number of interesting ideas here that I think I can use. Thank you.

      Angel blessed.

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 6 years ago

      I'm preparing a lens of my own on how to create new things from clothes. Especially for mending. Since finding replacement buttons is hard and expensive, I visit my local Good Will and find a shirt/coat for a matching button I need! I felt brilliant when I spent $3 instead of $6 for a button pack! Then, I used the access material to make a craft item! YaY. Great ideas. Angel Blessed!

    • profile image

      leeleon 6 years ago

      i like u lens.i have some ideas to reuse eggshells. welcome to see it

    • profile image

      Traceeshobbies 6 years ago

      I love this idea and can't wait to get started!

    • profile image

      Tamara14 6 years ago

      So many great ideas for me here, thanks! I usually give all my kid's too small clothes to people I know who have kids younger than mine, but those reusing ideas such as totes, jar covers etc. are just to tempting. I'll try some of them for sure. Blessed!

    • profile image

      howtosewadress 6 years ago

      Learning how to sew a dress is very easy. The only tricky part in learning this skill is learning how to draft a pattern. But once you have learned the techniques in pattern making, it is quite easy to learn how to sew.

    • krakensquid profile image

      krakensquid 6 years ago

      Fantastic lens!

    • profile image

      phoenix3423 6 years ago

      loved your lens had a ton of great ideas even if I do not think I am green enough to try the pads lol! think making the dress out of t shirt for daughter

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      read a good lens about making purses out of jeans. squidlike your lens as it's a great source of ideas.

    • safereview profile image

      Bob 6 years ago from Kansas City

      Great lens - thanks.

    • profile image

      kongdan123 6 years ago

      so many baby's winter coats

      , i am hunting for some clothes for my new baby!

    • profile image

      Alexander09 6 years ago

      In present pollution is big problem. This idea save world maybe not complete but "long journey start with one single step".

      Golf Clothes

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hey I have reviewed your squidoo lens and I really liked it. Because of this I went ahead and âlikeâ you on squidoo. Giving your lens another like.

      When you have time, please take a look at my lens. It is located at

      If you like my lens, please add a like to my lens as well. I am new to squidoo and I would appreciate any comments at all.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I thought only i am thinking in these terms

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You make all of these crafty ideas look so fun! If I was the least bit artistic I would for sure try them out!

    • JodiFromFlorida profile image

      JodiFromFlorida 6 years ago

      Another amazing lens!

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 6 years ago

      Impressive lens, thumbs up

    • orange3 lm profile image

      orange3 lm 6 years ago

      I'm always trying to make something out of our old clothes that are too tattered to be given away. You gave me some great new ideas. Thank you.

    • MeganShoop profile image

      MeganShoop 6 years ago

      Shredded t-shirts are some of my favorite projects; I love combining different colors to create ruffles and stuff, too.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I just cut up a pair of socks and made a woven potholder from them. Great ideas here, Heather!

    • lucybrz1 profile image

      lucybrz1 6 years ago

      I made mittens for winter using old sweater an top. Actually they are quite warm, just they mustn't get wet. No playing in the snow :-(

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      I have made quilts with old clothes. I love the t-shirt latchhook rug and the old sweater into mittens.

    • profile image

      Runnn 6 years ago

      Thanks for recycling. Great ideas. Well done.

    • AngelDey profile image

      AngelDey 6 years ago

      I've been looking for ways to keep my son's old shirts that don't fit him anymore. A lot of them are really bright and still in good condition and I just don't want to give them away. I love the quilt idea for them. That way we get to keep the images (especially since some are tourist shirts) and use them too! Thanks.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      Great collection of ideas. Blessed! :)

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 6 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Wonderful ideas on reusing clothes. I reuse a lot of stuff and give the rest away.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What wonderful examples you share here to inspire us all. I especially like the old sweater turned into mittens and so easy to do!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I've crocheted fabric rag rugs, but the latch hook rug looks really enticing. It also looks like it takes a long time to make; I'd probably hate for people to step on it. ha

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 6 years ago from USA

      When my son was about 8, he made one of his outgrown t-shirts (featuring a fishing theme) into a pillow for his grandpa. What a treasure!!! Grandpa used it every single day and it is a great memory of when my son was much smaller!

      Great ideas!

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Along the lines of glad rags are making diapers or diaper covers, and family cloth. If garment is still useable and not stained or worn out, I will usually give it to someone who can use it. But, when it gets past the point of being wearable, then it should be made into something else.

    • Suze05 LM profile image

      Suze05 LM 6 years ago

      Great ideas! I'm always giving bags of clothes to Good Will and the American Vets Thrift Store..but I love the idea of making rag rugs and pillows and stuff out of them..and those glad rags are a great idea.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I love this lens! I give away some of my old clothes but a few choice items, I'll keep and make a pillow or potholders or whatever I think of. Love all the new ideas you give like rugs and piano quilt! Lensrolled to my Free Stuff lens.

    • FunkyJewelleryUK profile image

      FunkyJewelleryUK 6 years ago

      Great lens! All of my jewellery is made out of recycled products or everyday objects too. Great and interesting lens! :)

    • Homelust profile image

      Homelust 6 years ago

      excellent topic for spring!

    • Anahid LM profile image

      Anahid LM 6 years ago

      Hi wish you a happy Easter Annai Great idea to use old clothes, I use some as dust cloth or rags to clean the floors.

    • profile image

      Andy-Po 6 years ago

      Excellent recycling ideas.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Excellent ideas for recycling old clothes. I've made cute purses out of fabric placemats and old jeans but will have to try some of these craft ideas. Lensrolling to my lens Recycling at Home - Beyond Bottles and Cans.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What great ideas! I really enjoyed this lens. I'll have to see if I can find my old latch hook because I'd love to try making one of those rag rugs.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 7 years ago from Canada

      What a wonderful lens. Being raised in the country I have recycled clothing for as long as I can remember.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these creative ideas.For old clothes, like vintage silk shift dresses, I would shorten these and update the look with a wide belts.

      Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image

      DonMcCyclist1 7 years ago

      I've made covers for pocket memo pads out of cardboard scraps covered with cloth from worn out clothes. All it takes is some white glue and once it dries you have the stiffness of the cardboard and the texture and color of the cloth--almost as good as binding your own hardback book!

    • Jack2205 profile image

      Jack 7 years ago

      Great ideas. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 7 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: Virginia, I very much want to read your mother's book. I need to stop and take the time to buy it. :) She has so much experience to share that I enjoy.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      You have a great series going with repurposing clothing, blue jeans and paper. Very helpful.

      I'm inspired to go update my lens about Green Living in the 1930s about my mother's memories of recycling.

    • priscillab profile image

      priscillab 7 years ago

      Love these ideas! I think I want to try doing a rug. I have done a tshirt pillow, turned an old pair of jeans into a skirt. Oh, also love the wreath idea. Great ideas. I usually donate old clothing but the ones that are not good for donating are great for the rug idea. Thanks for this lens!!

    • Anahid LM profile image

      Anahid LM 7 years ago

      Hi Great lens for old clothes use,or recycle. It is great to read about t shirt rugs. Thank you great job. anna

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 7 years ago from So Cal

      I like this. First, it is useful information that I find very helpful but am not doing the purse. Secondly, it is well put together and has very clear instructions on all the projects. Angel Blessed. Great job!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 7 years ago

      Great advice

    • profile image

      WorldVisionary 7 years ago

      Great idea for a lens!

    • MoonandMagic profile image

      MoonandMagic 7 years ago

      liked and rolled, great lens.

    • profile image

      Craftybegonia 7 years ago

      I love the fabri flowers and thought that those mittens out of an old sweater were an ingenious idea! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Joan4 7 years ago

      I'd love to learn to make fabric flowers. I need to study that idea!

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 7 years ago

      Some great ideas. I usually give clothes, especially those of our daughter, to our cleaning lady.

    • MirandaBrooks LM profile image

      MirandaBrooks LM 7 years ago

      I think I am going to try the CLothes into Quilt one, it sounds interesting and fun, thank you for the wonderful ideas!

    • draik profile image

      draik 7 years ago

      You have gave me a good idea on using old clothes to make a rag. Thanks so much,