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 Home > blankets > New Uses for Old Clothes
New Uses for Old Clothes

Clothes which are too old, stained or torn to be suitable donations to a thrift shop don't have to be relegated to the landfill! Practically all of the textiles used in clothing and household furnishings are reusable. We find a new use for old clothes and textiles which is one more environmentally-friendly step we can take toward preserving our natural resources.

Donate for Recycling
While thrift shops prefer that donations they receive are in usable condition, some secondhand outlets will accept donations of unwearable clothing, which they sell to textile brokers. These textiles are cut into large and small pieces, bundled and sold as cleaning rags to consumers and industry, or recycled into new products such as paper, blankets, car insulation, furniture padding and plastic fencing. Ask your local Goodwill store or thrift shop if they accept donations for textile recycling before unloading your worn out old clothes on them! Textiles must be clean and dry and free from mildew, before donation, or they may end up in a landfill anyway.

Make Your Own Cleaning Rags
This one is pretty obvious, I guess. Cut away the worn sections and use the good sections for cleaning rags. Soft old cotton T-shirts make absorbent polishing cloths, or slip an old tube sock over your hand for a dusting mitten. I find thermal fabrics (old long johns) make excellent dusting rags; the little waffles trap and hold the dust better than a smooth cloth. Just be sure to cut up hubby's raggedy old T's and long johns before you put them in the rag bag, because he will dig them out and wear them again.

Bedding for Pets
Use old blankets, comforters, towels, or bed linens as bedding for your own pet, or donate them to a local animal shelter or animal rescue agency.

Ground Covers
Old rugs and blankets make great ground covers for picnics or at sandy beaches. My hubby uses my old rugs and blankets to lay on the ground when he's working underneath the vehicle, or lays them over the side of the car when he's working on the engine, to prevent scratching the car's finish.

Creative Projects
A loose seam or missing button is easily repaired to make the garment wearable again, but tears or stains are another matter. Disguise small stains with a patch or applique, or disguise larger stains with an iron-on transfer. Instead of trying to disguise a tear in an otherwise wearable article, like jeans or a jacket, play it up with embroidery. Stitch the torn edges together with a fancy herringbone stitch, and add other colorful embroidery designs to the article as you desire.
Many old clothing items and household textiles can be recycled into other decorative and functional items, including quilts, handbags, place mats, rugs, curtains, pillows, baby clothing and toys. I have a friend who crafts teddy bears out of old jeans, using the good parts, and even uses sections with seams. Her little bears are adorable, and washable!

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