6 things to do with your old clothes, shoes and soft furnishing

23rd January 2018

I love clearing out my wardrobe. In fact, I love it a bit too much. I’ll quite happily get rid of half of my clothes in one swoop and then leave myself with nothing to wear!

I start by taking everything out of my wardrobe, and then slowly work through my pile of clothes figuring out what I want to keep. I have to admit, I do use Marie Kondo’s method of taking each item and asking if it sparks joy, which actually works a treat. I also try everything on because there’s no point in holding on to clothes that no longer fit.

Then once I’ve touched and tried on every item of clothing, I’m using left with a huge pile of unwanted clothes.

Years ago I would have just put them straight in the bin, but I quickly realised that this wasn’t a very ethical approach to take. That’s when I started researching alternative ways to deal with my old clothes.

Today I thought I would share some ideas and suggestions for what to do with old clothing, as well as shoes and soft furnishing (such as bedding, curtains, cushion covers etc.), that you no longer want.

1 | Swap them

In an attempt to be more sustainable, many retailers now offer incentives, such as money off coupons, for you to recycle your clothes in their stores. So you’re essentially swapping for clothes for vouchers.

For example, you can take a bag of clothes to H&M, and in return they will give you a £5 voucher to spend in store. Marks & Spencer, Levi’s and The North Face have similar schemes in place.

(You might want to double check that these shops are still offering the incentives before you go all the way over to the shops with a big bag of clothes!)

The good thing about this is that many of the companies running schemes like this are happy for you to bring in clothes from any brand, not just their own, and that you can recycle clothes even if they are damaged.

2 | Sell them

If your old clothes and shoes are still in a good condition, and they still have some value, you might want to sell them online using websites like eBay or apps like Depop, or even sell them in person at a car boot sale.

Personally, I’ve never sold any of my old clothes just because nothing I own is worth the time and effort it takes to sell! But if I were to get rid of my Ray Ban sunglasses for example (LOL, like that would ever happen!) I would probably sell them.

3 | Donate them

Maybe your old clothes and shoes are in a good condition but you know they aren’t worth anything, or you just aren’t interested in making money from them. If this is the case, you could donate your clothes to a charity.

There are various ways you can donate your old clothes. The first and best way is taking your clothes to a local charity shop, or to a shelter is they are taking in new donations.

Another is putting your clothes in a clothing bank. These can usually be found in supermarket car parks. This is a good way to donate your clothes but I have heard horror stories of clothing banks being set on fire, or of people climbing inside them to steal clothes to sell on for a profit. Yep, some people are vile.

Sometimes you might receive donation bags from charities in the post, where you fill up the bag and leave it on your doorstep on the collection date. These are okay, however there have been problems in the past with scammers posting these bags through your front door for charities that don’t even exist.

If you do choose to use this method of recycling clothes, do your research about the charity you are donating to. Check the charity number to make sure it’s a legitimate charity, and not just one someone has made up.

When you donate clothes to charity, ensure that they are in a good condition and that they are clean. The main objective is to sell these clothes on, but if they aren’t in a good condition they will be recycled.

6 things to do with your old clothes, shoes and soft furnishing

4 | Repair them

I’m quite handy with a needle and thread, and I own a small sewing machine, so I often repair my clothes and bedding when they get damaged but still have life in them. Especially if it’s something I love and can’t bare to part with.

For more specialist items, or shoes, you will probably want to take them to a professional to be mended. Of course, it might not be worth the cost of getting them repaired, but if it’s something expensive, or something you really truly love, then this might be a good option.

5 | Re-purpose them

Just because an item of clothing has served it’s initial purpose doesn’t mean it’s life is over just yet. A quick search on Pinterest will throw up hundreds of ideas for re-purposing old clothes and shoes.

Here are a few ideas of my own:

  • Keep old bedding as it can be used as dust sheets when redecorating your house. It will save buying them from a DIY store.
  • Keep old clothing scraps to use as test material when using a sewing machine. Especially if you’re a newbie with a sewing machine!
  • Decorate an old pair of shoes and then put them on display, much like the comic book shoes I used to make.
  • Make a cushion cover out of a old jumper.

6 | Recycle them

If your clothing, shoes or sort furnishings cannot be donate, sold, repaired or re-purposed, you should recycle them.

Again, your local supermarket might have bins for recycling clothes in, or you can just visit your local recycling centre.

I hope you have found this post useful. Let me know in the comments what you do with your old clothes, shoes and soft furnishing.

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  1. I love your post. I agree with you. Today or tomorrow I’m going to give a few more items to a local charity shop. It will be the 2nd bag in the last week. I think it’s a shame to keep things I’m not using, when others can enjoy them. My husband also got a book last time we went to the charity shop, a fab little find.
    I have a sewing machine and I want to do some projects, but I don’t have time at the moment.

    • Holly

      Thank you, Anca. I’m glad you like it. 😊

      It’s good to hear that you’re taking lots of clothes to a charity shop. Charity shops are great places to find books!

  2. I often end up getting rid of half my wardrobe in one hit – the feeling of being able to leave that much clothing behind is liberating. And I’ve done it quite a handful of times but keep having to do it because I discover even more clothes! After I moved out of my parents’ place, though, there was a lot less to deal with, but I was still donating bags and bags to H&M. 😂 I don’t think any other places in Australia have a similar offer where they give you a voucher. I’ve spent a long time searching online for ways to make money off my good quality clothes, but that doesn’t seem to be a big thing in Australia. I have donated sooooo many bags to H&M though that I collected so many vouchers and didn’t use them so ended up giving them to some excited friends who needed some clothes and liked discounts. 😜 These days I also avoid buying too many clothes and I am also stopping myself from buying any more clothes this year (seeing how long I can go), so I usually dump a bag of clothes at H&M and don’t bother collecting a voucher. I like that they also accept clothes in less good condition and will just sort and recycle / reuse the fabrics!

    I’ve tried Depop but with no luck. 😞 I have also tried other classifieds and apps designed to sell stuff you don’t want, but also with very little luck. It seems that fast fashion is so cheap and I spent a lot of money on mid-range or cheap pieces that people would rather just buy something new for $10 than buy something second hand for more or less the same price. Because of that I have made the decision to only buy good quality (and thus more expensive) items unless I absolutely need to buy something cheaper or want to just for fun. That way it will last longer and has better resale value.

    But yeah, that’s pretty much what I do with my clothes! I’m now careful with my purchases so I don’t have to clean too much 😆

    • Holly

      I buy the majority of my clothes from H&M so I always make use of the vouchers, haha! But I love the idea of giving them to friends. 😊

      Selling stuff online can be challenging. I think you’re right about the whole fast fashion thing. I really want to start investing in better quality pieces but sometimes it can be challenging as you never know just how good the quality is until you’ve worn it for a while!

  3. Amy

    Oh wow, Holly. I can’t believe it’s been almost four years since you started doing your comic book shoes. It seems like two minutes ago I read that post! Time is seriously flying. I loved those when you did them, and wanted to buy some, but I was so useless with my money as a student. What on earth was I even doing?

    These are some great tips for getting rid of things. I tend to take mine to the charity shop, because I live near loads and it’s so easy to do. I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s book, and it’s making me want to downsize a bit. I cleared out my wardrobe last year and got rid of two bin bags full, but I still don’t think I was strict enough. Some things have so many memories, which makes it so hard to part with them, but I still have dresses I wore on nights out when I was 18. Considering I would never wear anything so short now I don’t understand why I’ve kept them!

    I never knew people posted fake charity bags. We get loads, but I never use them, because I tend to take things to the charity shop as and when. I’m glad I haven’t now, I’d never have known to check!

    I hope H&M do the voucher thing still. That’s amazing! Although I’d definitely end up refilling my wardrobe if I kept going in there. It’s all way too tempting!

    Hope the New Year is going well!

    • Holly

      Oh wow! I didn’t even look at the date on that post! I can’t believe it’s been 4 years either. I really want to start that shop back up again. Watch this space, haha!

      I’ve read that book so many times. 🙈 I don’t really follow her method but that book just makes me want to declutter and organise my entire house!

      Don’t worry, I have lots of clothes I can’t bare to part with! I have a dress from Primark that cost me like £13, that doesn’t even fit me anymore, but it’s beautiful and when it did fit it looked amazing, so I can’t get rid of it haha!

      My mum actually uses charity bags you get through the post to take clothes to the charity shop! 😂

  4. I remember when I first found out about the H&M scheme, I went back and forth giving bags and bags away of clothes I no longer wore. I realised that I didn’t actually like buying from H&M that much so felt that the vouchers were a waste, BUT at least I got rid of the bulk which is important to me!

    I’m exactly the same with clearing out my wardrobe, I empty everything at once (I block out time to do this in my day, I used to do it weekly because it was honestly therapeutic to me xD) After reading Marie’s book, I ask myself the same question and find it helps A LOT.

    These days, I sell my clothes on Depop and have got a lot out of old stuff I never thought anyone would buy anymore. I remember when I first discovered Depop, I went crazy and put up LOADS. I ended up getting like £200~ that summer which I of course spent on more clothes which I then sold again. IT WAS A CYCLE. I don’t do this anymore and don’t buy that many clothes either which is good! Apart from Gymshark of course but lets not dwell…. xD

    • Holly

      I tend to buy most of my clothes from H&M, even though I know they’re crap quality and I’m always left feeling disappointed. I have a problem! 😂

      I’m happy to hear you had some success with Depop! I tend to wear my clothes until they fall apart so nobody would ever want to buy them.

      I’m not spending as much money on clothes at the moment, but that’s probably because I’m unemployed/working from home, so I live in leggings and hoodies. 🙈