pile of old clothes

What to do with clothing and textiles?

03 Apr 21

We all have clothes in our wardrobes or curtains, pillowcases, duvet covers, blankets, sheets and towels in our cupboards that we don’t need or want any more.

Sometimes we have items that are past their best too. So what can we do with them?

All clothing and textiles - even old underwear, damaged clothing and faded curtains - that aren’t suitable to be passed onto someone else can be recycled and made into new items, such as padding for chairs and car seats, cleaning cloths and industrial blankets. 

Household recycling collection

Clothing and textiles aren’t accepted via household recycling collections and should be donated to reuse shops or deposited at a textiles recycling bank.

not currently recycled

Household waste recycling centre (HWRC)

Yes, all local recycling centres provide textile collection banks.

Recycling facilities exist

Other recycling collections

Many schools and community organisations collect clothes and textiles through programmes such as RagBag where they can raise money by being paid for the weight collected.

Some charities collect clothing and textiles by posting a bag through the letterbox – always check that the bag collectors are members of the Textile Recycling Association to ensure they are working legally and that funds are being paid to the charities they claim to collect for.

High street shops such as H&M and Marks & Spencer collect unwanted clothes in-store and offer a discount off your next purchase.

Recycling facilities exist

Recycling at textile banks

You can often find clothing and textiles banks in supermarket and local car parks. Find your nearest using the recycling locator. They accept all unwanted textiles, not just good quality, including clean underwear, socks, tights and bras. 

Shoes should be paired and secured with string or a rubber band as difficult to keep them together - however, even individual shoes can be donated as they are sorted and matched with other similar pairs.

Wash and dry clothes before donating then put into plastic bags or bin bags for collection to protect them from water and dirt in transit. The bags are then collected and recycled.

Soft cuddly toys are also accepted at textile banks but not bric-a-brac.

Pass them on

If you are fundraising for your school, church, workplace, sports club or organisations such as Girl Guides, or Scouts, there are textile companies that can arrange a textile collection to help you to raise money for your cause.

Not only does this generate valuable funds, but creates a great team spirit by getting your supporters to work together to clear out their wardrobes.

What can you do?

  1. Repair items yourself or through a tailor/alteration service. Visit Love Your Clothes for tips on how to make the most of your clothing, including easy to make repairs

  2. Pass them on... to friends and family or through websites such as Freecycle and Freegle

  3. Sell items at car boots, nearly new markets, through ‘cash for clothes’ outlets that will pay for items by weight or on websites like eBay and Preloved

  4. Donate good-quality items to charity and reuse organisations

Other useful links

Recycling is constantly evolving and changing so check back for updates or try our recycling locator to find out what you can recycle at home and where you can recycle or pass on unwanted items in your local area.