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Topic: Clothing recycling Ideas?

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Subject: Clothing recycling Ideas?
Date Posted: 12/29/2008 8:47 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
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Starting in January, my town will collect clothing for recycling on an appointment basis (call before regular recycling pickup and let them know you have clothing).  It is in partnership with the Goodwill, so they only want clothing that is in fairly decent shape for resale.  My question is what can you do with clothing that typically can't be reused/ resold (socks, underwear, bras, etc).  Is there a way to somehow recycle these types of items since it seems like a waste to throw out all that cloth?  Any ideas?

Date Posted: 12/29/2008 9:06 PM ET
Member Since: 1/9/2006
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Last Edited on: 1/20/09 6:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/30/2008 1:20 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
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if a bra is in good condition why couldn't it be reused by someone else?

Date Posted: 12/30/2008 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
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You can reuse socks & underwear again as rags.  Use them for dusting, washing floors, washing dishes, cleaning the sinks, etc.  You could probably also use them to groom your animals.  Dashchunds don't need very much grooming at all but it's nice to wipe them down with a tepid cloth in hot weather.  I've also used them to clean and dry between the folds in Pugs.

I once made a door snake to stop drafts with some upholstery fabric stuffed with old pantyhose.  You could do the same with scraps of fabric from socks & undies, etc.

I knew of someone who had to write RAG in big black marker on the rags because her husband would confuse the good stuff with the rags.  Now he knows which towels to grab when he washes the car

I've seen bras & slips at thrift shops.  I don't know if they sell.

Date Posted: 12/30/2008 5:50 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,367
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I don't see any reason a good condition bra can't be reused.

At least one of the thrift shops around here has a contract with a clothing recycler to take anything they get that can't be sold.  It isn't available for individuals--they deal in large quantities only.   I don't know why Goodwill doesn't do similar--the recycler pays (pennies a pound, but still, something) for the cloth.  You might ask thrift shops around you if they have a way to recycle the clothing that is donated they don't want--they might take yours if it is properly labeled ("remains" or "Scraps" or whatever makes it clear to them it isn't resaleable don't worry about looking) so they don't waste time sorting.  

If you are making stuffed animals, cut the clothing up (take off hard bits) and use it as stuffing.

Cut clothing up, hem/serge the edges and make reusable "paper" towels out of it.  Or napkins if you want to be fancy.   The really holey stuff (or underwear you don't want out for general use) can be rags.

Post on freecycle if there is one in your area--someone else may have use for them.

(Edited to clarify)


Last Edited on: 12/30/08 5:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/31/2008 7:01 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2008
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For the very adventurous, any fabric (though it may be best with natural materials) can be shredded and used to make paper crafts.

I've also collected all our holey jeans and I've cut off the seams of the legs, so I have the largest pieces possible, for making a cushions and bean bags...we find filling with cedar shavings to be cheap and natural and good smelling...and with the tough jean material, not pokey.

Date Posted: 12/31/2008 8:19 PM ET
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Last Edited on: 1/20/09 6:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/3/2009 5:24 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
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I know some say ewwwwwww on this but after my husband died I gave his underwear and socks to a lady who works with the homeless.  Most orgainzed groups such as Salvation Army won't take used underware.  But in most towns there are people who are helping out the homeless without an official organization behind them.   The lady I gave the stuff too said the men were thrilled since NO ONE ever gives them underware.

Date Posted: 1/4/2009 5:29 PM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2007
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If I havent sold some clothing at a garage sale, and its not it great shape to donate, I cut them up into rags.

And I confess, I just bought my dd a couple bras at a second hand store.  They were Victorias Secret, which can run up to $50 a piece.  They were in good shape, just a wash and she was happy with them.

Date Posted: 1/8/2009 6:35 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
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I don't use bras to do this, but I have just finished making a tufted silk rag rug out of recycled silk clothing including slips. You can also use recycled clothing for braided rugs and toothbrush rugs. Since you are cutting garments up to create the rugs it doesn't matter the condition as long as the fabric still has its integrity.


Date Posted: 1/8/2009 7:36 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
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Huh, that's interesting about them not taking some items. I know some thrift shop owners who say they sell leftovers (but it has to be in large quantities, as someone else said) to companies who either recycle it as scrap cloth, or send it somewhere, like a third world country, where it will be used in some way.

meowy -
Date Posted: 1/12/2009 10:10 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2007
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You could make a toothbrush rug from the fabric.  I finished my first rug last week, and used a little bit from clothing.. but  most of it was sewing scraps.

Subject: recycling unmentionables (bras )
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 12:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/5/2009
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When i lived in a larger city there was a nearby nursing home that many of the ladies were more comfortable if they had bras on during the day, even when bedridden. these needed to be comfortable more then uplifting. So when my bras stretched out i gave these to them. They were already broken in so were comfortable enough and they enjoyed the more dainty lacy looking ones instead of the industrial ones relatives often got for them.
Subject: Socks
Date Posted: 1/17/2009 10:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 189
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In the bathroom, the bottom drawer is designated for socks that either have holes in them or have no match.  We use them for disgusting cleaning jobs and then discard.  It may not be as green as donating them or making a rug, but at least they get one final, important use before we toss them:)

Date Posted: 1/19/2009 10:25 PM ET
Member Since: 6/8/2005
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T-shirts with a stain/rip on the sleeve or collar, I remake into a grocery tote.  Just cut off the sleeves, cut out the collar, and sew the bottom hem shut.  Presto!

I also cut up old socks and use them as rags in place of paper towels.  Doesn't really add much extra to the laundry, keeps us from buying paper towels, and if there's a really gross mess I don't feel guilty just pitching the rag, since it's seen so much use already.

I have aspirations of making rugs or quilts out of old fabric scraps, but honestly I think I'm just not that crafty.  It's one of those things I seem to "never have the time" to do.

Date Posted: 1/23/2009 11:20 AM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2008
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Only one sock left from a pair?  I wear them!!!!  Just around the house...drives my dh nuts when I have on one red and  one turquoise sock, but can't see throwing them out!!!!

Date Posted: 2/3/2009 1:59 PM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2006
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Socks make great puppets. I use old socks and make dog and cat toys out of them. I also cut the buttons off old shirts and use them in crafts. I cut up old cloths into nice squares and use them for clean up around the house. I cut them up in squares and use them to make quilts. I take the quilts  to nursing homes, and homeless shelters.

Date Posted: 2/5/2009 2:51 PM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2008
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I found an interesting pattern on Etsy that shows how to make old tshirts into women's uinderwear. I can make 3 to 4 pair from one shirt depdnding on the size.

As far as old bras and undies... the thrift store would not want the ones DH and I get rid of. I give up my bras when they are stretched out or and underwire has broken or come out. We throw out  undies when they have holes in them. So far I haven't figured out a good reuse for bras. Underwear (cut apart) makes good rags, dust cloths, or rags in the garage that will get thrown away at some point anyway. We buy most of our socks the same so that if one is lost, you just hang on to the extra until another is lost. If you google reusing socks or repurposing socks or something like that you will come up with many good ideas. I have written lots on the blog I write for about turning old clothes into new things (www.greendaily.com).


Date Posted: 4/16/2009 12:34 AM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2005
Posts: 358
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I reuse socks to make sock dolls. The books Sock and Glove by Miyako Kanamori and Stray Sock Sewing by Daniel have really great ideas, plus there's a tutorial for a sock dog here: www.angelfire.com/my/kaystarr98/pix/sockdog.html and a search for sock dogs found a bunch more pages as well. I've also made cat beds with socks and all of the cats I made them for loved the beds, but I can't find the instructions anymore on HGTV.

Subject: Donating Used Socks
Date Posted: 4/20/2009 5:18 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 214
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A few months ago I found some places that accepted used, un-matched socks. One of the places gave directions on how to use them to make toys for dogs in animal shelters. One of the places said they accepted unmatched socks from all over, and tried to match them up with others, and them gave them to specific charities/groups of needy people. I now can't find the sites in my bookmarks, nut I shall continue looking, especially as I have some socks to contribute!

Ih! They did say that you can always donate to your animal shelter, for the animal beds and so on. They also love old towels.

Date Posted: 4/20/2009 5:26 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 214
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I found the information about unpaired/unmatched/mismatched socks! Here is an email I received, although I have not attached the Word doculment she sent me:


The general idea behind Operation Happy Sock is to make catnip toys and deliver them locally yourself.  However, if you'd prefer to send them to me after reading the following, please let me know...

Thank you so much for getting in touch about Operation Happy Sock.  I'm glad to hear of your interest because this project is a lot of fun for most anyone, as well as a nice way to show a few homeless cats a good time.

Attached is the "Operation Happy Sock Info Kit", a Word document that includes everything you need to get started.  If you have any questions or need help with any part of the project, I'm always available online at happysock@cox.net and I'm ready to help your Operation Happy Sock be a success.

Most folks do Operation Happy Sock in THREE PHASES:

1) Collecting socks for at least a week or two ahead of time;

2) Having a Happy Sock Production Party where the Happy Socks are actually made; and

3) Visiting their local animal shelter to give Happy Socks to the cats, because cats can say THANK YOU better than anyone else!    >^..^<     >^..^< >^..^<    >^..^<     >^..^<

After you've made your Happy Socks, please get in touch again. I keep track of how many Happy Socks have been made, and I'd also love to hear how your project went and which shelter was the lucky recipient of your Happy Socks. Photos are always very welcome, too!

Again, thank you very much for your interest. Please don't hesitate to
contact me about whatever you need to help your group have a wonderful
Operation Happy Sock!

All the best,


P.S.  Our Happy Sock logo and mascot, "Hugger," is yours to use in any way that helps make your project a success!

Martha Powers


Operation Happy Sock

Subject: And More Info About Socks:
Date Posted: 4/20/2009 5:33 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 214
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And here is more info about using old socks:

YES, we accept socks in good condition of any size, style, color, or gender, whether singles or paired.  Surprisingly, we are able to match a good number of the "loner" socks and those that are near-matches are still happily received by agencies in Mexico.  We would be happy to receive whatever you have to donate, by mail or by drop-off at 1131 S. Paradise Dr., Gilbert, AZ  85233.   Thanks for your generosity and for thinking of us.  Caryn Shoemaker, Director

And for the crafty people, here's a site about making a wreath or other items from your old socks:





Date Posted: 6/9/2009 11:44 AM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2009
Posts: 13
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Odd as it sounds, I use old clothes to cut up, roll into a type of rope, knot both ends and give it to my dog. He loves them, and it saves on chew toys.

Old or mismatched socks can be cleaned and filled with rice and lavender for either a neck pillow to relax with or an eye pillow. Very, very relaxing.

If there are any crafts markets in your area during the year, trying heading over there and see if any of them can use it for scraps.

You can also post it on craigslist and see if anyone needs scraps.

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 4:26 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,367
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Not accepting bras is weird to me.  I buy almost all my bras second hand on eBay--they fit better than any I've found in stores. For one thing, I can get ones sans underwire much easier.

We use cut up clothing as paper towel replacements.  I have a laundry bag holder in the corner that we toss them in (actually, hang whatever one in our hands on the top, knock in the one on top into the bag--that way they dry a bit).  The dishrags go in there as well--we actually don't have an in-use dishrag, we just grab one out of the "paper" towel basket.  More sanitary than having a wet rag hanging about and being reused.

I did hem the edges.  That was my SO's requirement--he was willing to try replacing paper towels with cloth, but he wanted them to look less like rags.  So I hemmed them. Well, serged them technically b/c it was faster.  I need to redo some of the, though--I don't have a very good serger and I didn't really know what I was doing so some of them are unraveling.  He hasn't complained, though.  I asked him recently what he thought of the cloth paper towels now that we've had them for several months and he admitted they worked well.

We still get out the paper towels for cleaning up after cats or draining bacon, but that's about it. Have them hanging around the corner from the kitchen so they aren't obvious.  Friends and guests figured out really fast to use the cloth as well.  I originally hung a sign where the paper towels were, but that's been gone for a while and even new folks seem to figure it out and no one looks at me odd, which surprised me.

I have a small bag to turn into more towels, but after that I don't know. I don't think we need that many! 

Subject: Reckcling clothes
Date Posted: 6/19/2009 9:43 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,445
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When my husband dies, I bagged up all of his socks,underwear, and jeans/slacks...the ones in good shape, anyway and gave them to the Epilepsey Society.  They make regular stops at my house.  All of his t-shirts...especially one that had special meaning to us I am/wil make into quilts for my and my two daughters....a project that is getting off to a slow start.  It has been 2 1/2 years and i have one square-about three feet square done.  The clothes recycling tip i really like is to buy the clothes at a rummage sale in the first place.  I get such a blast out of someone complementing me on my shirt, jewlery, nik-nack, or what ever and I tell them ...rummage sale...