What To Do With Clothes You Can't Wear

Need to make room in your closets? Here are some tips for eliminating the clothes that no one currently wears.

In some countries of the world, a person might have just one or two outfits. But in the United States, most of us have numerous articles of clothing. Not only that, we typically replace those outfits several times throughout our lives. We are very rich indeed!

But what should you do with the clothes you no longer wear? Rather than merely throw them away, here are a few tips for recycling your well-worn commodities.

1. Set up a clothing exchange. Especially with kids' clothing, since they grow so fast, ask the school if an area can be set aside for used clothing that other families might find useful. Simply taking what is needed is one option. Or a can of food can be donated in exchange for a piece of clothing, with the collected food items given to a needy family or charitable organization during the holidays or at the end of the year. Families also may wish to bring in their own used clothing to exchange for someone else's.

2. Set out a "free" box in the neighborhood. This idea works well if you live in or near an apartment complex where freebies might be valued. Set a box of neatly folded clothing and a "free" sign near the mailboxes, in the laundry room, or under a stairwell. Your thoughtful action may encourage other families to donate articles as well, benefiting those with children who may not have much of a clothing budget. Just be sure not to make a mess, and remove remaining clothes items at the end of each month, giving them to a thrift store.

3. Donate clothing to a charitable organization. Homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, and women's domestic violence escape houses may be interested in passing along used clothing to their clients. Look in the yellow pages for social service agencies that may be interested, and give them a call to find out. You may be able to collect a tax receipt for the donated items.

4. Start a church collection program for recycled clothing. Volunteers can sort, label, and organize clothing to be donated to needy families with unemployed parents. Or the church may want to hold a yard sale or raffle off the better quality items as a fund raiser to benefit various programs, such as Sunday school, youth, or seniors.

5. Use it for patchwork. Though patching worn knees and elbows of work clothing has long been out of style for most families, you may be one that still patches needed clothing on occasion. Or you may want to keep old clothing on hand for Halloween scarecrows, the kids' dress-up play, or for use as costumes or for yard work. Even torn or frayed clothing may be salvaged, at least the better pieces, for quilting if that is your hobby.

If all else fails, send your outgrown or discarded sweaters, nightgowns, jeans, dresses, shirts, pants, and tops to the thrift store. Someone may find them useful for a bargain price, and you can get a tax receipt that may come in useful. Remember, one person's trash is another person's treasure.

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