How can I reuse or recycle old underwear?

UnderwearApparently, Victoria Beckham has pledged to reuse a pair of fan’s underwear that was thrown onto the stage during a Spice Girls gig the other day.

While I’m somewhat sceptical of her promise, let’s see if we can come up with some non-”shower-cap” ideas for how she can recycle them.

Our old pants usually go in our cleaning-rags bag but any more creative suggestions?

(On a related topic, we featured old bras a couple of years ago – lots of ideas for those babies!)

(Photo by nilob)

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54 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old underwear?”

  1. Kim says:

    There is a charity which you can donate old bras to –
    From their website-
    The first charity to benefit is Centrepoint who help homeless women and men in the UK. Their emergency hostel in Soho, London have a real need for bras to offer the young women who stay at the project. One project worker explained how they tried to squeeze a ‘well endowed’ young woman into a training bra and it wasn’t ideal!!
    They have to be in reasnable condition though.

    • Anonymous says:

      That doesn’t even make sense. Why torture her like that when it would be much more comfortable to not wear one? It’s not illegal to go braless in the UK, is it?

      • bigboobedgal says:

        it’s not necessarily “much more comfortable” to go without if you’ve got big boobs – there’s back pain, chest strain, chafing… if i go longer than 24 hours without some support of some sort, i’m in quite a lot of discomfort

  2. Jimmi says:

    Charity, Duster, For her sons, for herself lol like a stuck up bit*h like her would do that =D*

  3. pam says:

    You can cut off the elastic/trim to be reused – and with bras you can recycle the hooks in the back to make a bra extender…

  4. Teanah says:

    The elastic can be reused for other projects. I joined a sewing for dogs group that uses the parts for dog nappies and the elastics from them.

  5. I tend to wear my underwear to the point of no return in order to avoid having to purchase more, as the ones I can afford are inevitably made in sweatshops (blech). My last batch lasted me about 8 years (with lots of mending), but finally they are all pretty much beyond repair so I had to break down and buy new ones. I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for recycling them and since the elastic is pretty much kaput, I’ve only got the fabric to work with. So far I’ve come up with the idea of using the scraps in mini art quilts and also a stuffing for stuffed animals or other things that need stuffing, and of course for rags as well.

    • bigboobedgal says:

      +1 for the mini quilts idea. my knickers are often made from cute, fun fabric and after all those washes, it’s pretty soft too.

      it’s not necessarily wall-hanging quilt quality but i have made a couple of quilted change purses out of old knicker bottoms.

  6. Jo says:

    I re-use my knickers by giving them to those annoying plumbers etc who dont bring their own rags.

  7. Mark says:

    Just do what I do, don’t wear underwear. Problem solved before it becomes a problem.

    Face it people, there is no purpose to wearing underwear. Bras sometimes serve the purpose of preventing back pains but most women don’t even want to wear bras.

    • bigboobedgal says:

      who are these “most women” of which you speak? if “most women” didn’t want to do it, they wouldn’t. i’m not saying we’re all doing it for the right reasons (push up bras are not about practicality or comfort after all) but it’s silly to say we’re wearing them against our will.

      and as for underwear, well, since we’re being frank, i leak discharge from my vagina. not a lot and it’s not stinky or anything, it’s just natural cleaning fluids. that gets caught in my underwear rather than smearing all over my jeans/trousers. it’s a lot easier – and better for the environment – to wash a little slip of light cotton than it is to wash and dry my heavy jeans regularly – my jeans won’t wear out as quick either. i think that’s a fine purpose.

      • Dani says:

        Most people do things not because they want to Ie. Wearing bras, but because society demands it. So although alot of people feel for comfort reasons the need to wear a bra, most people do it because society says “Wear a bra, nipples are gross”.

      • Danielle says:

        I agree with you on the need for underwear because of discharge. I’d rather clean my underwear more often than my pants.

      • Anonymous says:

        You should get checked as leaking is not normal and that is just gross. Your period is what cleanse you not leakage and if your doctor says other wise I would look for another doctor to see.

  8. al says:

    Give all your panties and bra away at any gay bar for free I’m sure they would love to have them

    • Marion says:

      Al you are a homophobic idiot.

      I certainly wouldn’t want to have anything to do with your disgusting Y fronts.

      Get a life or a date (if you can)

  9. Jenn says:

    I’ve just gone through all of my clothes and picked out stuff that I just cannot wear anymore. I stopped wearing thongs as well so I got rid of them all. What do I do with all of this underwear? Is there somewhere I can send them where the fabric will be recycled to make new fabric? I’m desperate to know here because I refuse to just throw that much stuff in the trash to go off to the dump.

    • Jennifer says:

      I work with a great group of ladies. We make quilts for those that are less fortunate. We are always in need of materials to use for stuffing and other parts of the quilts. We use lots of old tights/pantyhose as well as undies(we launder everything before we use it, with bleach). There are also lots of other things we are always in need of. If you would like more information about what we can use or where to send your unwanted items please feel free to email me at
      Thank You and God Bless,

      • kate says:

        I have been trying to get hold of you via email regarding underwear that you make into blankets..Im about to have a good clear out of my textiles and clothes ect so if you want any of it let me know as Ive not heard of anywhere else you can take undies to, to recycle…Does anyone know if you can just take them to the clothing recycling banks?

    • HNA says:

      email me as i am looking for used underware to recycle.

    • Jenny Bridgeport says:

      email me I can use them I have a great way to recycle them

    • Anonymous says:

      Throw them away who in the h*** wants to handle other people’s underwear is just gross

  10. Jenn says:

    Can any fabrics be composted?

    • louisa says:

      Yes, cotton, wool and silk can be composted as they’re natural fibres but not if they include a percentage of man-made material too.

      But I always think of composting as a last resort – it’s better to reuse them or recycle the fabric first. In the UK, there tend to be (charity) fabric banks at most recycling locations/household waste sites – depending on the item and the quality of it, they’ll either redistribute it for further wear, reclaim the fabric for making into new cloth or dispose of it responsibly.

      -louisa :)

  11. Jenn says:

    Thanks Bigboobedgal for saying what needed to be said about panties! :)

  12. Tamara says:

    yes, bigboobedgal!

    if you have the time and energy… you could re-use your favorite pair as a pattern…

    here’s a link to see how:

  13. Leanna says:

    I saw a great shade canopy made out of underwear at burning man. Not only was it quite functional, but it was eye-catching too.

  14. tlmfarmgirl says:

    nylons make great strainers, or my grandmother used a pair to tie her garbage lid to the can so it wouldn’t blow away or the garbage man couldn’t lose it. for panties, how about using them for seed starters?

  15. ideals4life says:

    i have been reusing tights and underwear for a long time turning them into all sorts of things but as an artist usually into objects of abstract art…one small problem though is i no longer have anyone to supply me with any.

  16. to save cake so that later when you want to eat fresh cake, just wrap it suran wrap and freeze it. unfreeze it when you want eat it 2 days later, once thawed, just put it in your refrigerator.

  17. Ariana says:

    Stockings (nylons, hose) are excellent for holding rolls of wrapping paper or for holding fruit. Most likely it would not be good to combine the wrapping paper and the fruit.

    Also if you run out of paper filters for coffee, stockings (nylons) or socks can be used (clean, please!) to hold the ground coffee while the hot water is run through.

    Also stockings (nylons) can be used, cut up, to stuff pillows.

    And there are “stocking caps”.

  18. Amber says:

    I cut up my old holey panties and use the pieces to stuff toys I make for my dogs. Hey, dogs love old underwear, right? Why not use them in doggie toys :)

  19. Fern says:

    I was thinking to use my old thongs to tie up my tomato plants… They seem to be the right size, shape, and elasticity, but I haven’t tried them yet.

  20. specificat says:

    My mom always saved a few old cotton panties for use as rags. They work great for that. Especially good for wiping glass.

  21. Kim says:

    If I were very crafty, I’d make pretty hair ties out of lacy thongs. Maybe attaching the lace to a piece of fabric for a headscarf, and use the elastic for ponytails.

  22. Nate says:

    Wash’em then turn them into Cloth Baseballs… Nothin’ like a good ol’ woofle ball game in the neighborhood

  23. Bobbie says:

    Nate…you are too funny, maybe not appropriate but funny nontheless :)

  24. Ken says:

    send your used underwera to

  25. Deedee says:

    There is a charity which collects old tights for use in a fistula hospital in Africa, (can’t remember which country)they cut off the legs, then the body part is used to hold pads in place, and the legs are woven into rugs. Ingenious!

  26. lilly says:

    to recycle old bras go to there is a project to turn them into handbags. hope this helps.

  27. Frances says:

    I am an art student in London and need your knickers for an art project. I need knickers and not thongs. Please donate your knickers.

    Email me at

  28. Chris says:

    Hi…Is this thread still active? Anyone know of anywhere in the US to send old underwear??

  29. Erin says:

    This thread is a bit old, but I’m In the US and we use old clothing (including panties) at my daycare center. I use old panties in my daycare as rags to clean of the childrens hands after we fingerpant. If you wish to donate yours, please email me at Its much cheaper than buying rolls of paper towels. Obviously, no thongs please.

  30. Bre says:

    You can send me used clean support stockings and tights . I can use them to make little dolls.
    Please e mail me at

  31. Adam harris says:

    Hi, reviving a thread.

    I use old tights etc to sieve old paint they are brilliant for this. we also use other clothing plus thick opaque tights for polishing. it’s cheaper to re-use than buy in rags. If anyone is interetsed please pm me i will gladly take all unwanted stuff and pay a little if i must, as they are alot cheaper than the products made for this. Try and make use out of most old things lol.

  32. Britters says:

    I like the idea of using old panties to make reusable menstrual pads. I know most of us are very against reusable pads, but honestly, when you think about it, pads are one of the most wasted products in the developed world. And if you have about 3, this isn’t a bad way to go. No more one-time use only pads.
    I have a pair I have pre-cut, and am using the crotch for the lining and a possible pattern. If any one has a pattern for the pads let me know on my blog please.

  33. Megg says:

    Shred them then use it to stuff dog toys. You could sew your own, refill old ones that lost their stuffing then stitch it back up, or seam rip a small section in unwanted stuffed animals(ex. If your child has an abundance of carnival plushes) take out the good stuffing that can be used for pillows and such, then stuff shredded undies in there. My dogs have all loved hiding only my underwear, so I’m sure they don’t mind it’s the stuffing for their new favorite toy!

  34. Midnight says:

    Been trying for a use for my old socks and underwear. I just been holding on to unusable pairs which i do not want to collect over time. I’ll probably just use them for clean up rags or something gross so i am not buying new paper towels for that. If i knew of a place that recycles this stuff and uses them for whatever i’d just donate it there but i would just hate to let it sit in a landfill somewhere only to repeat the process 10 years again down the road.

    • Midnight says:

      And oh, for those saying just don’t wear underwear.. that is just uncomfortable for me since growing up i have always used underwear and socks (well i need socks to avoid getting blisters on my feet). Underwear/socks, when i am not wearing them when i am doing laundry is just not comfortable but it maximizes my stock.

  35. RecycleGal says:

    If you have the type where the crotch has an additional layer of fabric over top but is open at one end, this works great to cover and protect small things, such as small containers that keep coming open, or anything that has sharp objects like staples or needles that you want a second layer of protection for, and you can even fit some on a mobile phone for use as an additional layer when it’s raining (although you still should have your phone under your shirt if running through the rain, unless you wear REALLY thick underwear).

    Just cut directly above and below that rectangle-like shape, and then I suggest trimming the ends in a way that disguises it so it’s not immediately obvious where it came from. This won’t work with thongs of course. If you cut it right, it’s pretty hard to tell it was once underwear, especially with dark fabrics, so you don’t need to be worried about using it for things around the house. Obviously don’t do this with any that have a pattern which immediately makes people think of underwear. Cotton and polyester seem to work well for this but I don’t know about fabrics like silk.

  36. RecycleGal says:

    P.S. I’m the person who posted above. I forgot the rest! (it posted before I was ready) I use them during the summer for cold drinks since I don’t have coasters. Not perfect but better than nothing. As long as the drink doesn’t spill and it’s only absorbing condensation, it seems to work fine, and it keeps the drink cold for longer.

    Optional: Cut some strips from the remaining fabric (the bits that are left after cutting out the crotch, from the same pair or another) less than a centimeter wide and then glue/sew that around the top of the open end and use that to tie it closed. Glue doesn’t work well for that though. Or you can cut little holes all the way around the top and then thread the “strings” through. If you sew it I suppose you could wash these things, although I just throw them away when they get holes or get dirty. I figure I’ve done my part by reusing them but don’t need to make myself insane trying to find a way that I won’t have to throw away a single atom.

    Obviously this idea is for people like me who can’t sew at all. I’m sure that those of you who can have come up with much better ideas but I’m limited.

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