How can I reuse or recycle man-made fabric clothes?

Lynette left a comment on another post asking:

Does anyone know how I can recycle man-made fabrics that are beyond wearing, not appropriate for ‘rag’ etc. People have suggested charity shops, but they wouldn’t want such items. Council 3rd world bins ask for only wearable clothes, so this is becoming a problem. I buy all second hand clothes but have to avoid wool as I am married to a staunch vegan.

As I replied to the comment, I think it depends on the item of clothing/type of fabric – a man-made fleece jacket is going to have different reuses to a viscose camisole or nylon tights. From Lynette’s mention of wool, I’m guessing she’s thinking about fake woollies – polyester or acrylic jumpers/cardigans and coats etc.

If the fabric is a reasonably heavy weight, a lot of the insulating ideas for fleeces would apply. If you’re handy with a needle & thread then you might be able to upcycle the decent parts of the garment into something else – a smaller version of the clothes for a child or a dog.

I also wouldn’t be too sure about charity shops not wanting them – talk to the staff (the stock sorting staff, not necessarily the counter staff) at your local shop and see if they collect items for a “rag man” — textile reclamation companies often have deals with charity shops to take their scraps, and pay the charity shop some money based on weight. Clothes and items not fit for reuse in their current state can be shredded to use as filling, or depending on the fabric, the fibres reclaimed and respun.

Any other suggestions?

Related Categories

clothes and fabric, items

Search for other related items

7 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle man-made fabric clothes?”

  1. Bobbie says:

    I’ve seen so many cute clothes made for kids from adults old clothes (just google repurpose clothes). This would be the perfect thing for items that have been ruined by a spot or tear, not completely worn out. Although very worn t-shirts would be perfect for baby clothes as the material should be super soft.

    Of course, the standard recycle is to make quilts. My daughter still fondly remembers her old quilt I made from our worn clothes when she was a girl. She loved looking at it and remembering who each square represented. I made my boys matching quilts from our old jeans. Once they are worn nice and soft they make perfect quilts.

    Synthetics would be good for making rag rugs too as they are sturdy and wear well.

    Sweaters make good dust/dish cloths. Just cut into squares and the bind the edges.

  2. Kara says:

    If it’s a sweater with holes or horrible stains, the yarn can still be unraveled and knit or crocheted into something new. My oldest niece has used some of my more random lengths of reclaimed acrylic yarn to weave on her potholder loom, as well. Quite a few childrens’ charities prefer washable synthetics to wool, especially for blankets. Felt-type synthetics can often be used the same way wool felt can – cut into strips and hooked or woven into a rug, cut into squares or other shapes for decorative items. I guess it depends on how the item is unwearable; most of the synthetics at our house become unwearable through stains and stretching out of shape, so the bulk of the fabric is still usable for sewing or refashioning.

  3. anna says:

    Make yarn and crochet e.g. carpets – fast to make.
    Or make carpets or bags…

    Some material such as acrylic clothes will also work great for cleaning.
    I have crocheted some acrylic squares (from new yarn but still acrylic) and use those for dish washing. Once they are dirty, I put them in the washing machine with the normal laundry and they are ready to use again.
    Similarly, you could use some of the materials e.g. as a swiffer cover. That doesn’t take much fabric – and the best way to find out the best material is to try. For that use, it does not matter if it’s got small holes or stains etc.

  4. kim says:

    Some recycling stations take fabrics too. If there is stuff that is beyond wearing or turning into anything new they can be taken there. Many companies are using such material to make things like recycled denim jeans, etc.

  5. Meg says:

    cut acrylic jumpers into squares or strips and overlock together to make scarves , jackets or skirts. denim can be made into pencil cases , cushions, table runners/mats. i then use the waste off my overlocker to stuff cushions. i set myself a goal to use 100% of a garment when i cut it up!
    Have alook on flikr for some inspiration…some pics of my stuff are there also check out some of my favourite groups for recycling groups

  6. Rachel says:

    I’ve seen old cable knit sweaters mad into cute laptop sleeves, or even iPod sleeves. There’s directions online.

  7. RainDots says:

    One of my friends cut up her T-shirts and made a quilt! It’s really creative and fun, she used 7×7 CM squares and a rainbow border.

Leave a Reply

Your name
Your email (it will not be published. If you want people to contact you, leave your email address in the message too.)
Your website (if you've got one)