Can You Recycle Clothes? (And Are They Compostable?)

Today, one of the most important aspects of our daily life is clothing. After all, it is part of the necessities of life that we cannot do without. In fact, what would be a surprise is finding someone wondering if clothing is important.

In turn, thanks to the importance of clothing in our daily lives, we find ourselves using loads of cloth throughout our lifetime. Like all things, they then get old, and we are left to wonder what to do with them. No doubt, one of the easiest things that come to your mind is to throw them away. Don’t be surprised as you will just be part of the average person that throws as much as 70 pounds of clothes away every year.

Well, we bet you are wondering if throwing your clothes away is the best thing you can do. This is even more so the clamor for recycling old materials all over the world. So, are you wondering if your clothing is recyclable?

We have got you covered. In this article, we will answer your question in detail. We will also tell you about the best ways to dispose of your cloth. This way, you can make the best use of your old clothing materials.

Are Clothes Recyclable?

We all get to ask ourselves when it comes to clothing is what to do with them after long usage. In some cases, even before we are satisfied with their usage, we might just be wondering what to do with them. This might just be after you have spilled that red wine on your best wear.

We understand that the first thing on your mind is usually to throw them away. Well, there would be no surprises there. This is because, like you, that is what most people will do. This is why we have as much as 13 million tons of clothing dumped in landfills every year.

Well, we are here to tell you that you have got a better option beyond just dumping them. You do not need to contribute to the 85 percent of textiles and clothes that do not make recycling each year. You can now be part of the 4 billion pounds of textiles and clothes that do.

If you are still in doubt about what this means, here is what you need to know. Your clothes are 100 percent recyclable. So yes, those jeans, dresses, and other household textile materials that seem too old for you do not always need to make it to the landfills.

Instead, you can get them to the closest recycler in your area. They are repurposed and maximized for other uses. In some cases, you do not only get to save your environment from more pollution but you also get paid.

In case you are wondering how this gets done, it is quite straightforward. Usually, the textile or clothing material gets converted into a fiber. Afterward, it gets used to manufacturing various products such as rubberized playgrounds, carpet padding, and materials relevant to the automotive space. Even better, old blue jeans are sometimes used in housing insulations by organizations such as Blue Jeans Go Green.

Also, most of your textile materials are suitable for recycling. All you usually need to do is keep them dry and clean before taking them to the recycler. This includes your boots and belts. Other clothing materials that you can recycle includes:

  • Bedding: sheets, blankets, pillowcases, comforters
  • Bras
  • Coats
  • Draperies/Curtains
  • Dresses
  • Hats
  • Halloween Costumes
  • Flip Flops
  • Jackets
  • Jerseys (Sports)
  • Jeans
  • Pajamas
  • Napkins (Cloth)
  • Pants
  • Pillows
  • Pet Beds and Clothing
  • Purses
  • Shirts
  • Scarves
  • Skirts
  • Slippers
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Suits
  • Table Lines
  • Sweaters
  • Ties
  • Sweatshirt/Sweatpants
  • Towels
  • Undergarments
  • T-shirts

Great right? Anyways, in case you are wondering where to take your old clothes for recycling, you can always use a recycling locator to get this done. It allows you to find the nearest recycling center. This way, as you keep your environment safe, you do not have to worry about stressing yourself.

Are Clothes Biodegradable?

Thanks to the number of clothing that ends up in landfills, one popular concern is whether these materials are biodegradable. Well, we have got the answer that you need.

Some clothes are biodegradable. The biodegradability of cloth depends largely on its make-up. Usually, clothes that come from naturally occurring fabric such as wool and cotton tend to be biodegradable. On the other hand, clothes from materials such as polyester might have some trouble being biodegradable.

Are Clothes Compostable?

The idea of composting is now quite popular among homes. This is thanks to the increase in home gardening activities. The great thing about composting is that it allows you to reduce cost and apply existing materials to benefit your garden.

So, are you wondering if your used clothes fall under the category of materials you can compost? Well, we are here to clarify that for you.

The good news, you can compost your clothes in some cases. This is particularly true for clothes that come from natural fibers like silk, linen, wool, and cotton. These materials can get broken down when composted. So, it is okay to add them to your compost solution.

However, you want to ensure that the cloth consists of only natural fibers. In turn, you want to stay away from clothes that consist of synthetic materials like polyester and spandex. You will also need to ensure that toxic items are not part of the compost mix. This is the same with nonbiodegradable materials like buttons, tags, and zippers. You need to remove them before you try composting.

Can You Put Clothes in the Recycling Bin?

Since you now know that your clothes are recyclable, you might just consider putting them in the recycling bin. Well, just before that, you might want to know this.

It is not the best choice to put your clothes in the recycling bin. This is because it is not suitable for curbside recycling. Precisely, it can clog the machines at the recycling center and cause various issues. So, avoid doing this.

What you need to do is find a recycling center that recycles clothes. Then, you can follow their instructions on how to get your cloth down to their facility.

Can You Donate Old Clothes?

One of the major options that come to our mind when handling our old clothes is a donation. Well, we have got to commend the thoughts and intention. However, can you truly donate your old clothes, and is it a good idea to do so?

Well, it is okay to donate your old clothes to those in need. It not only helps you prevent environmental pollution; you also get to help those that are in dire need of clothing. So, yes, you can always donate your clothes to your friends, thrift stores, local homeless shelter, your community center, and even charities.

However, you need to keep in mind that it is not always okay to donate your old clothes in some cases. This includes cases where the clothes are badly stained. Also, we do not advise you to donate dirty or moldy clothing items to thrift stores or charities. This is because they will usually end up in the trash and landfill.

So, ensure that when you donate your old clothes to charities, you donate neat clothes. It is best to ask yourself if people can still wear the clothes. If yes, then clean it and donate it. On the other hand, if it is not suitable for continuous usage, it would be best to avoid donating such clothes.

Remember, donating your clothes is not an excuse to drop off your unwanted clothing onto people who cannot use them or will not want them. Instead, it is an opportunity to give back.

What to Do with Old Clothes?

So far, you now know you have got two options when it comes to managing old clothing. You can always recycle your old clothes or decide to donate them. However, the good news is that you can do much more with your old clothing.

We bet you are wondering about the various options other than recycling and donating available to you. Well, here are some.

1. Clothing Swap

While most people hardly think of it, this is one of the best ways to handle your old clothes. All you need to do is host a clothing swap of family and friends. Through this medium, you get them all to gather their old and unwanted clothing.

We must emphasize that for this to work; the clothes must be in good and clean condition. This way, after the swap, they do not just end up in the trash again. Instead, they can be worn by those who opt for them during the swap.

In case you are hosting the swap physically, do not forget to maintain social distancing. Hold it outside and ensure there is enough space and air between all participants.

2. Repair & Repurpose

You might be surprised to hear this, but one of the best options you have is to repair and repurpose your old fits. Usually, the first thing that comes to your mind with a damaged cloth is throwing them away. However, that should not always be the case.

You can always check out YouTube tutorials for how to repair old clothes yourself. You can even go one better by approaching your seamstress or local tailor for help. They’ll be ready to help repair for a price. With this, you can get yourself your old fit, all new.

In case you do not want to repair it, you can also decide to repurpose your cloth. This involves applying old clothes to new purposes. For instance, you can always downgrade old clothes that do not seem fit for outdoor activities into loungewear.

3. Upcycle Your Old Wears

Another thing you can opt for is to upcycle your old wears. Again, this is an extremely viable recommendation if you consider yourself to be a crafty person. For instance, you can transform your blouses and shirts into face masks and other new items. In fact, there is hardly a limit to what you can create with your old clothes.

From tote bags to dog toys to advanced beanies, pillowcases, sock cloth, stuffed animals, and even reusable produce bags, various options exist. So, all you need to do is get ready to get on an adventure with your clothes. In addition, you will find other great projects that you can apply the fabric to.


Our clothes cannot last forever. While this is undesirable, we can hardly avoid it. However, we can ensure that our disposal does not constitute a nuisance to the world. This is why recycling is a great option.

We bet you had doubts as to whether you can recycle your clothes. Well, you should not anymore. We have told you what you need to know in this article about recycling your cloth. So, read up and stay informed.


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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.