Can You Recycle Leather Belts? (And Ways to Reuse it)

Leather belts are underrated accessories. You can use them to bring a fashionable balance to your outfit, especially with other leather accessories like a bag, boots, or hat.

If you’ve discovered the fashion hack that is leather belts, you’ve likely amassed a collection. Well, they certainly can’t last forever, so proper waste disposal must eventually come up.

In this blog post, you’ll discover whether you can recycle leather belts. Since recycling isn’t the only environmentally safe waste disposal method, we’ll also explore how to reuse old leather belts. See you at the concluding part!

Are Leather Belts Recyclable?

When styled right, leather belts improve the aesthetic appeal of outfits. As such, we’re seldom surprised when we discover men and women with a significant collection.

But again, leather is susceptible to wear and tear, so you can’t use it for too long. Chances are you’ll look for a replacement in five to six years.

Now, how do you dispose of leather belts? Can you recycle them?

Well, before we answer that question, let’s analyze the parts of a leather belt. It conventionally requires a buckle, which may be detachable or otherwise. You’ll be unable to recycle both materials together, so you’ll have to separate them manually or with a utility knife.

Then, you can recycle the belt at a tanning facility. You can recycle leather, but the challenge is finding a recycling center that accepts it.

If there’s no tanning facility near you, we recommend using the internet to search for the nearest recycling center that accepts leather accessories. Thankfully, you can consider other environmentally safe disposal options if you don’t find a recycling facility for the belts.

You can also throw it in the garbage bin – it’ll break down in twenty to twenty-five years. Since leather is natural trash, it won’t wreak havoc on the environment while it decomposes in a landfill.

Are Leather Belts Biodegradable?

Belts are made from an array of materials. Conventionally, cotton, linen, and hemp were used to manufacture belts, but plastic, leather, pleather, and polyester are modern options that equip fashion lovers with diverse choices.

Your choices extend to snakeskin, animal skin, suede, and metal. They also have buckles that can be made from varying materials, mostly metal. They’re adorned with rhinestones and other aesthetically appealing options.

Now, the material a belt is made from determines its biodegradability. For instance, leather belts are biodegradable because leather is a natural substance.

However, its decomposition rate also depends on how the leather was processed. Vegetable-tanned leather is friendlier for the environment and will break down fast. In contrast, modern-day vegan leather or synthetic leather requires a significantly more prolonged and rigorous decomposition process.

If it’s been treated with tannins or natural oils, it’ll break down fast. When you introduce natural leather to a damp condition, it accelerates the decomposition rate. Factors like microbes, UV rays, oxygen, and ample moisture determine how fast this material will break down.

But again, keeping leather in dry conditions can preserve its lifespan and delay biodegradation.

How to Recycle Belts?

Sadly, we can’t precisely recycle belts. Unless you’re lucky to discover a tanning facility near you, chances are you’ll have to resort to other waste disposal methods.

Recycling entails melting old products to derive materials for manufacturing newer ones. Items like plastic and paper can easily be recycled, but no one’s interested in breaking down the leather to make a new commodity.

Now, recycling leather belts is challenging, if not impossible, but the buckle won’t be a hassle. Recycling centers typically make provisions for metal items, so inquire if this item is acceptable.

Alternatively, you can donate the buckle to people who make belts. It’ll be welcome, especially if the belt has unique attributes, like eye-catching rhinestones and other decorative bits.

Aside from recycling the buckle, there’s little else you can do about proper waste disposal for most belts. As such, we recommend crafty hacks, as you’ll discover in subsequent sections.

Can You Paint a Leather Belt?

Painting a leather belt is possible and seamless when following the right guide. And for the record, acrylics paint is the best option because it’s durable, hard-wearing, and relatively cheaper.

Learning how to paint leather is an excellent idea because it means revamping old accessories would be a walk in the park. You can transform items like old shoes, bags, and leather belts.

While painting leather belts may be tricky, you’ll undoubtedly love the results when you’re done. You can do it without damaging your leather accessory; the paint will adhere properly and won’t peel or fade as time passes.

To paint a leather belt, you need drop cloths, isopropyl alcohol, acrylic leather paint, gloves, a flat paintbrush, sandpaper, stir stick, water, a bucket, and a dust mask.

Place the drop cloth on the ground before starting. This is to protect the floor from paint stains. Ensure you do it in an aerated room to avoid inhaling paint fumes.

Use isopropyl alcohol to wipe the leather belt before painting. This is to remove oil residues, ink stains, or substances that reduce the adhesiveness of acrylic paint. You don’t want anything to prevent the belt from absorbing the paint.

Next, you’ll have to add some water to the acrylic paint and mix it until you have a relatively thin consistency to make it easier for the belt to absorb the paint. That’s why you need the stir stick to create a consistent texture. It’ll also be thick enough to reflect on the belt but not enough to stiffen it.

Use the flat paintbrush to paint the belt, using long and even strokes. Your first application will look faint, so repeat the process until the belt absorbs just enough paint. Then, allow the first coat to dry for ten to thirty minutes before applying the next one.

If it feels wet when you touch it, don’t apply the next layer of paint. Give it additional time to dry.

You’re painting a leather belt, so it’s best to flex it several times before applying your next layer. This is to prevent the paint from cracking when it dries. Put the next coat of paint, and repeat the process until you get the shade you desire. Don’t forget to flex.

You must add some acrylic leather finisher to the leather belt before completing the process. Dilute the finisher with some water, apply with a sponge brush, and allow it to dry for 24 hours.

And just like that, you’ve given your leather belt a makeover. Because leather lasts a long time, you can expect to get good use out of your modified accessory.

Can a Leather Belt be Washed?

If you’ve had your leather belt for a significant period, you probably wonder if you should wash it. After all, this is an accessory that we often use, so it must collect dirt and grime over time.

Well, you can wash a leather belt manually or with a washing machine. However, you should expect a wrinkled or faded appearance because of the duration of the wash, the machine’s intensity, and the type of detergent used.

Typically, vegan tanned or synthetic leather belts have better chances of survival in the washer than other belt types.

Surprisingly, many people also use the washer as a hack to soften leather belts. If your belt is too stiff, putting it in the washer will accelerate the aging process, and you’ll get a more pliable project when you take it out.

Moreover, it would be best never to put belts made from suede or animal skin in the washer. The materials are much too delicate for the pressure or intensity of a washer and will certainly weaken when wet.

In the same vein, the belt buckle is unsuitable for a washer because it damages it. So, remove the metallic part if it’s detachable and reattach it after the cleaning cycle.

How to Manually Clean a Leather Belt?

The risks of putting a leather belt in the washer aren’t worth it to some. And thankfully, manually cleaning a leather belt isn’t a hassle; some soap, water, and a soft sponge.

Note that cleaning a leather belt reduces its oils, so you must replenish them. It’s best to clean this item once in two to three months.

Ways to Reuse Old Leather Belts

Thankfully, there are many hacks for disposing of your old leather belt. In this section, we’ll consider six options that are beneficial to you. It’s called upcycling, and here are your options:

1. Make a shelf for books

Who says you must stick with the conventional wooden bookshelf to display your collection? Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s easy to fashion a storage option for your books, and you only need a couple of old leather belts.

It’ll be a hanging bookshelf that looks artsy and unique without taking up much space. Check here for information on how to make a shelf with straps.

2. Straps for handbags

Leather is famous for being a durable material, so even after serving its purpose around your waist, you can also upcycle them into straps for handbags.

Picture the retro look you’d pull off when you make a tote bag with denim material, with straps made from your old leather belt.

3. Drawer pull

You can also turn your old leather belt into a drawer pull. If you’re a woodworker or merely have some drawers which have lost their handles, get some nails and an appropriate length of your old leather belt.

Then, attach both ends of the belt firmly to the drawer with a hammer or drill gun. Actually, this is also an excellent décor idea – you can give all your drawer pulls a leather theme.

4. Curtain knobs

Here’s another hack – make curtain knobs instead of throwing out your old leather belts. It’s a relatively easy task requiring your old leather belt, nails, a utility knife, drywall screw, marker and hammer, and measuring tape. 

The curtain knobs are artsy in a rare way and will stand out wonderfully against calmer and deeper shades like blue and green.

5. Artsy wall clocks

Yes, you can use an old leather belt to improve the appearance of many household items, including wall clocks. Simply wrap the belt around the clock and secure it firmly.

6. A welcome mat

If you have a significant collection of leather belts, you can make a welcome mat with them. Remove the buckle and sew the strips together in a creative style, and you’ll have yourself a homemade and unique welcome mat.


Leather belts are an indispensable part of a larger portion of people’s wardrobes. Because of their high consumption, it’s essential to consider environmentally friendly methods of disposing of them.

We’ve explored enough information about leather belts, and we believe that’s enough to set eco-system lovers on the right track. So please, make informed decisions going further.

Share on:

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.