What should I do with clothing I no longer need?

Clothes that are old and out of style are hard to donate so when you no longer want to have them in your closet make a plan so they can be loved by someone else.

1. Adopt a family

If you have children sort their clothes at the start of each season and put the clothes that no longer fit in a box or bag.  You may find it easier to put clothes that no longer fit into the donation box or bag right after they come out of the dryer.  Make a connection with a family that has children a year or two younger than your children and give them the box of clothes at the beginning of each season.  This helps both families to know what clothes they have and what they need to buy and you don’t need to figure out where to donate them because they go to the same family every season.

A little girl cleaning.

2. Selling 

There are many consignment stores that sell clothing.  You can find them online.  Each store will have its own niche market.  Contact them to see if they want high-end clothing, teenage clothes, baby apparel etc.

Clothing can be sold through consignment stores

Clothing can be sold through consignment stores

3. Theatres 

If you have unusual pieces of clothing like a nurse’s cape, old-fashioned outfits or accessories take them to your local little theatre group.  They may be able to use them in their productions.  It would help the theatre company to save money on their costumes.

Vintage and unusual items can be donated to theatres

Vintage and unusual items can be donated to theatres

4. Clothing Drives 

Sometimes communities have special clothing drives.  You may find that formal wear can be donated to groups collecting clothing for proms.  In the late fall, there may be a winter coat and boot drive for homeless people.  Running shoes can be donated at some running stores and they donate them to organizations that send the shoes overseas.

5. Shelters

Clothing can be donated to women’s and men’s shelters as well as thrift stores in your community.

6. Textile Recycling

For clothing that is too old, stained or ripped google textile recycling.  There are businesses that recycle fabric, leather, bedding and clothing.

Where do you donate clothing that you no longer wear?

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  1. Jill Robson on March 9, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I never thought of the local Theatre group Julie, great idea, one I will have to add to my list of places people can donate old clothes.

    • Julie Stobbe on March 9, 2015 at 10:10 am

      If you find the right theatre company and the clothes are valuable you may be able to get a charitable donation receipt.

  2. Julie Stobbe on March 9, 2015 at 8:47 am

    I would be fun to see how they use them in the production. You might not even recognize them.

  3. Susan Parker on May 25, 2022 at 12:11 pm

    I have a box of what I call my “vintage clothes,” looking for a home or a second life. Have you found any theatre groups in the Niagara area that accepts donations?

    • Julie Stobbe on May 28, 2022 at 2:23 pm

      Try contacting the Shaw theatre in Niagara on the Lake. They may also have some suggestions of other theaters that can use vintage clothing.

  4. Janet Barclay on May 30, 2022 at 10:54 am

    I have my grandmother’s fur coat – she died in 1967. My mother could never part with it so after she died in 1996, I brought it home. I wore it once, to a December wedding.

    I knew someone who was involved with a local theatre group and I offered it to them, but never got around to actually handing it over. I just don’t know how to let it go!

    • Julie Stobbe on May 31, 2022 at 7:04 pm

      If you’re enjoying owning it then it is not the right time to let it go.

  5. Jonda Beattie on May 30, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    I have donated to theaters – both clothing and some items. I also use reloom to donate some fabrics and clothing items.
    Lots of good ideas here for different people.

    • Julie Stobbe on May 31, 2022 at 7:07 pm

      You make a good point that fabrics can also be donated to quilting guilds and sewers for projects.

  6. Julie Bestry on June 1, 2022 at 4:49 pm

    Great advice! I love that you mentioned theater groups and consignment. There are so many options beyond basic donations that most people don’t consider.

    A few years ago, when my father died in his 90s, my mother and I cleared out all of his clothes from the many, many closets in the house he’d taken over. (He’d not let go of a single article of clothing since 1948!) Each summer, Men’s Warehouse does what they call a suit drive, but it’s a full-on men’s clothing drive for any apparel suitable for interviewing or working, which is a boon to men who lack this kind of wardrobe. It took two full carloads to get all of the shirts, blazers, ties and some suits there, and it filled up all of the donation racks the store had — twice! Then, we gave a friend’s father the many leather suspenders, and donated the shoes and folding clothes (polo shirts, pajamas still in the Brooks Brothers plastic, sweaters) to various donation locations.

    Still left, for my next trip home, are “retro” items, including suits and jackets from the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, which I intend to try to sell at a retro-style consignment shop, and if that fails, donate to a theater.

    Consignment where I live only accepts clothing from the last two seasons, or else I’d be delighted to consign. Instead, I donate everything to the women’s domestic violence shelter in my community. Nothing need ever go to waste!

    • Julie Stobbe on June 5, 2022 at 5:09 pm

      Consignment stores have many stipulations. Some are related to time and presentation. In my area clothing can only be 6 months old, they need to be washed and folded and not on hangers. I find for children and infant items you get very little money for the value of the item, $5.00 for a stroller. If you have time to sell items and good places that is great. If you can give it to a place or person who needs it that’s good. Donation is good too. Let’s keep things out of the landfill.

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