Make Or Save Money By Reusing Old Clothes

The following is a guest post from Mr. SB from One Cent At A Time. A blog for personal betterment. Get his new posts directly in your email account or e-readers by subscribing to his RSS feed.

If you buy used clothing from thrift stores and consignment shops, your clothes are bound to (eventually) become unusable. Whether you are a two-person household or six, you probably have a pile of clothes that even someone in Somalia would not want to wear in normal circumstances.

Planning to donate these “prized” possession to Goodwill or the Salvation Army? Think twice – you don’t want to draw undue wrath (often silently, you won’t even be able to tell by looking at their faces) from the people who collect your donations.

If you are planning to be lazy and simply put old clothes in the trash, wait a bit and read through the rest of this post. There are tons of ways to reuse and repurpose old clothes to pinch every penny out of the purchase price. Sometimes you can make a little profit, too.

My dad is a retired steel worker with good artistic skills. He is very talented at making appliqués. See the two representative pictures of the appliqué work he creates out of used clothes (it’s an authentic Indian art). Now that he’s getting a few orders, he sources his clothes from local tailors.

Many Uses for Your Used Clothes

Make patches. Add colorful patches to your jeans. Add an extra pocket to the inside of your coat.

Make gloves for yard work. You don’t ever need to buy your garden gloves. Simply cut the sleeves off your sweatshirts. Old socks also have high potential as gloves during their last stages of life.

Use as cleaning cloths. You must have heard it a thousand times already; every frugal writer writes about this. So, treat this as a reminder!

Be a home fashion designer. Make fabric accessories. Make headbands, hair ties, bracelets, necklaces or belts. You can be super innovative and build a little pouch, or a bunch of little pouches and use as Christmas gifts. Oh yes, Christmas is just around the corner!

Sit on it. Yes, sit on it. Amazed? Don’t you sit on beanbags? Replace beans with old clothes – simple!

Make shopping bags. Go green, get rid of plastic, and adapt your old shirts or skirts as brand new reusable shopping bags.

Quilt your way. If you love sewing, try your hand at quilting. Old bed covers and sheets are perfect raw materials for this particular work of art.

If they are soft, they make good soft toys. Soft clothing, especially your old linens and silks, makes an excellent ingredient for soft toy stuffing. There’s a small charitable center in Miami where I donate some of the soft clothes in return for a free soft toy.

Book Cover. You can immortalize the jeans you wore on your first date by making it the cover of your scrapbook or journal.

Make pillows and cushions. You and your dog both love nice, fluffy cushions. Whether it’s on the floor or behind your back on the sofa, used clothes are very frugal and practical ingredients for cushions.

Shock absorber. If moving is in the cards and you have a pile to clear before you move, hold off! You can used the clothes to make shock absorbing cushions around the fragile items.

Make ropes. Cut small strips, then tie them together to make a nice rope. These could be very useful for your garden and garage, where tying things up helps get things straightened (plants) or organized (bunch of papers).

Dust off your car. No matter how often your car is cleaned, wipe it with a white cloth – it’s bound to be black by time you are done with only one side of the car. When you have too many used clothes to throw away, stop using the car wash and use your clothes, one or two pieces per day, to clean up the car.

Make winter accessories. Old sweaters can be a good source for new scarves, hats and mittens.

Make your pet beautiful. This Christmas, make your puppy a fashionable yuppie! 🙂 You can cut, trim, or burn old clothes to fit your little pet. Your pet would love the odor of your body from the ‘new dress’. (Seriously, their nostril sense is many times more powerful than ours).

At last, a little trick, which I have seen people doing: Put the clothes near the trash bin, but not directly inside it. Leave it overnight and there’s a high chance the clothes will vanish before dawn. Your clothes would have found their destiny on their own!

Did I say that these are the greenest ways of dealing with your old clothes? Do every little bit possible to help Mother Nature lose its glory a little slower than it is losing today.

If you like what you made out of used clothes, make it a hobby or a small side business, just as my dad did. This is where making a profit out of used clothes comes into play



  1. I use my old clothes to clean in, and for general home maintenance and updates. Never hurts to have old clothes to wear when you are painting the house! Also great general outside attire when mowing the lawn and gardening.

  2. Those pictures remind me of college. My roommates were into the Grateful Dead and Phish so they had lots of tie-dyed stuff and ended up sewing them together to replace the drapes and to seal off the openings to their bed areas.

  3. Socks too gone to be mended again go to a bin under my kitchen sink – where they can be grabbed as rags, gloves, one time clean-up for gross stuff, polishers, etc. Cut so they are long strips, they work in the garden for tieing things up – as mine are all cotton, eventually they will disentigrate in the garden or compost pile if used in the garden..

    Rag Rugs! Talk about colorful! Tear clothing into long strips, and with a huge crochet book for a needle, they make wonderful durable strip rag rugs.

    Use the material to cut down for grandkid clothes – old sweatshirts are especially good for this, as the worn parts can be disposed of.

    A lot of mine go into a bin for the grandkids who are learning to sew – They can practice their sewing machine skills on free fabric! Win win situation!

  4. This is a really great list. I haven’t thought of some of these before. I like the idea of a shock absorber and making toys. We don’t have kids yet but this is definitely something I am going to remember for them. Thanks for the awesome tips.

  5. Interesting ideas and good reminders! It’s timely because in my house there is a bag of clothes that’s just waiting to be donated. Maybe I’ll save a few of my own older shirts for using as washcloths for the car.

  6. You didn’t question about turning socks in to gloves, so I assume you know how to do it. now cut off a long sleeve and stitch one open end, now doesn’t that become a similar structure as your socks?

  7. I honestly wish that I would have read this before our move. We got rid of a lot of clothes, and then purchased bubble wrap to pad our belongings!

    We have more items to get rid of (as I lose weight), so this will be a good guide for getting the most out of each piece of clothing.

  8. Very interesting ideas. Typically, we donate all of our old clothes to Goodwill. It’s for a good cause and I need all the tax deductions I can get 🙂

  9. That’s a great idea about making appliqués! Soft toys is another great one in your list too, esp socks! I saw a craft book once that had the cutest animals made out of old socks and socks that had lost their pair. -Sydney

  10. This is probably completely redundant to those who are really frugal, but it’s along the same lines of re-using old clothes. I had never really thought of it until this summer when I couldn’t do laundry in time and my kid ran out of clean shorts on a hot day. I already had a large bag of last years winter clothes, including jeans and active wear ready to go to Salvation Army, when I thought why not cut off his pants and just make them into shorts. I did that with 3 of his favorite pair of pants and they looked really cute, he was thrilled and I didn’t have to go buy new shorts that day or run out to do laundry. I also did that with a couple of his long sleeve shirts that were still too nice to give away, I just made them sleeveless for summer….again, he looked really cute.

  11. Charities like Goodwill, Salvation Army of St. Vincent dePaul will be glad to take your ragged clothes because they can sell them to reprocessers who make them into stuffing and carpet pads.

  12. These are great tips thank you. I just wanted to point out that you can also barter your old clothes. I use for bartering all kinds of stuff. It’s a fun and definitely a money-saver.

  13. I have been hosting clothing swaps for a few years now. Every 3 to 6 months I let all my friends know about them.

    I have always been able to refresh my wardrobe and reduce my clothing costs to just a few hundred a year! Amazing

    And the bonus is it is a wonderful time to get together with girlfriends and catch up on life. Seems this is one of the rare times we have nowadays. Even in retirement. Perhaps especially in retirement.

  14. “At last, a little trick, which I have seen people doing: Put the clothes near the trash bin, but not directly inside it. Leave it overnight and there’s a high chance the clothes will vanish before dawn. Your clothes would have found their destiny on their own!”

    This is the idea behind Freecycle:

    You do exactly the same thing, except that you put the item out the day before the trash comes, and send a note to an e-mail list of people in your town. If someone is interested, they’ll pick it up and put it to use. If not, then the trash folks take it away.

    And it goes both ways — if someone is trying to get rid of something that would be useful to you, you go and pick it up. For more valuable items or items that can be damaged by weather, people often want to arrange a time to pick it up.

  15. Goodwill likes to get clothes like this. They cut up the clothes to sell as rags for $2-$3 a pound & also sell them to factories. Even if you thinkit’s not good enough they will use them.

  16. Great ideas!
    Good use for old socks in the winter: When the children were getting chafed arms because their coats and gloves did not meet….. I simply cut holes for the fingers and thumbs in old long socks and pulled the socks over their arms. Then the gloves and coats went back on…and their arms were warm and dry!

  17. Great ideas! The applique work you posted is beautiful! I often use my old shirts ect. as cleaning rags but I never thought of some of the ideas you came up with. I do save old jeans so that if I need to patch a current pair I can just take a section from the discarded jean. Thanks for sharing.