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3 Steps to Get Rid of Old Clothing

Have you decided to pursue an ethical fashion only, minimalist or capsule wardrobe? Organizing your closet, and picking out those not-so-essential pieces can actually be fun! As we let go of old possessions, we also release anxiety, tension, and the stress of having too many options.

Boy do I love the feeling of a clean and organized closet. What I do not love is the aftermath: bags of unnecessary clothing that I now must remove from my home. It’s easy to tuck those bags in the garage for another day, or toss them all on the curb for trash pick up, but there are better, slower and greener ways to dispose of our old clothes. If it takes a lifetime to accumulate an overflowing closet, it should take more than a couple hours and few garbage bags to get rid of old clothing the right way. To help you get started, here is our Free Label guide to getting rid of old clothing consciously after downsizing your wardrobe.

Read on for our 3 step guide to getting rid of old clothing.

Free Label Blog Minimalist Closet Declutter

1. Consign

The only thing that feels better than getting rid of your old clothing, is getting paid a bit of money for it! While it may be corny, it’s true: one person’s trash is truly another’s treasure. Have you ever found something special at a consignment or used clothing store? Some of my all time favorite and most-worn pieces come from Kind Exchange (in Toronto) or Turnabout (in Vancouver). Go through your chuck pile and pull aside items that are in good condition (no holes or stains) and launder them. Bring them to your local consignment shop and see what they will take! Consigning is the best way to get rid of your old clothing because you are really giving your clothing a second life by diverting them from the landfill.

Free Label Blog Minimalist consign Old clothing

2. Mend or Repurpose

Some old clothing must go because, well, it's old! A lot of the time, we throw out items not because we are over-consumers, but simply because clothing is made of fabric, not steel. We are bound to get a rip in that t-shirt we’ve worn non-stop for 2 years. Instead of resigning these items to the landfill, check whether it can be mended. If not, can it be re-purposeed? I love using cotton tops that have accumulated holes and stains over the years as rags to clean the house. Or cutting damaged denim into summer jorts (jean shorts). Or even re-purposing old clothing into new home decor or accessories. An old knit sweater can be sewn into a new beanie, an old silk dress can be sewn into a new throw pillow case. The options are endless if you are willing to be a little creative.

Free Label Blog Mend Repurpose Clothing

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3. Donate

While the word “donate” has an innately positive connotation to it, you have to be careful how you choose to donate clothing. Make sure you do your research before dumping a bag off at a clothing bin. Many donation bins advertise that the clothing goes to charity, but often that means selling the used clothing to developing countries, which can negatively affect their local economy, and donating just a portion of the profits to charity. Others sell the clothing to textile recycling companies, which turn the clothing into new fibers for insulation, carpets, etc. Alternatively, opt to donate directly to non-profit organizations that provide clothing to those who need it, such as Dress for Success or Covenant House.

Getting rid of old clothing the right way is no easy feat. It takes time, a little work and a lot of creativity to mindfully declutter a closet. The best way to declutter? Play great defense and stop buying non-essential items for your closet! Next time you are faced with a knee-jerk purchase, remember how difficult it will be to get rid of a bad purchase decision and take a moment to evaluate how useful that item will be. There’s no sense in buying something that will inevitably end up in the chuck pile next season.

Free Label Blog Donate Old Clothing

Have you ever done a closet purge? Did you find it difficult to dispose of old clothing? Tell us about your experience (and tips) below!




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  • Kailey on

    Great blog post, thanks for sharing!

    I live in a small town and we have the cutest little consignment shop. Since switching careers, I no longer have a use for a bunch of clothes that are still in great condition. The last time I purged my closet, I took lots of items to the consignment shop, the best part is that I found the most beautiful winter coat there. It feels really good to do a “clothing swap” in this way because it also means supporting a small business.

  • Erin on

    Clothing swap!!

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