Cleaning out your closet can be tricky, frustrating and maybe even a little annoying - but how's this for a little incentive? There are a number of ways you can sell, donate and recycle your old clothes and even make some cash or score a new piece that you do love along the way. 

While it might be easy to throw a cheap, well-worn t-shirt into the garbage, something as simple as this can have detrimental effects on the environment if done by millions of people on a larger scale. A 2013 report by the Environmental Protection Agency stated that Americans created 15.1 million tons of textile waste, of which, 12.8 million tons of textiles were discarded.

Knowing this, instead of throwing out your unwanted clothes, you may be wondering what the next best options are. Check out our best tips on purging our wardrobes from the clothes we really don't need. 


If your clothes are in good condition, there's a high chance that you'll be able to sell them. There are a number of channels through which you can sell your gently used pieces for cash, both physically in-person and online. 

  • Second hand/Consignment stores: If you have high-quality and in-season apparel and accessories, head to a consignment store and make back a bit of the money you spent. You can bring clothes into stores like Plato's Closet, Buffalo Exchange, and Crossroads, which are national chains, or into a local consignment shop. Some can offer you cash on the spot for the items you brought in, but usually they will sell items on your behalf, and will pay you between 30-50% of the selling price once the items have sold. Be sure to give your local consignment store a call before you come in, as some only take certain items or only meet by appointment.  
  • Online: If you don't feel like leaving home during your closet clean-out, you can sell your old clothes on websites such as TradesyVestaire Collective, or Poshmark. Additionally, The RealReal is a web-native version of a consignment shop. Selling your clothes through these mediums is a great way to open your closet up to a wider range of shoppers that may be willing to put a high price tag on your unwanted garments.


Swapping your clothes is the perfect way to get something new, essentially for free! Beyond that, clothing swaps allow you to rid your closet of the clothes you don't wear anymore. 

  • Swap party: Round up your friends with wardrobes you'd love to raid and organize a clothing swap party. Pick a date to meet up and have everyone bring their unwanted pieces. You can choose to swap clothes one-for-one by trading one of your items for one of someone else's. You can also have a free-for-all swap where everyone can take as many items as they want from someone else's wardrobe. 


If you don't have the time or patience to sell all of your unwanted pieces, you can donate your clothing to a second-hand charity shop. Donating your clothes to a charitable organization is a way to give back to your community, while gaining awareness of the cause you're aiding. 

  • Second-hand charity shops: Take a look at your local thrift stores and see which has a cause you'd like to contribute to. There are shops that benefit cancer research, homelessness and more - do a bit of research beforehand to make sure the organization is reputable. Additionally, you can often get a tax write-off for items that you've donated. Goodwill, Dress for Success and Society for Saint Vincent DePaul are all excellent organizations that accept used clothing.
  • Mail-in donations: Sites like make donating clothes even more convenient by offering free pick-ups and the option to mail in donations. DonateStuff distributes donated garments to a number of charities across the country and is partnered with American Veterans, Purple Heart and The City Mission. 


Clothes that are stained, ruined or otherwise unwearable and unsellable should be recycled. Used undergarments and old rags you have around the house also fall into this category. These items might be most tempting to throw out with the rest of your household trash, but consider these earth-friendly alternatives. 

  • Bin drop-off: RecycleSearch provides online search tools to help you find the donation or recycling location closest to your home. The American Textile Recycling Services accepts garments in order to turn them into something new like upholstery, industry wiping rags and disaster relief cloths. Both organizations have drop-off locations across the U.S., where you can easily donate your clothes to be recycled.  
  • Retail store drop-off: H&M has piloted their own sustainability initiative where anyone can donate unwanted, even unwearable garments (they don't need to be H&M brand). H&M partners with with I:CO who helps to redistribute the clothes that can be worn second-hand or convert them into textile fibers, used for cleaning cloths and insulation products. Other brands, such as North Face and Patagonia, have similar in-store recycling opportunities. See if your favorite retailer has a donation or recycling program in place. 

Not sure what to do with an item you know you don't wear anymore? Use our fool-proof flowchart to figure out where your unwanted item should go!


sell donate or recycle flowchart infographic


Now that you know your options, get out there and help make the planet a little bit greener - and maybe earn a reward while you're at it.


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