15 ways to upcycle old clothing

An alarming amount of our clothing ends up in landfills. If something gets a stain or a rip, we often just throw it in the garbage without giving it a second thought. But as we know, textile waste is a HUGE issue. 

The second thing people like to do with old clothing is to donate it to a thrift store. I always recommend saving this as your last resort, as a majority of clothing that gets donated doesn’t even get put out onto the shelves but instead finds it’s way to a landfill. 

If your clothing is still in great shape you can always give it to a friend, or try to find a local shelter that will take it. They need it way more than a thrift store and you know it’s being put to good use. 

But perhaps you have a piece of clothing that you love but you’ve outgrown, or has gotten ripped, or maybe even a stain. There are so many ways you can upcycle it! Here are 15 of my favorite ways!

how to upcycle old clothing

How to Upcycle Old Clothing:

1. Tie-Dye them naturally

This is something I did recently using avocados and turmeric! It’s so fun and easy, and it covers up stains like no other! This is the perfect way to upcycle your clothing so you can keep wearing them!

2. Use fabric scraps to make scrunchies

Use scraps from pants you’ve hemmed or tops you’ve cropped! Any spare piece of fabric will do! Plus, if you use excess fabric from clothing alterations then you’ve got a matching scrunchie!

3. Turn them into rags

My dad has been doing this for as long as I can remember. He takes old t-shirts that are stained or ripped and cuts them up into rags to be used in the garage and around the house! And since they’re just used for cleaning stuff up they don’t have to be perfect or pretty!

4. Make reusable cotton rounds

I’ve done this with old towels and thicker shirts/sweaters. Simply cut fabric into circles and hem along the edges to avoid fraying. Use with micellar water or makeup remover and then toss into the wash and reuse!

5. Reusable dryer sheets

You’ll need thicker fabric for these as well like an old towel or thick sweater. Cut the fabric into rectangles and hem along the edges. Then place them in an airtight container and cover with 1 cup of distilled vinegar and essential oils of choice! Toss one in with each load and repeat when they’re all used up! (This doesn’t leave a vinegar smell on clothing in case you were wondering.)

6. Crop a t-shirt

This might be one of the most basic ways to upcycle a shirt but that doesn’t make it any less useful! You can crop anything, a t-shirt, a sweater, a tank top, literally anything!

7. No-sew produce bags

Bringing your own reusable produce bags to the store helps to significantly reduce your plastic waste. But they can be a little expensive! This tutorial shows you how to turn an old shirt into a produce bag without any sewing!

8. Turn shorts into a skirt

This is one of my favorite ways to give new life to an old, tired pair of shorts!

9. DIY embroidery 

If you’ve got a plain old shirt or pair of jeans that need spicing up, try your hand at embroidery! I promise it’s not as daunting as it looks and once you embroider one thing you won’t be able to stop!

10. Patch holes

A pair of jeans with a hole could easily be turned into shorts, but you could also patch the hole with a fun piece of scrap fabric!

11. Quilt patches

Denim, silk, old t-shirts, and more can all be saved and used as patches in a quilt!

12. DIY apron

This is one of the funnest DIYs I’ve seen in a long time. Using an oversized button-up shirt you can make your very own apron!

13. Unpaper towels

Similar to rags, you can use old clothing, towels, and sheets to make a roll of unpaper towels! These are just nicer and can be displayed on your countertop.

14. Mittens

A thick, knit sweater is the perfect tapestry to make some simple and cute mittens!

15. Drawstring pouches

Depending on what size you make them, these pouches can be used for almost anything! You can even make larger ones to use as bulk bags at the store!

Related posts:

15 things to start making instead of buying

The ultimate list of zero waste cleaners

The 10 most toxic things in your house

I hope this list gave you some inspiration on how to upcycle old clothing. There are countless ways to give life to old clothing without tossing them out where they’ll only create more problems. Try out any of these 15 ideas first! Or give the fabric to a crafty friend that would love to upcycle them for you.

As always, thank you for reading and for waning to make the world a greener place. Please don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on Instagram for daily low waste living inspiration.

how to upcycle old clothing


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Learn How to Create Less Waste without Spending a DIME!

Join our mailing list and receive your FREE guide directly to your inbox!

We use cookies on this website to help us understand how you use it, If you chose to continue using this website we will assume that you are consenting to this. privacy policy

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.