Life before the rag pile - solutions for textiles

at home clothing save money textiles Aug 09, 2023



Worn out clothing? Bedding well past its prime?

Textiles is a tricky area; if they really are ready to go, there just aren’t recycling solutions at scale at the moment.

Irrespective, our best line of defence is to reuse, revitalise or repair; recycling is always our last resort. Refer to my article on repair for detailed more detailed musings and ideas for clothing and accesories. 

For items that really can’t be donated to Charities or taken to a Clothes Swap (for both of these ask yourself "Are these a quality I would give a friend?") - here are some of my solutions I’ve used over the years, before the rag pile!




For holes and stains, I have had patches and embroidery sewn over these to disguise them – thanks Mum!




For black are dark clothing that is tired, I redye (professionally and you can at home in the washing machine) to freshen it up.
For faded clothing - that is still wearable otherwise, I redye it a darker colour.





Try to salvage the material for other uses, some examples from my past:


Cut material into strips and make into pony tail wraps or bows for presents. 

Cut sleeves off T-shirts and make into ‘muscle shirts’ – so many 80s vibes.

Cut the skirt section off a dress and use it as a skirt (and vica versa).


Higher quality materials like silk, linen, cotton, leather


Contact Upcyclers directly on Etsy and any local reuse centres, or repairers, to see if they can use it. If you have a local men’s shed, they’ll either have a keen Upcycler or two – or know someone.  I’ve used these strategies to repurpose torn linen, and good leather from (properly worn out!) shoes.


100% cotton


I have contacted people who make bees wax wraps and they have taken clean sheets and use them, in my experience they need to be 100% cotton, not blends.


Last resort



Fold material and use to steady pot plants and doggo's drinking bowl.

Ask your local mechanic if they will take them as rags – I’ve never had one say no.

Use as cleaning rags in your home.











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