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What the Hell Should You Do With Old Pants? Don’t Bin Them – These Places Recycle Your Unwanted Underwear and Tights For You

Save the planet, one pair of knickers at a time.

Tossing your old underwear in the trash might seem like a good idea, but while it might be the easiest (and less awks) option, recycling is a better way to go.

Think back to all the times you’ve thrown out old pants, bras and tights that in your lifetime. Now consider the sheer volume of underwear that ends up in landfill each year, as millions of others do the same thing.

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While it might feel strange, giving your old undies another life can not only protect our environment, but it can help people in need too. Many places that profit from recycled clothes donate a percentage to different causes and non-profits.

feminine underwear drying on rope with clothespins on fresh air

Usually clothing banks prefer good-quality clothes so they can be given away or re-sold. However, for worn-out or used items, they will hand them over to textile banks, turning them into recycled fabric or other products, like insulation and packaging.

Of course, you’ll need to wash your old undies at least once before they can be recycled to avoid any harmful bacteria that could be passed on or contaminate other products.

Once you have washed them, simply place them in a plastic bag and donate them to charity shops or stores with a recycling programme.

Scroll down to learn more about donating and recycling your old underwear.

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How do you dispose of old underwear in the UK?

Your old underwear, including knickers, pants, bras, and socks, can be recycled at your local recycling centre’s textile recycling bin. If your underwear is beyond wear, it can have a second life as materials for fabrics or turn into rags.

Some fashion stores also offer recycling schemes, including H&M, Zara and & Other Stories. Simply drop off any old items from any brand into the garment collection box in-store at H&M, and you’ll even be treated to a voucher. At & Other Stories, you’re offered a 10% discount.

You can also look up your local council’s recycling offers, where you can place textiles in your curb-side recycling bin, as well as nearby recycling centres that will accept old garments.

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recycling sign made of fabric on yellow background
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Where can I donate old underwear?

Charity shops accept old underwear, but there are a few things to consider for them to be re-sold or recycled as old rags.

In the UK, many charity shops can only sell unworn underwear with tags, while some accept worn items to sell to textile recyclers.

Another option is donating them to an organisation like Smalls for All, a Scottish-based charity that distributes old underwear to people who need it the most in Africa and the UK.

Not only do they provide undergarments to those who need them, but they also provide economic support by allowing people to earn an income by selling donated bras.

Can you put old bras in the recycling bin?

If you’re finding yourself with unwanted bras, don’t throw them away! There are several options for donating your bras and returning them to circulation.

There are bra banks you can drop off old ones and find the nearest location using Recycle Now. But if you’re near any clothing bank, some places have a free recycling service for unwanted bras and underwear that can be sent via paid post.

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female bodies in bras

Against Breast Cancer encourages you to donate your unworn and unwanted bras to their bra banks. They will send the garments for recycling and ship them off to places where bra production is expensive, like Togo and Ghana.

Not only are you decluttering your closet, but your donation can provide economic opportunity for small businesses overseas.

You can also drop off your bras to Bravissimo for recycling. For every kilogram of bras and swimwear given, they will donate the same amount of money to Coppafeel, a breast cancer awareness charity.

How do you dispose of socks and tights?

If possible, donate them to a local nonprofit that recycles old textiles (and who knows—maybe some of those old socks will be used to make new ones!). Another is to donate old socks to charities supporting the homeless.

Swedish Stockings accepts donations of unwanted and unworn tights—which turn into cool fibreglass tanks. It’s a cool way to recycle old clothes, and you will receive a 10% discount.

You can also recycle them yourself and turn them into rags or washcloths. Cut off the toes and the legs from each pair of socks and tights, then turn them into rags or washcloths. These are perfect for cleaning up spills on hard surfaces or wiping away dust from electronics

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