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How do you dispose of old underwear, and what to do with your old bras and panties?
The truth is that you can dispose of them by donating, recycling, composting, or upcycling and reusing your undies for other things.
In this article, you will find many great ideas on what to do with your old underclothes and how to get rid of them sustainably.
Keep reading to find out:
- 6 things to do with old underwear
- Tips on making your underwear last longer
- Best eco-friendly underwear brands
– Should you throw away underwear?
– Can you put underwear in the recycling?
– What is the lifespan of underwear?
– Can you donate used underwear to Goodwill?
- Sum up
6 Things To Do With Old Underwear:
1. Compost old underwear
If the underwear you want to get rid of is made from 100% natural materials (such as cotton, hemp fabric, bamboo, silk, or linen) and you have a home compost system, you can throw them there!
All you need to do is cut it into small pieces and throw them in your composting pile. Make sure to remove and cut off any tags, the elastic waistband, or synthetic decorations.
2. Repair your undies
It is always best to try to extend the life of your garments.
If there is a small hole or something easily fixable – then consider repairing your undies!
Or, if the elastic is worn out, you can wash the underwear in hot water to shrink them. You can re-attach broken bra straps easily or replace them entirely.
Luckily, there are many tutorials online, so whatever the issue is, you can try to find a solution & fix them!
3. Upcycle old underwear
To get more out of old undies, you can:
- Turn them into cleaning rags.
- Use them to make dog toys.
- Use them as stuffing for DIY pillows or stuffed animals.
- You can cut them into strips if you have a garden and tie your tomato plants and other climbing veggies to stakes.
- Cut in straps and use them in the bottom of pots when filling with soil. It will prevent the dirt from washing out through the holes. It will then eventually break down.
You can find many excellent and creative projects; do an online search for more ideas!
4. Take your old undies to a textile recycling center
Research and see if you have a drop-off location for textile recycling near you. You can always contact your local council to ask whether textile recycling is available in your area.
If you don’t have available options nearby, you can send your old undergarments to the following organizations:
- Council for Textile Recycling: Available in the US, Canada, a few International options. They also accept clothing, footwear, and textiles.
- BRA (The Bra Recycling Agency): Available in the US. You can send your old bras so that they can get pulverized and transformed into new products. Get a free shipping label here.
- Planet Aid: Available in the US. Find a bin nearby, or purchase and print a Give Back Box shipping label. You can send up to 70 pounds of used clothes, shoes, books, small electronics, and housewares to their thrift store.
- USagain: Available in the US. They accept clothes, including underwear, footwear, bedding, towels, etc.
- Terracycle: Available in the US, UK, Europe, and Australia. You can order a Zero Waste Box from them and recycle just about anything.
- Knickey: Available in the US. A sustainable underwear brand that accepts old undies from any brand! They transform old undies into a new material by an NYC non-profit.
- Harper Wilde: Available in the US. Harper Wilde’s Recycle, Bra program takes old bras of any size, brand, or color and breaks them down. The materials are then upcycled, and used for clothes, rugs, cleaning textiles, etc.
- Soma: Available in the US. You can donate new or gently used bras to I SUPORT GIRLS. Bras that aren’t in good condition are donated to THE BRA RECYCLERS to keep them out of landfills.
- The North Face: Available worldwide. Drop off unwanted clothing and footwear at The North Face Retail (in any condition), so they can transform them into new garments.
- H&M Stores: Available worldwide. They offer Garment Recycling Collection Box so you can drop off clothes and textiles from any brand, in any condition (old clothing, underwear, old socks, ripped tights, old towels, and sheets).
5. Donate clean and good-quality items
While not all items should be donated (especially ones with stains, rips, and loose elastic!), a pair that you’ve worn once, or never because you didn’t like them or they didn’t fit, can be donated to local charities or to homeless shelters where they can help someone in need.
Many traditional thrift stores (i.e., Goodwill and the Salvation Army) do not accept underwear donations, but some will take bras (check with your specific location first).
- I Support the Girls: Available across the US. You can also mail items to them. Once you donate bras in good condition, they distribute them to women in need.
- The Bra Recyclers: Available in the US. Donate bras in good condition, as well as new panties. They partner with more than 100 non-profits around the globe and have already donated more than 4 million bras to women in need.
- Donate Your Bra: Available in the US. Accepting lingerie, bras, and swimsuits and distributing them to breast cancer survivors around the globe.
- Free the Girls: Across the US. Donate unused bras to their drop-off locations or mail items to them. They work with those formerly involved in sex trafficking.
- Local shelters: Check with local homeless shelters and ask if they accept bras or never-worn underwear for donations.
6. Sell unused & new underwear
You can always consider selling bras or undies that you’ve never worn.
If you have entirely new ones that you didn’t wear because you didn’t like them or they didn’t fit – selling could be a fantastic option.
In that way, you can make little extra cash for them. Some online second-hand platforms include:
- Poshmark – the US | Canada
- ThredUP – the US
- Depop (app) – Worldwide
- Vinted – the US | the UK | some European countries
- Preloved – the UK
Check my article to find over 20 more platforms for selling second-hand items.
Tips on making your underwear last longer
Invest in high-quality undies
By having high-quality lingerie, you’ll be able to wear them for much longer, and even though it may cost more, you will save money in the long run. Below, you can find my favorite high-quality undies brands.
Air dry your underwear
The longevity of your undies depends on your laundry habits, too.
Laundering your undies correctly can help them last longer. If you look at the tag, they usually suggest washing them in warm water, by hand, and to air dry.
Even if a set says you can put it through the dryer, it is better to never put them in there. Instead, wash at 60 degrees celsius, and then line dry your undies under the sun, as it is a great way to kill any germs that might be still on your clothing.
Use lingerie with care
Some lingerie sets are fragile and delicate, and you can damage them accidentally by a slight wrong movement. So be careful and gentle with your undies to extend their life.
Best eco-friendly underwear brands
- Boody Wear: Available worldwide. They use OEKO-TEX certified organic bamboo and strive for low-waste & ethical production.
- Organic Basics: Available worldwide. Certified B Corp, eco-friendly & ethical production, GOTS certified organic & sustainable materials, recycled packaging.
- Pact: Available in the US & International. Fair Trade certified and GOTS certified organic cotton, Pact offers carbon-offset shipping, a take-back program, and eco-friendly packaging!
- Girlfriend Collective: Available in the US and Australia (available worldwide via nordstrom.com). They use recycled materials & packaging and offer a take-back program & inclusive sizing.
- Knickey: Available in the US & International. GOTS & OEKO-TEX certified organic & sustainable materials, recycling program, Climate Neutral and Fair Trade certified, eco-friendly packaging, gives back
- The Nude Label: Available in Europe & Internationally. For their entire collection, they use GOTS certified organic cotton. Their goal is to create sustainable, long-lasting products with recycled or recyclable materials.
Should you throw away underwear?
While you can dispose of your underwear in the trash can, it is quite an unsustainable option. Sadly, around 5 million kg of underwear a day ends up in landfill sites across the US.
Textile waste makes up an ungodly portion of landfill trash, and what’s worse, it takes up to 30 years to fully break down. That’s why choosing to recycle, donate, or upcycle old underwear or sell unused ones are all much better options than the trash.
Can you put underwear in the recycling?
If you have a Textile recycling center nearby, you can throw your underwear in there since it’s a piece of clothing, and it can get recycled. It is best to always double-check with the rules of the Textile recycling center first to make sure they will accept it.
What is the lifespan of underwear?
There is not a specific time frame. It is good as long as your underwear functions correctly, the elastic is fine, and there are no holes.
Once they become dysfunctional, uncomfortable, saggy, with holes – it’s time to get rid of that pair.
Can you donate used underwear to Goodwill?
Most thrift stores cannot accept old underwear unless it’s in new condition. For example, Goodwill will take only not-used underwear in perfect condition.
There you have it – 6 ways to sustainably deal with old lingerie and tips on how to extend the lifespan of your undies.
If you have other cool upcycling ideas or more donation/recycling centers, please feel free to share them in the comment section below!