4 Surprising Ways To Recycle Your Underwear

With a huge number of textiles ending up in landfill, think twice about tossing out your old undies—the planet (and these charities) will thank you for it.

February 22, 2017
faelyn underwear
Matt Rainey

Here’s the Victoria’s secret that your garbage man hasn’t been telling you: your underwear is 100 percent recyclable! While he may not want your old undies, there are plenty of people (or, at least, recycling and donation organizations) who do.

And, the Environmental Protection Agency wishes you would hand them over. According to the agency’s estimates, 80 percent of unwanted textiles wind up in landfills, and each of us tosses 37 pounds of clothing per year. So the next time you think about tossing those holey drawers in the trash, toss them in your washing machine with some organic detergent instead, and then choose one of the methods below to recycle them. 

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donation box
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Goodwill or Salvation Army stores will take—CLEAN!—underwear and bras in pretty much any condition. If they aren’t in good enough condition to resell, the nonprofit sells them to rag houses that shred the material and use it in various applications, such as furniture or automobile stuffing, or for industrial cleaning rags. Goodwill uses the money from the sale to fund its job-training programs.

Keep in mind, many charity organizations are also on the lookout for donations of new, unused underwear, which are often some of their most needed items. You can donate new children's underwear to kids' nonprofits Underwearness and The Undies Project

Related: 20 Everyday Things You Should Never Throw Away And Genius Ways To Reuse Them

bra on a hanger
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Get Crafty

Talk about never throwing anything away! Check out this cute little purse you can make from a used bra on Craft Bits.

compost pile
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Compost 'em

For 100 percent cotton bras and underwear, cut off the elastic waistband, then cut the cotton into strips or squares and put it in your compost bin! (Synthetic materials, such as Lycra, won’t compost, so send any garments containing Lycra blends to the charities above.)

clothing donation bin
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Toss it in a box

You may have seen those clothing drop boxes in communities nationwide. They’re normally operated by for-profit businesses (not nonprofits like Goodwill) that collect your used clothes and sell the garments or the materials to the textile recycling industry. If you can’t find a charity nearby that will take your used underthings, you can locate boxes operated by one such company, USAgain, on its website.