How To Recycle Old Underwear And Socks?

By Rebekah Pierce

Have you ever considered recycling your underwear? It may seem like a strange idea, but it’s actually a great way to reduce waste and help the environment. Plus, it’s a lot easier than you might think. Here’s how to recycle old underwear and socks.

How Do You Dispose Of Old Underwear?

Getting rid of old underwear might not be the first thing on your mind as you’re browsing the Victoria’s Secret catalog in search of new undergarments to wear. However, there will ultimately come a day when your old underwear and socks are no longer fit to wear.

Did you know that an average person in the U.S. throws away close to 70 lbs. of clothing every year due to the lack of recycling?

There are ways you can prolong the life of your socks, underwear, and bras, though. Giving these essential garments a little extra TLC can reduce the amount of waste you contribute to the landfill.

So how do you do this? 

First, consider handwashing and hang-drying your undergarments. The elastic on most underwear will become worn out and stretched out over time on its own, just from everyday wear – but laundering them in a machine can take even more of a toll. 

Hand Washing takes more time, but it’s easier on delicate fabrics and better for the planet. If you must use a washing machine, put them in a garment bag to separate them from heavier fabrics.

When it comes time to dispose of your old underwear and socks, you have a few ways of going about this. The first and most obvious way to get rid of them is to simply throw them in the trash. However, that’s not the best for the planet – you’ll be contributing to the problem of the ever-growing landfills. 

Below, we’ll walk you through some better methods of recycling and repurposing old undergarments and socks. 

What Can I Do With Old Underwear And Socks?

Here are a few ways you can recycle your old underwear and socks.

Darn Them

This sounds like an expletive, but darning is a process that refers to fixing old socks.

Darning is easy and quick to do – and while it does take a little extra time and effort, it is better for the environment and also allows you to continue to wear your favorite pairs of socks for a little bit longer.

Here’s a video to walk you through the process of darning your socks:

Of course, you can mend and repair old underwear and bras, too, but the fixes they require tend to be much more extensive than what you would do with socks.

Make Homemade Pet Toys

You can make your own homemade pet toys by wrapping a tennis ball in the fabric from old undergarments or by making a rope toy. Just make sure your pet doesn’t eat the fabric! 

Underwear Scrunchies – Say What?

You can even make scrunchies from old underwear and socks! The elastic in these is great for holding your hair back. 

DIY Cleaning Wipes

We all need cleaning wipes to clean and disinfect our homes – but these wipes are not only expensive, but they’re also not the best for the planet. You can make DIY cleaning wipes that are free and even reusable out of your old socks and underwear. You’ll simply cut them into strips and then use a cleaning solution made with ingredients like bleach or vinegar and essential oils. 

Pillow Stuffing

If you want to learn how to make your own pillows, there’s never been a better time to start! You can make pillow stuffing by cutting up old socks and undergarments and adding the fabric to an under-stuffed pillow or using it to create your own. 

Can You Put Underwear in a Recycling Bin? 

In most cases, you shouldn’t put underwear in your recycling bin. However, they can be brought to textile drop-off points (you can find drop-off points in your area by searching state websites like this one). 

You can put underwear and socks in any condition in these bins as long as they are clean and dry. 

Donating to a Thrift Store or Selling at a Yard Sale

You can always donate old socks and underwear to a thrift store or sell it at a yard sale. However, there is definitely a bit of a “yuck” factor involved in this. This method is really only advisable if the undergarments and socks are brand new, ideally with the tags still on them.

Otherwise, consider dropping off a bag of new socks and underwear (perhaps ones that just didn’t fit you right or you didn’t like the style of once you got them home) to places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. That way, you don’t have to throw them out – they can still be put to good use. Note that some thrift stores won’t accept these undergarments unless they still have tags on them (bras are the exception).

Other places you can donate used undergarments include:

  • Free the Girls
  • The Bra Recyclers
  • I support the Girls
  • Donate Your Bra

Many homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and YMCAs will accept donations of undergarments, too. 

Sell Online

If you have brand-new undergarments and socks to get rid of, you may be able to sell them online. Some great places to sell old clothes include:

  • ThredUp
  • eBay
  • Poshmark
  • Depop

Depending on the brand and condition, your sale might not be accepted – but it’s always worth a try!

Other Ways to Repurpose Old Undergarments

If you’re not into the idea of making dog toys or pillow stuffing, there are plenty of other ways you can repurpose your old skivvies, too. Here are some ideas:

  • Use the cups of old bras to stitch into swimsuits or dresses (like backless dresses!) that need more support
  • Use padding as a shoe insert to help them keep their shape in storage
  • Reuse hooks and eyes to create a bra extender
  • Make headbands and bracelets 

Where Can I Donate Used Socks?

There are also recycling programs specifically just for used socks and underwear. Here are a few of the best.

Planet Aid

Planet Aid is one of the best companies out there to donate your used socks to. This company has in-person donation boxes all over the country. If you don’t have one near you, you can print out a Give Back Box shipping label at home and mail them in that way. 


Even Nike accepts old socks and shoes. This is done through the Nike Grind program. Check with the Nike store near you for more information.


A woman-owned sock company in Alabama, it’s dedicated to an eco-friendly mission and recycles old socks. They will either be made into brand-new socks or turned into something else entirely. 

Hanky Panky

This brand has a special recycling program called “Lingerie Cycle.” It creates new materials from your old undergarments. 


Knickey is an underwear brand that sells new undergarments but also has a recycling program. You can donate underwear, socks, bras, and even tights and leggings. The company will repurpose them into new materials for furniture, upholstery, carpeting, and padding.

Recycling Old Undergarments – The Easy Way

So, there you have it. A few ways to recycle your old underwear and socks. Hopefully, this has given you the incentive to clean out your sock drawer and start fresh.

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