Inside: Learn how to get rid of old clothes and understand why you’ve been holding onto pieces that you no longer wear.

Are you living with a closet full of clothes – but can never find anything you actually want to wear?

Is your dresser overflowing with outfit options – but they don’t fit, don’t match, or otherwise don’t have a place in your regular wardrobe?

You aren’t alone.

Let’s be honest. Most of us are holding onto clothes we are never actually going to wear. 

Maybe it’s a dress tucked in the back of the closet, waiting for the perfect occasion. Or maybe it’s all of those jeans that don’t quite fit anymore, but once you lose ten pounds, you’ll be glad you kept them. Maybe it’s a couple of tops you splurged on ages ago but haven’t found the right excuse to wear… yet

If you’re keeping clothes you never actually wear, let’s take a look today at how to decide what clothes to keep and how to get rid of clothes clutter once and for all.

Keep reading to figure out why you’re holding onto all of those clothes – and see how to ethically get rid of clothes that are no longer a fit for you!

how to get rid of old clothes

Why Do I Keep Clothes I Never Actually Wear?

If you’ve held onto a piece of clothing for longer than you should, you’ve probably asked yourself the question…

“Why is this still here?”

And depending on who you ask and what you’re talking about, the answer might differ pretty dramatically. 

Not sure why you’re hoarding those clothes that you’re not wearing? Here are a few reasons for holding onto clutter that might resonate with you.

You’re using clothes as motivation to lose weight.

Our bodies were never meant to stay the same size throughout our lives. Hormones, pregnancy, life changes, medical conditions, habits, and all kinds of other factors can have a huge influence on our body weight and shape – and, as a result, can seriously impact how certain clothes fit. 

Many people attempt to use clothing as motivation to get back down to a prior weight. Holding onto a pair of jeans, a slim-fitting dress, or sometimes a whole wardrobe of items that are too small isn’t uncommon – especially if you’re motivated to get back to a place where they do fit. 

But while realizing the size you’ve worn for years no longer fits might be a tough pill to swallow, in some cases, it’s a fact of life.

Embrace your body as it is today and get the items out of your closet that don’t fit (and are likely making you feel bad). If your weight does tend to fluctuate, box up those items and revisit them at a future date to reassess if you need to continue keeping them.

Wear clothing that you feel good in now rather than staring at the jeans you could barely squeeze into in your 20’s that you’re still hoping might fit again someday. 

how to get rid of old clothes

You feel guilty for spending the money on clothes you will never wear.

Another common reason we keep clothes you never wear? 

We feel guilty for spending the cash on them. 

Let’s be real – clothes don’t come cheap. While you can certainly find some amazing deals and save quite a bit by shopping sales and visiting thrift stores, clothing purchases can represent a bit of an investment for many of us.

And nobody wants to admit we’ve made a bad investment – which is why so many of us hang onto clothes we’ve bought but haven’t actually worn, telling ourselves we’ll wear them eventually.

While it can be really frustrating to acknowledge that you’ve spent money on stuff you aren’t actually going to enjoy, the sooner you accept that fact and embrace the situation, the sooner you can recoup some of the cash you spent on that dress, purse, or pair of shoes and can get it out of your space. 

Letting go of the items can also help you let go of that guilt. Constantly seeing a purchase you regret making does nothing but continue to make you feel bad.

You hate throwing away clothes with sentimental memories.

Many of us hold onto clothes because they carry memories with them. Old sports jerseys, wedding dresses, a favorite pair of jeans… it’s easy for clothes to become a quick and easy way to transport yourself back to important moments in your past.

But there are better ways to honor those memories and keep them top-of-mind that don’t involve filling your closet or dresser drawers with stuff you won’t actually wear ever again. 

You buy so many clothes you can’t possibly wear them all. 

Another reason you might be keeping clothes you never wear?

You might just have too many of them.

For some, shopping is a hobby – not something you have to do a few times a year. The thrill of adding new tops, dresses, skirts, and pants to your wardrobe can be pretty great…at least temporarily.

But if you don’t actually have a reason to wear all that stuff, why are you actually buying it?

Your energy – and your money – are better spent elsewhere. Learn to be more intentional with your shopping habits to stop this problem from continuing to happen.

large closet

You’re keeping it “just in case” you need it.

Sometimes, you need to buy clothes for a specific occasion – a themed birthday party, a tropical wedding, a vacation in a spot with a totally different climate from your hometown. 

It’s easy to tell yourself you might need it again one day. However, it’s important to be realistic about how likely that actually is.

If you’re creating highly atypical scenarios for when you’re going to wear that item again, it’s time to reconsider your intentions and find a new home for that particular piece of clothing.

Worst case scenario, if you happen to find yourself in one of those very rare situations, you can try borrowing the item from a friend or checking your local thrift shop for a suitable option. In all likelihood, that won’t happen though and you won’t continue wasting space in your closet on pieces you won’t ever actually wear again.

How to Get Rid of Old Clothes

After sorting through your clothes and taking out what no longer fits, you don’t feel good in, or simply no longer works with your lifestyle, you need to decide how to get rid of your clothes clutter.

You want to feel good about what you do with the clothes your unwanted clothes so that they hopefully don’t end up in a landfill. Here are some ideas for how to ethically get rid of clothes you never really wear and don’t actually need.

how to get rid of old clothes

Donate them to someone in need. 

The most obvious answer? Donate those unused clothes to people who truly need them. Do some research and find a local organization that can take them off your hands.

Depending on what you’re trying to get rid of, there are lots of organizations out there that would gladly take your unwanted clothes:

  • Groups like Becca’s Closet accept prom dresses for girls who can’t afford them otherwise. If you’re holding onto old formalwear, this – or a similar organization – could be a great way to give it to someone who truly needs it.
  • Dress for Success and similar organizations collect slacks, blouses, skirts, dresses, blazers, and other business wear that could help someone in need dress for their interview or make a great first impression on the job. 
  • Holding onto jeans you no longer need? Give old denim new life by recycling it through an organization like Blue Jeans Go Green.
  • Get to know people in your community and give directly to the end user by listing your unwanted clothes in your local Buy Nothing Group.

With a little research, you can find a worthwhile organization to take those clothes you never wear off of your hands – and get them to someone who will truly appreciate them!

Turn old clothes into a sentimental quilt.

Are you holding onto a ton of old jackets and t-shirts because you simply can’t stand the idea of parting with the memories? Consider turning those pieces into something even more special – a sentimental quilt made of patches from your t-shirts, jackets, and other unneeded apparel.

Can’t sew? No worries! There are lots of services and seamstresses out there who can help you with something like this. A quick Google search in your area should give you a few options!

Sell the clothes you don’t wear for extra cash. 

Need extra money? Selling those clothes you never actually wear could be a great way to earn it.

Whether you decide to sell your stuff through an online vendor like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Ebay, or prefer to set up a yard sale on a sunny weekend, there are lots of different ways to offload those clothes and make a few bucks at the same time. 

When you price your clothing well, the buyer feels like they got a good deal and you know someone who really wanted those clothes got them. It’s a win-win!

how to get rid of old clothes

Do a clothing swap

One more option for how to get rid of old clothes is arranging a clothing swap. You can do this with a close group of friends or make it an even bigger event with a larger group of ladies in your area.

Clothing swaps are a great way to get rid of your unwanted clothes as well as grab a few gems that you’re sure you’ll wear without having to spend a dime.

If you opt to coordinate a clothing swap, decide in advance what you’ll do with the leftover items that no one wants.

What’s your favorite way to get rid of old clothes? Let us know in the comments section!

Looking for more tips on decluttering your clothes? Check out this post on how to be ruthless with decluttering your clothes.

And also, check out this one on a simple alternative to creating a capsule wardrobe.

Sign up on the form below to get weekly tips on decluttering and simplifying sent straight to your inbox! You’ll also get the free Your Home Decluttered Jumpstart which includes 100 easy items to declutter and 12 high impact areas to declutter in 10 minutes.

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  1. Loved this post Julianna, I have had the hardest time pairing down my closet and for all the reasons you mentioned. One thing I enjoyed doing was giving some of my nicer things to young friend that I knew would appreciate them. Donating is great cause it’s fast. Thanks for the reminder about the Facebook Buy Nothing group. That is a great idea too!

  2. Donating clothes is great. Please consider your local community theatre. They often have need for items that can be repurposed for costumes. Thanks.

  3. One of the reasons that I hold onto clothes that don’t currently fit is that I absolutely HATE clothes shopping – I’d rather go to the dentist!. So, I accept lots of hand-me-downs from friends and family and shop only at the thrift store, so I can try items on in the comfort of my own bedroom. If they are anywhere near the realm of possibility, I keep them for later, otherwise they go to the thrift store. I have gotten rid of all my clothes from my impossibly skinny college years – but I would rather wear baggy, ill-fitting clothes than pay actual money for clothes that actually fit today, but maybe not tomorrow. I wish that there were a universally accepted “uniform” that I could wear whenever yoga pants weren’t an acceptable option…

  4. From a guys perspective, I have some clothes that have been favorites, but are showing their age with normal wear and tear. They may not be “good enough” for donation and I already have lots of rags. Any suggestions other than trash?

    1. Check out the For Days, For $20 they will send you a “take back bag” and you get a $20 credit on their website. They mail you a large bag that you fill with any textile items that aren’t in good enough condition to donate and they recycle so your items don’t end up in a landfill.

  5. Great post Julianna! This hit on so many levels. I feel motivated to pare down my wardrobe with a new mindset – thank you!

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