Inside: Want to save more money and create less waste? Here are ten items to repair instead of replace.

A guest post by Rose Morrison

Over time your home can get cluttered with stuff. Some of it you use, some of it you don’t, and sometimes things sit around waiting to be repaired or tossed.

When something gets damaged or breaks, your first thought may be to run to the store and replace it — but this isn’t always necessary.

Simple repairs can be a real money saver as well as keep things out of a landfill. Here are some things you can repair, instead of replace. 

10 Items to Repair Instead of Replace

When you’re trying to live more simply, it can require some creative thinking. Part of simple living is working to make do with what you have rather than buying new when possible.

While the art of repairing broken items has been largely lost over recent years, it may be making a comeback again with items being less readily available and more expensive.

Certain items can be repaired fairly simply at significantly less cost than buying a replacement. An added advantage to fixing something is that it keeps it out of a landfill for longer.

Living in a throw-away culture can cause laziness. It does take more time to repair things than simply clicking a few buttons to replace them. However, the impact this will have on the environment and your wallet are worth the additional effort.

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are ten items to repair instead of replace.

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1. Stuffed Animals 

Kids love cozying up with their favorite stuffed animals, but they can sometimes get a little rough with their play. This can lead to ripped seams or dirty fur.

Also, with age, these items get worn down and the stuffing may start to come out. Before running to the store, give the stuffed animal a little TLC. 

Take time to restuff, patch any holes and give it a good wash. Repair seams by measuring the desired length of thread so you have enough to cover the hole. Then follow these steps:

1. Push the thread through the hole of the needle.

2. Match both of the threads to their ends and double-knot the two ends together. 

3. Cut any extra thread at the end of the knot.

4. Move the sewing needle to the top of the tear in the fabric. Push it through the interior of the material.

5. Start stitching up the tear.

6. Pull the needle and thread through the loop, and pull it tightly on your final stitch.

7. Cut the end of the thread. 

Saving and repairing these stuffed animals will make your child happier since they often have an emotional attachment to them.  

2. Sweaters

You can easily wear down your sweater fabric through everyday use. Sometimes a loose end of the sweater ends up caught in a door handle, causing it to unravel. You might then decide to donate it and head for the store. 

Give your sweater a simple repair before you overflow your closest with new clothes. You can patch up seams and holes to make them look brand new. 

First, find a thread that matches the sweater’s color. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Thread the needle. 

2. Sew it up with a basic stitch. This involves moving up and down along the tear, working from the inside.

3. Knot the thread at the end and cut it. 

You can even cover holes and coffee stains by sewing on designed patches if you’re crafty. This can give your sweater a whole new look. 

hand tools

3. Tools 

Your tools may be stored away in your shed and not regularly cleaned. This can cause them to become dirty and rusted over time.

Try simple maintenance tricks instead of running to the store for new tools each season. Start by wiping your supplies with a rag to remove debris or dust. If you notice buildup, sand, or scrape it away. 

Be sure to use this simple process when scraping:

1. Remove any grease or dirt with dish soap.

2. Scrub the rust. 

3. Bring in a drill-powered wire wheel for backup.

Then check for any signs of damage. Look out for signs of crack or splinters and buy a replacement part if you notice these on the handle.

Once you’re done cleaning, lubricate the tool with an all-purpose oil. Repairing things is an excellent way to save money and to keep using what you already own.

items to repair instead of replace

4. Handbags and Purses

Do you carry your purse with you whenever you go out? The everyday use can wear down straps, especially if it holds heavy items.

Also, stains and dirt can collect if you spill food or leave it on an outside surface. Instead of buying a new purse, reinforce the straps with new hardware. 

You can purchase replacement straps online or head to your local retail store. This can be much cheaper than buying a new purse. Designer brands such as a new Louis Vuitton can cost around $1,100 to about $6,000. 

Treat leather stains with white vinegar. Neutral shoe polish works well on untreated leather. Also, keep in mind you can patch up any holes or rips in the fabric. To fix them, follow these steps:

1. Take the lining out. 

2. Unpick the bottom seam using a seam ripper.

3. Cut off any loose threads.

4. Cut a square of the sticky interfacing.

5. Pull the fabric together to meet along the tear.

6. Set iron to medium and carefully apply it to the front of the fabric.

7. Sew the seam back. 

Add side pockets or line the interior to increase your purse’s functionality. This makes it easier to carry extra items, like makeup or credit cards. 

jewelry

5. Jewelry 

Your jewelry can become rusted, or you can lose pieces over time. It can start to appear dull without proper maintenance. This is especially true if you keep it sitting out on your dresser instead of in a box. 

Polish your pieces with household products. Apply a light baking soda and vinegar coating, and then rinse it clean.

You can buy replacement parts if you lose specific jewelry components, such as the clasp. Do the following to reattach it: 

1. Locate the jump ring between the clasp and the chain.

2. Use needle-nose pliers to grip the jump ring on both sides of the silt.

3. Twist one hand away from you and the other toward you.

4. Put the string and clasp onto the newer jump ring. Then, use the pliers to hold both sides of the slit. Twist the ends of the jump ring toward one another.

5. Use one set of pliers to squeeze the ring’s rim, bringing the ends closer together. Then return the needle-nose pliers to their sides and twist until they come together.

shoe repair

6. Shoes

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Have quality pairs of shoes that you love that have become dull and worn looking? You can bring life back to them by reconditioning and/or repairing them.

If all your shoes require is some polish and buffing, that’s simple to do yourself. If the heel of the shoe is coming loose, you can use Shoe Goo as a temporary fix.

For a longer-lasting shoe repair and more thorough reconditioning, find a shoe repair place in your area. They have stronger glues and can replace heels if needed.

Your shoes will last much longer which saves you money as well as saves your feet from having to break in a new pair of shoes.

items to repair instead of replace

7. Clothing

Similar to sweaters, other pieces of clothing are great items to repair instead of replace. Whether it is children’s clothes or your favorite pair of jeans, simple repairs can greatly extend the life of your clothing pieces.

Do the following to repair it:

  1. Turn the garment inside out & locate the tear.

2. Use thread that is a close match to the fabric and stitch where the hole is.

3. Before tying off the end peek at the repair from the other side to make sure the repair is strong.

If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this helpful video that demonstrates the process.

Repairing your clothing can put your favorite pieces back into your wardrobe rotation rather than having them continue to sit in your closet waiting to be fixed.

dishwasher

8. Appliances

If you’ve had your dishwasher or clothing washer stop working suddenly, it can be tempting to immediately begin researching what new replacement appliance to purchase.

While sometimes that is warranted if the appliance has reached the end of its life or if the repair is more costly than a replacement machine would be.

On occasion though, the repair may be inexpensive and not too challenging to do yourself. First, make sure you’ve been maintaining your appliance properly.

Sometimes something as simple as cleaning out your dishwasher trap can get your machine back to running properly again. Youtube is a great resource for researching the specific problem you’re having with an appliance and trying to figure out if it may be one of the items to repair instead of replace.

items to repair instead of replace

9. Linens

Another one of the items to repair instead of replace is linens. If you have a sheet or tablecloth with a tear or a seam that comes unraveled, it is pretty quick and easy to repair.

While you can repair it in much the same manner that you did clothing, if the tear is large or a long section has become unraveled, using a sewing machine will make the process much faster.

If you don’t own a machine, see if you can borrow one from a friend or ask in your local Buy Nothing group to see if someone who has a machine may even be willing to make the repair for you.

Keep the things you love by taking the time to repair them instead of replacing them.

chair with a broken leg

10. Furniture

The final item we will mention for repairing instead of replacing is furniture. Furniture used to be made to last the test of time. Well-made pieces can often be repaired, which is good news since most manufactured furniture now is of significantly lower quality.

Depending on what the issue with the piece of furniture is, you may just need some wood glue and clamps to repair the piece. If the repair is quite complicated or beyond your abilities, check with a local furniture repair shop to see what would be required (and what it would cost) to fix it.

If your furniture piece is still in good shape structurally but looks tired and worn, consider refinishing or painting it and perhaps swapping out the nobs or pulls if needed. This is something frugal declutterers like to do!

Refinishing does take quite a bit of time and supplies, but to create a customized unique piece you love with a quality piece of furniture you already have can be worth the investment (and it certainly costs less than buying a newly manufactured piece of lesser quality).

There are a variety of ways to breathe new life into older pieces of furniture. You can find lots of inspiration for that on Pinterest.

What items do you repair instead of replace? Share it in the comments!

Having the newest items is exciting, but shopping every day can be a financial drain and fill your home with too much stuff.

It’s better to fix what you have rather than cluttering your house with more items. Do your wallet, your space, and the planet a favor and repair your damaged items instead.

Rose Morrison is a freelance writer who covers home décor and organization tips. She is also the managing editor of Renovated. You can check out her Twitter to see more of her work.

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6 Comments

  1. I try to fix everything! If it doesn’t work out, I am no further behind. When I worked, I would try to repair anything that broke. I fixed electric pencil sharpeners, staplers, even a microfiche machine! I was amazed at how everyone acted like I was crazy…(but they would still bring broken/torn things to me to fix).

  2. This is great and makes me think of a time that I found a beautiful pair of leather boots (that fit me perfectly by-the-way) on clearance for less than $20. They were $400 boots but had a missing buckle/strap at the top of one of them. I purchased them and took them to a shoe repair shop that matched the other boot perfectly in just a few days…..and only charged me $20 for the labor/materials.
    I figured that worst that could happen is I would end up with a pair of “kick around” boots that fit me perfectly even if they weren’t perfect-looking, but instead got a fantastic $400 pair for $40!

    1. I love this, Carol! I found a pair of barely worn leather boots at a community garage sale years ago for only $10! They quickly became my favorites and I’ve taken them to the shoe repair shops a couple of times for refreshing :).

  3. Hi.. We try to repair everything we can.
    If pair of jeans are unrepairably old, we cut them and make shorts..

  4. I fix as much stuff as I can, just recently mended a hole in a sock. I’m picky about socks so don’t like to shop for them, I can fix the hole in about 5 min. Use thin yarn, a lock stitch to start (no knots), and just weave back n forth to fill the hole.

  5. Great post Rose! I have gone back and forth with fixing things and not wanting too but most of the time if I can fix clothes I do because I love to sew 🙂 my new sustainability goal is to avoid buying new clothes and sew or thrift instead.

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