Uses for Clothing Rags

When clothing isn't good enough to give to a store, I tend to keep them for rags, but have more than I need. I've called animal shelters and homeless shelters, but they either have enough or only accept towels. I was surprised that one animal rescue specifically uses paper towels instead of rags. Aside from using them once, then tossing them, what can I do?

By CS7

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January 6, 20110 found this helpful
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Another thing to consider: Quilting! If you cut usable (still in good shape), seamless areas in 8" X 8" or 12" x 12" inch squares (or larger, 18" x 22" rectangles) you could save some of this fabric for quilting projects. Even if you aren't into the craft, if enough scraps are saved, you could hire some one to piece and stitch an heirloom quilt for individual family members out of old clothes for a reasonable fee.

As well, you could check with local animal shelters and ask if they accept homemade "pet sleeping pads" for their kennels and ask what size (measurements) they need. Unfortunately, why some of the shelters don't accept these cloth donations, or even old towels and sheets, is that they can't afford washing machines, dryers and detergent to clean the donations.

It's taken me years to realize that clothing donations are less appreciated than they use to be, but then again, clothes have become so disposable in our society. I hate it, but try to recycle what I can. As "pamphyila" and "OliveOyl" suggested, there are some places in larger communities that accept any type of cloth donation for rags but this is getting harder and harder to find in smaller and rural communities and the expense is too great to send them to larger areas.

My best "thrifty" suggestion is to donate all "gently used, non trendy items", save all the buttons, detailed collars and cuffs, zippers and such on other items, and cut out standard sizes of fabric for future craft and quilting applications, first. Then simply trash what you can't reuse, give away, or donate. It isn't the best solution, but as "OliveOyl" said, "you can't keep everything!"

Thanks for trying to recycle, but don't beat yourself up if you can't!

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January 6, 20110 found this helpful
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If there is a school that teaches auto mechanics or body work, they just may want some of those rags. Offer them up on freecycle, (freecycle.org) There are a lot of teachers and crafty people out there that would like to get there hands on free cloth of any kind for rugs or crafts. put in a bag on the curb and put a free "take all" sign on it.

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January 7, 20110 found this helpful
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You might consider giving your Senior Center a call to see if they would be interested in them. Ours would snatch them up. They do crafty things, such as quilting, and sell them to make money for their programs.

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January 7, 20110 found this helpful
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If you have a baby around, my Auntie taught me, when I was little, to use cloth diapers for less plastic against the baby's skin. When she was pregnant, she started cutting old clothing and towels and sheets into squares that are 8 inches wide and 8 inches long. She would put the squares inside the cloth diaper when dressing the baby. Cloth diapers stay cleaner with less staining and discoloring because the solids stay in the "diaper liner" rather than getting on the diaper. She did this for all of her children and I had step children that I did this with their babies. It isn't any harder than any other cloth diapers as you insert the liner when you fold the diaper and then just put it on together as needed.

Okay, you can also use them as dusters by spraying a little spray baby oil on them and dusting as you would with any other duster. The slight spray of baby oil on the cloth helps to pick up dust and dirt that are caught in small places and puts a nice sheen on wooden window sills and furniture. I use the scented baby oil because I love the smell, but they also make unscented. Try shopping at a local big pharmacy or big box store and buy their cheaper brand and put it into a spray bottle saved from window cleaner or something with a light spray trigger.

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January 5, 20110 found this helpful

Around here there are large metal donation boxes in some shopping center parking lots. Put the clothing you don't need into these donation boxes. It must depend on where you live, but I often get requests in the mail from charities asking for bags of donated clothing to be left outside on a specific day so they can be collected. If you've done all you can do to pass these clothing items on and can't find anyone to take them, it seems reasonable to throw them away. You can't keep everything.

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January 6, 20110 found this helpful

I have the same problem. I am going to try my hand at making a rag rug. To get started I may just start with a rag trivett or placemat. mh

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January 7, 20110 found this helpful

As has already been suggested, old clothes/rags can be used for craft items. I was thinking specifically of cutting them in strips (all one material type) and knotting or sewing together to make long strips for crocheting - rugs, bags, baskets...

I, too, am part of the 'don't throw away if it can be re-used' contingency! Blessings.

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January 7, 20110 found this helpful

Some op shops may take the old clothes as they can get money for the rags. This works in Australia but I don't know about the U.S.

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January 7, 20110 found this helpful

Offering on your local Freecycle is a fabulous idea. I have used Freecycle for giving and recieving. It is a super group.

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January 7, 20110 found this helpful

A friend of mine new a couple who owned a shop refinishing and staining furniture. They would often buy old clothes and rags because they never had enough. I would try looking into something like this. Good Luck!

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January 8, 20110 found this helpful

Thrift shops can sell unwearable clothing for rags to mechanic shops or furniture refinishing places. If you know any mechanics, you might just ask them if they want them, and cut out the middle man. Of course, not all types of materials are suitable, but old t-shirts and boxers are excellent for this. Any cotton material is great. Polyesters are not as useful.

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