How to Create a Recycled Closet with Secondhand Pieces in 5 Steps

Intentionally maintaining your closet contributes to successfully saving money. Create a recycled closet of secondhand clothes you purchased frugally and thoughtfully. It is both rewarding and easy. Getting started only takes one day; after that, you can maintain this money-saving setup for years!

1. Clean and Sort

The first step to create a recycled closet is to get caught up on your laundry. Know exactly you have before you switch to a recycled wardrobe. You don’t need to put everything away, but having everything hung up and visible helps.

Alternatively, sort clothes on a clean floor or on a made bed. You want the space you’re using to get started to be clear and clean so that your clothes are easy to see and don’t get dirty in the process.

some clothes on the floor in order to make you sort them and organize better your recycled closet

2. Evaluate Your Wardrobe

Moving toward a recycled wardrobe begins with an honest evaluation of your current clothing stash. Ask yourself some simple questions to get started:

  • What kind of items have gone unworn for over a year?
  • Which items have a fit, color, or style that is unflattering to my body today?
  • Which ones are stained or in need of repair?

Separate clothes that fit any of these descriptions. Everyday items that have gone a whole year without being worn should immediately be removed from your home.

Clothes that do not make you feel and look good should also be removed at once. They do not belong in your newly recycled closet. Finally, examine the clothes that need repair or are too stained to wear.

Can you reasonably expect to remedy the problem this week? If not, let the item go. Put them in boxes, get them out of the house within 24 hours, and resist the urge to “rescue” items on the way out. If letting these things go is difficult, remember that they must get out of your closet to make room for quality recycled pieces you can love and use regularly.

3. Sell, Donate or Repurpose

Once you’ve decided what must go, consider whether to sell, repurpose or donate them. Only opt to sell items that are high enough quality to be worth your time and shipping cost. Skip selling items that have obviously been worn; they usually don’t bring in enough profit to make up for your effort.

Selling also can take up significantly more time than repurposing or donating, and that delays meeting your goal to create a closet full of recycled, quality clothes. Items that you choose to repurpose can be used for cleaning or other household purposes. For example, it’s possible to eliminate the need for paper towels in your cleaning closet by repurposing enough old socks, t-shirts and towels. The worn-out clothing stays out of the landfill and you avoid the expense of including paper towels in your cleaning routine.

Portrait of female volunteer holding clothes in donation box at workshop

Recycled materials are not limited to the typical paper, cardboard, glass, or plastic variety seen on bins. Repurposing your old textiles can also give new life to the old, worn pieces of your wardrobe in the form of a shopping or produce totes, a no-sew pillowcase, or a more on-trend fashion piece than the one you were going to purge. Most casual clothing items are recycled materials waiting to be reused as they wear out. Keep looking for ways to save money recycling clothing, and you will see the benefits in your bank account.

4. Set Standards for Your Recycled Closet

Once you are left with just the clothes you really enjoy wearing, decide what clothes to let into your recycled closet in the future. Ask yourself what would make getting dressed cheaper, easier and more fun than it was before your closet overhaul. Try the following suggestions when setting your standards for your wallet-conscious closet:

  • Choose items in solid colors that pair well with a variety of outfits.
  • Learn about quality materials that can handle your lifestyle, then choose to purchase items that can stand your kind of wear and tear rather than needing to be replaced often.
  • Avoid clothing with special laundering instructions. They tend to be more expensive and fragile, which means you could be shelling out money for a replacement sooner than you would like.
  • Plan to bring balance to your wardrobe. Prevent overspending in one area when your closet is lacking in another. Resist the urge to buy too much of a good thing. You’ll enjoy finding new ways to wear your most-loved pieces more often.

5. Learn to Shop Recycled Clothing

Now that you have a less full closet and a new set of standards to save money, remember these tips to help you navigate the world of secondhand shopping:

recycling process image
  • Scout sales. Check social media for your local secondhand stores and sign up for mailing lists so you know when you can save the most money at each store.
  • Know what you need. When you considered the balance of your closet, you saw what items were lacking and where you needed to quit spending. Resolve not to buy anything just because you like it if it means adding to the already heavier side of your closet. Keep the items you actually need on a list and don’t forget to seek those first. Avoid buying items that can’t be worn with at least a few things you already own.
  • Set your budget before you go. Bring with you only the amount of cash you should send to clothing this month or pay period so you won’t be tempted to overspend “just a little”.
  • Prepare for the mission. Don’t shop on an empty stomach or while dehydrated. You’ll be distracted and it won’t be as fun!
  • Try before you buy. Everything looks and feels different on your body than on the hanger. No more wasting your hard-earned money on clothes that don’t actually fit or feel good.

Take the time to create a closet with recycled clothes. Looking for secondhand treasures and saving money is a challenge, but it’s fun and well worth it. Stick to your new standards; you will look good and feel good about your investment in quality recycled clothing!