A Second Life for Quality Clothing

Use it up, Wear it out…    A common concern I hear from people in the process of downsizing their belongings is a sense of guilt over de-owning perfectly good items because of small imperfections. The frugal adage, “Use it up, wear it, make it do, or do without” is deeply entrenched, especially in individuals raised by the War era generation.

To Everything There is a Season.   I have come to believe that everything has its season, and sometimes letting something go is the most cathartic, healthy choice for your long-term wellbeing.   This especially applies to items that are “emotionally heavy”.  Perhaps the object’s best and highest use is actually as a catalyst to letting go of tough seasons and clearing your space for better seasons ahead.

Fortunately, most decluttering projects are less emotionally charged.  Instead, they lean more toward mundane workaday decisions.  Following this trail, I’ve been observing how much waste is associated with decluttering clothing. One dilemma we face is hanging on to clothes longer than necessary because they are structurally sound despite being marred by small stains.  We have items we would like to donate, but these unsightly imperfections render them unsaleable.  We dutifully haul bags of used clothing to the charity stores where they simply sort out the stained donations and toss them.

Extending the Season.  I am frugal by nature and I struggle with things ending up in landfills just because they don’t look “new” anymore. As a mother of three young children, I would think of my privileged position in a world of need and feel guilt for throwing them away. The environmentalist in me bristled at the waste as well.  For me, the solution lay in extending the useable season for some of these items.

In the spirit of minimalism, I want to reduce my need for additional clothing, while keeping the clothing budget minimized as well. I find that “rehabbing” some favorite items achieves these goals by getting extended wear out of them.

To that end, I offer the following. It is an amazing stain remover recipe originally devised by a resale shop owner specializing in children’s clothes. My hope is that in the process of minimizing, a little effort to restore some still functional clothing will reduce the landfill waste and give the items a second life.  Not to mention, affordable durable clothing will bless someone else.

  Happy trails!

Stain Remover

1 c. powdered Cascade dishwasher detergent
1 c. Clorox II all fabric bleach
5 gallons of hot water
  • Combine Cascade with Clorox II in 5 gallons of the hottest water that comes out of your tap.  Soak articles overnight and launder as usual.  Use caution with delicate fabrics and non-colorfast items.  You may substitute cheaper brands, but I’ve found these two name-brands work the best.