Tips for Salvaging Old Clothes in Your Wardrobe

By Trace Ferguson
Old Clothes

We all have old clothes that we don’t wear as much as we used to. Sometimes the clothes are visibly worn down or sometimes they are just no longer in style. Either way, they usually end up collecting dust in the back of our closets. I like to think of this part of the closet as the clothing graveyard; once my clothes go there, they will never see the light of day again. So, what do you do with these long-lost clothes? There are two options: fix them or toss them.

Consolidate your neglected clothes in “keep” and “get rid of” piles. For the clothes that you are keeping, analyze their condition. It is common for worn clothes to have pilling, missing buttons or discoloration. Luckily, most of these problems can be fixed!

Pilled Clothing

Pilled clothing can be annoying because you cannot lint-roll or pick off the fluff balls without possibly pulling threads. To fix this, take a disposable shaving razor and lay your garment down on a flat surface. Make sure to stretch the pilled area tight with one hand while using the razor to shave off the fluff with the other. Go over all the pilled areas on the clothing until it has no more visible balls of fluff!

Missing Buttons

For clothing with missing buttons, you will need some thread that matches the current stitching color on the clothing item. Hopefully you kept the fallen button, but if not, your local fabric store is sure to have a variety of similar buttons (and hopefully a 40 percent off coupon as well). With a threaded needle, weave the thread through the button hole(s) in a secure manner and then stitch the button back on its original spot on the garment.

Faded Dye

With enough washes, dye in clothing will fade over time. Thankfully, most black clothing is completely salvageable! You can purchase black powder dye from your local craft store to revive your washed-out clothes. If your garment is made from cotton, linen, silk, rayon or nylon, then it will receive dye well. Unfortunately, 100 percent polyester or spandex clothing will not receive dye well, so you should avoid dying those items. To start the dyeing process, fill a bucket with very hot water. In a separate container, mix more hot water with the appropriate amount of black dye powder according to the package instructions. Mix the powder and water with a utensil that you do not mind staining. Pour the dye in the hot water-filled bucket and then submerge your garment in the mixture for up to an hour. Rinse the garment in warm water and then hang dry.


Deodorant stains are also a culprit of discoloration in light and dark clothing alike. There are several remedies that can banish these stains from your clothes. Mix four tablespoons of baking soda and ¼ cup of warm water together until it becomes a paste. Then, rub a good amount of the paste on the stained area and make sure that it absorbs into the fabric. Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour and then wash like normal. If the stain is still visible after washing, try grinding up three Aspirin pills and mixing them with ½ cup of warm water. Submerge the stained item in the mix and let it sit for two to three hours. After, wash the garment like normal. Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which is useful for removing stains.

We can tend to give up on clothes that have imperfections or show signs of wear. Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to revive your old clothes and make them (almost) new again. This will also help extend the life of your wardrobe and save you money on buying new clothes in the future!


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