The thriftiest ways to get rid of your kids' old clothes

You’ve probably spent a good deal of money clothing your kids over the years. Luckily, you have options besides throwing them away.

Published March 11, 2021|4 min read

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Kids grow too fast and make too many messes for anyone to get precious about clothing. It can seem like your kids are always one growth spurt away from needing to jettison nearly everything in the closet.

Which leaves parents with piles of old clothes to contend with. Luckily, there are many ways to handle the clothes your kids outgrow. 

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1. Sell them

You’ve probably spent a good deal of money clothing your kids over the years. You can sell items that are in good shape to put a few bucks back in your pocket. 

“When deciding which items of children’s clothes to sell, consider the condition of the article of clothing. People that buy second-hand clothing — we do! — look for clothes that have been minimally used, NWT (new with tags), or are still in good condition after regular use,” said Angela Carte, who runs family blog Mini Riches with her husband, Joe. Clothes must be free of stains, holes, snags and tears, she added. 

There are almost too many options to choose from when selling clothes:

  • Consignment shops: These local stores will keep your kids’ clothes on the shelf until they sell, and give you a cut. Make sure you understand the store’s policies before committing.

  • Online resellers: There is a huge variety of online resellers including ThredUp, Kidizen, OfferUp, eBay and more. Some websites connect you with buyers, while others pay on consignment or buy everything up front. Do your research to find the best one for you. 

  • Social networks: You can sell directly to community members by posting your items on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or community forums. 

  • Yard sale: An old-school yard sale will bring neighbors who will haul stuff away for you — no need to leave the house. 

2. Donate them 

If you aren’t concerned about making any money off your kids’ clothes (or you’ve already put the bigger ticket items up for sale), consider donating them to a charity or giving them to a family that needs them. You can help someone in need and in most cases get rid of just about everything in one fell swoop.

“Donating is an easy way to get the unnecessary garments out of the house quickly, and it is a wonderful way to teach charity to your children. The same rules apply to the clothes you choose to donate. Families that benefit from donated clothing items still want their children to look presentable,” said Carte. 

If you want to give away clothes to friends, family or community members, ask around with families in your network or post on a local community forum. Don’t just show up on a family’s door unsolicited with giant bags of clothes — they may not need everything you have to offer.

If you want to donate clothes to charity, you have options ranging from national organizations to local charities. In winter, warm stuff like gloves, sweaters, pajamas and coats will be especially useful. The local animal shelter may even accept items that aren’t in good shape. 

“There are big-name donating chains like The Salvation Army. We suggest asking your local church or community outreach organization to find out how best to serve your community with your donation,” said Carte. “Local organizations will know of families that have been hit by natural disasters or medical struggles that could benefit from your donation.” 

Remember that charitable donations, including clothes, can be claimed on your taxes if you itemize your deductions. If you donate clothes to an official charity, make sure to get donation receipts for tax purposes. 

3. Repurpose them 

Some items can be repurposed or given new life. This is a good option if you’re a crafty person who enjoys making things or you just hate seeing anything go to waste. Some repurposing ideas include:

  • Turning baby clothes into a memory quilt

  • Using items with cool patterns to create stuffed animals

  • Turning a onesie into a holiday stocking

  • Making a pillow out of old clothing

  • Using worn out items for rags

Pinterest is a good resource for crafting ideas and instructions, said Carte. Anything you don’t use for crafts can be used for everyday housework.

“Socks and 100% cotton shirts are useful for scrubbing floors and as dusting rags. Save old T-shirts in a box in the garage and use them for oil cleanups, staining or finishing rags, and old rags to dust off wood shavings or cobwebs," she said.

4. Hold on to them

Unless the door is 100% closed on having another kid, you can just hold on to everything. You can avoid a lot of unnecessary expenses if you simply store your clothes away to be used by the next kid. 

“We had four sons, and then came along our daughter. Some of the same baby clothes worn by our first son were also worn by our baby girl — 10 years later. If you think another child may be in your future, even if by ‘accident,’ I would encourage you to hold onto the hand-me-downs that are in reusable condition, at least for a few years,” said Carte. 

5. Throw them out

You shouldn’t have any problem selling or donating items that are in good shape. But most places (understandably) won’t want used underwear or items that aren’t in good condition. If you have exhausted your options and can’t reuse certain items, they can be thrown away. 

Before you purge old clothes

Whether you’re selling your kids’ clothes, donating them or holding on to them, wash everything. Stuff with set-in stains may need some extra attention. Sort and label everything by size into trash bags or boxes. As many parents know, staying organized with kids makes everything easier in the long run. 

Image: GettyImages / Aleksandar Nakic