Uses for Old Race T-shirts

Ways to Reuse or Recycle T-shirts and Preserve Your Race Memories

Race T-shirts
Race T-shirts. Wendy Bumgardner ©

If you have been walking charity walks or 10K, half marathon or marathon races, your pile of t-shirts has been growing. You probably wear them for your workouts and to other races (although you need to know the unofficial rules of wearing race shirts at races).

At some point, you have to clean out your closets. What do you do with those old t-shirts? Some have sentimental value that you would like to preserve.

Do you have a creative way to keep the memory while recycling the t-shirt?

1. Donating T-shirts to Charity

If you're willing to just let them go, they are welcome for donation to any charity that accepts used clothing. If you have worn the t-shirt, it should be laundered before donating.

2. Donate T-shirts as Prizes for Sports Activities

Your race t-shirts and medals can be a prize for sports activities by special needs kids, or for activities at a senior center. Check with schools and centers to see if they would be welcomed.

3. Trashed T-shirts Not Welcome - New Life as Rags

If the t-shirt is stained or torn, it isn't suitable to be donated. It is difficult to find a recycling center that accepts cloth for recycling. If you are crafty enough, you may be able to come up with a way to reuse the fabric yourself. We asked readers how they used such t-shirts and found out that they can be useful as rags.

  • Jennifer says that she uses scraps of old t-shirts as rags for household cleaning.
  • Scott says they are the perfect rags for waxing your car.
  • Kathy says that pet shelters will often accept them as rags to use for pet bedding, clean-up and splinting.

4. Make Headbands from Your Old T-Shirts

This is another way to reuse a trashed t-shirt.

The soft and stretchy t-shirt fabric makes good headbands. Step-by-step instructions for t-shirt headbands.

5. Take a Photo to Preserve the Memory, the Donate the Shirt

If you want to save the memory from the walk but you don't want to wear the t-shirt, there are options if you are creative enough.Take a photo of yourself wearing the shirt and then donate the shirt to charity. A scrapbook or digital book of your walking memories takes up much less space than the shirt itself.

6. Memory Quilts and Pillows

Many readers said that they have turned the shirts into quilting blocks and created a lap quilt, full quilt or pillow from their race shirts. Jacque suggested that if you have several shirts from charity walks that you make them into a lap quilt to donate to those served by that charity, such as cancer patients, people recovering from heart surgery, etc. ​

7. Frame Your Shirt and Other Mementos

Cut out the logo from the shirt and frame it for the wall. For major events, you may want to use a ​shadow box and include the race bib and medal with the t-shirt as a backdrop.

8. Make Bags

Turn your shirt into a bag to use for shopping or going to the gym. More: How to Turn a T-Shirt into a Tote Bag

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