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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

(Tee) Shirts Happen: How to Get Control of Them

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

T-shirts are like clothing memorabilia. You buy them when you go on vacation, when you participate in an activity, when you want to cheer on your favorite team, and when you want to make a statement. And sometimes t-shirts are just given to you! Like, totally free! I mean who doesn’t love free?! What’s better than that free t-shirt shot to you from a slingshot during a local sports game (likely knocking someone else out of the way to be the recipient). While you don’t need it, you earned it — why not take it?! And then one day, when your bureau drawer is jammed, you realize: where the heck did all of these t-shirts come from?!

Do you know what I mean? Perhaps you’ve experience that “drawer jammed” moment. Or are you quietly living with it now? It’s ok, friend, I’m here for you. You have the power to take control of your t-shirts. YOU CAN DO IT! And there will be light, at the end of the tunnel, and perhaps in your bureau drawers after reading this blog. Trust me — and read on.

Here’s the 5 steps to t-shirt overload recovery:

1. Take inventory of ALL your t-shirts

Pull every single t-shirt out of your drawers, closet, storage bins and anywhere else you may keep them. If you are like my husband, perhaps you have a storage bin called “Funny T-shirts”. Those “Funny T-shirts” apparently come out in the summer (well, until he entered my 5-step recovery process).

Take your pile and sort through, creating categorized piles based on themes. Maybe you have a “road race” pile, a “travel” pile, a “sports teams" pile, and so on. As you’re sorting, separate any t-shirts that have holes, stains and general wear and tear. Be sure those enter into the “recycle” pile.

2. Itemize your shirts

Once your t-shirts are categorized, itemize them. You can quickly see the number of shirts based on the theme. By doing this, you can start to see whether you need that many of the same type of shirt. For instance, do you really need 30 road race t-shirts? Perhaps you keep a few memorable races where you got a PR, or just keep the most recent.

3. Give your t-shirt a second chance

No, I don’t necessarily mean that you should keep the t-shirt for a second chance in YOUR home. But rather, find a new purpose for the t-shirts that you are not keeping. There are many new future paths for that t-shirt. Their future is bright! Here are different places they could go:

*Donation: Yes! Pass your good t-shirts forward to those who can benefit from them. Big Brother Big Sister, Epilepsy Foundation, and many other non-profits will gladly accept your NKOTB 1987 World Tour t-shirt with open arms. And if you really do have a t-shirt that old — that’s impressive!

*Textile recycling: Did you know that natural fibers can take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill? Yep. Truth. So, with that in mind, take those ripped, faded and stained tees, and recycle them. Check your local transfer station to see whether they have a special textile recycling bin. Or, visit to find out where you can drop your textiles and more to be recycled.

*Repurpose: There are lots of ways to repurpose an old t-shirt. If you’re a DIY’er, the Huff Post published an article covering 20 uses for an old t-shirt, including making them into bags, bracelets, and wall art. I recently turned my husband’s t-shirts (including the “Funny T-Shirts”) into a quilt via Project Repat. It’s a fun and useful item, which we get lots of use out of during our chilly New England days. I also cut many t-shirts into dust rags. While it’s not as glamorous, it has been quite practical. By doing so, we’ve significantly cut down on the paper towel use in our home. Booyah!

4. Organize and Fold

Once you’ve got your “keepers” it’s time to get them back in your shelves, drawers, or baskets. If you’re placing your t-shirts in shelves, I recommend that you fold them and neatly stack them in piles based on category. Use acrylic dividers to separate them and help keep them from flopping over. If you’re putting your t-shirts back in drawers or baskets, fold them using the Konmari method of folding. I’ve grown to really like this method because it’s easy to see the shirts you have, and access them without pulling others out in the process.

5. Keep stock

Even after you downsize your t-shirt collection, it’s not over. Let’s be real — there will be ones that enter your home with the hopes of staying for more than just the weekend. Before they enter into your drawers, re-evaluate the t-shirts that you already have and decide whether to keep your new shirt, and swap an old one out in its place. It’s okay not to keep the new one, too! While it may sound wasteful, remember there’s always a future for it.

Are you feeling ready to embrace your jammed t-shirt drawer now? Or perhaps assist someone else in your family? You got this — you’re only 5 steps away from a cleaner drawer!

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