How to Dispose of Military Uniforms (7 Common Ways)

Military uniforms bring a lot of pride. However, getting rid of them once they are no longer needed can be challenging.

There is certain respect associated with the uniform that makes it inappropriate to throw it away.

Moreover, different military departments have various guidelines that prohibit simply donating the uniforms.

However, there are still some methods to respectfully and properly dispose of military uniforms.

If you or a family member is a military person and have several old military uniforms at home, here are some ways that can help get rid of them:

Disposing of by Throwing Away

Disposing of old military uniforms by throwing them away is the least environment-friendly solution. It is also the easiest yet also the least ideal.

It is the least environment-friendly as the disposed of uniform will end up as a landfill.

The US is already dealing with a discarded textile issue.

It is estimated that an average US citizen discards about 70 pounds of clothes and textile waste every year.

However, the option of throwing away military uniforms is always open.

But before you throw away your old military uniform, rip off the name tag and military logo patch.

You should also remove any decorations. Someone may find your old uniform in the trash and may try to impersonate military personnel.

There’s no harm in doing it for fun, but if the circumstances became grave, you wouldn’t want to be found guilty of carelessly disposing of a uniform.

Ripping name tags, logos, and decorations off a military uniform takes away its genuinity and lowers the chances of impersonation of military people by civilians.

Nevertheless, don’t forget to check the departmental guidelines before disposing of the uniform in the trash.

Some military departments may have a policy against it. In that case, the following methods of disposal may be helpful:

Disposing of by Donating

Donating military uniforms by donating is a much safer and useful method. However, the advice of ripping off name tags and insignia still applies here.

After ripping off names and logos, you can donate the military uniforms to the following:

Thrift Stores – Many military personnel donate their uniforms to local thrift stores. People can buy these uniforms as customers for Halloween or wear them on national holidays to show their pride in the country. Some fashion lovers may also buy them for camouflage print, special colors and fabrics, or thrift flip purposes.

ROTC – You can donate old military uniforms to your local Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. They may repurpose them as uniforms or for various exercises.

Military Thrift Stores – The profits from military thrift stores go towards the welfare of veterans. By donating your old military uniforms to your local military thrift store, you will be doing some good while disposing of your uniforms.

Disposing of by Burning

Disposing of military uniforms by burning is another method that is not environment-friendly. Military uniforms are usually made with a thick fabric that takes longer to burn.

It generates a lot of carbon dioxide, which will directly add to the air pollution.

However, it leaves behind no traces except some ashes and will completely rid you of your old uniforms.

Instead of burning the whole uniform, we suggest burning the name tags and logo patches only and disposing of the rest of the uniform by another method.

We also suggest not burning the uniform or parts of the uniform at home. The smoke from burning can be harmful to your and your family’s health.

Moreover, it can lead to an increased fire risk and possible fire damage.

Carry out this disposal method in a safe space outside and in line with your local authority’s guidelines.

You only want to burn the uniform, not the entire house.

Disposing of by Shredding

If you’re worried about people impersonating military personnel or if your local thrift stores are too full of military uniforms already, you can always get them shredded. If you choose this method, you wouldn’t be alone in destroying the uniforms.

Many veterans choose to go by this method once they opt out of service. So much so that many military bases offer to shred the uniforms for the veterans.

You can check with a nearby military base to ask if they offer shredding services or would be willing to dispose of the uniform for you.

Alternatively, you can shred the uniforms manually by cutting strips with a pair of scissors.

However, it is not an environment-friendly method either. Once shredded, the pieces of fabric go into the trash. From there, they go into landfills.

Wearing on Special Occasions

You may get rid of military uniforms by removing them from your wardrobe and storing them with seasonal or special items.

You can choose to keep only one uniform out of all the ones you have for this purpose.

You can choose the uniform in the best condition and get it dry cleaned once before storing it somewhere safe.

You can take this uniform out and wear it on special occasions. You can wear it at weddings with all the decorations on your uniform.

You can also wear it on holidays such as Independence Day and Memorial Day.

Disposing of by Selling

This is one of the environment-friendly methods of disposing of military uniforms.

Look out for military surplus stores near you to make some money while disposing of the old uniforms.

You won’t be able to get too much money out of old military uniforms.

However, it will be enough to make you not mind arranging the whole situation.

As military surplus stores fix and resell the military uniforms, the amount you would receive will depend on the condition of your uniforms and the years they are from.

Size may also determine the price you get for your old uniforms.

If you wear a common size or a size that can be altered to a common size, you may receive a better amount for it.

Look for a reliable buyer and remove any insignia before dropping them off.

Also, take pictures and store the records of transactions for safety purposes.

Disposing of by Recycling into Crafts

Military uniforms can be repurposed into a variety of crafts.

The only limit to their use is the quantity you own and the guidelines put in place by the military department.

You can turn old military uniforms into various décor pieces around the house.

Make cushion covers out of them or turns them into eye masks, face masks, wallets, makeup pouches, stationery pouches, tote bags, buttons, scarves, etc.

You can also cut the uniforms into strips and braid them together to form planter hangings, keychains, or wall hangings.

You can also mix and match old uniforms to make a patchwork quilt or throw or use it to cover and upcycle furniture.

If you don’t know where to start, you can look for ideas with instructions on Pinterest and YouTube.

If you don’t want to carry out this method on your own but would like others to do it, you can donate the uniforms to organizations known for repurposing military uniforms.

 Two such organizations are Sword and Plough and Bands for Arms. They recycle military uniforms into tote bags and bracelets, respectively.

A Staff Sergeant Nicole Pompei also recycles old military uniforms by turning them into wreaths.

Disposing of by Preserving

Preserving an old uniform is a great way to remind yourself of your service to the country.

If you are looking through this article for the military uniforms of a deceased family member, this method would honor their sacrifice and bring you pride.

You can choose one set of uniforms for this purpose. You can choose the one that’s in the best condition and get it dry cleaned.

Get a shadow box of appropriate size, place the uniform in it, and seal the box.

You can also seek the help of professionals for this job. Once the box is sealed, you can display it somewhere in your house.

If you don’t want to display it, store it somewhere safe from dust, dampness, and sunlight. Ensure this step while displaying it too.

You wouldn’t want the uniform to get destroyed after going through the trouble of preserving it as a souvenir.

While preserving, keep the name tags and insignia on the uniform.

Add all the earned decorations too.

Lastly, don’t forget to safely dispose of names, badges, tags, and other decorations by donating them to the Museum of the American GI.

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