What Should I do with Old Military Uniforms

Angled photo of a apir of tan leather Army combat boots placed together on camouflage uniform on black background.

If you or a loved one has served in the military and still has an old uniform lying around, I’m sure you’re wondering what you should do with it. Military uniforms are items that should be treated with great respect, so you’ll want to make sure you either get rid of them or repurpose them properly.

The most common thing people do with old military uniforms is donate them to a thrift store or donate them to a military organization. Both these options will ensure that the uniform will be able to be worn or repurposed by someone. It is also the best way to give to those in need.

If you would rather hold onto your old uniform and repurpose it yourself, there are many ways you can do that. The following information will list places you can donate your old uniform to and ways you can repurpose your old uniform.

Places to Donate

Almost all donation centers will accept military uniforms. If you’re looking to get rid of your military uniform quite quickly a local thrift store would be the best place to donate to. If you want to take the time to make sure your military uniform ends up being repurposed for military purposes, I highly suggest donating it to a military organization.

Here are some thrift stores that will accept military uniforms:

  • Goodwill
  • Savers
  • Local thrift stores

Here are military organizations you can donate to:

  • Local ROTC or JROTC programs
  • Local Military Base
  • American Legion
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Sword & Plough
  • Private military companies

Here are other places that will accept military uniforms:

  • Museums
  • Schools
  • local theatre groups
  • Textile fabric company

Remember when donating old military uniforms, no matter if they go to a regular thrift store or a military organization, all name tags and emblems should be removed. If you have medals, badges, and ribbons on your uniform they must be removed as those are illegal to donate.

Studio shot of US flag shoulder patch on solder’s uniform

Ways to Repurpose a Uniform

If you would rather hold onto your military uniform and repurpose it, there are a ton of ways you can use your old military uniform. I personally think if you don’t want to donate it to a military organization, this is the next best thing. I think keeping a military uniform and repurposing it for memories is such a neat idea.

Here are some ways you can repurpose an old military uniform:

  • Make a quilt
  • Put it in a shadow box with other military memorabilia
  • Frame the uniform
  • Keep it so your kids can see it and even wear it
  • Make a wreath
  • Make a bag
  • Make a wallet

Each branch has different regulations when it comes to using old military uniforms, so make sure you research what rules your branch has for old military uniforms.


If you want to make some money off of your old military uniform, there are places you can sell the uniform to who will treat it with respect.

There are a ton of military surplus stores that will buy your old military uniform from you and sell them to people who are serving in the military or people who once served and want a uniform for memorabilia purposes. Depending on the condition of the uniform, when you served, the branch of service, and the size of the uniform will determine how much you receive for the uniform.

Just like when you donate the uniform, make sure all emblems, name tags, medals, badges, and ribbons are removed before you sell.

U.S. MARINES Tape with dog tags on olive green uniform background

Throwing It Away

Sometimes you just need to get rid of something quickly, and the easiest way to do that is by trashing that item. Military uniforms can be thrown away, although that is not the preferred method. There are specific ways to throw a military uniform away.

Here are ways to dispose of a military uniform:

  • Cut it up and scrap it
  • Burn it
  • Take it to a textile shredding place
  • Just throw it away
  • Use strips or squares as shop cloths

Once again, depending on the branch, you may not be able to throw the uniform away. Make sure you research the rules your branch has for old military uniforms and their disposal.

Another thing you’ll want to be careful of when throwing away an old military uniform is understanding the concept of stolen valor. Stolen valor is when someone claims to have served in the military but has never actually served. Unfortunately, you cannot prevent somebody from doing this, but you can make the uniform more basic by removing the name tag and emblems. The best way to fully prevent this from happening is to keep your military uniform or fully destroy the uniform.

Treating Military Uniforms with Respect

Military uniforms are government property whether you bought them after you served or during your time of service. If you have any questions on what you can and cannot do with your military uniform, make sure you do some research on what your branch requires of you when having an old military uniform in your possession.

The most respectful thing you can do for any military uniform is repurpose it, display it in your own home, or donate it to military organizations.

If you have medals, badges, and ribbons you should keep those! After all, you did earn them! But, if you want to get rid of those too, you are required to give them back to the branch of the military you served in because those are respected honorary items that must be earned.

American Soldiers Saluting US Flag

Entering a New Era

It can be hard to let go of things, especially if it was such an important and vital time in your life. Donating and repurposing your old military uniform will ensure that you are giving the uniform a new life and treating it with respect. If another way works better for you, then make sure you follow all the required rules your branch has in place for old military uniforms. It’s time for you and your old military uniform to enter a new era in life. Thank you for your service and all that you have done for this country.

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