What to do with old duvets - how to dispose or repurpose worn-out bedding

All the eco-friendly ways to dispose or repurpose a duvet that's past its best

Duvet folded on top of mattress
(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re wondering what to do with old duvets, you’re not alone. Most people have no idea how to get rid of a duvet, and this ultimately leads to a deluge of duvets ending up at landfill. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Unfortunately, there will come a time when even the best duvet needs to be replaced, and it’s your responsibility to dispose of it properly. And while throwing your old duvet away may seem like the easiest option, it’s actually the most harmful. That’s why experts would always suggest recycling or reusing your old duvet. 

If you want to sleep better (both literally and metaphorically) knowing that your old duvet has gone to the right place, we’ve consulted with the experts to cover all of the ways you can dispose of your old duvet and how you can repurpose your old duvet around your home. 

What to do with old duvets

'While a duvet may eventually break down over time, they can release harmful chemicals produced by the synthetic materials they are made from which can be harmful for the environment,' says Rachel Marshall, Brand Manager, Bensons for Beds

'With this in mind it's always recommended to look for alternative uses for your old duvets whether that be in the home or through donations.' So, here are your options. 

Duvet pulled back on bed in front of pampas grass

(Image credit: Floks)

Ways to dispose of your old duvet

1. Donate it to an animal shelter

'A great way to get rid of your old duvet is to contact your local animal shelter,' says Rachel. 'Many welcome old duvets and bedding to repurpose for pet bedding. Not only will you reduce waste but you'll be giving a much-deserving cat or dog a cosy place to sleep!'

Your local animal shelter will likely gratefully accept your old duvet. If you can't find a shelter nearby, ring up some local animal charity branches instead. RSPCA and Dogs Home Trust gladly accept old duvets, as do many others. 

Blue bedroom with white bed and duvet folded back

(Image credit: Belledorm)

2. Donate it to a homeless shelter

Many homeless shelters will also accept old duvets. Just make sure your duvet is clean before you donate it - you can learn how to wash a duvet relatively easily. Check the care label to see if it's machine washable, and if not, soak it in the bath with some laundry detergent. 

Always ring ahead before turning up to your local homeless charity to see if they accept duvets. They tend to be particularly glad of them in the winter months.

Alternatively, you could offer to sell it for free on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree. 

3. Compost it

White duvet folded up on bed

(Image credit: Belledorm)

Yes, some duvets can be composted! If you have a compost bin and a wool duvet with no synthetic fibres, you've got a nice solution for what to do with old duvets, and it's one that your garden plants will benefit from.

'If you choose a wool duvet with an organic cotton cover, it will last for years and then biodegrade back into the soil at the end of its life, leaving no trace on the planet', explains Sophie Platts, Founder, Floks

'If placed in a compost environment to break down it can take as little as three months for the wool and between one week and five months for organic cotton. It will also add nutrients back into the soil.'

You can even just cut up your old duvet and place it directly into the soil, where it will naturally decompose over time.

4. Take it to a textiles recycling scheme

You can take your old duvet to a textiles recycling scheme, such as the Dunelm Textile Take Back Scheme or the H&M Garment Collecting Programme. Again, the duvet should be washed first, and bagged up before it's dropped off. 

This is a much more environmentally-friendly alternative to throwing your old duvet away; the materials from the duvet will be repurposed into something else, so you know your preloved bedding isn't just contributing to landfill.

Ways to reuse your old duvet

Wool duvet folded up on bed

(Image credit: Floks)

1. Save it for your next move

'One of the best uses for an old duvet is to keep it aside when you move home,' says Rachel from Bensons for Beds. 'Old duvets make great padding for putting around furniture or fragile items.'

You'll be grateful you kept your old duvet when the time comes to move house. You won't have to buy protective covers or extra blankets to ensure safe passage for your items. Store your old duvet in the attic, preferably in some sort of bag, or use your under stairs storage ideas if you have room.

2. Use it as a camping base

Any keen campers in the family? Your old duvet makes the perfect base to lay down in your tent underneath your sleeping bag. You're guaranteed to have a much better sleep than if you were sleeping on the hard floor. Plus, it's not so important which tog duvet it is when it's laying under rather than over you.

Duvet folded on top of mattress

(Image credit: Future PLC)

3. Make your own cushions

Why not upgrade your sofa cushion ideas by repurposing your old duvet? 'If you're feeling creative you could use your old duvet for the filling in throw cushions,' Rachel suggests. 'Simply fold and cut squares to your desired size and insert into your favourite cushion cover.'

Aside from saving your duvet from going to landfill, this handy little hack will save you some money too, as you'll only need to purchase cushion covers instead of the filling as well. 


Do charities want old duvets?

It's mainly animal charities that will accept old duvets, as they can be reused to make beds for animals being sheltered. 

'If anyone is looking to get rid of their old duvet they could contact their local Dogs Trust rehoming centre or other animal rescue,' says Julia Youd, PR Officer, Dogs Trust. 'At Dogs Trust we don’t accept duvets filled with feathers for obvious reasons!'

'There are also a number of charities that are working to supply emergency bedding items to UK homeless and local animal shelters who can be grateful for old duvets and towels,' says Catherine Morris, Managing Director,  Tielle Love Luxury. 'As a general rule, the following organisations welcome the following linen items:

  • Salvation Army Trading - Bed-linen
  • Reuse Network - Cushions, pillows
  • Homeless.org - Tool to find local housing shelters for donations
  • RSPCA - bedding, towels, blankets
  • National Animal Welfare Trust - Blankets, towels, bedsheets

Duvet folded on top of mattress

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Can you put old duvets in the bin?

You can put duvets in the bin, though this is the least environmentally-friendly option for what to do with old duvets. 'Synthetic duvets will leave a lasting trace on the planet when disposed of,' says Sophie from Floks. 'The plastic elements in man-made fibres can’t break down and will sit in landfill for years.'

A much better alternative is to ring up your local animal and homeless charities and see if they will accept your old duvet. Stores like Dunelm and H&M also accept old duvets as part of their textiles recycling schemes. 

If you don't want to reuse your duvet around the home or give it a second lease of life elsewhere, it's worth sticking to wool duvets. These are made from naturally biodegradable materials so you know your duvet won't end up contributing to landfill when you dispose of it.

'Wool is a highly renewable material which we have in abundance in the UK and it creates the most natural, temperature regulated sleep,' adds Sophie. 

How do I dispose of an old duvet?

The easiest way to dispose of an old duvet is to donate it. This will ensure that your duvet is getting a second chance and helping others - whether that be those seeking help from a homeless shelter or animals surrendered to an animal shelter. 

Of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your local charities before heading down there with your duvet in tow. Some may have specific rules regarding duvet donations, and some might not even accept them at all. 

Now you know what to do with old duvets, where will yours end up?

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.  

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