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Tearing Up Old Clothes

Dear Rabbi,
My question is about old personal clothes.
Usually at home, when my kids outgrow their clothes, instead of throwing out the clothes, I cut them & use those pieces for other purposes, such as wiping off the table or cleaning the dust etc. Is there any problem in this? Can I cut them? Or is there a proper way of disposing old clothes?


There is no set way of disposing of old clothes. It is forbidden to tear up good clothes without a purpose, but when in need of a rag, it would be permitted to do so. If the clothes that have been outgrown are still good, it is preferable to give them to a gemach, where they will be allocated to the poor, than to tear them up for use as rags.

Sources: The prohibition of bal tashchis applies specifically to a “manner of destruction” (derech hashchasah; see Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 6:8). Cutting up clothes to use as cloths and rags would not be considered derech hashchasah, and would not carry the prohibition of bal tashchis.

However, it remains wasteful to use good clothes as rags, when others would be able to wear them as clothes, and if they are in good condition, it would certainly be proper to hand them to a gemach, rather than tearing them up.

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