Can You Recycle Those Annoying Wire Hangers?

Over the years, you may or not have assembled a collection of flimsy wire hangers in your closet from years of dry-cleaning winter coats. As it turns out, those hangers have a long history. In a story for Vox, writer Dan Greene recently took a deep dive into the origins of the wire hanger—a tale that goes as far back as the Industrial Revolution—and one of the greatest takeaways from the story is obvious: They’re not easily discarded.

Why? As we’ve written before, hangers are generally difficult to recycle, depending on their material. (Wood ones, for instance, might have a varnish that makes them impossible to properly recycle.) Wire hangers, in particular, can easily get stuck in recycling facility machinery, forcing workers to remove them by hand and delaying the sorting process itself. Worse, they’re everywhere, like in hotel rooms and at dry cleaners, often as a cheaper solution to wood or plastic alternatives.

Where does this leave you? Well, you’re not totally without options. For one, depending on your location, your council recycling might accept them. You should do an online search for your council recycling program’s rules to be sure. Search for “metal wire hangers” and include your postcode.

An easier option is just to bring any spare wire hangers to a dry cleaner, who will likely accept them for reuse. (You might even contact a local op shop that could benefit from the hangers.) Looking to reduce the plastic waste you get along with your dry cleaning, too? Here’s a tip.


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