Packing & Moving

Where to Donate Household Items

March 16, 2021

Before you move, you’ll want to make sure you purge some of the household items that have collected over the years at your current place. There’s no use paying to pack, move and store things that no longer serve a purpose for you. If you’re looking to build a donation pile, be sure to look at the following well-known categories that tend to collect as clutter in your home:

  • Clothing that doesn’t fit correctly or just isn’t your style
  • Appliances and gadgets that aren’t used frequently
  • Coffee mugs and tumblers—you have your favorites, so ditch the rest!
  • Toys that household children no longer play with or seasonal toys collected on holidays
  • Old towels (when you bought new ones, did you ditch the old ones or are they just taking up space?)

Once you’ve done the hard work of sorting through your stuff and deciding what needs to go, all that’s left is figuring out where it’s all going!

Household items in poor condition should be recycled or thrown away, but salvageable home goods can often provide years of service for others if you sell or donate them. Below are just a few of the places ready to take on your clutter, keeping it out of the landfill and potentially benefitting your community in the process. You may even find some that offer to pick up your donations for free, saving you the hassle of arranging transportation.

A few notes before you dive in:

  • Be sure to visit each organization’s website (or contact them directly) for donation guidelines before you try to drop off your stuff. Not all donation centers accept the same types of goods and their policies are subject to change, especially in light of COVID-19 precautions.
  • If you have questions about a charity, you can research them using third-party sites such as CharityNavigator.org.
  • Check with a tax advisor or other financial professional if you’re planning to make a tax-deductible donation. They should be able to tell you the necessary donation criteria and documentation for your situation. 
  • Exercise caution whenever you contact unfamiliar individuals and organizations online. Safety first!

Habitat for Humanity®

Through its Habitat ReStore locations in several states, Habitat for Humanity® accepts donations of new and gently used furniture, appliances, building materials and household goods. You can find your nearest location by doing a ZIP code search here. That page also provides donation guidelines and information about how your donated goods will be used to further the organization’s vision.

What do they do?

“Habitat for Humanity partners with people in your community, and all over the world, to help them build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. With your support, Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and for their families.”

~ Read more at Habitat.org/about/mission-and-vision

Goodwill®

With a name that’s nearly synonymous with charitable giving, it’s no surprise Goodwill® is on this list. Convenient locations can be found across the country and their donation process is fairly streamlined. To see what your local Goodwill® chapter accepts, search for a donation center and visit its website (for example, GoodwillColorado.org). From there, you should be able to find where to donate, donation lists, hours of operation and more.   

What do they do?

“For more than 118 years, 156 local Goodwill® organizations across the United States, Canada and 12 other countries have helped people find jobs, support their families and feel the satisfaction that comes from working. Goodwill organizations assist people through a variety of employment placement services, job training programs and other community-based services.”

~ Read more at Goodwill.org/annual-report

Dress for Success®

If your closet purge included women’s professional clothing in good condition, Dress for Success may be the donation destination for you! Visit their donation page for guidelines on which items they can accept, and to find out where to donate.

What do they do?

“The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.”

~ Read more at DressForSuccess.org/about-us/what-we-do

Big Brothers Big Sisters®

While most Big Brothers Big Sisters® chapters are open to donations of funds or vehicles, there are some that also gratefully accept household items like clothing, furniture, small appliances, home décor, glassware, books, DVDs, toys and more! You’ll want to search for your local organization to see what they are looking for and where to donate, but we’ve linked a few states here to get you started: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico & Utah, as well as parts of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Texas through their partnership with DonateStuff.com.  

What do they do?

“As the nation’s largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 5 through young adulthood in communities across the country. We develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.”

~ Read more at BBBS.org/about-us

National Kidney Foundation®

You might not automatically connect kidney health with your closet clutter, but in some states, such as Florida and Hawaii, local chapters of the National Kidney Foundation® have turned donations of household goods into a fundraising opportunity. A quick online search should let you know if your area is one of them!

What do they do?

“As the organization leading the fight against kidney disease, we are now focusing on three major areas where we can make the greatest impact on the health and lives of millions. These include awareness, prevention and treatment. One in three Americans over age 20—73 million people—is at risk for kidney disease because of diabetes, high blood pressure or family history.”

~ Read more at Kidney.org/about/history

American Red Cross®

If you’re located on the East Coast, you may be near a GreenDrop charitable donation center. This company has partnered with the American Red Cross® and other non-profits to collect donations of household items to sell at various thrift stores as a way to raise funds. They even offer a home clean-out service for large-volume donations.

What do they do?

“The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.​ Red Cross volunteers and staff work to deliver vital services – from providing relief and support to those in crisis, to helping you be prepared to respond in emergencies.”

~ Read more at RedCross.org/about-us/who-we-are

American Cancer Society®

The American Cancer Society® operates Discovery Shops in several states to help raise money for cancer research and outreach—and they’ve been doing it for over 50 years! These stores accept donations of new and gently used clothing, accessories, shoes, furniture and other household items. Visit their site to find out where to donate and to view their list of acceptable items.

What do they do?

“While most people know us for our research, we do so much more. We attack cancer from every angle. We promote healthy lifestyles to help you prevent cancer. We research cancer and its causes to find more answers and better treatments. We fight for lifesaving policy changes. We provide everything from emotional support to the latest cancer information for those who have been touched by cancer. And we do it all 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

~ Read more at Cancer.org/about-us/what-we-do

Epilepsy Foundation®

Thanks to a relationship with Savers™ thrift stores, donors in several states can contribute a variety of clothing and other household items—everything from backpacks and books to electronics and exercise equipment—to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation®. Be sure to check their website to find out which donation venues are available and what kinds of goods they’re accepting.   

What do they do?

“For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy. The Foundation and its nationwide network of nearly 50 partners connects people to treatment, support and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid.”

~ Read more at Epilepsy.com/about-us/about-foundation

Did you know? The MDC/Richmond American Homes Foundation is proud to support the organizations above and many more! For a full list, visit the website.


Other resources

If these organizations aren’t what you’re looking for, there are plenty of additional options to explore. Local shelters, faith-based charities and other groups are often in need of household items, so a search for “where to donate [type of item] in [city]” may connect you with exactly what you had in mind. Don’t overlook low-hanging fruit, like donating books to libraries, musical instruments to schools or pet supplies to animal shelters.

If you have a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, such as helping refugees or veterans, victims of domestic abuse or survivors of illness, you may also factor that into your search. Just remember that if you’re planning to claim a tax deduction for your donation, the recipient organization must meet certain IRS requirements. Ask your tax advisor for details on that.

More helpful sites:

  • DonationTown.org is a free directory of non-profits that pick up donations of household items. You can do a ZIP code search to see which organizations serve your area through the site.
  • Freecycle.org is a network of bulletin board style sites where people post items that they’re giving away. 
  • Craigslist.org local pages often have a “free” section where you can post items that you’d like to discard.

What to do with household items you can’t donate

There are a variety of things you may have trouble donating due to their condition, their nature or just the business needs of the organizations you’ve contacted. Common items in this category include:

  • Mattresses and box springs
  • Paint, stain and cleaning products
  • Old CRT televisions or monitors
  • Children’s items, such as car seats and cribs
  • Items under a consumer safety recall
  • Large appliances
  • Perishable foods and beverages
  • Pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Batteries
  • Broken, stained, moldy or mildewed items
  • Cosmetics and other personal products
  • Firearms and other hazardous items

If those items are also unsuitable for sale, you may need to consider recycling them or safely disposing of them.

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