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How to Donate Used Clothing and Other Items

Cleaning out your home? Learn what to consider before donating, from charity needs to most requested items for shelters.

| January/February 2017

  • Box of Clothes
    Make sure any clothing you donate to charity is clean and in good condition.
    Photo by Fotolia

  • Box of Clothes

Donation Dos and Don'ts

As the season of gift-giving draws to a close, you may find yourself overwhelmed by items you don't need. If you're thinking of donating little-used items to charity, keep these considerations in mind.

• Do consider the needs and requirements of the charity you plan to donate to. For example, Goodwill won’t accept large appliances, but Habitat ReStores will. Contact organizations and see if they have a wish list. They may have specific needs you hadn’t considered, or a surplus of certain items you should avoid adding to.
• Don’t forget to check toys, games or other items you plan to donate to make sure they have all their necessary pieces and parts. 
• Don’t donate items that can’t be accepted: opened food or personal-care items; mattresses, cribs, sleeper sofas or box springs; children’s car seats; and expired foods. Donating items that must be thrown away requires extra time to sort and dispose of them. 
• Don’t donate out-of-season clothes without checking first. Many charities, especially in busy urban areas, have limited storage space.
• Do wash and repair clothing you plan to donate. Most charities don’t have the capacity to clean or fix items, so before packing up clothes, make sure they’re in good condition and ready to be used again — no stains, rips, tears or other damage. 
• Don’t throw away clothes if they aren’t fit to donate. Reuse damaged items as craft materials or cleaning rags, or try recycling them. Some retailers, such as H&M and Patagonia, accept clothes beyond repair for recycling.
• Do test electrical equipment or appliances. Check with organizations to learn their standards for computers or other electronic items before you bring them in. Amazon will buy back many old electronics. 
• Don’t donate recalled items. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website before donating housewares, furniture, electronics or toys.

Best Items to Donate to Domestic Violence Shelters 

Shelters for survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking provide emergency shelter and support to women and families with kids of all ages. According to the Willow Domestic Violence Shelter in Lawrence, Kansas, these are a few of the most frequently needed items: 
• Padlocks
• Batteries
• Towels
• Toilet paper
• Feminine hygiene products
• Reusable grocery bags
• Multivitamins
• Children’s allergy and cold medicine
• Gift cards from pharmacies to aid with prescription costs
To locate a women’s shelter or domestic violence shelter near you, visit or

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