Dos and Don’ts of Donations

One of the challenges of decluttering is trying to figure out what to sell, what to donate, and what to throw away. My goal is to throw nothing away, but to turn discarded items into art or useful products. However, if it can be sold I plan on selling it. It’s easier now more than ever to sell your used items either online or in person. Resources like eBay, craigslist, and Amazon make it possible. And if you’re unsure how to price an item, here’s a useful guide to help you.

But if you’d like to skip the headache of trying to sell items, there are always people in need. There are thousands of charities across the United States eager to take gently used clothing, toiletries, food, and other necessities. However, these organizations are often inundated in useless junk. And it can even cost the charity money to dispose of items that can’t be given to the general public. So before you haul off a car load of junk that can’t be used, consider the following tips for donating to local charities.


Food is one of the most needed items at charities, especially around the holidays. There are some items, however, that local food banks cannot take. Do not bring opened food or cans that have been punctured or dented. Make sure you check expiration dates before you bring in items to donate. Some food banks take expired items, but it’s always good to call and ask first. The best items to bring are canned goods and foods that don’t require refrigeration like apples, potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables.


Any clothing items donated should be new or gently used, in good condition, and not stained or torn. Check for wear and tear and ask yourself if this is a good item to give before shoving it in the donation box. Also, make sure any clothes you’re getting ready to donate have been properly washed and dried first. Fold them neatly instead of just shoving items in a trash bag. And any shoes donated should not be too worn, but still wearable and in good condition.

Other Items

Charities are often in need of small furniture pieces, small appliances, toys, books, movies, and other household items. It should be common sense not to donate items that are broken or in poor condition. Also, items that can easily grow mold such as dehumidifiers should not be donated. Some items that may have been recalled or updated such as children’s car seats are also discouraged. But just because a local charity won’t take an item, doesn’t mean there aren’t other places where you can take these items. Many charities will list alternative locations such as electronic or mattress recycling centers. Here are some other resources to help you determine which items can be donated and which items cannot.

As always, it’s good to call ahead of time to make sure the stuff you have to donate is actually needed. Some organizations have an abundance of something and won’t need more. Get in touch with your local charities and see where help is needed the most.

Published by That Hippie Looking Chick

I'm a traveler, adventurer, upcycler, and bus dweller.

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