Where Is the Best Place To Donate Your Unused Items?

Do you often wonder “where is the best place to donate your unused items?

If you follow along with my blog you know that I’m in the middle of renovating a room in our house.

It’s a room that happens to be a catch-all for unused household goods, decorative items, books, games, and more.

I need to donate, sell, or dispose of unused items.

Photo by Andrew Moca on Unsplash

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When we aren’t doing some kind of remodeling project, I like Marie Kondo am in the constant state of the “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up“. You can read all about my organizing system HERE.

How Do You Know What are the Best Places to Donate your Unwanted Items?

I’ve heard both good and bad things over the years about some charitable organizations where you can donate. I wanted to do my own homework to make sure I’m giving to a worthy cause. I don’t want to donate to a nonprofit organization that isn’t giving back to their causes the way that I expect they should. Here are some of the places that are a great option.

  • Goodwill – I had heard that they didn’t give back very much to their programs and that most of the money went to administrative costs. However, my recent research has told me differently. What I found out is that Goodwill has regional headquarters and the ones I looked at are giving 85% – 89% to their programs. That seems reasonable to me. Here is what I love about Goodwill:
    • Most communities have a convenient drop-off location. They make it so quick and easy to bring a donation with drive-up areas.
    • Visit Goodwill Industries and put in your zip code to find the closest location
    • Great place to find some awesome deals for yourself.
    • During Covid Goodwill wasn’t taking furniture or large items and that hasn’t changed in Illinois.
    • Make sure you check your local donation center for a list of items that they are accepting
  • Salvation Army – The Salvation Army is a faith-based organization that accepts donations. Their mission is to help change lives for the better. Things I like about Salvation Army:
    • You can schedule them to pick up your donations at your home.
    • They accept pretty much any of your unwanted items
    • In Illinois they have a Salvation Army Family Store where you can shop for very affordable items.
  • Habitat for Humanity – Habitat for Humanity builds affordable homes for families who otherwise might not be able to be homeowners. I love the idea of donating things from our home to this organization. We do so much remodeling in our house so this is the place for us. They take:
    • Gently used appliances, home goods, building materials, and home improvement items of all kinds.
    • You can also donate your old car.
    • We have a local Habitat Restore – It’s a great place to find materials and supplies for construction projects.
  • Soles4Souls – This looks like an amazing organization that takes donated shoes and clothing. They help families in third world countries either use your donated items or help them to make other products out of your donations. Reuse or Recycle!
  • Dress For Success – This is. great place to donate your gently-used suits, work clothing, and work-related items such as purses and briefcases. This is an amazing organization that provides professional clothing for women so that they can be confident and successful in a job interview and then in the workplace.
  • They, unfortunately, don’t take men’s clothing.

Don’t forget about a Local Organization or Homeless Shelters

  • Local Thrift Stores (Community Thrift Store) – I love the idea of donating to local thrift shops that support those in need. I live in the Chicagoland area and I’m listing a few that I love but you can find these same types of organizations in just about any area of the country.
    • Sparrows Nest (Several locations in the Chicago Suburban Area) – This organization supports transitional and low-cost housing for people in need.
    • Wings (Several Locations) – Proceeds go towards ending the cycle of abuse
    • Digs with Dignity (Chicago-based) – They take gently used furniture to provide homes for the homeless.
  • Local Food Pantry – Don’t forget your local food pantry. When I was cleaning out my pantry I had items that weren’t expired but I know I won’t use them. They were donated to my local food pantry. I also brought my 2nd & 3rd pizza cutter and ice cream scooper – along with other small kitchen items that were in great shape but I didn’t need them. They were happy to take them.
  • Animal Shelters – They will take unused pet food and old towels and blankets
  • Local Library – If you have new books that you won’t read again, consider donating them to your local library or the Little Librarys around your community.
  • Local Schools – Our local schools have coat drives so that kids who don’t have one can get a warm coat for the upcoming winter months. They also take children’s book donations and school supplies.

* Always check drop-off hours for your charitable donations at your local charities

Natural Disaster Relief

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the need for the people in Florida who have lost so much due to Hurricane Ian.

The well-known organization, The American Red Cross is a good place to start with donations as they are aware of the specific needs of each community

Donation Town is a organization that I just recently became aware of. They are accepting all kinds of donations in Florida.

What you should remember when donating

When you’re making your piles for donating and throwing away, please only donate items that are in good condition and can be used again. If you’re donating things that aren’t sellable they will end up in landfills.

Recycle your items that can go in your recycling bin. I cut up old t-shirts and use them for my cleaning/dust rags. I rarely use a paper towel when I’m cleaning. I’m also considering trying my hand at rag rugs with some of our more-than-loved clothing.

Books with broken bindings can be used for craft projects. Consider what you might be able to donate to art teachers or Girl/Boy Scout troops.

If you want to check out any charity or non-profit organization, you can do so at watchdogs like Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance rate an organization before you make a donation and contact your state’s charity regulator to verify that the organization is registered to raise money there.

Make Donating Easier

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best items to donate

  • Adult clothing donations
  • Children’s Clothing
  • Shoes & Purses
  • Household items
  • Kitchenware
  • Furniture donations (check first with your local charity)
  • Books
  • Games & Toys
  • Linens
  • Art
  • Sporting Goods
  • Financial Donations are always welcome

What you CAN’T Donate

  • Ripped, Torn, or Stained Clothing
  • Used Mattresses
  • Medicine or Medical Supplies
  • Hot Tubs
  • Car Seats
  • Cribs
  • Ammunition
  • Older Model TVs
  • Shades or Blinds
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Old Computers
  • Encyclopedias
  • Pianos

Donating is a Good Thing

I always keep in mind something my Mom used to say “Your junk may be someone else’s treasure”.

There are so many different ways that you can provide help to folks in need.

Don’t forget that you may be able to deduct your donation at tax time.


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We are on a two-week break but will be back on Monday, October 17th with a conversation with Leslie Saeta of @my100yearoldhome and author of the book “A Home to Share”. Click on the book below to get your copy before you listen to our interview.

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  1. I can’t wait to hear the podcast with Leslie! Also, thanks for the tips about donating, I have a closet (or actually a couple of closets!) that needs some purging! Pinned ????

    1. I’m heading to Goodwill today at some point. My house is beyond a disaster!

  2. Lynn, I posted in August about my wardrobe “refining.” I finally was willing to give up several pieces of business wear that I no longer need. I donated those pieces to a local charity shop that offers only really good items and where the proceeds go to local causes. And I donated the more ordinary items to Goodwill. I’m bookmarking this post because it’s full of good information that I never remember from one time to the next, such as, what you can and can’t donate.

    1. Thank you Jean for sharing your story. I love that you “recycle” your great unused clothing for worthwhile causes. That is always my goal when I’m giving away things that I own.

      I’m also glad that I could be a source of reference for you about the best place to donate certain items. I brought a lot of household goods to Goodwill last weekend and believe it or not they would not take drapery poles. Who would have thought.