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Where to Donate All Your Unwanted Stuff

Declutter by finding new homes for electronics, medical supplies, furniture and more

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Ian Mark Sirota spent months preparing to move out of the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, home where he had lived for two decades. Sirota, 57, went through each room, picking through closets and cupboards and deciding what to donate.

He focused on being practical and “not overly sentimental” but admitted it wasn’t an easy process.

One of the biggest challenges was figuring out where to take all the unwanted clothing, books, electronics, furniture and other items he no longer needed.

Sirota has donated clothing in drop boxes and called AMVETS, a veterans service organization that accepts donations to sell in thrift stores, to pick up boxes filled with books, games and sporting gear, and bulkier pieces of furniture.

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In the process of decluttering, Sirota tossed items that were broken, stained or missing pieces. Although it was tempting to make a single donation pile, Sirota learned many organizations don’t accept outdated televisions, computers or exercise equipment.

If decluttering is among your 2023 resolutions, here are some of the best places to donate your unwanted items:

For books

Old textbooks, encyclopedias and outdated travel guides should go straight into the recycling bin, according to Libby Kinkead, organization specialist at Potomac Concierge, which works in the Washington area. For other books in good condition, she suggests calling your local chapter of Friends of the Library.

Amanda Jefferson, founder of Indigo Organizing, recommends Better World Books, a nonprofit that supports global literacy and has drop boxes for book donations in several states. You can also donate books to your local thrift store or re-home your books through a Little Free Library. ​​

For electronics

If you’re upgrading your computer, tablet or smartphone, Amazon has a trade-in program that offers a gift card in exchange for eligible items. For items that don’t make the cut, Staples and Best Buy have free electronics recycling programs. Goodwill also takes donated electronics. And check with your county, city or town recycling operation to see if it takes electronics.

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Before dropping off any device, Jefferson advises, “plug it in, charge it and clear the data.”

Some organizations welcome electronics even if they aren’t in top form. The nonprofit Computers4Vets takes working and nonworking desktops, laptops and tablets to be fixed or harvested for parts, then it donates working computers to veterans in New Hampshire, southern Maine and Massachusetts.

​For medical supplies

Your new or gently used medical supplies, including wheelchairs, crutches, blood pressure cuffs and sharps disposal containers, can be donated to an organization such as MedShare; even unused medications can be donated. ​

Thirty-eight states have donation laws designed to collect and distribute prescription drugs to those in need; ask your pharmacist about options.​It takes a little extra work to separate items and coordinate pickups or drop-offs at multiple sites, but the effort is worthwhile.​“A lot of items end up in landfills,” Jefferson says. “You don’t want to create a burden for the nonprofit, so do a little research upfront and donate to organizations that can make the best use of your donations.”​

For furniture

Jefferson often works with clients who are downsizing and want to donate large bedroom and dining sets. For valuable pieces, including in-demand styles such as mid-century modern or art deco, Jefferson suggests calling auction houses or consignment stores. “You might also be able to sell some pieces on Facebook Marketplace,” she adds.​​Before loading your cherry buffet or carved oak headboard into a truck headed for the donation center, check with nonprofits such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity to see what items they accept. You may want to donate furniture to organizations that aid victims of domestic violence or those that help resettle refugees.

Call 1-800-GOT-JUNK or College Hunks Hauling Junk to pick up shabby or outdated furniture for recycling.​​

For clothing

The best options for donating clothing depend on the quality. Organizations such as Dress for Success and Jails to Jobs accept gently used business attire (think blazers, ties and briefcases) that is in good condition and still in style.

“Make sure there are no stains or rips,” says Aida Middel, moving specialist with Potomac Concierge. “Ideally, you’d launder the clothes before donating.”

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GoodwillOne Warm CoatPlanet Aid and Soles4Souls are among the nonprofits accepting casual clothing, shoes and accessories. Don’t donate clothes that you wouldn’t buy from a thrift shop. The latest data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that 11.3 million pounds of donated textiles go to landfills every year.

Even clothing that is torn or worn out can be donated for textile recycling. Retold Recycling will send you a bag with a prepaid label; send it back filled with unwanted clothes, and they’ll be recycled, not sent to a landfill.​

For vehicles

Your well-used car, camper, boat or other vehicle could help raise essential funds for nonprofit organizations. United Way, the Purple Heart Foundation and the American Red Cross accept donated cars and sell them to fund their missions. A car that is still in good condition may be put to use shuttling people to doctors or for training in vocational schools — and it makes a good tax deduction.​

Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 4, 2022. It has been updated to reflect new information. 

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