Clear Your Clutter and Donate to Charity
Is it time to clear the clutter? Sort through your stuff and determine what you don't need and don't use. Then donate your unwanted items to charity. Not only will you reclaim your space, your discarded items will go where they are needed, not to the landfill. Not sure where to take your surplus stuff? Use this room-by-room guide to clear your whole house while helping others.
There are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you sort through and box up your stuff. First, make sure anything you donate is clean, in good condition, and usable. Don't burden a charity with your trash. You won't be helping anyone and the organization will have to spend time and money to dispose of it. It's also a good idea to check with the organization first to make sure they will accept your used items before you load up your car and make the trip. Finally, keep an itemized list of your donations for tax purposes – most donations will be tax deductible – and you may want to snap a few digital photos of the items you give away as an additional record.
Clear Your Closet
Since the average person wears only 20% of their clothes 80% of the time, a great place to start killing clutter is the closet. If you haven't worn something in over a year, it's time to get rid of it. If it's one size too small and you have a realistic weight loss plan, keep it, but if it's two sizes too small, it must go. If it's not stained, torn, or smelly, donate it to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift store or consider a donation to one of these charities:
- Dress for Success: This organization promotes the economic independence of low-income women by providing clients with attire for job interviews, a support network, and career development tools. Donate women's business suits and other professional attire, shoes, and accessories.
- Career Gear: The organization provides suits for job interviews and career coaching to underprivileged men. They accept donations of new or gently worn professional and business casual men’s clothing, shoes, and accessories appropriate for a job interview.
- Soles4Souls: This organization distributes shoes to people in need around the world. They accept all types of new and gently worn footwear, including athletic shoes, dress shoes, sandals, work boots, flip flops, etc. They have partnered with shoe retailers to serve as drop-off locations. Find the location nearest you.
Clear the Bathroom
Donate your old towels and wash clothes to a local animal shelter. The animals won't mind if they're frayed or discolored. The shelter also may accept old bath mats, rugs, and toilet seat covers to use as bedding.
Cosmetic companies often provide sample sizes and small make-up bags free with the purchase of other items. Fill those unwanted cosmetic bags with unopened samples and other toiletries and donate them to a local women's shelter.
Goodwill and Salvation Army
You may know that the thrift stores run by Goodwill and Salvation Army accept all sorts of clothing and household goods for resale, but do you know how the money is used?
At Goodwill, the sales of your donations help fund job training programs so persons with disabilities or other barriers to employment are able to find jobs.
The Salvation Army uses the sales of donated goods to fund adult rehabilitation centers so persons dealing with issues like substance abuse or homelessness can become productive members of society.
Find locations near you:
Clear the Kids' Room
Teach your kids the importance of giving back by including them in Operation Declutter. Clear out the toy box and pass along unwanted toys to your local thrift store, children's hospital, or women’s shelter. Consider donating gently used children's items to one of these organizations:
- Stuffed Animals for Emergencies, Inc.: SAFE collects stuffed animals, toys, books and baby blankets to benefit children during emergency situations such as fires, illness, accidents, neglect, abuse, homelessness and weather emergencies.
- Project Smile: Donate stuffed animals, coloring books/crayons, small toys and children's reading books in good condition to police and fire departments for emergency responders to give to children involved in traumatic situations.
Clear the Kitchen
Did you go overboard at the warehouse store? Donate canned goods and other non-perishable items that have not yet reached their expiration date to a local food bank. Kitchenware and appliances in working order are accepted at Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Local churches and homeless shelters also may have a need for these items. If you need to get rid of a larger appliance that's in working order, check the Donation Center at GEAppliances.com for a list of national charities that will come to pick it up.
Clear the Home Office
Check with local schools and libraries to see if they have a need for your old computer equipment. If not, the World Computer Exchange accepts old computers, laptops, printers and other equipment to be refurbished and distributed to schools, libraries and community centers in developing countries. The National Cristina Foundation matches donated computer equipment and software with disabled persons and others in need in your geographic area.
Clear the Living Room
Is your collection of books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs so big that it no longer fits on your shelves? Purge one from every four or five you keep and see if your local library or hospital has a need for them. If not, donate them through one of these organizations:
- Books for Soldiers: This organization facilitates the direct donation of books, magazines, CDs and DVDs to soldiers serving overseas.
- International Book Project: If you have quality used textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, vocational books, and children’s books to get rid of, this organization will send them overseas to promote education and literacy.
- Kidflicks.org: Unwanted DVDs are used to create movie libraries at children’s hospitals and pediatric wards across the US and overseas.
- DiscsForDogs.org: Send in your used DVDs and CDs (the organization will reimburse you for shipping costs) and DiscsforDogs will resell them and donate the proceeds to the SPCA.
Donate unwanted furniture, lamps, rugs and other home décor to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Also, local homeless shelters, senior centers, churches, and synagogues often have need for such items; just make sure to call first. If there is a furniture bank in your area, the Furniture Bank Association of North America provides crucial home furnishings to the previously homeless, victims of fires and natural disasters, and others in need.
Clear the Garage and Basement Storage Areas
Do you have surplus building materials, like lumber, tile, roofing material, plumbing supplies or paint, cluttering up your storage areas? If there is a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in your area, donate your reusable building materials to be resold at the store. The proceeds will be used to fund Habitat for Humanity's home construction and rehabilitation projects locally and around the world. While every ReStore is different, many also accept furniture, appliances and fixtures.
Find a new home for unused sporting equipment. First check with the local YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, or community center to see if they have a need for it. If not, donate it to an organization like the International Alliance for Youth Sports or Sports Gift, which will redistribute it to needy children around the world.
Do you have unused arts and crafts supplies from all those projects you never got around to completing? Check with local schools, churches or youth centers to see if they can use it. Children's Healing Art Project accepts art supplies for classes for hospitalized children. Knots of Love accepts yarn to make crocheted and knitted caps for chemo patients.
Do you have other suggestions for organizations that will accept unwanted household items? If so, share them in the comments section below.
Peter Walsh of TLC's Clean Sweep tells how to reclaim your life and home from clutter.