It’s a tale as old as time: It’s just weeks before you move into your new place. You’re scrambling to get everything packed up and ready to go.. But while doing a final sweep of your closet and household items, there are still just too many items to pack. Lighter items are the easiest ones to get rid of – which typically means clothes are the first to go.

While you can always drop off and charitably give away your clothes at a large nonprofit such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, there likely are other local donation centers in your area that will take clothes in good condition. And it’s worth mentioning that clothes which Goodwill or the Salvation Army are unable to accept often go into landfills.

In a last-ditch effort to score a few bucks and offset the cost of hiring movers, it may seem worthwhile to sell your clothes on Facebook Marketplace or Instagram. But in perpetually uncertain times, there are many people in need who could benefit from clothing donations.

What clothes should you donate?

Deciding what to donate isn’t difficult, but it can be challenging to let go of your favorite items. If you’re feeling hesitant about the process, just remember that when you donate clothes, shoes, and other items, you’re giving them a new life in local communities, instead of leaving them unused in your drawers and closet. 

Lets start with the basics on how to review your clothes and decide what to donate.

  • Pull items that you have not worn for over 3-6 months 

  • Separate clothes by the season - You may not need the 5 cream colored wool sweaters you’ve accumulated. 

  • If it doesn’t fit, you can let it go - If your clothes are in good condition but are too small or large, they can be donated. Make sure your items don’t have damage like tears, stains, or smells.

Graphic image of "Items to donate" - "Gently used or nearly new clothing, Furniture not needing repairs, Household appliances in working condition, All clothing should be laundered, Furniture and appliances should be clean, Separate like items into separate boxes or bags to make sorting easier"

How to find the best donation site

Once you have your bags or boxes together, you can plan where to donate. There are many options, some are eco-friendly, other places to donate help specific populations, and others are strictly resellers.

  • You can find a cause or area that you care about, and see how that organization accepts donations. For example you can donate to a domestic violence shelter, or Veteran organization (like VVA), or find your city’s donation program.

  • Depending on your location, you may need to find a donation pick up rather than bringing it to a store or drop off box. Planet Aid is a great resource to find a donation bin near you, and Greendrop can help you with a pick up or drop off. 

If you’re looking to earn money from higher end donations, you can look into consignment retailers, (such as Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange) who generally accept clothes based on the upcoming season but will take various items, from prom dresses and winter coats to t-shirts and handbags. Many will donate clothes that don’t sell during their current season to homeless shelters and other charitable organizations serving local communities.

Particular donation suggestions

Goodwill

When you donate to an organization such as Goodwill, you can often get a receipt for a tax deduction. A bonus of donating here is that they accept household goods such as books, lamps, kitchenware, and more items in addition to clothing and shoes.

Dress for success

If you find yourself with an abundance of professional clothing (blazers, suits, blouses), a great place to recycle these items is at Dress for Success. DFS is a non-profit that empowers women from low-income backgrounds (some of whom are formerly incarcerated, or victims of domestic abuse) by providing them work-appropriate clothes for job interviews in the workforce.

Graphic image of "Specialty donations" - "Specialty organizations accept specific items for donation such as: Business casual clothing, Bras and undergarments, Clothing in poor condition, Fabric scraps or leftover textiles."

Free the girls

Did you know you could recycle your old bras? It’s true! You can donate your old clothes (including bras) to Free the Girls, an organization committed to helping sex trafficking survivors in places like Uganda, El Salvador and Mozambique by providing them with clothing. After the bras are recycled, the women this organization serves have the opportunity to sell the bras in second-hand markets in their communities and earn an income that can support themselves and their families.

Make a checklist before you move to make sure you set yourself up for success! It’s easier to donate items ahead of your move rather than after. Donating clothes is an easy way to support your local community and the environment by reducing the amount of textiles in landfills to sharing.

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KT Heins-Nagamoto

KT Heins-Nagamoto is a senior brand writer at Rhino. They advocate for security deposit alternatives and renter rights in everything they write.