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Where to Donate Old Clothes

Clothes being put into a box for charity

Whether you’re cleaning out closets or have kids outgrowing outfits, sometimes you find yourself with bags of old clothes you don’t need. Rather than adding to landfills, why not drop off clothes to donate at a local charity or someone who could use them? When you donate to a good cause rather than throwing stuff away, you recycle items that would have gone to waste, and you can help people in the process. Donating clothes is good for the planet, helpful for your community and a great way to declutter your wardrobe.

So, what do you need to know about how to donate clothes? Here’s a look at what types of items you can donate and the best options for where to donate old clothes in your area.

How to Know What to Donate

Did you know a large percentage of donated clothes are sent abroad, where they often end up in landfills? This is partly because of the quality of items that get dropped off — torn-up, dirty, badly stained, or otherwise unusable items aren’t worth donating because they’re unlikely to be repurposed. In fact, donating poor-quality clothes can harm the organization to which you’re giving them because it must exert resources to get rid of your trash.

clothing in 2 piles for discard or donate
Needy people don't need more rags. Be sure to separate out your gently used items from those that belong in a landfill. Only bring the former to your donation center.

Otherwise, when it comes to clothes donations, you can typically donate all kinds of gently used items that are in functional, fair condition. Additionally, avoid donating items that are wet because moisture can fuel the growth of mold and bacteria. Furthermore, if possible, freshly wash your clothes before bringing them to the drop-off location; this makes it easier for the organization to find a new home for your items.

woman sorting clothing into 2 boxes
Wash and fold the items you wish to donate before bringing them to your chosen charity.

One more tip to keep in mind when donating is to check the organization’s guidelines online before heading out to donate. Different facilities have different requirements about what they will and won’t accept. Some organizations want only nearly new, ready-to-wear clothing, for example, while others are less discriminating. Some focus on certain types of donations, such as new and gently worn coats, jewelry, or shoes. Some might accept clean, used underwear; others will reject intimates. Do your research ahead of time to ensure your items can be as useful as possible.

clothing in recycle bin
This recycle bin accepts all textiles except bedding. Be sure to check the rules before dropping off items.

Best Ways to Donate Clothes

Woman donates clothes in box
There are many groups that would be thrilled to accept your gently used clothing donation.

When it comes to clothes donations, there are lots of places where you can give pieces you no longer want or need. Many of these charities provide life-changing help to hurting people in the community, so your gift effectively empowers support for people who need it. Whether you’d like to donate clothes for the homeless or to a charity that’s doing good in the community, here are some examples of places where you can bring your gently used, quality clothing:

  • Donation bins: Drive around your community and you’ll likely run across donation bins, whether in a gas station, grocery store or other parking lot. These bins vary in terms of the organizations they support and where they send clothes, so pay attention to what’s written on the bins Research the charities when possible. Convenient, accessible, and easy, donation bins make it possible to support local charities simply by dropping off old clothes in the containers.
  • Secondhand/thrift stores: Major thrift store brands have locations all over the nation, providing easy access to donation drop-offs in various communities. Some secondhand stories are for-profit, and others are charities; get to know the organization and what it does with your drop-offs before donating.
  • Local churches: Many churches have programs to help the needy, including those that give away free clothes or run a low-cost thrift store. If so, they’ll likely accept donations from the community, so you may be able to bring your clothes there. Church charities likewise take donations and often give them directly to people who need them.
  • Community centers: From local homeless shelters to clothes banks to foster care programs, many organizations in the community would be glad to accept clothing donations. Check refugee centers, transitional living programs or even prisons in your area.
  • School clothing supplies: Sometimes local public schools have clothing supplies for kids in need. You can donate kids’ clothing to these centers to provide for these kids who wouldn’t have fresh clothing otherwise.
  • Directly to others: Parents have passed used kids’ clothes down for generations, from kid to kid in a family and from kid to kid among friends, relatives, and neighbors. That said, hand-me-downs aren’t just for kids. If you have clothes in good condition that you’re ready to part with, you might know someone who would be thrilled to have them; why not ask? If not, there are lots of ways to connect with people who would take the clothing. Join community groups online that are dedicated to posting free items and giving them away. Hold a clothing swap where everyone brings items and takes away what they like. Post curb alerts in online listings.
  • Call a charity for a pickup: Don't let a busy schedule hold you back. There are numerous charities that will come right to your door to pick up your clothing donation. These include The Salvation Army, Goodwill, Amvets, Cancer Federation, and other worthwhile causes.

Still can't decide where to donate old clothes?

If you're still hesitant on who to call or where to go with your clothing donation, there are organizations dedicated to helping you find the best match for your needs. One such place is PickUpMyDonation.com. They are not an actual donation center. What they can do is direct you to the best charity for the types of items you want to donate. They can also help you sort through the candidates to find a nonprofit or thrift store aligned with your charitable interests, whether that is helping animals, abused women, children in need, unemployed veterans, etc.

Give Back to Your Community

When it comes to clothing, choosing to donate is a great way to give back in a small way to your community while also decluttering your closets and home. Why not give back to your community? Learn where to donate old clothes to make the most/best impact. Whether you give to a school, local donation bin, a thrift store or someone you know, you’re doing something that helps others, repurposes clothing and reduces the burden on landfills. Search your area to see what options there are for making donations and bring your bags of clothing in sometime soon!

Voluteers at clothing donation center
Many clothing donation centers are staffed by volunteers from the community.