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Your closet’s a mess—here’s how to donate your extra clothes

You might even be able to get a tax deduction.

Credit: Getty Images / Sadeugra
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What You Need:

• Clothing items for donation
• Large boxes or garbage bags
• A computer for internet research of local donation centers

Prep Time Needed: As much time as it takes to sort through your clothing items

Difficulty: Easy

Got some old clothing to get rid of? Most of us do. And while donating it is the obvious solution, sometimes figuring out how to donate it can feel overwhelming. That's why we've laid out the steps for clothing donation for you below, so that you can spend your energy figuring out what clothing to get rid of, rather than figuring out how to get rid of it.

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Step-by-Step:

  1. Start by doing an online search to check your area’s donation options. Your local donation options can be found using locators for organizations like Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and Planet Aid—although of course there are other options. Goodwill will typically accept all items, putting most of their profits back into job-training and employment programs for workers in the United States. The Salvation Army, which is in most cities and towns, will provide a truck pickup for large donations. Other options might include homeless shelters, women’s centers and churches.

  2. Set aside time to go through your closets and storage to find clothing items you no longer need or want. Sort your clothes into three piles—keep, donate, and trash. If you haven’t worn something in over 6 months, consider donating it. Try on clothes to see what fits—if an item doesn't fit, throw it into the donation pile. Your “reject” pile can be someone’s treasure! Professional and dressy clothing can be donated to help job-seekers. But if you unearth clothing that's full of holes or stains, you may want to throw it out or use it as rags instead. And be sure to pay attention to what your intended donation location accepts—for example, some accept bras but I'm pretty sure none accept underwear.

  3. Prepare your donation items by checking the pockets for loose items such as receipts and change. If you find something, take it out!

  4. Make sure to wash any clothes you plan to donate so they are clean and free of scent. Neatly fold the clothes before you get them ready for transport. If you are donating items that need to be dry-cleaned, make sure this is done before you donate them. Be sure to check the rules for your donation center before loading up the car—Some donation centers will ask you to put all your clothes on hangers, while others might want them neatly folded. Make sure to follow the relevant guidelines.

  5. Select a large box or bag to transport the clothing. A cardboard box, plastic bin, or heavy-duty trash bag will work nicely.

  6. Make sure to research the requirements for getting tax deductions on your donations. In the United States, you can receive a tax deduction for donations, which could help to reduce your taxable income. Itemize your clothing donation and estimate the value of each piece. For instance, this means you’ll need to determine about how much you could have sold the clothing for. To ensure you qualify for a deduction, read the IRS’s publication on rules for donation to check the requirements for donation centers. You'll want to be sure to ask the donation center for a receipt each time you donate to keep in your records in case of an audit.

  7. Bring your clothing to the donation center. If it's a stand-alone bin, just chuck your stuff in. If it's at a thrift shop, ask the staff for instructions. Never leave your clothes on the ground outside the thrift store—there's a procedure in place and you need to follow it!

  8. That's it! You're done! Recycling clothing is better for the environment than just throwing it away, and it often helps you give back to the community. And if you happen to declutter your home and get a tax deduction as a result, well, that's nice too.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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