wikiHow to Donate Clothing to Charity

Americans each discard an average of 68 pounds of clothes every year. By donating your clothing to charity, you can put some of that to good use.

If you've got clothing and related items to donate to charity, it's helpful to prepare them in a way that will be acceptable for those receiving them—so they don't end up in the garbage soon after you donate them. Here are some tips on clearing out your closet and helping others enjoy your unwanted clothing and textiles.


  1. Image titled Donate Clothing to Charity Step 1
    Clean out the closet. Do a thorough declutter of the space that you want to clear out. Make the donation pile so that you know what's ready to go. When sorting through your clothes, consider:
    • Whether you really need that many t-shirts, sweaters, skirts, etc.
    • Whether you're clinging to too many baby and toddler clothes that might be better used by other children in need.
    • Whether a particular garment or accessory still fits and flatters you or the person who wears it.
  2. Image titled Donate Clothing to Charity Step 2
    Prepare the clothes. While you don't have to go to any particular trouble, the following things can help a lot:
    • Check all the pockets. Staff of charity stores are used to finding money, jewelry and other forgotten items. While they might do their best to return these items to you, often it's like looking for a needle in a haystack knowing who owned the garment.
    • Wash the clothes if you can. Even dirty clothes will be accepted, but the chances of dirty clothes being resold is lower, and it just makes more work for the charity. Dirty clothes are more likely to end up as rags or recycled fabric products. So, if you want your clothes to have their best chance at being resold and worn again, wash them.
      • Be considerate. If the clothing is in very bad shape and cannot be recycled, the charity will end up having to pay money to dispose of it. If you're not sure, ring up first to be certain they can use tatty or soiled clothing. Turn them into rags if the charity isn't able to recycle them, or they're really past it.
    • Wash, dry, and fold baby clothes. These clothes should not be soiled because they are often re-donated to moms in need. Use a fragrance-free detergent product to avoid allergy or sensitivity problems for the new babies who will wear these products.[1]
  3. Image titled Donate Clothing to Charity Step 3
    Look for specific items that are of special help when donated:
    • Donate jeans. Jeans, and any items in denim, are very popular resale items in charity stores.[2]
    • Donate quality shoes. Shoes are fine to donate provided that they are in good condition and still wearable. There are an estimated 1.5 billion pairs of unworn or barely worn shoes are lying in closets.[3] Consider whether you're really going to wear them or if somebody else can benefit from them.
    • Professional clothing, such as suits, is always appreciated to help people looking for work or returning to work after an illness or a stint at full-time motherhood.
    • Look for accessories as well as clothes. Belts, jewelry, gloves, purses, and hats are all useful donations too.
  4. Image titled Donate Clothing to Charity Step 4
    Donate bath towels, blankets, and sheets. These are really handy for animal shelters. Even towels and bedding that are threadbare can have a second life in shelters as they are used for bedding, cleaning up, and keeping animals warm.
  5. Image titled Donate Clothing to Charity Step 5
    Put the clothes, bedding, and other items into suitable containers. Containers that are suitable include plastic garbage bags, unwanted tote and other bags (they'll get resold too if in good condition), baskets,boxes, etc.
    • Consider labeling and sorting clothing if you have large amounts of specific items; doing so will make it easier for the charity workers to sort and use the clothes.
  6. Image titled Donate Clothing to Charity Step 6
    Find a suitable drop-off point. There are a number of options for dropping off your clothing and other items:
    • If you need a receipt, you'll need to go into the charity store or visit a drop with an attendant.
    • Don't forget about refuges, or shelters, as a source of donation. Many people in refuges have left behind all of their belongings, and clothing can be very helpful.[4]
    • Animal shelters will let you know which items of clothing and textiles are useful for their needs; give them a call.
    • Donations of clothing are always helpful in disaster situations, such as wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. Look at the websites of the organizations arranging help for specific disaster events.
    • In large cities like New York, you might find novel ways of collection, such as the Goodwill glass truck. It's a fun way of donating, so use it if it's in your vicinity.
    • Some charities will send a truck to collect heavy loads of clothes and other items such as furniture and appliances. Give them a quick call to find out.
  7. Image titled Donate Clothing to Charity Step 7
    Consider making regular donations. Mark your calendar for bi-yearly or quarterly clear-outs of unwanted clothing.


  • Some charities provide bags for door-to-door collection. You can use this as a reminder to fill a bag for your trusted charity.
  • The ability for textiles to be recycled varies from region to region, dependent on the availability of recycling facilities. It really pays to call rather than assume that very old clothes are not usable.
  • Make sure you don't want the clothes before you give them away. If you have any doubts, make an "I'm not sure pile", and come back to it later.
  • If you are in the United States, you might be able to claim the donation as a tax deductions. If you give property to a qualified organization, you can deduct the fair market value of the property at the time of the contribution. You cannot take a deduction for clothing or household items you donate unless the clothing or household items are in good used condition or better. Your deduction for charitable contributions is generally limited to 50% of your adjusted gross income. [5] In some cases your contribution may be limited to 30% or 20%.[6] In other countries, you will need to ask if tax receipts are possible; on the whole, this is not the norm in countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Consult your tax professional. Get your receipts. Contributions may be disallowed without it.
  • In some countries, you can find donation "matchmaking" sites online that will find the right charity for you to donate to.[7]
  • Charity stores are also known as:
    • Thrift stores
    • Opportunity shops ("op shop" for short)


  • Don't place anything other than clothes in clothing bins. Breakables will break and those collecting the items are at risk of harm. It can also cost the charity more money to have unusable items disposed of.
  • Make sure you arrange a time to drop off the clothes or know that the place you are going to is open. Don't leave clothing at the doors; it's unsightly, it encourages theft, and it is a hazard.

Things You'll Need

  • Containers such as boxes, bags, etc.
  • Clothing
  • Scent-free laundry detergent
  • Post-It™ notes and tax receipts (optional)

Sources and Citations

  1. Danny Seo, CBS,
  2. Some jeans are now tagged to remind you to donate when unwanted: Treehugger, Levi Strauss & Co Adds "Donate to Goodwill" to Clothing Care Tags,
  3. Paula, Every Monday Matters - Donate Clothes,
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