Our society has an abundance of material goods. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them end up in a landfill. Many people believe that by donating to a thrift store, these items are guaranteed to end up being used by someone in need. Keep in mind that the majority of the items given to thrift stores are sorted by employees before they end up on the sales floor. In the back of the store, there are massive dumpsters, and many of these items mentioned on the list go directly into the trash.
If you donate somewhere like Goodwill, they get so much stuff donated on a daily basis, that their employees may not even be able to get through them all. Many overflow items end up going to places like the Goodwill Outlet. This is a warehouse where items are sold off for a dollar per pound before they are all sent to the dump, or sold to third world countries for rags. So, if you are doing spring cleaning, and you are not sure what to do with your old stuff, these are the 10 items you are better off tossing or bringing to the local recycling center instead of donating.
10. Anything Broken, Stained, or Full of Holes
If you are trying to donate something to the thrift store because it’s broken, stop! If you don’t want to deal with something broken anymore, no one else will want it, either. Some people have the good-natured mindset of thinking that someone else may want to put in the effort to fix it, but it’s usually not true. Same goes with clothes. There are so many clothes that are donated on a daily basis, anything with holes or staines gets thrown out immediately, regardless of what brand it is.
Many people make this same mistake when they sell their old clothes and accessories on eBay, too. They forget to mention that their old purse has a stain because they think, “Oh, but it’s Coach, and I’m selling it at a huge discount.” Nope. This is deceiving a buyer, and it’s grounds for them to open up case against you, and they can demand a return on your dime. Generally, people want something new, or like-new.
9. Mattresses and Box Springs
You may believe that your old mattresses are “still good”, especially for people who can’t afford to buy a new one. But thrift stores have no idea if your mattress may contain bed bugs, and they don’t want to take the risk. So most thrift stores will flat-out refuse to take them, unless you can prove that your mattress was brand new. They are also large, bulky, and often gotten rid of for a good reason.
If you need to get rid of a mattress, you will have to arrange for a special trash pickup, or deliver it to a local dump. I have personally gotten rid of a few mattresses in my lifetime, and it’s not easy. Trash pickup requires you to wrap it in plastic, and you need to call and make an appointment. Some pickups will avoid it all together, and you’re stuck with it weeks longer than you hoped. If you have the option, I highly recommend finding a dump where you can drive it yourself.
Large appliances are valuable, but they are incredibly large and difficult to move. Just like we said before, if it’s broken, no one wants to take it! Most thrift stores will refuse to take them. You should try to offer them up on Craigslist instead, and someone will more than likely come over to buy or take it away for free. From my experience, every time we put out an old appliance by the curb, metal scrappers take it the same day, because they know which neighborhoods put out trash on each day of the week The number of people trying to make money from selling scrap has gone up dramatically as unemployment goes up, too. So if you simply put it by the curb, it will probably be gone in 24 hours.
For some reason, a lot of people tend to hoard small collections of free items from hotels or marketing promotions. Later, they will decide to donate these things to the thrift store when they are doing their spring cleaning. Unfortunately, if you can get it for free, so can most other people. Will the thrift store re-sell it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The only place where I have managed to purchase free samples was the Goodwill Outlet. However, there are so many better placed you can donate your hotel soap to. Instead of donating it to the thrift stores, ask your local homeless and women’s shelters if they would be willing to take the toiletries instead. These people desperately need soap, especially now.
6. Children’s Cribs, Car Seats, Etc.
Every few years, baby cribs and car seats will undergo safety recalls, because a flaw was found in the manufacturing. They are no longer safe to sell to parents. So for a thrift shop owner, selling used baby items could potentially become a liability. On top of that, most people usually get these items for free from friends and family during their baby shower. Most thrift stores will refuse to take these donations. You could contact a local women’s shelter to see if they need any of these items instead, or ask your friends if they need anything.
5. Item That Could Potentially Have Mold
When your old items sit around for long enough, you may be unwittingly growing mold in your home. This happens with anything that becomes wet, especially humidifiers. Whenever a thrift store receives something like this, it goes straight in the trash, because they do not want to take any chances. If you sincerely don’t want it to go to waste, clean the mold out before you donate it. Before you donate something, try to smell it to see if it smells musty. Sometimes, you can wash something to get out the smell. But if not, it’s best to get rid of it.
4. Your Garage Sale Leftovers
People love a good garage sale. At the end of the day, you will be left with a few boxes full of knick-knacks that you will want to take to your local thrift store. More often than not, those items will get thrown away anyway, because they are not very valuable for resale. Consider offering up the leftovers on Freecycle or Craigslist instead.
3. Outdated Electronics
Lots of people have their collection of old cellphones, laptops, and other electronic gadgets lying around the house. You may want to donate these to the thrift store, but they are likely going to be thrown away. The most responsible thing you can do with these items is to do some research to see if your local area has electronics recycling program. This is especially important if the items have a lithium ion battery. Also contact nursing homes to see if the elderly are looking for free cell phones.
2. Vulgar or Offensive Items
A lot of people got some funny or vulgar gift items at parties, or as a joke in college. Then, they never want to wear them in public. Keep in mind that thrift stores have a lot of families with children who are going to browse the aisles. So they will always throw these things away when they receive them. Sorry to say, but your dirty magazines, tee shirts with swear words, or items from Spencer’s Gifts are all going in the trash.
1. Your Thrift Store Won’t Take Huge Items
Most people assume that if they try to give away their large, expensive items, it’s guaranteed to find someone who wants it. However, thrift stores have limited space to store their items, and every square inch counts. So even if something is considered valuable, they often have to turn those items away, due to lack for floor space. This happens most often with items like pool tables, hot tubs, etc. Think about it- Would you rather have a bookshelf filled with items worth $300 where they can swap new items added every week, or use that square footage for one bulky $100 pool table that might take an entire year to sell? From a business standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to do that.
If you are trying to get rid of something big like this, post it on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace instead. There is a much better chance someone will be looking for an item at a discount. Just make sure you require the buyer to bring their own transportation.