A Guide on How to Donate Clothes
Whether we admit it or not, we all tend to accumulate clothing. It’s all too easy to buy another pair of dress pants, forgetting you already had a pair lodged in the back of your dresser. And once that skirt no longer fits, why not just buy a new one to replace it? Before you know it, your closet is overflowing with clothing you barely remember purchasing.
Here at Stor-It, we talk a lot about cleaning out your bedroom closet. And for good reason—did you know decluttering your closet can do wonders for your health? It’s true: there are even studies to prove it! But besides benefiting your mental health, you may find yourself needing to organize or downsize your closet for other reasons, such as for an upcoming move or home renovation. And doing so may involve donating your clothing.
Not sure how to donate used clothes? Don’t fret; we’re here to help. In our guide below, we cover all the basics of donating old clothes, including how, why, and where to do it. Follow along to find the best ways to donate your clothes.
Why Donate Your Clothes?
It’s not just about closet space! There are several other reasons why donating your clothes is a good idea.
Help the Environment
It’s no wonder they call it “fast fashion.” It seems every week there’s a new trend that puts another one out of style. Not only does that often mean we find ourselves scrambling to purchase the next big thing, but it also means we’re tossing last season’s clothes aside.
And where do those garments end up if they’re not donated? One study reported that 85% of our clothing is burned or winds up in landfills.
Our landfills are already filled to the brim with waste, and garments that still have some life in them don’t belong there. What’s more, many clothing fabrics and materials aren’t recyclable (60% in fact), which means they can’t break down and will remain in landfills for years to come. Meanwhile, other clothing textiles can release toxic chemicals, such as methane and carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.
So, instead of throwing away clothing that’s still in good shape, why not give it a second chance by donating to someone in need?
Of course, the environment isn’t the only one in need. There are many people who can’t afford to purchase clothing for themselves, including at-risk youth, domestic violence survivors, homeless individuals, refugees, and those living under the poverty level.
When you donate your clothing, you can choose organizations that will either give your clothing away for free or turn around and sell it for a small fee. This means you can keep your clothing out of landfills and give them a new lease on life, all while helping someone less fortunate than you.
Which Clothes Should You Donate?
Now, how do you donate clothes? Well, before you toss any ol’ item of clothing into a donation bag, make sure you’ve figured out the proper way of sorting and donating clothes.
Start by organizing the clothing in your wardrobe or storage unit. You can create a keep, donate, and toss pile. Of course, the keep pile will include clothing that you plan to continue wearing, while the donation pile will cover those you no longer want or need.
Be sure to try on the clothes you want to keep to ensure they still fit—do you really need to hold onto that pair of jeans that is four sizes too small? And don’t forget about the “Marie Kondo” method. That is, ask yourself if that garment gives you joy. For example, does that sweater your ex got you make you cringe every time you look at it? Maybe it’s time to part ways.
As for the toss pile, be mindful of what we mentioned about landfills. If your clothing isn’t in good enough shape to donate, can you repurpose it? Can you make it into something new? Or use scraps for cleaning your kitchen? You might just be surprised at the many ways you can recycle your old clothing!
How to Prepare Your Clothes for Donation
Now that you have your donation pile, individually inspect each piece of clothing. Empty the pockets and check for any stains, odors, rips, tears, or holes.
If you can’t mend the damage, you’ll need to move those items to the toss/recycle pile, because most organizations and charities won’t accept clothing in poor condition. Spot treat any stains and be sure to place all the items in the wash before donating them.
Once you’ve washed and dried your clothing, neatly fold them and place them in a bag, box, or container.
Where Can You Donate Your Clothes?
Now you’re probably wondering, Where can I give away my clothes? The good news is that there are likely many organizations in your community willing to accept your donations.
Donating clothes to charity is a great avenue. You’re sure to come across countless charities in your neighborhood that are eager to accept your donations.
Some organizations are dedicated to supporting the homeless, like the National Coalition for the Homeless. Other organizations, such as Dress for Success and Jails to Jobs, are geared toward providing work attire and business wear for those interviewing for jobs after finding housing, getting out of jail, or becoming sober.
When refugees flee their home nations, they often only have the clothing on their backs. Therefore, there are many refugee organizations at the local and national level that will take your clothing donations for refugees once they arrive in your community. Your clothes can be a big help and comfort to families as they settle into their new homes.
Homeless Shelters and Domestic Violence Shelters
In some cases, you can go directly to the source instead of going through an associated charity or organization. For instance, some homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters in your community may accept direct clothing donations. With that said, some may have specific items they’re looking for or might only accept new clothes, so it’s always best to contact them in advance.
Call around to the schools in your area. Some schools will set clothing aside for students in need.
Places of Worship
Many places of worship, such as churches, temples, and mosques, will accept clothing donations, even if you’re not a member. Just call ahead to ensure they are open to your donations.
Nonprofit Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops
Search for nonprofit thrift stores in your community like Goodwill and Salvation Army. But do keep in mind that many consignment shops and thrift stores are turning your clothing around for a profit, unlike other organizations that will give it away for free.
How to Vet an Organization for Donations
While you’re sure to find many viable places for donating old clothes, you do want to ensure you’re going with a reputable organization.
We suggest searching for a cause that means something to you, or an organization with a mission that speaks to you. That might mean an LGBTQIA-centric project or one geared toward the elderly.
Alternatively, you can choose one based on the specific kinds of clothing you have to donate. For example, if you have some old baby clothes on your hands, maybe you want to support an organization committed to single mothers or foster care programs. But if you have a few men’s suits that you’ve outgrown, perhaps you want to donate to an organization focused on helping people dress for job interviews.
And if you’re wondering where to donate women’s clothes, you can even search for organizations that work specifically with women, such as women’s shelters and domestic violence shelters.
Next, look for places that are actually going to put your clothing to do good use. After all, some studies have shown that consignment shops only resell up to 20% of donated clothing. So where does that other 80% go? Yup, you guessed it: landfills.
In the same vein, do some research on the nonprofits and organizations themselves. Be sure to avoid any that are misusing their money, exploiting their employees, or engaging in any kind of questionable conduct.
Whether you’re trying to decide what to keep when moving, downsizing, or simply looking to do a good deed, donating your clothing is a great way to help others while helping yourself.
Learn More About Stor-It
At Stor-It, we’re your go-to place for all things storage. We’re the oldest and largest storage facility in the Gem State, offering more than 15 convenient locations all over the Treasure Valley, from Boise to Caldwell. When it comes to organizing your home, preparing for a move, or storing your items, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today to find out more!