Is it your New Year’s resolution to give back to the community or help others? Going through your belongings and donating them to a worthy cause, such as Goodwill, is a great place to start. However, as you filter through rooms in your home or an older relative’s home, you may be wondering what Goodwill accepts and doesn’t accept.
Jump ahead to these sections:
Periodically going through your belongings and donating or selling what you don’t need can help you stay organized, and is also an essential part of end-of-life planning.
We’ll walk you through all of the categories of items that Goodwill accepts and does not accept. Some items may surprise you, while others may seem obvious. By donating acceptable items to Goodwill, you’re not only helping the environment by recycling, but also your immediate Goodwill facility and other associated charities.
Post-loss tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, handling aspects of their unfinished business like donating their clothes and other items can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
What Donations Goodwill Accepts
It may surprise you that Goodwill accepts some items and not others. However, you have to take into account that Goodwill facilities are sometimes limited by space or a smaller staff. If you choose to donate any of the following items — organized by category — they’re likely always welcome.
Your donations can not only provide great bargains for Goodwill shoppers, but you’re also helping the environment a great deal by recycling and repurposing, rather than throwing away.
Clothing, shoes, boots, and accessories
Goodwill is a great place to find unique clothing items, and you can be a part of this. Plus, recycling clothing is a great way to help out the environment. Many people think they can never have enough clothing. But, going through your closet each season and donating what you haven’t worn is a great way to help out those in need.
- Kids and pre-teen clothing: From baby clothes to pre-teen clothing, children grow very quickly, and some families can’t afford or don’t want to purchase new clothing every time it’s needed.
- Young adult and adult clothing of all sizes: Affordable business clothing can help someone in need feel presentable and confident enough to land a new job or perform better at the one they have now.
- Shoes: Shoes may take up a lot of room in your closet but may be scarce in other people’s closets. Donate accordingly, especially if your child has grown out of them and doesn’t have younger siblings to hand them down to.
- Boots: Boots are important — even life-saving — to those in need if you live in a particularly wet or cold climate.
- Jewelry: Did you or even your child go through a costume jewelry phase? Donate unwanted jewelry to Goodwill and pare down your collection.
- Hats: Hats, either winter beanies or ball caps, can be crucial to people in cold, rainy, or especially sunny climates.
- Gloves: Gloves are important to individuals who may have to work in unheated facilities or outdoor jobs in colder climates.
- Scarves: Scarves can be incredibly warm and are a simple but valuable accessory.
Housewares, dishes, and collectibles
Updating or redecorating? Going for a more minimalist look? Goodwill is a great place to send housewares, dishes, and collectibles.
- Knickknacks: Have a relative that won’t stop gifting you with turtle figurines? Goodwill can likely never have enough.
- Dishes and utensils: If you no longer like your wedding dishes, for example, someone else may enjoy them.
- Lamps and similar items: If you’re updating your space, new light fixtures are a great start.
- Collectibles: Some people thrift for specific items to add to their collections.
- Gifts and trinkets: Receive a gift that doesn’t suit your aesthetic? Give it to Goodwill.
- Small appliances: No longer into your blender? Goodwill is a great place for it.
Tools and outdoor items
Many people love spending time outdoors or completing home improvement projects but may not want to spend extra money to do so. Goodwill is a great candidate for these old items.
- Hammers, drills, and accessories: This is great for handymen and women on a budget as well as other nonprofits looking to renovate.
- Woodworking, sewing, painting, or other hobby-related items: If items like these are taking up space in your home or cabinets, turn them over to Goodwill.
- Lawn tools or accessories: As long as these items aren’t hazardous, they’re great for Goodwill.
- Outdoor décor: Help others freshen up their outdoor spaces with décor donations.
- Outdoor furniture: As long as your furniture isn’t filthy or falling apart, it’s a great thing to give Goodwill. If it is falling apart and Goodwill won't accept it, read our guide on where to get rid of old furniture for free.
Games, toys, books, and other entertainment items
Are you cleaning out an elderly parent’s house and find an excess of board games and other entertainment items? Goodwill is always looking for these items.
- Board games: As long as the board game isn’t missing too many pieces or elements, this is a great thing to give Goodwill.
- Electronic games, consoles, and games: Did someone in your household upgrade their gaming system? Goodwill would love any older items.
- Books: Books don’t require batteries, updates, or any additional installation. As long as they’re in decent shape, donate them to Goodwill.
- Toys for all ages: Some children grow tired of toys quickly. Donating toys to Goodwill provides opportunities for families to buy “new” toys at better prices.
- Records, CDs, music players, and more: Recently inherit a house full of stuff? Don’t feel like going through old records and CDs? Give them to Goodwill.
Exercise equipment and sporting goods
Donating exercise and sporting equipment is a great way to share health and wellness with others who cannot afford or choose to forego gym memberships.
- Exercise balls, bands, and weights: Help someone else meet their strength and fitness goals, especially if you have access to a gym’s equipment instead.
- Bicycles, skateboards, and scooters: As long as these items are in working condition, others can enjoy them for years.
- Exercise machines and other equipment: There’s a good chance that a machine you’re no longer using can be tuned up and enjoyed by someone else or even provide transportation to school or work.
- Sports balls and other equipment: Not only can gently used balls and other equipment be used by people in need, but it’s also a great opportunity for school programs to update their inventory, too.
- Jerseys and gear: Outdoor activities and sports gear can be fun for people of all ages.
Small electronics and communication devices
Many people are guilty of holding onto electronics longer than necessary. They think they’ll plug them back in and fire them up “sometime soon,” when in reality, these electronics just sit unused. Don’t throw them away, even if it seems tempting. Many electronics, though outdated, can still serve a purpose for those on a budget or in need.
- Office computers: If you recently upgraded to a new laptop or otherwise have no use for a desktop monitor, send it over to Goodwill.
- Personal computers: Likewise, if you don’t have anyone in your family eager to take over your old laptop, donate it to Goodwill. That being said, be sure that you do not hand over any personal documents or information with the computer.
- Consumer electronics: Goodwill accepts a wide variety of other electronics, such as camcorders, remote controls, tape players, and more.
- Office equipment: Have other office equipment, such as printers, fax machines, or small copiers? Goodwill takes those, too.
- Telecommunication devices: Likewise, if you have old cell phones, pagers, handsets, headsets, or answering machines, these are great for people looking to start a new business on a budget or those working for a nonprofit.
Larger electronics and other devices
If you think you own outdated electronics, such as early flat screens, Goodwill would love to have them. The wise use of electronics, as well as recycling programs, is an important part of being environmentally conscious.
- Flat-screen TVs: Flat-screen TVs are a great electronic to donate because they’re relatively inexpensive for someone on a budget to set up. They also take up a small amount of space compared to other television sets, which are not accepted.
- Stereos, radios, and speakers: Did you go through a DJ phase? Feel like your devices are outdated? There’s likely someone out there who would love your old stereos, radios, or speakers.
- VCRs, DVDs, and streaming devices: Though you may only use the internet and other devices to view shows and movies, many people still enjoy more “old school” options or look for ways to watch VHS tapes and DVDs.
- Projectors and classroom aids: Projectors and other similar devices may help out teachers on a budget.
- Tablets and E-book readers: Is your iPad so old you can’t update it anymore? Donate it to Goodwill. It may become valuable to someone who really needs it but can’t afford newer models.
Whether you have a vehicle to spare in your household, or you recently inherited one from a relative who has passed away, Goodwill can put them to good use. What Goodwill accepts is not limited to cars — you can help those in need with other vehicles as well. The best part is, your vehicle does not have to be running, and Goodwill picks it up from you and tows it locally for free. Vehicle donations are resold at auction, and the proceeds benefit people with disabilities or disadvantages.
- Cars and SUVs: Again, the vehicle you’re donating doesn’t even have to be running for it to make a difference. Cars — including compact, eco-friendly, or old are accepted, as well as SUVs, trucks, and much more.
- Boats: Have a boat, kayak, or canoe that you’re no longer using? Give it to Goodwill. This is a helpful option if you’re moving far away or away from a place where water activities are common. Or, perhaps you’re downsizing or moving somewhere where storage spaces are scarce or expensive.
- RVs and fleet vehicles: Yes, Goodwill takes even the largest vehicles out there.
- Jet skis and off-road vehicles: Have you grown out of jet skis or other leisure or sport vehicles? Goodwill even accepts these.
- Motorcycles and bikes: Have you recently become an owner of a motorcycle or motorbike? They’re not for everyone. Give it to Goodwill and forget about rearranging your garage.
What Goodwill Won’t Take
Though you may have the best intentions with some of your donations, there are some items Goodwill will not accept. Many of these items fit into categories, such as cleaners and chemicals, large appliances, and mattresses, among others. You may have to find other causes that will accept these items.
Here are the items that Goodwill won't take:
- Personal care items
- Household cleaners or chemicals
- Large appliances
- Mattresses, mattress accessories, and recalled items
- Miscellaneous home fixtures
- Trash or recyclables
Personal care items
Though giving others access to items to feel fresh and clean sounds great, it’s not always the best idea to donate personal care items — even unused ones. In order for personal care items to remain safe for others to use, they have to be well-organized and have their expiration dates checked periodically. Plus, all those shampoo and lotion bottles will take up quite a bit of space and will make a huge mess if they spill or break during transport or in the facility.
- Shampoos, conditioners, soaps, or shower gels: Many cleansers and soap products contain tons of ingredients. That being said, varieties that don’t contain preservatives or certain chemicals have shorter shelf lives. These bottles may also become damaged and potentially ruin other items.
- Makeup, lotions, and skincare: Many people have allergies to certain cosmetics and body care products. In addition, opened makeup and personal care items create an opportunity for germs to spread.
- Toothbrushes and dental care: Many other types of supply drives accept unopened toothbrushes.
- Hair products and brushes: Even if your products are unopened or you clean your old hairbrushes well, these items are not something Goodwill takes.
- Baby wipes and other hygiene products: Baby wipes may dry out or expire, or become opened and thus unsanitary. The same applies to other similar hygiene products if they’re not given special attention.
Household cleaners or chemicals
You may intend to be helpful by donating items to allow others to keep their homes clean and tidy. However, many of these products have potentially harmful ingredients that Goodwill’s staff would have to monitor, creating more of a hassle.
- Indoor cleaners, sprays, and solvents: Even if the cleaners or solvents you’re trying to donate are marked non-toxic, some ingredients, when mixed, can become toxic or dangerous. This also applies if items expire or come into contact with extreme temperatures.
- Outdoor cleaners or pest control: Though important, Goodwill cannot accept pest control items as there’s a risk they could come into contact with another item and make someone ill.
- Lawn fertilizer or plant care products: We discussed other lawn care items that are accepted above. However, Goodwill will not accept pesticides, fertilizers, or other similar treatments.
- Paint or paint thinner: Though you may think a paint donation can go a long way, you may be better off visiting a home improvement store to recycle or dispose of old paint responsibly.
- Home improvement or automotive materials: Home improvement materials, such as caulk, polish, spackle, and more are not accepted. Automotive materials, such as wiper fluid, antifreeze, old batteries, spare gas cans, oil, and more are not accepted either.
Some Goodwill facilities are low on space or have to use their space wisely in general. Bulky, heavy, or oversized appliances are not the best items to keep in stock for the organization’s capacity.
- Refrigerators and freezers: Besides taking up a lot of space, refrigerators and freezers are made with sometimes hazardous materials if the appliance becomes damaged or broken.
- Stoves, ovens, or grills: Since these appliances are made to ignite, they’re not the best to have sitting among other items or in tight spaces. They can also leak harmful chemicals if they become damaged.
- Air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and furnaces: Much like refrigerators and freezers, coolants can be dangerous. These appliances also take up a lot of space.
- Microwaves or freon-based appliances: Microwaves are another item that can become dangerous if damaged or otherwise old.
- Overly large stereos or water heaters: Items that take up too much space aren’t helpful in the long run for Goodwill facilities.
Mattresses, mattress accessories, and recalled items
Donating a bed frame is a great idea, but mattresses and waterbeds, not so much. The same goes for outdated or unsafe car seats and mobility items.
- Mattresses or box springs: You may think you have a perfectly good mattress or box spring to donate. However, mattresses and box springs take up a ton of space. These items may also be the perfect place for bugs, germs, and other pests to hide either in transport or at Goodwill facilities.
- Waterbeds or waterbed frames: For safety and sanitary reasons, waterbeds and corresponding frames are not accepted by Goodwill.
- Cribs: Similarly, for safety and sanitary reasons, cribs are not accepted by Goodwill.
- Car seats, if recalled or otherwise unsafe: Child car seats and other similar devices must meet additional requirements from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Mobility devices, if recalled or otherwise unsafe: Mobility devices, such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and more have to meet additional safety standards from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Miscellaneous home fixtures
If you’re completing home renovations or demo work, you may have better luck consulting builders or contractors for what to do with your scraps. Goodwill does not accept the following home materials and fixtures.
- Wall-to-wall carpet or carpet padding: For sanitary reasons and capacity reasons, Goodwill is not equipped to handle old wall-to-wall carpet or carpet padding.
- Other old flooring: Like old carpet, you shouldn’t expect Goodwill to take old tiles, laminate, or wood. Consider contacting a home improvement store or flooring specialist for other options.
- Plumbing fixtures: You cannot donate showerheads, faucets, pipes, toilets, or other plumbing items to Goodwill.
- Building materials: Though you may have good intentions, Goodwill is not the place to donate building materials, even if they’re brand new.
The following list of weapons is not exhaustive. Even though Goodwill accepts other household tools and similar items, weapons are not accepted.
- Guns: No matter how small or “harmless” Goodwill does not accept any type of gun.
- Bows and arrows: Though some bows and arrows are used for hobbies or sports such as archery, Goodwill does not accept them.
- Ammunition: As you may expect, Goodwill does not accept bullets or other ammunition.
- Hunting knives: This may be obvious, but Goodwill does not accept hunting knives or other large sporting knives.
- Tasers, pepper spray, and flammable items: In addition to other weapons, Goodwill does not accept tasers and pepper spray. Goodwill also does not accept fireworks other flammable items.
Trash or recyclables
Goodwill not accepting trash or other recyclables may sound obvious. But wouldn’t others enjoy reading magazines, even if they’re old? Not exactly. Maybe you can bring these to your workplace to try and pawn off on your coworkers instead.
- Trash: If you were planning to throw an item away, do so. Do not give it to Goodwill to deal with. If you can safely recycle something, be sure that it fits into an acceptable category and does need to be taken to a specific facility.
- Old magazines: If reading material is printed, date-specific, and otherwise not a book, you should opt to recycle it, not give it to Goodwill.
- Old newspapers: Though you may enjoy old crossword puzzles or comics, newspapers are likely to get ruined in transport or take up too much space in Goodwill facilities. Recycle them instead.
- Advertisements, flyers, or catalogs: There are key differences between advertisements that qualify as art pieces and mailers that should be recycled. Also, coupon books are great when they’re brand new, but Goodwill does not have a use for them.
- Junk mail: If you receive other types of mail than what has been mentioned prior, do not bring it to Goodwill.
If You’re Unsure, Ask
Donating what you no longer need to Goodwill can have an amazing impact on others in your community, even if it’s just a few items at a time. You’ll likely also be happy with the tax credits as an added bonus.
Though this list is and the resources provided are highly comprehensive, it may benefit you to ask your local Goodwill if you’re unsure if they will accept a certain item. They may make an exception if they have a specific need for that item.
- “Goodwill Donation Guidelines.” Amazing Goodwill. www.amazinggoodwill.com/donating/donor-guidelines
- “Acceptable Donations.” Goodwill Northern New England. goodwillnne.org/donate/acceptable-donations/
- “Vehicle Donations.” Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. www.goodwillswfl.org/donatevehicles/