Ask Unclutterer: Sell or donate?

Reader Amy submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

I’d love to see some advice on what to donate vs. what to sell when clearing out the clutter!

Amy, this is a great request. Here is the following method I suggest for deciding what to do with home and office items once you determine they no longer belong in your possession:

Step 1: Visit some online auction sites like eBay, MaxSold, or other online classifieds and find out how much money a similar item recently sold for on the site. Look at the closing bids will give you a better idea of the final sale price.

Step 2: If the item sold for an amount that you believe is worth your time and effort to sell (for me, this number is $50+), then sell the item. Websites such as eBay and Craigslist (and kijiji in Canada) are perfect for online sales, and local consignment or pawn shops are wonderful brick and mortar alternatives. Garage sales are also good options.

Step 3: If the item sold for an amount less than your time and effort to sell number (for me this is less than $50), but is greater than zero, consider donating the object to charity or posting it on Freecycle or a neighborhood Buy Nothing site.

Step 4: If you cannot find a similar item for sale online and you think the item is junk, recycle, or trash the item. A good rule of thumb is that you should not give to charity any item that no one is willing to pay money to buy. Charities are not depositories for junk.

Note: Some of our readers have been successful uncluttering by listing items for free that they thought were scrap. For example, a wooden bed frame was picked up by a carpenter (to repurpose the wood), a contractor took away a pile of steel rebar and angle iron, and non-functioning electronics were scooped up by an adult learning center/trade school. If you choose to do this, and no one claims the items after a certain period of time (e.g., two weeks) then recycle or trash the items.

Thank you, Amy, for submitting the first question for our Ask Unclutterer column!

Do you have a question relating to organizing, cleaning, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject of your e-mail as “Ask Unclutterer.” If you feel comfortable sharing images of the spaces that trouble you, let us know about them. The more information we have about your specific issue, the better.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2009.

51 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Sell or donate?”

  1. posted by Viv Evans on

    Over the past two years we did a massive decluttering/downsizing and went from a 6000 square foot house to a 1200 square foot condo, and moved from the Toronto area to Canada’s West Coast. I had been working on clutter for about 5 years, so we were already in good shape, did another wave before putting the house on the market, then another one in the two months before the cross-country move.

    The first few waves of decluttering were donated. Almost every week, I filled my car for a Tuesday trip to the MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) thrift store. I watched the “wanteds” on FreeCycle and made a lot of people happy! I also had two kids move out of the house to go to university, so they got tons of linens, kitchen stuff, and some furniture. I also got a showcase booth at an antiques barn and sold a lot of my Depression glass collection (I still have about 100 pieces, but all one pattern) and some other small antique items. That netted about $2000.

    In the last two months before the move, the valuable bigger stuff went. I didn’t want to use eBay because of the hassle of shipping. It’s also more difficult to itemize used donated items in Canada, so I didn’t use that method. I found Kijiji ads to work better than Craig’s List. My rule was one week on Kijiji, then drop the price by half, then put it on FreeCycle if it hadn’t sold or the buyer didn’t show. Then we had a huge garage sale. I made $1100 on the Friday night alone. At noon on the Saturday, we were close to $1500 and I said, “Enough!” and everything was free. We had people on cellphones calling in friends and it was crazy, but everything went. The end result was two green garbage bags to the curb.

    We made $2000 from antiques, $6000 from Kijiji and selling to friends, and $1500 from the garage sale.

    When we moved TO the 6000 sq foot house, the weight of the move was 21,000 lb. When we moved here, the weight was 6,300 lb. True, we also had two kids move out, but we are pretty proud of what we did. The biggest bonus to come out of here is I hardly spend money any more. I keep having visions of stuff leaving the house for free or 10 cents on the dollar and it really makes me double-think any buying commitments.


  2. posted by BklynGirl on

    I have to second the Craigslist option. I was recently moving house and was amazed at the success I had selling things on craigslist. It’s really convenient because you can ask people to come pick it up so there’s no running to the post office, etc. Worked out really great for me. I got rid of things I thought no one would wanted and made a fair amount of money.

  3. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Viv — What a great story!! Congratulations!

  4. posted by Jeannine on

    We have had lots of success de-cluttering our house while also making a little bit of dough! My criteria for donate vs. sell is as follows:

    Generally, if I think an object is worth $10 or more and easy to photograph, I list it on Craigslist so I don’t have to worry about shipping, and state that they buyer must come to pick up the item at our house (I’ve tried meeting people at a halfway point and found that it takes up too much of my time and is not worth it!). Craigslist allows you to post no more than 4 items at a time, so if an item hasn’t sold on Craigslist and I have something else to list, the first item goes in the bin for Goodwill.

    If something is a “specialty” item like collectible dishes (I had lots of this when cleaning out my grandmother and mother’s houses), then I would list those items in eBay. I’ve listed on eBay both on my own as well as through one of those “I sold it on eBay” stores. Sometimes I find eBay to be too much of a hassle, and if I don’t want to bother shipping a large amount of dishes, bringing it to a store like this is worth the 20% commission they take out of the sale price.

    I’ve also recently began selling some of my books on When I decide I want to get rid of a book (my criteria is if I don’t plan to read it again, it’s gone!), I look it up on Amazon and if it will sell used for more than $5 then I am willing to sell it (shipping books is pretty easy – I just wrap it using paper grocery sacks and ship it right from my grocery store). I’m often surprised that some of my less common books often sell for $20 – $30 each.

    Any book that is worth less than $5, or things that are unlikely to sell on Craigslist (like many items of clothing), I take to Goodwill. However, I echo Erin’s point that charity shops are not dumping grounds! I’ve volunteered to help sort at a charity shop before, and it’s amazing what some people will donate. If it is broken, stained, or has holes in it, throw it away!

    Money that we have made from selling items goes directly into what my husband and I call the “decorating fund” which I can use guilt-free for buying things for the house — new pillows, candles, a new Christmas tree. We have given our house an update with just the money we have made selling clutter we had laying around the house! It’s easier to let go of clutter when you know that you will (1) make money from it, (2) it will go to good use, or (3) it will make someone happy.

    I also feel that using Craigslist, Goodwill and/or eBay is a good alternative for holding a garage sale, because you don’t need to save up all your clutter for a year in order to have a garage sale. By doing it this way, I get rid of clutter as we find it!

    Viv, your story is inspirational — I should check out Kijiji. Never heard of it.

  5. posted by Sue on

    Good advice about researching recent ebay sales. Too many people don’t search closed auctions and only look at current auctions – which may or may not end with a bid.

    I’ve also seen people fail to notice the condition of the sold items and think their worn out, beat up item will fetch the same price as an item in good condition.

    I tried selling used books on amazon and found their fees to be prohibitive. Ebay has become almost prohibitive too, unless the item will certainly sell for over $50.

  6. posted by Karen on

    Another factor might be whether you can benefit from the tax deduction for donations. I recently gave away some items through freecycle, and I got several emails from people, asking me why I didn’t donate them and take the tax deduction. As a renter, I don’t itemize, so I can’t deduct donations from my taxes. But someone who could take that tax deduction might find it worthwhile to donate instead of selling something with a small value.

  7. posted by jan on

    Decluttering and living in a very rural area means sometimes it just goes in the trash! To give to a charity means many miles and freecycling means they want you to meet them with you item somewhere 40 miles away (yup. but I only did it once). So I often resort to just trashing it on trash day. I still have too much…

  8. posted by Pammyfay on

    For books and cds: Consider (1) used book stores, which will give you store credit or an amount of money, usually a bit less than the store credit amount; and (2) your local library if it has yearly book sales, and you can get a tax deduction for that (plus you help contribute to the library being able to afford new books!)

  9. posted by Amanda on

    I couple people mentioned giving/ selling books, another place to give books is your local library. It’s where all my books go. Also I second the thought of thift stores not being a dumping ground, but to include items that could be mended if someone had the inclination.

  10. posted by timgray on

    Donate takes 10 minutes to drive it to the donation center.

    Sell on ebay takes a MINIMUM of 30 minutes per item, then the time to pack and ship it. If you have a lot of spare time, list it on ebay.

    If you dont, donate it.

  11. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    Just a word of advice of donating.

    My wife works in the Resource Center for a well-known children’s hospital and they receive TONS of books, dvds, cds, etc. The problem is, quite a lot of them a awful or in bad condition or just plain inappropriate for a children’s hospital. I mean, I enjoyed “Super Bad”, but come on now.

    Before donating to organizations such as tese, please make sure you contact them and make sure your donations fit the needs of the organization.

    Sure it’s a little more work, but otherwise many of these things just end up in the trash.

  12. posted by Niko on

    Hi Everyone, I’ve been downsizing to prepare for a move from a large apartment with roommates (where all the household supplies & furniture are mine) to a smaller place of my own. So, a lot of household stuff has had to go. Being a student, I need to watch my pennies. So, here’s what I did/am doing. I did not sell anything on ebay (couldn’t imagine shipping my stuff). I did sell a lot of stuff on Craigslist and I have been successful. Since times have been tough for a lot of people, my very well used furniture has been sold for money. I’ve found that reasonably priced and cheap stuff on Craislist goes in a couple of days. It is the more expensive stuff that takes longer. Also, I’ve participated in 3 yard sales that my community has thrown. Here, I’ve sold many small items and people do buy them (perhaps that is because a lot of students live here). These sales have been very successful, likely because there are many sellers and we advertise on Craigslist that we are having a sale and we post signs. The sales are so successful that I will be participating in one that my community is throwing tomorrow. Gotta go unclutter and find stuff to sell…..!

  13. posted by chessie99 on

    There are a lot of things that ‘no one is willing to pay money to buy’ that can be used by local charities. Nobody would buy, for instance, half a ream of copy paper, but a local food pantry in my area could use it. They have taken to printing their forms on the back of church programs from previous weeks. A ream of paper costs $2.50 — that will but 15 pounds of food. Other things desperately needed might not be salable — half a package of unused disposable diapers, the used light bulbs you replaced with cfls to save energy, used furniture that’s not valuable but still usable. I was in the home of an elder lady last year who had two lights, one in the kitchen & one in the bedroom, because she had no money and had never asked for help. Used clothing is usually in oversupply, but clean blankets or comforters that aren’t worn out are always in short supply in the winter. Pet shelters can use towels, blankets, etc, even worn beyond use for people, for bedding for their animals, and there are many more pets dropped off to shelters now than ever before.
    I’ve worked & volunteered at a number of charitable places. If you have things that aren’t worn out or damaged beyond use, you’ll be appreciated if you offer them with a ‘if you can’t use this, I’ll toss it in the trash.’ You’d be amazed at how many of the things you might see as worthless can provide some service to someone in need.


  14. posted by maxie on

    To add to Peter’s (the different one) comment…PLEASE do not donate any item of clothing that you wouldn’t wear yourself! It’s a waste of time for the charity.

    I spent a couple of weeks sorting donations after Katrina and you would not believe what people sent in. Yes, it was for people who had absolutely nothing to wear, but that doesn’t mean they need your dirty, stained, holey crap.[/rant]

  15. posted by Jim @ Change Jar Savings on

    @ maxie:
    “PLEASE do not donate any item of clothing that you wouldn’t wear yourself”

    I disagree. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Me I love Hawaiian shirts and plastic pink flamingos. Someone else donates them because they would never… And I scope it up.

    BTW – I told my family I am starting a plastic Pink Flamingo Rescue. People can donate their unwanted flamingo’s and I will care for them and give them a good home.

  16. posted by christa on

    regarding the clothing donations, I’ve donated used (but in fairly good condition) underwear and socks. I did wash it first before donating, but due to the fact that I do not use bleach on my clothes (sensitive skin), it does tend to get grayish and sort of dingy looking after time. But it is clean!!! I’m thinking donation places probably don’t get a lot of these kinds of items, and figured I was doing them a favor by sending in some clean and in good condition.

    My question to the donation sorters: How can you tell if the items are clean? Do you throw away all underwear regardless unless it looks brand new with tags still on it? Please let me know so that I don’t waste sorters time in the future.

  17. posted by Stina on

    I stay away from Ebay. It’s just not worth the hassle, and there are so many scammers around it’s not even funny anymore. Freecycle, friends, or flea markets it is for me.

  18. posted by gayle on

    I regularly volunteer with a charity that takes used clothing donations. Here is the rule of thumb:

    NO underwear or socks unless they’re new (with tags!). C’mon now.
    No busted zippers on coats (main zippers, not pockets). Charities don’t have the money to pay the tailor to fix it.
    Nothing with stains or holes (even if you think it makes the jeans look cool).

    Charities often run on a shoestring budget. They take all the donations and have to run them through the laundromat. That costs money. They can’t trust everyone’s idea of “washed”. Also, charities have BIG DUMPSTERS. But they have to pay to haul the dumpster away. The slower the dumpster fills, the less often you haul it. Every dime not paid to overhead can go to those in need.

    People who are in need, still have their pride. They are very grateful when something is offered, and will generally not be picky about style. But nobody wants to be offered something that is shabby.

    Biggest rule of thumb: before donating it, ask yourself if you’d be embarrassed to go to the food store in it. If so, trash it or donate it for rags.

  19. posted by catherine on

    dear amy,
    just donate.
    drop it at salvation army or some other such place,
    and skip the receipt.
    it’s SO quick + easy.
    you’ll get the karma.
    : )

  20. posted by Kate on

    Great post and comments! Especially about the charity donation guidelines. I would add that will buy china, crystal, and silver. I have dealt with them before, and it was a great experience. Also, I sell books, etc., on (a division of ebay, but there is no bidding). Also love Freecycle. For leftover construction stuff, paint, etc., try Habitat for Humanity–they run thrift stores in certain cities.

    Question: Does anyone have information about guidelines for donating cleaning and/or hygiene products charities? I don’t like throwing out a half-empty bottle of shampoo or toxic cleaner, but the thrift store won’t take them.

  21. posted by Steve-O on

    I’m starting to try Paperback Swap to help manage clutter

    I listed all my books and so far I’ve shipped out 10. I figure any books no one requests will go to the library. Any that will be send out through a swap will be replaced by a used book sent to me. That way… no additional clutter. Just books I haven’t read. When I’m through with them I’ll swap them or donate them. We’ll see if it saves me money and clutter…

  22. posted by christa on

    Can anyone inform me of a place to donate clothing for rags?

  23. posted by JEN on

    Before throwing away the stained clothing, ASK your charity. Some bundle and sell unusable clothing to be made into rags.

    My favority charity does, so I package these separately. I also usually note if there is something unusual or a set that would be worth more if kept together – for example I donated an entire “travel wardrobe” with mix and match pieces knit pieces, most unworn – and knew it would sell better together put with suits than split out among shirts, pants, etc.

    Some people shop thrift stores for stuff to resell on ebay, and telling someone who works there that an item is popular on ebay or is collectible, even if it doesn’t meet your monetary threshhold, may help them match your stuff up with someone with a lower threshhold.

  24. posted by Michael on

    When my wife and I moved, we had a lot duplicate items from our previously single life. For a variety of reasons, we didn’t try to sell.

    We put everything outside the old place, took some pictures and posted on Craigslist’s “free” section. Everything was picked up within a few days. Some large furniture items were gone within hours. (Particularly nice for large furniture as finding a way to haul it away is so daunting.)

    Caveat: (1) note “first come, first served” [I got lots of sob stories asking me to hang onto stuff] and (2) note that you will remove items from the list when you NOTICE that they have been taken [I got lots of emails asking if XYZ was still available].

  25. posted by [email protected] on

    Great post. Thanks for all the tips and reader tips are great as well. I’m currently on an uncluttering mission.

  26. posted by sheila on

    Craigslist is great I think. Many times if you go into the Free section people post just about anything. Many times junk to one person helps someone else out especially in a tough economy.

    Many times I see lamps, bikes, wine racks, blinds, curtains, baby things and kids toys on the curb. A great deal of which is still in very usable condition but unfortunately a lot of this stuff ends up in a landfill on trash day because for many people it is far easier to throw it away vs donating or taking a little time to find a new home for it.

    Worst case post it free on Craigslist and someone will pick it up from your curb if you don’t want them to come in your home. A lot of people pick up broken appliances and sell them for scrap metal or will fix a broken vacumn cleaner or small kitchen appliance to use or sell. It is a win/win for everyone, it keeps it out of a landfill, many times someone can use the item and it may help them as they don’t have the extra funds to go out and buy a new thing, or they fix it and resell it and the original owner no longer has to deal with it and someone else has benefited from it in the process.

    On items like Baby stuff, cribs that are not recalled,etc. My church just posted a need for a women’s center that needed over 200 cribs. Check with your local Women’s center or pregnancy center as I am sure many times these items can be put to great use!

    On The Christmas tree before Christmas at church for gifts that went to the City of Alexandria social services to send out for the holidays, most items listed were for Children’s new underwear or new children’s jackets. These are things that many of us take for granted so the need is great but for a child that was what they asked for for Christmas because that family was not even able to afford those items.

    The extra bottle of shampoo or half used ream of paper or half used bottle of dish soap, home item, clothing surely could be used in many organizations or by someone so before it is tossed…think about who may possible benefit and try to match a charity to the item or post it on Craiglist in the Free section. It may take a little time, but you may brighten someone’s day in the process and make things easier for them in some small way as one person’s trash is another one’s treasure!

  27. posted by Michelle on

    I usually just go straight to donation, even with the pricier items. I like the idea of a sorter opening a box to discover, say, a really great cookware set after I’ve received an upgrade.

    Recently, though, I had a great experience selling my books online to Powell’s. Just enter the ISBNs, they bid on the books they want to buy, and if you accept the bid they give you the shipping label. You get store credit in exchange, which is quite handy in my grad-student household.

    Like most used-book stores, Powell’s will reject some titles on Tuesday but offer to buy them on Wednesday, so I checked back with them several times to see if they’d take any that they’d passed on the first time.

    Once I had a handful of books that couldn’t be resold, I sorted out the novels for Goodwill, and the technical manuals and other educational books went to Bridge to Asia, which stocks libraries in Asia and accepts a wide range of book donations. In the end I did wind up tossing about 10 books, which made me sad, but by that point they were pretty clearly beyond their useful life.

  28. posted by Laurel Alanna McBrine on

    Actually, I recently discovered that charities bag up unwanted donations of clothing to be sold for scrap, which to me is a much better fate than sitting in a landfill taking up valuable space, so I would say that any fabric at all should go to charity, perhaps labelled “scrap fabric” so they know to just chuck it in the recycle pile.

    Apparently Goodwill loves scrap clothing. They may not try to sell it, but your stained or shabby dress or blouse is sold to a bulk fabric shredder who will recycle it. Your old socks will be shredded and made into something useful rather than buried in a landfill, and Goodwill earns a bit of money toward education and training people looking for work, so go ahead and give them your old, unwearable stuff as well as your still good unwanted clothing.

  29. posted by Laurel Alanna McBrine on

    Oh, I should have mentioned, obviously you would donate CLEAN items only!

  30. posted by Sky on is the greatest to sell books. For furniture and household items, check with your local social services. They know the most needy people.

  31. posted by savvy on

    Ebay is way too much hassle, unless you really think there might be a bidding war for the item. I haven’t listed anything on ebay in well over two years.

    My craigslist minimum is $10. I do want people to meet me at my house, but I will deliver if it isn’t out of my way. Sometimes I ask a small deposit via paypal if an item is hot, or if there are special circumstances (like asking me to hold it for a week until they get here).

    Just this week I sold some exercise equipment and sporting goods. $360 in my pocket and LOTS of extra space in our house.

    Viv – your story is inspiring! When we moved to our house, we had nothing. The house echoed with emptiness. Now it is bursting at the seams and I’m wondering where it all came from. I’m trying to get rid of the stuff that doesn’t get used and just keep what is used and loved.

  32. posted by Another Deb on

    Don’t forget that schools can use certain items as well. I hope you check with a teacher you know if you have things like kids books and videos, office supplies, craft items, carpet squares, magazines, tools, board games.

    As a science teacher, I have scrounged the Goodwill for all of the above and more: ping pong balls, golf balls, bowling balls, golf clubs, crock pots, toys, Hot Wheels Tracks, plastic containers, clocks, kiddie pools, rope, hardware, balloons, odd-sized paper in reams, cafeteria sized trays, animal cages and aquariums, silk flowers, posters.. the list goes on. Luckily I have a great room full of cabinets and everything is in bins by activity.

  33. posted by Tania on

    <> Many times I see lamps, bikes, wine racks, blinds, curtains, baby things and kids toys on the curb. A great deal of which is still in very usable condition but unfortunately a lot of this stuff ends up in a landfill on trash day because for many people it is far easier to throw it away vs donating or taking a little time to find a new home for it.<>

    I’d have to say not in a major city. I participating in a lot of “curbside giving” here in LA and items in good condition rarely stay longer than an hour. Oftentimes people come up to me as I’m putting it out there. I even gave away a nice but old refrigerator that way. So it’s a very viable option depending on where you live.

    I sell things that are worth selling but you have to know where best to sell for the item and that takes a bit of research. I agree that if you just want a quick sell to get it out of the house – Craigs List.

    This is a good post for me because I’m smack dab in the midst of this myself (getting ready to move up State) 🙂

  34. posted by Dallee on

    On Freecycle listings, you can add “charity or non-profit only” to your heading.

    You might just find a worthy project previously unknown to you. I did a listing for a friend’s IBM Selectric typewriter, which ended up going to a small not-for-profit opera group — its volunteers still type labels for mailers. Women’s size clothing went to a return-to-work project.

  35. posted by Viv Evans on

    Thanks to all of you who mentioned you liked my story. It was hard work, but we are really pleased with our new life. The biggest bonus is that instead of having a house that took a weekly cleaning lady all day + another 2-3 hours of work from us on Saturday to maintain, we can zip through housecleaning and dusting in about 45 minutes.

    Regarding stuff that can go to a school, befriend a teacher and they will help you get rid of it. I work in a school library and there are so many times during the day that I go “darn, I wish I had all that junk I used to have to solve this problem.” For example, many schools keep nicely used socks and mitts on hand for kids who get wet at lunch.

    Teachers are happy for any binders, paper, pencils, and such, even ones that are used. I work in what looks to be a solid middle-class area and there is a lot of hidden poverty.


  36. posted by leslie on

    The Salvation Army accepts rags. Also, some of the clothing that doesn’t sell is packed in bales and sold to *wholesalers* who resell it in Africa.

    I’m amazed at the response I’ve had offering items on Freecycle. When I redid my closets I gave away maybe 300 wooden hangars. Even so, I had to turn away many disappointed callers.

  37. posted by Jenzer on

    I’m experimenting with doing “freecycle” within my Facebook network. Last night I posted a note listing three items that were below my eBay sale threshold but still in usable condition. One of the items was claimed within an hour.

    I’m in the same position as jan — living in a semi-rural area where donation centers are not easily accessible, and Freecycling means driving long distances to drop off or pick up items. In the past, when I tried Freecycle to pass along items, I ran into problems with no-shows. By using Facebook, I’m working with people I trust to come pick up what they want, and I don’t mind paying to ship smaller items out to long-distance friends.

    Re: unlikely places to donate items … my local library has been grateful to receive ball-point pens and pencils that we had in excess (my husband travels a lot, and tends to come home with lots of freebie pens from hotel rooms). Having worked in libraries myself, I know that patrons are constantly asking to borrow pens from the circulation desk, and often those pens don’t come back.

  38. posted by Nancy on

    Because my business is helping people downsize my partner and I deal with the sell or donate question frequently. I almost always donate my own things. I’ve sold several things on Craigslist but there is always some hassle involved. For example, yesterday I listed 2 items and immediately got 6 responses. I called all the people who responded. One wanted to trade, two said they would come immediately but didn’t show and 3 never replied.

    Most of our clients are enamored with the idea of selling online. They soon get disillusioned.

    Donate to some great cause – it’s a win-win!

  39. posted by Ben on

    One of our local non-profit thrift shops also accepts stained, torn, etc. clothes that they sell to a wholesaler for rags or fabic recycling. Call around to see who might in your area. Fabric will sit in the landfill forever, so it’s best to avoid that option of possible.

    Between Freecycle, craigslist, eBay, non-profits, and libraries, etc. (plus composting and curbside recycling) there is really very little that should be sent to the landfill.

    One of my plans for the spring to to begin vermicomposting. I’s reading up on it now to make sure I get the right setup.

  40. posted by Viv Evans on

    Ben, I’ve done vermicomposting, and it’s very easy. The big surprise is how sweet the earth smell is – very much like turning over garden soil in the spring. I did mine in a plastic bin under my sink. I know some people put their contributions in the blender first, but we never did. You quickly learn how much is too much to add and that a few orange rinds keep things fresh.

  41. posted by Michele on

    While decluttering my bookmarks (irony!) I re-discovered this article with tons of links for donating to specific-needs groups:

  42. posted by Beaner on

    I generally give stuff away and have never sold on e-bay or Craig’s list. Not that I wouldn’t, I just haven’t had anything big to get rid of. Here’s were my stuff goes:

    books and CD’s: I use to trade my books, CDs and DVDs for other ones I want. It is free and you just pay the shipping. Works great! I’ve also given some old books to the library if no one wants to trade for them.

    National Geographic Magazines: The ones we don’t want we give to the local library. They LOVE them because they sell fast during their fundraisers.

    Everything else (clothing, toys, and miscellaneous beauty products, etc.) goes to Safe Passage, which is a service for abused women and children. They have a few homes in the area where they house women and children that need a temporary place to live, so they gladly accept shampoo, toothpaste, and the like, and of course clothing and toys. I shop sales and buy things like toothpaste when it is free or better than free (the store pays me to take it home) using coupons, and then donate those things if they won’t get used at my house. I’ve never given partly used shampoo, etc., but I’m sure they would accept it if I did.

  43. posted by Nancy on

    This is an interesting article about how thrift stores operate and what they do with everything they can’t sell. It’s from the Sunday issue of The Denver Post.

  44. posted by gayle on

    Books: if at a loss, contact the librarian at your state prison. They will often take them, but they have strict procedures for sending them in.

    Half-used shampoo and lotion: Before donating, can you use it for something else? Hand-wash clothing? Otherwise, for lotions you can try the local day care or nursing home. The caregivers wash their hands all day and appreciate the lotion. The nursing home might take the shampoos/conditioners, or a local battered women shelter. They definitely take travel-size stuff if unused.

    Freecycle: love it! Almost everything has gone, the people come to me to get it and are grateful. I’ve given lawn mowers, book cases, christmas tree, VCRs and other electronics.

    And… yes, don’t sweat the receipt. Go for the karma and bank it. Pay it forward, ya know!

  45. posted by Katharine on

    Our local thrift store also encourages beyond-use clothes and shoes. They recycle them and use the money to pay some of their part time employees. I love that nothing is being wasted and that they are being good stewards.

    We put our bulkier items in our front yard (we live on a well-traveled road in a small town) with a FREE sign, and they are always gone by the end of the day. Great as we’ve remodeled our bathroom, exchanged our swingset, and gotten rid of our college furniture collection.

    E-bay used to be a wonderful way to get rid of stuff, but as others have said, it just isn’t worth it (or fun) anymore : (

  46. posted by Bonnie on

    I donate quite a bit to Goodwill and the like. I do throw away my worn-out underwear, etc. and would never donate it. (Side note: My mom used to use (clean of course) holey underway as dusting rags!) I’ve never sold anything on eBay or Craigslist, and I’ve never asked for a receipt at Goodwill. I agree with the previous posters who said “good karma”! For me, I don’t need a tax reduction when I’m helping others AND de-cluttering my apartment. I do sell back some CDs, DVDs, and books to my local used/new music and book stores, for which I either receive cash or credit.

  47. posted by When is it worth it to sell something? - Simpler Living - - Albany NY on

    […] Unclutterer gave its guidelines for making that decision: 1: Log onto eBay and find out how much money a similar item recently sold for on the site. […]

  48. posted by Christine on

    eBay works best for me. It takes me about five minutes to list an item and you should only see the things I’ve made money on. I sold one doll that I owned from my childhood for $300. Do some research before tossing your items out – you might end up making more than you think! I don’t like the idea of craigslist because I really don’t like the idea of people just coming over to my house. However, everyone I know who’s listed items on craigslist has been successful! Any items that I can’t sell on eBay get donated to Goodwill as long as they’re in good shape 🙂

  49. posted by Red on

    Erin, it surprises me that your threshold for selling items online is so high! I’ve sold things for $3 before! Of course, I don’t use eBay. I don’t like the inconvenience of going to the post office. Craigslist has always been a hassle-free way for me to make some extra money on clutter. Sometimes it takes a little while for an item to sell. And, true, you have a larger audience with eBay. But I like that Craigslist is free. You can post up to four photos of an item. And people can meet you to pick it up. I certainly don’t invite strangers into my home though. Like @Christine said, I don’t like that idea. So I meet them at the gas station at the end of the road instead. But any profit is worth it to me!

  50. posted by Malc on

    If you have a bunch of unwanted, but still working pens (or pencils, rulers, erasers etc), there are kids in Africa desperate for these to help with their education. All it will cost you is a stamp.

    We have 4 voluntary not for profit organisations that collect pens, and will ship them to underprivileged children in Africa. USA UK Denmark

    You can also make a donation to help with the shipping costs if you wish, details on each of the sites.

    Your unwanted pens can make a big difference.

  51. posted by Spring Cleaning Roundup | OMFG on

    […] cleaned out the closets. What to do with the stuff you don’t want, but might not be trash? Unclutterer’s Ask Unclutterer: Sell or Donate? Brokelyn’s response to yours truly’s inquiry: Where can I get decent cash (or some […]

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