15 Things You Should Think Twice About Donating

Donating unwanted items to a local thrift store is a fantastic way to reclaim space in your home, donate to a good cause and give back to your community. But, thrift stores cannot accept everything.

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Wet Suits and Swimsuits

Personal products that hug your body are technically safe if you wash them in hot water … and still we’re cautious. But constant changes in water pressure also wear out swimwear faster than regular clothing, so it’s likely a used wetsuit or swimsuit will tear.

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Pots And Pans
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Old Cookware

If those baking sheets, muffin tins or pots and pans (Here are some creative ways for storing pots and pans) at the thrift store have scratches and look worn down, don’t donate them. Old cookware that is chipped or scratched can release harmful chemicals into your food.

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Breast Pumps

Open-pump systems are especially troublesome because it’s impossible to clean entirely, making them susceptible to possible contamination.

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shutterstock_350725535 mattress
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Bedbugs remain a viable threat to second-hand stores, which is the main reason for not accepting used mattresses. You may be surprised to know that up to 80 percent of a used mattress can be recycled, which is a great alternative to donating and helps reduce the impact of the waste lifecycle of mattresses.

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baby bottle
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Baby Bottles

While sanitation and cracks can be an issue, the real culprit is the chemical BPA that’s present in most older bottles—and as of June 2012, the FDA no longer accepts that as safe. So think twice about donating an old baby bottle.

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Shoe organizer
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Used shoes have been molded to their previous owner’s feet—and poorly fitting shoes will make life miserable.

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Cribs and Car Seats

We go to great lengths to keep our children safe, which is precisely the reason thrift stores won’t accept cribs and car seats. Due to the volume of recalls on these products, the condition of the units and the inability to guarantee a car seat was never involved in a crash, most stores are not permitted to sell them. Many states have facilities to recycle used car seats and other baby items, which is a responsible alternative to the landfill.

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shutterstock_590523254 tube tv television
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Older Model Televisions

Technology continues to change at a rapid pace, and unfortunately, that means the demand for slim, wall-mounted TVs, has created an influx of older model televisions that aren’t in demand, even at thrift store prices. Consider mounting your older model TV in a workout room or garage or seek out an electronics recycler who can dispose of the unit properly.

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Hazardous Items

Donating is not an option for cleaning supplies, makeup and paint, as thrift stores don’t generally have the staff, facilities or ability to identify if cleaning solutions have been labeled correctly or dispose of these potentially hazardous materials. Consider contacting your local Habitat for Humanity to determine if they accept unused paint or other DIY supplies.

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shutterstock_197602010 ruined fake leather furniture
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Anything in Poor Condition

Thrift stores and charities help to restore dignity and pride of ownership when used items pass into new hands. Ripped, stained or torn furniture and clothing in most cases is unusable, costly for charities to repair and has the opposite effect on the recipients of your used goods. Attempt to clean your items with stains prior to donating them and use the rule of thumb that if you wouldn’t buy it, don’t donate it. Many damaged furniture items can be sold through local buy and sell sites, to people who want a restoration project, which is an alternative to the landfill.

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Shades and Blinds with Pull Cords

Window coverings with cords pose a significant safety risk for children and pets, and although these challenges are quickly rectified by a homeowner, many donation pick-up centers cannot accept these window treatments. Recycle, reuse or sell these items privately to prevent unnecessary costs to the charity of your choice.

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shutterstock_11226373 encyclopedia
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Outdated encyclopedias, textbooks and reference materials are in abundance, but in today’s world, they are not in demand. Luckily, there are some cool ways to create secret hiding storage spaces with old books which will pretty much take care of the problem.

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shutterstock_675323062 baskets


Anyone who’s received a gift basket knows that you’re always left with a container to deal with, which can add up over time. While donating baskets is an option, thrift stores can be inundated with baskets and containers that end up gathering dust on the shelves. Luckily, there are some ingenious ways to use baskets for home storage and organization in any room. Get creative and decorate or paint baskets to match your decor and you’ll have no shortage of spots to store your belongings neatly.

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shutterstock_605370098 old laptop computers
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Old Computers

For the same reasons that old-style TVs are not accepted, you’re best to find an alternate way to dispose of your old desktop and laptop computers. Additionally, personal information can stay hidden in your computer’s hard drive after you think you’ve wiped it clean, which is why it’s best to dispose of them properly. Check out organizations that recycle computer hardware, such as this one in Minnesota. If you do have someone in your family or group of friends who can use your old device, clean the keyboard and screen as a courtesy.

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They may look and sound beautiful, but pianos are large, heavy and expensive to move which make them costly to a second-hand store. Because they are slow to sell and take up valuable real estate, thrift stores choose to use that space for items which are in higher demand. Buy-and-sell sites, and local music schools can be great ways to offload an unwanted piano that will be used and loved in a new home, or repurpose it into something new yourself!