How to Donate Household Items Before Moving

By Amanda Lutz

Nov 14, 2023
Woman holding folded clothes and placing them into a donation box.

You’ve just secured the keys to your new place, and you’re thrilled to arrive and set it up as you like. However, you have a nagging concern: packing your household’s overwhelming volume of belongings.

Before packing, consider decluttering and donating items you no longer need. While throwing out unused belongings swells landfills with waste, donating them to charitable organizations supports those in need while contributing to environmental sustainability.

This article covers the basics of donating household items, including how to prepare items for donation, schedule pickups, and take advantage of the tax benefits of charitable contributions. Whether you’re looking to positively impact your community or simply declutter your living space, this guide will help you get started.


What Household Items Can I Donate Before Moving?

When considering what to donate before your move, prioritize items that are in good condition, clean, and functional. Remember, donating does not mean giving away useless or broken items but rather passing on items that can benefit others.

Here are some items you can donate before moving:


Where Can I Donate My Used Household Items?

When choosing where to donate your used household items, there are two things to consider: your proximity to donation centers and what items you wish to donate.

Multiple thrift store chains are available throughout the United States, offering convenient drop-off locations for unwanted belongings. Your community may have local thrift shops or shelters that welcome donations, providing you with alternatives to larger establishments.

The chart below presents a general breakdown of used items you can bring to popular donation centers. Keep in mind that each store location may vary in which items they’ll accept.

Donation CenterClothingFurnitureHousewaresBooksMediaToysAppliances and ElectronicsUsed Cars

AMVETS National Service Foundation

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Furniture Bank Network

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

Goodwill

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

Pickup Please

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

Salvation Army

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

The Arc

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎

✔︎


Additional Places to Donate

Besides donating used items to charity centers with a nationwide presence, consider giving back to your community by offering up items at local thrift stores, online groups, and marketplaces.

Local Thrift Stores

Donating to thrift stores in your town or city means actively contributing to the local economy and providing affordable goods to your community members. Also, since many local thrift stores operate as a part of nonprofit organizations, you’ll directly support the missions and causes they champion.

Online Groups and Marketplaces

You can directly list your unwanted items on platforms such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. This is convenient for larger and more specialized items that may not be suitable for traditional donation centers. Furthermore, you can offer free exchanges with community members through Buy Nothing groups and Nextdoor.


How Should I Prepare Items for Donation?

Before donating items, it’s helpful to visit your local donation center’s website to acquaint yourself with its acceptance guidelines. This will streamline its operations and keep you mindful of the conditions of the items you’re donating. Here’s how to prepare different types of items for donation.

Clothing and Textiles

Ensure clothing and textile donations are clean and free of stains, odors, or dirt. Additionally, inspect them for any damage, such as rips, tears, or missing buttons. Then, neatly fold the items to prevent wrinkles. To go the extra mile, you can organize the clothing by type—for instance, separate adult and children’s clothes into different boxes or bags. Consider labeling the boxes for easy identification of their contents.

Media, Books, and Games

When donating media, check the discs and cases of CDs, DVDs, or video games for any damage. Ensure they are in good working order and free from scratches or cracks that could hamper their functionality.

Organize books into categories to simplify the donation process. This means separating them into groups such as cookbooks, fiction, nonfiction, magazines, or textbooks. This categorization helps donation centers efficiently distribute books as needed.

When donating games, secure game pieces by either tying them together or placing them in secure bags. This helps prevent the pieces from being misplaced or lost during transportation or handling. 

Housewares and Appliances

If you donate housewares and appliances, clean each item and remove any stains or grime. Next, ensure all parts and components are intact. We suggest taping together items with multiple pieces, such as containers with lids, to prevent any parts from getting lost during transport. Don’t forget to include any cords, manuals, or accessories that originally came with the appliances; this can help new owners navigate how to use the products.


How Do I Schedule a Donation Pickup?

Perhaps you don’t have the time or car space to bring your items to donation centers. Instead of dumping them on the curb, schedule donation pickup from the comfort of your home. Many charities offer the convenience of free, at-home pickup. Some junk removal companies will donate your usable items and recycle the rest.

To schedule a pickup, call the charity or organization you wish to donate to and schedule a donation pickup. Remember to inquire about any specific guidelines it may have. The store may share its available pickup dates, times, and restrictions concerning items they do not accept. They may also communicate any requirements for the packaging or preparation of items. Be sure to follow these guidelines for a smooth donation pickup process. Once you’ve scheduled the pickup, ensure everything is boxed up and ready to load on the designated day.

If you need to coordinate a donation pickup while preparing for a long-distance move, make the process more manageable by hiring a reputable long-distance moving company. These professionals can assist with logistics, including coordinating donation pickups, as a part of your overall moving plan.


What Are the Tax Benefits of Donating?

When you donate to qualified charitable organizations in the United States, you may be eligible for a tax deduction. In other words, you can deduct the value of your charitable contributions from your taxable income, reducing your tax liability. The maximum deduction for charitable donations is typically 60% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), although it can vary depending on the contribution type and the organization to which you’ve donated.

If the value of your donated contributions exceeds $500, you must file Form 8283 to the Inland Revenue Service (IRS). The primary purpose of Form 8283 is to provide information about the donated items, their value, and the recipient organization. To file Form 8283, you’ll typically need the following information:

Note that Section V of Form 8283 is designated for the recipient organization to acknowledge your contribution. If you are a donor filling out Form 8283, you must provide a copy to the organization where you donated your items. Kindly request that the organization completes Section V and returns it to you before you submit your filing.

When claiming tax deductions for used clothing and household items, use the estimated value these items would have if sold at a garage sale or thrift shop. The value of clothing and household items decreases with time as their original purchase price decreases. There is no fixed formula to determine the fair market value of used clothing, so it’s best to estimate the price buyers would pay in secondhand stores, such as consignments or thrift shops. 

While it’s best to keep abreast of all the intricate details of charitable deductions to reap the tax benefits of donating, you might need to catch up on some data despite your best efforts. If you’ve made sizable donations, consider consulting a tax advisor to learn how to get the most benefit out of your contributions.


In Conclusion

Donating is a great way to give back to the planet and its people, and it makes packing and moving a house easier and less stressful. Instead of letting your unneeded household items accumulate in dumpsites, mindfully downsize your home by bringing them to organizations dedicated to uplifting communities.

Choose a donation center based on its proximity to your home, the type of donations it accepts, or the cause it supports. If you can’t make it to a store location, schedule a home pickup. Remember, charitable donations can be deducted from your tax return, so it’s a win-win situation for all involved.