Decluttering? Don’t Donate These Items

Somehow, it’s spring again and for many of us, it’s the time of year when we roll up our sleeves and do some serious decluttering. Whether you’re moving or not, there’s something satisfying about sorting all that stuff into “trash” and “donate” piles. But before you pat yourself on the back for all your self-less donations, read on. Your local secondhand store doesn’t actually want all of your cast-offs. If you’re decluttering, don’t donate these items.

Mattresses and Box Springs

Yes, it seems wasteful to toss the twin mattress that your son just grow out of, but secondhand stores don’t want it. Who knows what little critters have made that mattress their home? Not you, and not the secondhand store. All they know is that they can’t be sure it’s in pristine condition (and if it’s been slept on for years, it’s not). Instead of trying to donate, be on the lookout for a mattress recycling day in your city. You can also try Bye Bye Mattress for mattress recycling options in California.

Kid Stuff

Car seats, strollers, high chairs and cribs, unfortunately, can’t be donated because safety recalls on these items are surprisingly common. However, it’s worth contacting local non-profits that help women and children to see if they can take these (clean, gently-used) baby’s items. Another option is

Old Tech

Surprise — thrift store shoppers have flat-screens too. They probably don’t want your old VCRs and box televisions. You may be able to offload this stuff on eBay, and it’s worth checking with the local library on the VHS movies. You should also contact the local recycling center for suggestions. In San Franciso, try

Large Household Appliances

If you’re upgrading appliances, see if the place you’re buying from offers haul-away services of your old stuff. If not, try a scrap metal recycling place or put them on Craiglist. Your local secondhand store doesn’t want your old dishwasher, so don’t waste time and energy getting it over there. My best local hauler that disposes responsibly, quickly and affordably is 

Anything that Might Mold

Most thrift stores operating with a fairly limited staff. They don’t have the resources to thoroughly sanitize items like tea kettles, humidifiers and ultrasonic diffusers. And because mold is a potential issue in these kinds of things, they’re going to pass.

Oversized Items

That unwieldy china cabinet, entertainment center, or ping pong table is better off on Craigslist. Most thrift stores are as tight on space as they are on staff, so they generally don’t take oversized items like this. 

The best thing to do if you’re debating whether your local secondhand store will take an item is to ask them. Even if they can’t accept something, they may be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.

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