Is your closet overflowing? Do you have clothes endlessly piling up on that one chair because they won’t fit in your dresser anymore? If so, it might be time to donate some of your old clothes. Donating clothing isn’t just a great way to make space in your house; it’s also a good way to give back to your community and provide clothing to women who can’t afford brand-new clothes. But there are so many places to donate that it’s hard to know which is your best option — and which organizations will make the most of your donations. So we did the research for you. Read on to find the best places to donate your clothes.
How giving away to others gives back to you
Donating your clothes isn’t just a great way to make room in your closet and decrease clutter. It can directly benefit more vulnerable individuals, from victims of natural disasters to people in your own community. Instead of trying your hand at resale or sending unwanted clothes to the dump, you can declutter your home while doing some good by donating. (And many of these donations are tax-deductible to boot!) Plus, keeping pounds of clothing out of a landfill supports the environment. Textile waste through old clothes is one of the largest contributors to landfills in the U.S., and every piece of clothing donated is one less item in the trash heap.
What’s more, donating items you no longer need can dramatically improve your mood. Researchers in the journal Nature Human Behaviour found that, when given a chance to donate to others, women are likely to give more—and get more out of the experience—than men. Plus, for women, the act of giving activated the brain region associated with the release of dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical. Higher levels of dopamine translate into a feeling of pleasure, satisfaction and increased motivation. Who couldn’t use more of those?
Where should I donate my old clothes?
Whether you’re looking to donate a few bags of clothing to a national organization, have specific items you’d love to pass on to someone who truly needs them or are looking for your donations to make a difference in your own community, here are the best places to donate. We’ve also included a little background about each so that you can choose an organization you’d like to support.
To donate general clothing items
Many national organizations will take any clothing and accessories: men’s, women’s and children’s. Here, the best of the best:
One of the most well-known thrift store chains, Goodwill has been serving communities since it was founded in 1902. The original concept was to collect donated items from more affluent communities and employ vulnerable or low-income individuals to repair and sell those items. Over the years, Goodwill has expanded its mission and now includes programs and services aimed at helping individuals with disabilities, lack of education and other challenges find meaningful work. Goodwill’s core goal is to enhance people’s quality of life by providing education, job training and employment opportunities. When you drop off clothes and household items at a Goodwill donation center, the funds from their sales directly support this mission, making this one of the best places to re-home your old sundresses and sweaters. Just visit their website and enter your zip code to find a Goodwill near you.
American Red Cross
Another good place to bring your clothes is the American Red Cross. Although the Red Cross is most prominently known for its blood-drive services, they also accept clothing for survivors of natural disasters and other emergencies. Founded in 1881, their central mission is to alleviate human suffering during catastrophes by providing care, shelter, food and other essentials (such as clothes) to those affected by disasters. Donating your clothes here is a great way to ensure that you’re helping those who may not have any buying power or possessions whatsoever, thanks to circumstances entirely out of their control. Head to their website, type in your zip code and find a Red Cross location near you.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army has been serving communities in over 130 countries since 1865. Talk about a big impact! This organization’s mission is to meet needs and transform lives by providing practical and spiritual assistance and a message of hope. Like the Red Cross, they often provide aid in the aftermath of natural disasters. Salvation Army thrift stores are an important source of funding for their disaster-relief aid and other humanitarian efforts. By donating your clothing here, you know you’re supporting community initiatives such as job training programs, affordable housing and emergency relief services. Use the “location finder” on their home page to find a branch near you.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Another long-running nonprofit organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters is focused on providing mentorship and support to young people facing adversity and poverty. The core program of Big Brothers Big Sisters is their mentorship initiative, which matches adult volunteers (“Bigs”) with children and teens (“Littles”) based on shared interests, backgrounds and compatibility. Through one-on-one mentoring relationships, the Bigs provide guidance, encouragement and friendship to their Littles, serving as positive role models and sources of support. The organization also accepts clothing donations for the young people in the program. Depending on where you live, you may have to drive to a donation site, or you may be able to schedule a pickup at home.
GreenDrop is a for-profit organization that partners with nonprofits and charities such as the American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the United Cerebral Palsy Association to collect clothing donations and give them new life in a local thrift store. By accepting clothing items that otherwise might’ve been thrown out, GreenDrop has saved millions of items from landfills. You can check out their website to find a local drop-off location or schedule a home pickup.
To donate specific clothing items
Sometimes, it’s easiest to donate a big bag of clothing to one organization. But if you have certain items, say work dresses or winter coats, that you’d like to give to people who will certainly benefit from them, these charities will gladly take them off your hands:
Donate work clothes to Dress for Success
If you’ve got work-appropriate attire to donate, consider Dress for Success. The global nonprofit organization that has been providing professional clothing and career development tools to underserved women since 1997. Dress for Success recognizes that appearance plays a significant role in job interviews and professional settings and aims to boost the confidence and self-esteem of women as they navigate their career journeys. They accept donations of professional clothing, including suits, blouses, skirts, handbags and accessories in good condition. These items are then given to women hoping to enter or reenter the workforce, who otherwise may not have the appropriate attire.
Donate bras to I Support the Girls
Wondering what to do with those bras that don’t fit quite right but you don’t want to throw away? Donate them to I Support The Girls, an organization that collects essential items like bras and distributes them to women experiencing homelessness and other obstacles. “Together, we can make dignity the norm,” says co-founder Dana Marlowe. Since their start eight years ago, I Support the Girls has donated over 22 million products to 4,500 social service agencies around the world. Want to get involved? Send new or gently used, washed bras (including maternity, nursing, sports bras, mastectomy bras, binders and camisoles), as well as new underwear with tags or new, sealed period products to:
I Support the Girls
Attn: Dana Marlowe
PO Box 2736
Wheaton, MD 20915
Donate winter coats to One Warm Coat
If you have any jackets or winter coats to donate, One Warm Coat might be the organization for you. Through their coat drive program, they collect and distribute coats to vulnerable populations. Having a warm jacket when it’s cold out promotes dignity, self-esteem and overall well-being. Over the course of 30 years, this organization has provided over 7.3 million free coats and kept 18 million pounds of clothing out of landfills.
Donate shoes to Soles4Souls
Soles4Souls is a nonprofit organization that aims to create sustainable jobs and provide relief by distributing gently used shoes and clothing. Soles4Souls doesn’t just accept donations — they also operate several programs and initiatives. These include a job creation initiative, a disaster relief program and several community-based distribution programs. This organization has donated millions of shoes and clothing items to people across 130 countries and is well worth your time if you’re looking for a place to bring gently worn shoes.
““There’s nothing we can’t accept,” says Jamie Ellis, of Soles4Souls. “Only about 1% of what’s donated to us can’t be used, and therefore it’s recycled.” Simply visit the Soles4Souls website to find a donation box near you (many DSW stores have a bin for donations). Or ship your shoes for free to Zappos, and they’ll pass them along to Soles4Souls.
To donate to people in your own community
We know that change starts at home. Here are places you can contribute directly to your local community.
Your local thrift store
Donating to a thrift store in your community helps people closer to home find clothing for reasonable prices. Check out the thrift stores in your town or nearest city and give them a call to find out if they’re currently accepting donations.
Shelters and clothing banks
Homeless shelters, clothing banks and women’s shelters are helpful places to drop off gently used duds. Women’s shelters, in particular, are great organizations to support because they provide a safe haven for women who have experienced domestic violence, homelessness or other difficult situations. They often accept donations of women’s clothing to help their residents — many of whom come in without any possessions — rebuild their lives. Look online to find shelters and clothing banks near you.
Many places of worship accept donations that they then distribute to locals in need. Catholic Charities USA and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services are a few large organizations known for accepting clothing, but check out your local places of worship for more options.