Decluttering is a satisfying first step toward a more organized home, but getting rid of the stuff you no longer want or need presents a whole new challenge. Unless the items you're purging truly qualify as trash, you shouldn't just set them out at the curb on pickup day to ultimately end up in your local landfill.
Instead, look for responsible ways to sell, donate, recycle, or properly dispose of your unwanted stuff. The best method depends on the type of item and its condition, how much money you'd like to receive for it, and how much work you're willing to do.
To aid in your decluttering process, we've compiled a guide to getting rid of almost anything, including clothing, electronics, furniture, kids' toys, linens, and more. Before you default to the garbage bin, check out these tips for giving your old stuff a second life.
After you declutter your shelves, contact your local library to see if they'll accept some of your discarded books. Some libraries put donated books on the shelf for checkout or sell them at fundraisers. Local schools and community centers might also accept your gently used reading materials. Otherwise, charitable organizations like Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army will accept most book donations. If you'd like to make some cash from your book collection, consider selling books at your next garage sale or taking them into a local used bookstore. Or look for a Little Free Library in your neighborhood.
Building Materials and Appliances
If you have surplus building materials or old appliances lying around after a home remodel, consider donating them to an organization like Habitat for Humanity. You can drop off items including appliances, cabinets, doors, flooring, and windows at Habitat ReStore outlets, where they are resold at a discounted price. Proceeds help fund the organization's mission to provide safe, affordable housing.
Ready to upgrade your phone? Donate your old one to a charitable organization that refurbishes or recycles old cell phones, such as 911 Cell Phone Bank or Cell Phones for Soldiers. Additionally, many cell phone carriers and electronics retailers, including Verizon and Best Buy, have recycling programs for old devices.
After cleaning out your closet, you have several options for donating clothing you no longer wear. If you want to give to an organization that passes clothing directly to those in need, such as providing clothes and coats to those in homeless shelters, your local shelter or church is a good place to start. Otherwise, organizations such as Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army will resell gently used clothing through their thrift stores to fund charitable programs.
Reselling your clothing is made easy through platforms like Mercari, Poshmark, ThredUP, and more. For garments that are too stained, damaged, or worn for further wear, look into clothing recycling programs such as the American Textile Recycling Service, which operates thousands of drop-off donation bins throughout the U.S.
Computers and Electronics
Computers, office equipment, TVs, and other electronics often contain components that can be reused, even if the device itself is no longer functional. To recycle these items, keep an eye out for used-electronics collection days in your community or locate a nearby drop-off location that accepts electronic waste. You can also find companies with electronics donation or recycling programs, including Best Buy, Staples, and more, on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website.
Donating eyeglasses you no longer wear can help someone else in need. The Lions Club has a long history of helping combat vision impairment through its eyeglasses donation program. Check out their website to find a drop-off location near you or deposit your eyeglasses at a participating Walmart Vision Center. Some eyewear retailers, including LensCrafters, will also accept your old glasses for recycling and reuse.
Resale platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craiglist, and OfferUp make it easy to sell gently used furniture to people in your area. To cast a broader net, try a platform that allows you to ship items to buyers nationwide, such as Mercari or Chairish. Another option is to sell your old furniture at a yard sale, but be prepared to haggle. Or consider donating furniture in good condition to your local Habitat ReStore, Goodwill, or Salvation Army outlet.
If you have furniture that isn't fit for reuse, check your municipality's policy for bulky items before you haul it out to the curb. In some cases, you might need to schedule a pickup appointment or take the item to a drop-off location.
Give household goods a new home by donating them to organizations such as Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army or a local thrift store that supports veterans service programs or homeless shelters. Local food banks, emergency shelters, and community outreach centers might also accept donations of cleaning supplies, dishware, small appliances, and other household goods. Call ahead to check before you drop items off. And if you're interested in making some money, keep in mind that these items often do well at garage sales. Have an extension cord and working outlet nearby so prospective buyers can try anything electronic.
Get rid of kids' clothing they've outgrown by hosting a swap with friends or neighbors. Be sure to invite parents with kids of various ages so the selection includes a range of sizes. To make this more fun, do the swap every few months around a fun event, like a potluck or picnic. After the event, clothes that no one wants can be donated.
Consignment stores are another good option if you want to unload kids' clothes that are in near-new shape and carry top brand or designer labels. Even after these businesses take their cut of the profits, you might come out ahead of what you would make at a yard sale. In addition to your local consignment shops, check out Just Between Friends Franchise Systems, which sponsors children's and maternity consignment sales events around the country. Otherwise, online resale sites like Poshmark and ThredUP can be handy places to sell kids' clothing.
Kids' Toys, Stuffed Animals, and Baby Gear
It's easier to part with beloved kids' toys if you know another child will treasure them. Consider giving your gently used stuffed animals, toys, children's books, and blankets to an organization such as Stuffed Animals for Emergencies, which distributes them to emergency organizations, children's services, hospitals, and homeless shelters. Second Chance Toys is another organization that accepts plastic toys for kids in need.
Another option is to donate kids' items to a local school or daycare center. Some churches also partner with shelters and food pantries to provide clothes, toys, and household goods to families. However, keep in mind that toys, especially stuffed animals, and some baby equipment like car seats and cribs might not be accepted by many charities because of recalls. Always check with the organization first before dropping your items off.
Music, Movies, and Video Games
Old CDs, DVDs, video games, cassettes, vinyl records, and VHS tapes might be clutter to you but considered collector's items by someone else. Consider listing items that might be of value on eBay or taking them to a local music store or consignment shop. Otherwise, thrift stores are generally good places to donate these items. If you have a large collection of children's movies or video games, contact a local hospital, school, or childcare center to see if they'll accept donations. For discs and tapes that are damaged or otherwise unusable, consider sending them to a technology recycling service such as GreenDisk.
Old Towels, Linens, Rugs
Animal shelters and humane societies can often use your old towels, linens, or even rugs to provide warmth and comfort to animals. Call your local ASPCA, Humane Society, or small-animal rescue groups to find out what they need. This works well for worn towels and linens that aren't suited for resale or donation to a thrift store.
Plastic Food Storage Containers
Are your cabinets filled with food container lids with no bottoms or bottoms with no lids? Cracked or stained containers? Before you toss them in the trash, check whether the plastic container is recyclable. Look for a stamped number inside a rectangular recycling logo, usually located on the bottom of the container. No. 1 and 2 plastics are typically recyclable, but be sure to check with your local recycling program to verify which types they'll accept.
Plenty of job seekers could use business clothing that no longer fits or suits you. Consider passing it on to an organization like Dress for Success, which collects gently used professional clothes such as suits, blouses, and shoes to give to women who need these clothes for job interviews. Local homeless shelters, community centers, and veteran organizations might also appreciate professional clothing donations.
Give worn-once prom dresses a second life by donating them. Organizations like Becca's Closet accept new or lightly worn formal dresses to gift to high school girls who cannot afford to purchase them. You can also sell prom dresses and other still-stylish formalwear through resale platforms such as Facebook Marketplace or Poshmark.
If your shoes are still in decent shape, donate them to someone who can wear them. There are plenty of charities that will dole out good-condition shoes to those in need. One option: Soles4Souls, an organization that accepts new or gently used shoes and distributes them to people living in poverty. For shoes that are worn-out or damaged beyond repair, look for ways to recycle your old kicks instead of trashing them. For example, Nike will collect and recycle used athletic shoes from any brand. Simply drop them off at a participating Nike retail store.
Specialty or Collectible Items
Specialty items or collectibles can be difficult to sell at yard sales, where shoppers are looking for a quick bargain. For antiques, art, and other collectibles, try resale sites such as eBay, Etsy, or Chairish, where you're likely to attract more serious collectors. Have a set of dishes missing a couple of plates? Try listing the pieces individually instead of trying to sell an incomplete set.
Unwanted or Duplicate Gifts
The best way to get rid of an unwanted gift is to return it to the store it came from. If that's not an option, consider donating the item to a thrift store or an upcoming charity auction. Another option is to join a "Buy Nothing" group on Facebook, where you can post the item you'd like to give away, and if someone in your area is interested, they can pick it up for free.