12 Everyday Items You Shouldn’t Even Try to Donate to Thrift Shops

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Is that pile of too-small clothes, unneeded gifts, and plain old worn-out junk just sitting there cluttering your normally neat home? It’s time to get rid of it!

However, clutter-busters should note that only some things they want to get rid of are welcome at donation centers. 

Here is a list of unwanted items for resale stores.

1. Torn or stained clothing

Second-hand stores or thrift shops only sell wearable clothing that’s doesn’t have significant damage. Few people will pay money for stained jeans, torn shirts, and broken zipper jackets. 

If you wouldn’t offer a clothing item to a friend or neighbor, you shouldn’t donate it. The folks at Bustle can assist you in deciding what to do with garments you can’t give away.

2. Periodicals

Newspapers and magazines are of no interest to thrift stores because they have little resale value. Instead, give recent magazine issues to a local senior center or donate older copies to a local animal shelter for bedding.

3. Firearms, ammunition, or fireworks

Firearms and fireworks are on the list of items the Goodwill won’t accept. Across the United States, disposing of an unwanted firearm can be tricky. 

In most states, you can get rid of your weapon by calling your local police department and asking how to surrender or “deactivate” the gun.

Hot Tip: Be sure to do your research before disposing of items, and help the environment by reusing when possible!

4. Recalled items

It is important to check the recall status of an item before donating it. To find the recall status of an item, visit Recalls.gov. The website features a comprehensive search tool that identifies any product deemed “unsafe, hazardous, or defective” by the federal government.

5. Building materials

Building materials, particularly sheetrock, vinyl plank flooring, and pallets, aren’t accepted at thrift stores. Why? These materials are labor-intensive to process and require large amounts of warehouse space. 

Since most Goodwill locations aren’t equipped to handle large amounts of materials, contact a nearby Habitat for Humanity ReStore. ReStores accept new and used building materials, appliances, and furniture, enabling you to save these items from the dump.

6. Large appliances

Donating appliances is a bad idea since most donation centers can’t handle stoves, ovens, or refrigerators. Even worse, appliances that haven’t been thoroughly cleaned may harbor unsafe bacteria.

7. Car parts

It’s hard to know the safety of most used car parts — not to mention battery acid can make for a nasty shopping experience. Freecycle and Facebook Marketplace are great options for selling these items.

8. CRT TVs

Most garages in the United States now contain at least one obsolete television set, due to the rise in popularity of flat, wall-mounted LCD, LED, and plasma televisions. Even when sold at second-hand stores, “contemporary antiques” like these are nearly impossible to unload.

9. Mattresses

Thrift stores are unlikely to accept mattresses. Mattresses are tough to sell because of the “ick” factor, plus they consume a lot of retail space. However, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul runs resale stores in cities across the United States. They’ll accept mattresses made before 2017 with their original tags still attached.

10. Cribs and car seats

Cribs and car seats aren’t accepted by thrift shops for a variety of reasons. Some have been recalled and cannot be resold. Used car seats don’t function properly after an accident — and it’s impossible for the thrift shop to know the product’s history. Safety standards for cribs are continuously being updated and many pose a hazard for babies.

11. Sleeper sofas

A heavy old-fashioned sleeper sofa is notoriously difficult to move up a flight of stairs. Thrift stores won’t accept sleeper sofas.

12. Anything damaged beyond repair

Before donating any items, ask yourself, “Would I purchase this?” If an item is badly damaged or malfunctioning, don’t hand it off to someone else. Donating isn’t a free way to get rid of junk; it’s a method to help the environment and support charitable causes.


Second-hand stores or thrift shops are great places to find good deals on used clothing and other things. Donating is a great way to clear clutter in your home without wasting items by throwing them away. However, you should be aware of what items thrift stores accept.