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15 Things You Should Think Twice About Donating

Donating unwanted items to a local thrift store is a fantastic way to reclaim space in your home, donate to a good cause, and give back to your community. While thrift stores are thrilled to receive your gracious donations, there are some things that they cannot accept because of the safety risk and/or added cost imposed to dispose of items they won't be able to sell.

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old pots and pansermess/Shutterstock

Old cookware

If those baking sheets, muffin tins or pots and pans at the thrift store have scratches and look worn down, don’t donate them. Old cookware that is chipped or scratched can release harmful chemicals into your food. Find out the best places to donate your old stuff and put it to good use.

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Dmitry Lobanov/Shutterstock

Breast pumps

Open-pump systems are especially troublesome because it’s impossible to clean entirely, making them susceptible to possible contamination, according to the CDC.

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baby bottleAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Baby bottles

While sanitation and cracks can be an issue, the real culprit is the chemical BPA that’s present in most older bottles—and as of June 2012, the FDA no longer accepts that as safe. So think twice about donating an old baby bottle. On the other hand, here are some surprising things you never knew you could donate.

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Shoe organizerFamily Handyman


Used shoes have been molded to their previous owner’s feet—and poorly fitting shoes will make life miserable. Plus, they might smell!

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Wetsuits and swimsuits

Personal products that hug your body are technically safe if you wash them in hot water … and still, we’re cautious. But constant changes in water pressure also wear out swimwear faster than regular clothing, so it’s likely a used wetsuit or swimsuit will tear. Think twice about buying these 10 items at the thrift store, too.

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shutterstock_157283222 car seat donatingBlueSkyImage/Shutterstock

Cribs and car seats

We go to great lengths to keep our children safe, which is precisely the reason thrift stores won’t accept cribs and car seats. Due to the volume of recalls on these products, the condition of the units and the inability to guarantee a car seat was never involved in a crash, most stores are not permitted to sell them. Many states have facilities to recycle used car seats and other baby items, which is a responsible alternative to the landfill.

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shutterstock_350725535 mattressDima Sidelnikov/Shutterstock


Bedbugs remain a viable threat to second-hand stores, which is the main reason for not accepting used mattresses. You may be surprised to know that up to 80 percent of a used mattress can be recycled, which is a great alternative to donating and helps reduce the impact of the waste lifecycle of mattresses. Learn some more things you didn’t think you could recycle—but can.

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shutterstock_590523254 tube tv televisionR. Bordo/Shutterstock

Older model televisions

Technology continues to change at a rapid pace, and unfortunately, that means the demand for slim, wall-mounted TVs has created an influx of older model televisions that aren’t in demand, even at thrift store prices. Consider mounting your older model TV in a workout room or garage or seek out an electronics recycler who can dispose of the unit properly. Find out the tech gadgets you should—and shouldn’t—be buying used.

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shutterstock_769960159 cleaning items Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Hazardous items

Donating is not an option for cleaning supplies, makeup, and paint, as thrift stores don’t generally have the staff, facilities or ability to identify if cleaning solutions have been labeled correctly or dispose of these potentially hazardous materials. Consider contacting your local Habitat for Humanity to determine if they accept unused paint or other DIY supplies.

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shutterstock_197602010 ruined fake leather furnitureSinisa Botas/Shutterstock

Anything in poor condition

Thrift stores and charities help to restore dignity and pride of ownership when used items pass into new hands. Ripped, stained or torn furniture and clothing in most cases is unusable, costly for charities to repair and has the opposite effect on the recipients of your used goods. Attempt to clean your items prior to donating them and use the rule of thumb that if you wouldn’t buy it, don’t donate it. Many damaged furniture items can be sold through local buy and sell sites, to people who want a restoration project, which is an alternative to the landfill.

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dfh35_shutterstock_607109375 window blindsvladibulgakov/shutterstock

Shades and blinds with pull cords

Window coverings with cords pose a significant safety risk for children and pets, and although these challenges can be quickly rectified by a homeowner, many donation centers cannot accept these window treatments. Recycle, reuse or sell these items privately to prevent unnecessary costs to the charity of your choice.

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shutterstock_11226373 encyclopedia Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock


Outdated encyclopedias, textbooks, and reference materials are in abundance, but in today’s world, they are not in demand. Luckily, using hollowed-out old books as a clever hiding place is a great way to take care of the problem.

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shutterstock_675323062 basketslittlenySTOCK/Shutterstock


Anyone who’s received a gift basket knows that you’re always left with a container to deal with, which can add up over time. While donating baskets is an option, thrift stores can be inundated with baskets and containers that end up gathering dust on the shelves. Luckily, there are some ingenious ways to use baskets for home storage and organization in any room. Get creative and decorate or paint baskets to match your decor and you’ll have no shortage of spots to store your belongings neatly. Check out some more clever tips for repurposing old household items.

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shutterstock_605370098 old laptop computersAri N/Shutterstock

Old computers

For the same reasons that old-style TVs are not accepted, you’re best to find an alternate way to dispose of your old desktop and laptop computers. Additionally, personal information can stay hidden in your computer’s hard drive after you think you’ve wiped it clean, which is why it’s best to dispose of them properly. Check out organizations that recycle computer hardware, such as this one in Minnesota. If you do have someone in your family or group of friends who can use your old device, clean the keyboard and screen as a courtesy.

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shutterstock_553722994 pianoShipilov77777/Shutterstock


They may look and sound beautiful, but pianos are large, heavy, and expensive to move which make them costly to a second-hand store. Because they are slow to sell and take up valuable real estate, thrift stores choose to use that space for items which are in higher demand. Buy-and-sell sites and local music schools can be great ways to offload an unwanted piano that will be used and loved in a new home. Read on to find out the 12 things you should never, ever buy used.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman