Are you decluttering to reclaim space, for peace of mind, or in preparation for a move? Where do you take everything? The sheer volume of items unearthed after a full-house declutter can be overwhelming, as there are many things you shouldn’t just throw in the trash bin. To make the process easier, to give you a clear conscience, and to help others who will benefit from your unwanted belongings, read on for some tips.
Charities are not dumping sites, and no organization accepts everything. Generally, do not donate anything that is stained, ripped, or non-functioning. Your donations should exclude any worn socks or undergarments, old electronics, and expired or recalled items.
Household items – There are many organizations for this category but they vary by locality. Some examples in the DMV include Salvation Army, Purple Heart, and Wider Circle. Some charities do house pickups and others have drop-off sites.
Furniture – Assess what has significant value. Just because your buffet is really old doesn’t mean it’s an antique! Also, your living room sofa may have been very expensive 20 years ago, but styles change.
Mattresses – If a mattress is in good condition, a homeless shelter or other organization may accept it. If you opt for a bulk trash pickup by your county, make sure you know the rules. Some communities have special wrapping specifications.
Work clothing – Business attire is in demand by certain charities that help the needy find jobs.
Rugs – You may be able to sell valuable Persian rugs, but it’s best to donate the ordinary ones.
Books – They tend to have limited resale value, but lots of charities take them. Libraries are also a good option.
Cell phones – Most wireless stores accept used cell phones, as do many police stations.
Electronics – Before giving up your laptop or desktop, erase all data. Many electronics stores will help you with that for a small fee. Once the device is scrubbed clean, many charities would be happy to take it.
TV – Nobody wants old TVs. Only flat screens are accepted by charities.
Craft supplies – Preschools and senior centers are your best bet.
Medical supplies – You may have to do a bit of searching, but there are various charities that take these.
Wedding/prom dresses – Charitable options vary significantly by region.
Coins – There are businesses that will buy old and rare coins.
Building supplies – Habitat for Humanity is the first place to call if you have any leftover lumber, faucets, sinks, tiles, etc.
Bikes – You may want to consider a bicycle-specific charity that helps the needy in the U.S. or abroad.
Sheets/towels – Some charities accept them but many do not, so do your research. An animal shelter is another option.
Old paperwork with ID – If you have stacks of old papers, there are office supply stores (e.g. Staples) that will shred for you, as well as come-to-your-house options.
Trash removal – The best option depends on the volume of trash. There are special bulk pickups offered by most counties around the Washington, DC area, various haul-away services, and country transfer stations.
Medications – Drop-off sites vary by area. Some police stations and local government offices will take your prescription meds. Don’t flush them down the toilet! There is a risk of contaminating the water supply.
Toiletries – Unopened shampoo bottles and other personal hygiene products are sought-after items by many charities.
Guns/ammunition – You cannot dispose of guns or bullets in landfills. They need to be brought to a police station. Call first and find out which location.
Toxic materials – Your local transfer station is your best bet for paint cans and toxic cleaners.
Sales – For large quantities of low-value items, some people like to start with a garage sale. Keep in mind it is time-consuming. You may wish to sell items of value in another way. Options include online sites like Craigslist or eBay. Consignment shops are another possibility. An estate sale or auction house makes sense if you have a large quantity of high-value items. Other factors to consider are convenience, safety and privacy. For example, do you want strangers walking through your home?
If you lack the time to research charitable organizations in your area and to responsibly dispose of your decluttered items, contact Potomac Concierge or call (240) 200-4824 for help. Our professional organizers are experts. They know who takes what, who picks up from your home and who doesn’t, the fees involved, prep work required, the best haul-away service providers, and the lead times that need to be built into your schedule.