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What Does Goodwill Not Take – Avoid These Products

At a point, you will want to know what Goodwill does not take. The truth is we often have so many things that we can’t use anymore. We have them in big piles and they take up a lot of space. We ask ourselves if we should keep them, give them away, or throw out the items that we no longer want to use.

If you have ever been in a Goodwill store, you can imagine the endless rows of items from furniture to clothing that everyone has given away.

The reality is that Goodwill doesn’t take an item just because it is old or unwanted. They actually have a policy about what they take and what they won’t take. And usually, there is a good reason why some donations are rejected. Our guide is going to take you through all the items that Goodwill doesn’t take.

Items that Goodwill cannot accept

It’s always a good gesture to donate your items to someone who can use it. Goodwill is the place where you can do this. But it’s important to know what they do and don’t accept. When you send items that aren’t useful or in good condition, it will go to waste. The donations will mostly be recycled or put in the dumpster to save space for the items that are really needed.

It’s a good thing to donate your unused items if you still have them, but it’s also a good thing to know what Goodwill will likely reject so you can consider if they’re in your best interest. Below is a list of the items that they won’t accept.

Dirty or damaged furniture

It’s true that a lot of people lack furniture that is safe and comfortable to use. People are aware of this and usually donate their furniture pieces to organizations such as Goodwill.

In that regard, you can’t donate furniture that is broken, torn, stained, disassembled, rusty, mildewed or covered in animal hair to any of the Goodwill centers. Majority of the furniture has to be sold at the thrift stores and that means it has to be in good condition.

CRTs or Non-digital TVs

Since Goodwill has to make sure that they sell the items they don’t want to put in the trash, they do not take in CRT televisions. It’s a fact that people donate their old television sets to organizations such as Goodwill. They don’t have anything against it but still, there are some factors to consider.

Most people donate their CRT TVs because it’s too heavy and cumbersome for them to keep in their homes. Also, non-digital TVs are no longer in use. This means it will be hard for people to buy them. The same goes for video cassette players, DVDs and VCRs, fax machines and answering machines, microwave ovens and satellite dishes.

Mattresses and Box-Springs

Among the things you can’t donate to Goodwill are box springs and mattresses. Mattresses carry a lot of bacteria because they are in close contact with the people that sleep on them. It’s not uncommon to find bedbugs and other parasites in mattresses that are given away. With bedbugs and the like, they could spread diseases to others who may use the donated items. For that reason, Goodwill prefers to not take mattresses and box springs.

The current health and sanitation laws require organizations such as Goodwill to completely sanitize and refurbish mattresses and box-springs.

This can be a very expensive process that Goodwill does not want to undertake. Even if the item is sent to a third party company for sanitization, it still costs money and takes time and labor. For that reason, most companies are not willing to take in mattresses or box springs because of the associated costs.

Large home appliances

Air conditioners, refrigerators, washers, dryers and dishwashers are some of the items that Goodwill doesn’t take. Goodwill has to make sure that they sell everything in a reasonable amount of time. They want to make sure that these appliances are properly maintained and safe for use.

If the item is not functional when it gets donated, it could end up being broken or damaged. This is something that would hurt the organization because they would have to fix it before it’s sold to customers. Furthermore, such appliances are bulky and a liability to move around. It takes too much time, effort and money for an organization to take them in.

Building materials

Anything that is used in the construction of a house or office is not something that Goodwill wants to take in. This includes stuff such as pipes, lumber, nails, doors, insulation, cabinets and windows.

Goodwill does not want to be responsible for any accidents that may happen from the building materials. If anything gets broken or damaged because of the material it is used in, they will be liable for it. They won’t accept garage doors, sinks, gutters, concrete, shutters, light fixtures and fencing.

Food or drink items

Food or drinks are not something Goodwill wants to take in. They would have to throw them out eventually. Most food items have a shelf life and they wither away after being in storage for too long.

If you are planning to donate anything that is edible, call the local Goodwill center first to ask if they will accept it. Most likely, they won’t.

Exercise equipment

A lot of the exercise equipment is quite heavy and bulky. This is the reason why Goodwill does not want to take it in. It will be difficult for them to move the equipment around and store the items in their storage units. Also, the equipment might not be functional anymore due to wear-and-tear or damage.

If you still have exercise equipment that you don’t use anymore, you can consider selling it on Craigslist or any other website that sets up posts for items to sell.

Bed pillows, bean bags and sleeper sofas

Things that come into contact with human skin are simply gross and unhygienic. Even when sanitized, it would still carry a lot of bacteria on it that could make other people sick.

For this reason, these aren’t acceptable items for donation. No one wants to buy a bean bag or bed pillow that has been covered in dust, hair, body odor and other nasty things. That’s why Goodwill won’t accept them and will likely toss them out into the dumpster.

Children’s items

Car seats, cribs, strollers, play pens, baby walkers, changing tables and other equipment that is used specifically for children are not something Goodwill will accept as a donation. Goodwill is aware that different states have regulations when it comes to making sure these items are safe and functional.

Most of the time, they do not have the right machinery or the right staff to check the equipment to make sure everything is okay. They would likely be held accountable for it if anything would go wrong. That’s why they would prefer if you just threw these items away at a reputable dumpster near your home or recycled them instead.

Cosmetics and hair products

Goodwill is not a cosmetics or hair product company and they will not sell it. In the event that they do, it would be a strict violation of their policies.

If they were to accept make-up or shampoo donations, someone might buy the products without knowing that they were used or expired. They would also have problems with sanitation because of the risk of spreading germs and sickness among customers.

What to do with items you cannot donate

If you have some items that you want to get rid of but cannot donate, there are plenty of options available. The simplest and most cost effective option is to sell those items. You will be surprised at how much you can earn from selling your unwanted things on sites such as eBay or Craigslist. There are buyers who are willing to pay for old items that could be re-sold for a profit.

A lot of people tend to simply throw away the items they don’t need and can’t donate to the non-profit organizations. But just because something has no use to you doesn’t mean it’s useless to someone else. You can give them to relatives, friends or even neighbors. You never know, they could be of use to them and they might not even care if it’s new or old.

Recycling unwanted things should always be on your mind. The Earth is currently reeling from the effects of irresponsible mining and the rising global temperatures. It’s a good thing to try to limit your carbon footprint as much as possible by recycling as much as you can. There are recycling centers across the country that will take any recyclable item.

So, instead of throwing away items that you can recycle; why not bring them to a recycling center? A lot of people don’t do this, but it’s a good way to reduce the amount of trash that goes into the landfills.

Final Thoughts

The easiest way to donate items at Goodwill is to drop them off at the nearest Goodwill store. They have the best system and planning while they take in the donations. There are places all across the United States, so you won’t have any trouble finding one close to your area. You just have to find out where the nearest center is and then make sure that you bring in all of the things you want to donate.

That said, not everything is accepted at Goodwill and we’ve stated the reasons why. There are a lot of items that are not accepted, so make sure you call your local Goodwill first before dropping them off. Getting a receipt for your donation is also highly recommended. You may need to use it for tax purposes.


What items should you not donate?

As mentioned above, there are a lot of items that Goodwill does not accept and this is for good reasons. They may pose a risk to the general public or be damaged due to improper handling or storage.

What will Goodwill not take Texas?

Hazardous material, paint, cleaning supplies, firearms, damaged furniture, water heaters, air conditioners, and large appliance won’t be taken by Goodwill in Texas.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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