FAQs – Goodwill Stores Will Not Accept Everything You Donate

by Yvette in Comment — Updated January 29, 2024

Are you thinking of donating to Goodwill? Awesome! It felt good knowing someone else could use them, I know. 

Goodwill does some great work, but hold on a second—there are a few things they can’t take. Let me break it down for you.

Good news first! Goodwill accepts clothes, shoes, furniture, and household items. They’ll gladly take it off your hands if it’s in decent shape, and others can reuse it. 

They also take some electronics, but only some things. Small appliances like toasters? Sure. That ancient VCR? Probably not.

Thus, Goodwill can’t take everything, which is the not-so-good news. No broken stuff, please! They also won’t accept old mattresses, cribs, or hazardous materials. 

Ever wonder why there are rules? It’s not to be a buzzkill. Goodwill wants to ensure your donations help others, so they must be selective. 

Most people don’t want broken toasters or tattered clothes, right? Plus, they need to make room for everyone’s generosity.

Now that we’ve got the lowdown on what Goodwill can and can’t take let’s dive deeper.  

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Credits: @todayshow / Pinterest

Key Takeaway

  • Goodwill gladly accepts donations of clean, damage-free household goods like clothing, furniture, and small appliances to resell and fund employment programs.
  • Goodwill can’t handle certain items like chemicals, old TVs, or broken items due to safety, lack of value, and storage issues.
  • Check with your local Goodwill store first to learn their specific donation guidelines to ensure acceptance.
  • Save your itemized Goodwill donation receipts as they may provide future federal tax deductions worth over $500 for charitable giving.

What Items Goodwill Typically Accepts for Donation

Goodwill’s all about spreading the love. So, here’s the summarized compelling overview of what Goodwill accepts for donation:

Goodwill Gladly Welcomes Your Gently Used Household Goods

When it’s time to declutter and donate unused household items, Goodwill should be your first stop.

As one of America’s most veteran and trusted charitable thrift stores, Goodwill accepts a wide variety of everyday goods and gladly gives them a second life in the homes of the needy. 

From clothing and shoes in clean, wearable condition to small appliances that still function properly, Goodwill seeks your bundles of basement and closet castaways.

Donate last season’s fashions, dish sets not to your tastes, dusty decor, or stacks of last year’s unread paperbacks and textbooks.

Broken electronics can also be processed for recycling by Goodwill’s comprehensive programs as well. 

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Credits: @sarakarlssonvs / Pinterest

The extensive list of accepted items includes common household categories like furnishings, kitchenware, toys, sports equipment, decorative items, DVDs, lamps, and hand tools.

As long as items are clean, damage-free, non-toxic, and usable, Goodwill can redistribute them to grateful new owners in your own community. 85% of all sales directly support employment and job skills training too.

So bag up all those unwanted belongings and proudly bring them to Goodwill on your next donation run. Your trash will become someone else’s treasure, and valuable vocational programs will benefit in the process.

It’s a winning recycle and repurpose that feels as good as it does green.

Reasons Goodwill Accepts These Donations

Have you ever wondered why Goodwill gladly accepts your donations? It’s not just about decluttering; it’s a powerful cycle of giving beyond cleaning out our closets. 

Goodwill has solid reasons for welcoming our items with open arms. They see each donation as a catalyst for positive change impacting individuals and communities. 

Here’s how they achieve such an impact:  

Fund Job Training Programs

I love that Goodwill turns our donations into opportunities! When we donate items, they resell them at their thrift stores. 

And guess what? Sales from their thrift stores go towards funding job training programs

So, your old sweater or unused blender isn’t just collecting dust—it’s helping someone learn new skills, find employment, and build a brighter future. 

It’s like giving a second life to both your stuff and someone’s career.

Support Local Communities

Goodwill also takes our donations and spreads the love locally. By reselling items, they generate funds that directly support various community initiatives. 

Your old lamp or forgotten books might be the key to funding after-school programs, job placement services, or other essential community services.

It’s a simple act that has a profound impact close to home.

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Credits: @goodwillsa / Pinterest

Provide Affordable Goods

All thanks to our generosity, someone finding a stylish jacket or a reliable toaster at a fraction of the cost is possible. 

Goodwill sells donated items at affordable prices, making quality goods accessible to everyone. 

That old furniture or kitchenware can become treasures for someone on a budget. It’s not just about giving away things; it’s about creating opportunities for individuals to access essential items without breaking the bank. 

Thus, our donations make a difference in people’s lives, one affordable find at a time.

What Items Goodwill Typically Does NOT Accept

While Goodwill gladly accepts most clean and damage-free household goods, some categories of items simply cannot be handled by their thrift retail operations. These typically fall into two categories – safety hazards and oversized burdens.

Any consumer goods failing updated federal safety standards will be turned away to protect future users. This includes aging electronics, expired car seats, Venetian blinds with hazardous cords, and unstable furniture.

Toxic chemicals, fuels, batteries with heavy metals, and other environmental contaminants are also prohibited for legal and ethical reasons.

On the bulky overloaded side, mattresses, major appliances, and wall-to-wall carpeting are impractical to collect, store, and resell in Goodwill’s chain of small discount stores.

Food, pharmaceuticals, weapons, adult content, medical devices, and construction debris similarly either violate health codes or offer no resale value. 

Goodwill also cannot legally tamper with safety labels and instructions on items like bicycle helmets, baby equipment, and cosmetics.

Any goods that are broken, soiled, contaminated, or missing key components may also be rightfully refused to maintain quality control over merchandise.

So when prepping your next donation drop-off, carefully inspect items for recalls, damage, stains, expiration dates, and other issues that could cause rejection.

This ensures fewer headaches all around. And remember, when in doubt over that decades-old electric gadget or mystery solvent from the garage, err on the side of caution – and consider more eco-friendly disposal means instead.

Here is an example of some products Goodwill doesn’t accept:

Hazards and Safety Issues

Goodwill prioritizes safety for everyone involved. Items that pose significant risks that can harm staff, customers, and the environment are:

  • Chemical Products
  • Automotive Hazardous Waste
  • Anything Containing Freon

Moreover, Goodwill doesn’t accept items that can lead to accidents, injuries, or environmental damage when mishandled. These include:

  • Drain Cleaner
  • Oven Cleaner
  • Lead-Acid Batteries

By rejecting these items, a Goodwill thrift store avoids environmental concerns from potential harm from such items. 

Broken or Missing Parts

Besides safety, Goodwill aims to provide quality items to customers. Thus, the following don’t align with their commitment to offering functional goods: 

  • Appliances with missing parts, like water heaters
  • Broken furniture
  • Non-working electronics like large console stereos

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Credits: @rightchoicemoversauckland / Pinterest

Accepting these items could lead to customer dissatisfaction, as they may receive damaged or incomplete products. 

By turning away such items, Goodwill maintains its reputation for providing reliable, usable items to its customers.

Big, Heavy, or Bulky Items

Logistics matter for Goodwill, too. Big, heavy, or bulky items like the following items can pose challenges in transportation and storage:

  • Exercise Equipment
  • Hospital Beds
  • Large Appliances
  • Mattresses and Box Springs

They don’t accept such items since these could strain resources and limit the capacity to handle other donations. 

By declining these more oversized items, Goodwill ensures a smoother donation process and efficiently allocates resources.

Expired Items

Most importantly, Goodwill adheres to safety standards and quality control. That’s why they don’t usually accept items that may not meet safety regulations like:

  • Car Seats
  • High chairs
  • Cribs
  • Medical Supplies
  • Old TVs

Expired items pose user risks, especially with safety-related products like car seats and cribs. Additionally, outdated technology in old TVs may not comply with current standards. 

Thus, Goodwill may reject these items. Let’s learn why in the following sections.

Why Goodwill Does Not Accept Certain Items

You may wonder why your local Goodwill outlet store turns down some donations. 

It’s not because they don’t appreciate your generosity, but there’s a method to the madness. Although I’ve mentioned some reasons above, let’s dig deeper into them. 

Safety Reasons

Safety is a top priority for Goodwill. They adhere to current safety standards, and items that don’t meet these criteria are declined. 

For instance, outdated baby cribs or car seats that don’t meet today’s safety standards won’t be accepted. This practice is a way of ensuring the community’s safety and well-being.

Additionally, proper disposal is a serious consideration for Goodwill. They avoid accepting items that could contribute to environmental hazards

Despite its faithful service, a worn-out refrigerator might be declined to prevent potential leaks of harmful chemicals or improper disposal methods that could harm the environment.

So, when Goodwill says no to specific items, it’s not a rejection but a commitment to safety and environmental responsibility. 

It’s like being the community’s guardians, ensuring every item finds a home without posing risks and contributing to a greener, safer environment.

Added Costs and Difficulties

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Credits: @curlylindsay / Pinterest

Not everything is gold, and some items don’t have resale value. And if they can’t sell goods, Goodwill organizations may not have sufficient funds for their programs.

Plus, let’s talk space – some things are too bulky and take up more room than they can spare. They’re not trying to be difficult; they keep it practical.

Special handling is also a factor. Some items require a bit more TLC than a Goodwill employee can provide. 

Picture delicate, antique china or an intricate piece of artwork. These treasures need extra attention to ensure they reach their new homes unscathed. 

Most importantly, special handling means added costs and complexities. Although Goodwill wants your donations to make a positive impact, they also consider that it’s without burdening anyone. 

Adhere to Federal Law

Lastly, we should also consider the legal side of accepting donations. 

No, messing around with recalled items; there are stringent regulations on the expiration dates of food and medications. 

So, we can’t say that Goodwill is being choosy.

They adhere to the rules down to the last detail. Goodwill’s all about staying on the right side of the legal fence. 

Tips for Successful Goodwill Donations

Donating is a great act. But before you grab your stuff and package them as donations, let me share some tips to ensure your donation journey is a breeze.

Check with Your Local Store First

Before you start packing your car with bags of clothes, it’s crucial to take a moment and check with your local Goodwill store. 

Why? Well, each store might have different rules regarding what they can and cannot accept.

For example, let’s say you have a collection of vintage books you want to donate. One Goodwill store might happily accept them, considering their treasures. 

However, another store might have a policy against accepting certain types of books due to space constraints or other reasons.

So, before you embark on your goodwill mission, call your local Goodwill store manager or check their donation sites to understand their specific guidelines. 

This way, you ensure that your well-intentioned donations align perfectly with what the store can accommodate. And, in turn, you’re making the donation process smoother for everyone involved.

Transport Items in Good Condition

Now, let’s talk about the stuff you’re donating.

For instance, you’ve come across that old sweater in the back of your closet and think it’s ready for a new home. Before you toss it into the donation bag, let’s add a bit of extra care.

Take a moment to give that old sweater a quick wash. It might have been sitting in your closet for a while, and a freshening up can do wonders. 

Goodwill appreciates items in tip-top shape, so making sure your donations are clean and presentable goes a long way.

And here’s the inside scoop – Goodwill acknowledges items with no rips, stains, or missing pieces. That’s because Goodwill wants to offer items that bring joy to their new owners. 

By ensuring your donations are in excellent condition, you contribute to the overall quality of items in the store. It’s like giving a second life to your belongings and making someone else’s day a little brighter.

Remember, a little bit of tender loving care (TLC) can turn your pre-loved items into treasures for others. As you gather your donations, think about the joy they might bring to someone new and give them the attention they deserve.

Understand the Tax Deduction Benefits

Let’s expand on the potential financial benefits of your generosity during tax season. Imagine sorting through your donation receipts after a successful trip to Goodwill. 

Guess what? Your acts of kindness might translate into some tangible benefits when it’s time to face Uncle Sam.

As you gather your donation receipts, you’re not just organizing pieces of paper. They’re like golden tickets, unlocking potential savings on your federal taxes.

Saving these receipts helps you track your donations and can lead to big tax savings, as explained in this article about getting the most out of your Goodwill donations for tax purposes.

Here’s the exciting part: you could claim up to $500 on your federal taxes! It’s a win-win situation. Not only are you making a positive impact by supporting others through your donations, but you’re also getting a little break yourself. 

It’s like the universe giving you a high-five for your generosity.

So, in addition to the warm fuzzies you get from helping others, keep in mind the financial perk that comes with being a generous soul. 

Your goodwill may reflect not only in the smiles of those you’ve assisted but also in a lighter load when tax season comes around. It’s a beautiful bonus for your compassionate efforts!

Now, you might have some burning questions. Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered. 

Here’s a section answering each specific question:

Answers to Common Goodwill Donation Questions

Many people have specific questions about what donated items Goodwill accepts. Here are direct answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

Does Goodwill take fish tanks?

No, Goodwill typically does not accept donations of used fish tanks. These bulky items take up too much limited retail space.

Does Goodwill take vacuum cleaners?

Yes, if vacuum cleaners are a current model, lightweight, and in good working condition with all parts. However, Goodwill usually only accepts broken vacuums or models over ten years old.

Does Goodwill take bikes?

Yes, bicycles are accepted at many Goodwill locations if they have air in the tires and do not have significant rust, missing parts, or safety issues. Children’s bikes sell the best.

Does Goodwill take cat trees?

No. Due to size and limited demand, Goodwill rarely accepts cat trees as donations. Goodwill avoids bulky pet items to maximize retail space.

How much does Goodwill give to charity?

Goodwill gives 80-85% of its resale revenues from donated goods to community programs like employment assistance and job training services. The rest covers operational costs.

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Source: goodwillgoodskills.org

Does Goodwill allow dogs?

No usually but some locations allow them. Pets are prohibited inside Goodwill donation centers or retail stores for safety and health reasons unless labeled service animals.

Does Goodwill take perfume?

Typically no. Federal regulations prohibit reselling used toiletries like perfume, makeup, and personal care items.

Does Goodwill take lawnmowers?

Goodwill accepts if lawnmowers are in a current lightweight model, in excellent condition, with all parts included. On the other hand, they usually reject rusted, leaking, or outdated mowers.

Does Goodwill take broken vacuum cleaners?

No, defective, incomplete, or broken vacuum cleaners are typically not accepted for donation as these cost more to process than they generate in sales.

I hope this outlines policies for some of the most frequently asked donation questions. Remember to check with your local store, as some specific items may vary by location.


In essence, Goodwill transforms unwanted items into opportunities, weaving a cycle of giving that touches lives and fosters community growth. However, you have to consider some key points. 

Start by checking guidelines with your local Goodwill store; each has unique needs. Also, ensure your items are in good condition—clean, without rips or stains—for maximum impact. 

The benefits of giving extend beyond generosity. Thus, hold onto those donation receipts for potential tax deductions, up to $500 on federal taxes. 

Your contributions can fund job training programs, support local communities, and offer affordable goods, creating a positive change cycle. 

As you prepare to become one of the Goodwill donors, remember: it’s not just about decluttering; it’s about transforming lives. 

Happy donating, and may your generosity continue to resonate in the community through Goodwill.

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