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Common Questions People Ask About Goodwill​

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Goodwill is a nonprofit organization that provides job training, employment placement services, and other community-based programs. They accept donations of almost any item in good condition, including clothing, furniture, and other household items. If you have something to donate or want to purchase from Goodwill here are some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to the organization. 

The Life of a Goodwill Donation

Infographic on the process of how a Goodwill sorts through donations. From sorting to putting it on the shelves and disposing of unsalvageable items, learn more about how your donation goes through the sustainable ecosystem.

Does Goodwill Wash Clothes?

Goodwill and other thrift stores have taken some serious flack in the media of late. They resell and recycle used clothing has led to concerns about how “clean” the clothes are and what might be lurking in those garments.

Goodwill does not wash clothes, they request the people who are donating the clothes to wash them. So do not expect a pristinely clean garment when shopping at Goodwill. Instead wash it, maybe even twice. Better yet soak it in OxiClean and sanitize it, because who knows where the clothing was before it ended up on the Goodwill rack or deep in the pile of the Goodwill bins. Even if you don’t mind a second-hand garment touching your skin, you may want to consider washing them anyway, just to get rid of any smells that may linger from when the previous owner wore them. Even if the clothing is washed, it can still have traces of other odors clinging to it. 

Does Goodwill take hangers?

Goodwill generally does not accept wire or plastic hangers, as they are difficult to process. However, if you are donating clothes, Goodwill will generally accept the clothes on hangers. Recycling hangers in general is difficult, but there may be options for wire hanger recycling at your local scrap metal center. You can use the Earth 911 Recycling Search to find a scrap metal center near you. If you want to donate hangers, please contact your local Goodwill store to see if they have a recycling program that accepts them.

That doesn’t mean you need to remove the hangers from clothes. Goodwill will happily accept the items even if you do not want to separate clothes from the hangers. Just, make sure that the items are clean and good condition. Clothing must be free of stains, rips, or tears. They also ask that you prepare your clothes for donation by removing all accessories (such as belts, buttons, etc.) and any attached price tags.

All clothing is sorted by size and type before being sent to Goodwill’s thrift stores or sold at their retail locations. Some items will be recycled into wiping rags for janitorial use; others will be used in industrial laundry. Whatever Goodwill doesn’t use, they claim to donate to charities worldwide with a partnership with World Vision. However,  can’t use will be donated to charities worldwide through our partnership with World Vision. Sometimes, clothing is absolutely unusable, and in that case these items will be sent to landfill. However, according to Huffington Post this amounts to about 5% of their donations that end up in landfills.

So, what can you do with old hangers?

While Goodwill does not accept hangers, many other places will. The Salvation Army, for example, takes all types of hangers; however, some local thrift stores prefer wire over plastic. To keep things simple, it’s best to remove the hangers when you’re getting ready to donate your garments.

Does Goodwill take underwear?

While you may be tempted to donate your used underwear to a good cause, Goodwill does not accept any clothing that contains food or liquid stains, foul odors, or animal hair. All textiles must be clean, free of holes, and not have excessive snags or runs. No day-to-day wear-and-tear is acceptable.

Goodwill Industries’ donation guidelines also prohibit the donation of lingerie, thongs, and G-strings. In addition, the organization will not accept any items that are soiled with bodily fluids. For a guide on where you can donate used underwear check out Green Matters Guide to Donating Underwear.

Does Goodwill Accept Monetary Donations?

A monetary donation is an easy way to help the charity provide job training, employment services, and other forms of assistance to those in need. When you donate money, you invest in the community and help Goodwill continue helping people find jobs. Monetary donations offer the highest level of tax deductions as well. If you are donating a large amount, you may obtain significant tax benefits through a planned gift program. Monetary donations can be made online at or by mail. Once your donation has been received, you will receive a receipt for tax purposes.

What other common items does Goodwill accept for donations?

Most Goodwill stores accept a variety of household goods for donation. This includes furniture, lamps, rugs, and other decorative items like vases and frames. You can also donate your clothing and shoes to Goodwill. If you have an extra set of dishes or utensils that you don’t need anymore, you can donate those as well.

 Other Items Goodwill Accepts Include:

  • Furniture
  • Televisions (But only flat screen televisions including LED, LCD, plasma)
  • Antiques and Collectibles
  • Jewelry
  • Books
  • Video Games, DVDs, CDs, records, tapes
  • Small Electronic Goods like clocks and radios
  • Computers and printers

Does Goodwill have gift cards?

Goodwill does sell gift cards as many people are interested in giving the gift of a thrifting experience to their friends and family. Gift cards are perfect for the holidays, as a thank you present, or for your loved-ones birthday. They’re also an excellent way to encourage family and friends to shop sustainably and support the local recycling efforts. You can generally purchase gift cards at Goodwill stores. Gift cards are available in any denomination and come in three great designs.

Can you return items to Goodwill?

Goodwill has return policies that vary based on location and region. Generally it ranges from final sale to a 14-day return policy for all merchandise, with some exceptions. All returned merchandise must have the original tags attached and require a valid driver’s license or state identification card to complete the transaction. It can generally be quite difficult to return an item to Goodwill. If you purchase an item at a Goodwill Outlet Center definitely be careful because they don’t accept returns for any reason.

Return Policy: No Refunds Final Sale at Goodwill NY NJ

Certain Goodwills offer no refund or exchanges for any reason. For example Goodwill of Northern New Jersey and New York does not offer refunds for any reason. It’s pretty messed up that you spend your hard earned money at their stores and have no ability to get a store credit if something doesn’t work right. I understand final sale on clothing, but for electronics, they shouldn’t even be sold in store, if they aren’t going to offer a refund. 

… The bottom line  …

While there are some limitations to what you can donate to Goodwill, most of your household items are fair game. You can donate just about anything you don’t need anymore in working condition, and it will be put to good use by someone else!

Article Recap

No, Goodwill does not wash donated clothes. They request donors to clean items before donation.
Generally, Goodwill does not accept hangers. However, clothes on hangers can be donated.
Yes, monetary donations are welcomed by Goodwill. They can be made online or by mail.

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