Deciding to sell or donate your clutter

Sorting out your clutter can seem overwhelming! These tips and my free printable download will help you to decide what to sell, donate or throw out.

When you’re sorting through your excess clutter, sometimes it’s hard to make a decision on whether you should donate, sell or throw away an item.

We struggled with this when sorting through my mum’s items because we knew she valued everything. It was hard to pick something up that she had kept for so long and throw it in the trash, but it had to be done, Dad couldn’t take it to his new home. There was so much to sort through, but the most important thing was that we only wanted to handle everything once, so when we picked it up we decided if we wanted to donate, sell or throw it away.

As my dad, brothers and I sorted through everything of mum’s together, we often came across something that reminded us of our childhood, which was a great time to reminisce. Also by doing it together meant that we could have the one-touch rule in place and we weren’t throwing, donating or selling something that one of us perhaps wanted to hold onto.

TIPS TO SELL OR DONATE YOUR CLUTTER

When you’ve got the cupboards open and you’re surrounded by clothes and clutter, it can feel like you’ll never get through it! The last thing you want is to mix up your bag up of rubbish with the donation bag, so start by having designated spots for the things you want to sell, donate or throw out.

I’ve created a free printable you can download right now so you’re ready to start sorting.

TIPS TO KNOW WHAT TO SELL

There are different ways you can sell your items, including Facebook Marketplace, eBayGumtree or through a garage sale. The key to working out whether to sell or donate ultimately comes up to how much time you have to sell them and is it worth that time?

What to sell

  • Items in working order
  • Good quality
  • Unique and quirky
  • Vintage
  • Furniture
  • Video games
  • Clothes
  • Jewellery
  • Books
  • Toys
  • Craft items
  • Appliances

Selling online

  • See how much your item is worth by looking the pricing of similar items online.

     

  • If similar items have sold for a reasonable amount, consider if you are willing to then spend time listing that product on Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Gumtree. Remember that eBay charges a small fee when listing with them.
  • If the item is not worth your time to sell then donate it

Garage sale

  • Do you have enough items to have a garage sale?
  • Do you have the time to set up and promote the sale?
  • Do you have the room to have a garage sale?

TIPS TO KNOW WHAT TO DONATE

If you don’t have time to sell an item, donate it to your local charity. Be humbled at this remarkable gesture to be helping another family or person in need. One bag of old clothes to you is a bag of new clothes for warmth and comfort to another.

If you have a lot of baby or children’s items, you may like to seek out smaller charities that specifically assist new mothers.

Be kind to the charity that you are donating to and don’t give them junk, old clothes with holes, Tupperware with no lids etc. Damaged items should be thrown in the trash.

A good rule of thumb to decide whether to donate or trash:

  • it is in working order
  • does not need repairing/mending
  • good quality
  • is clean

For large items such a furniture your charity may come and collect it for you.

Clearing out clutter can seem like a daunting task, but once you’ve sorted your piles into sell, donate and rubbish, you can get the task done and enjoy your lovely, clutter-free space.

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12 comments

Vikki Kay May 7, 2013 - 7:46 AM

If there is Tupperware without lids, it is still worth giving to a charity! It is a simple matter to buy a new lid. If it is just random plasticware I definitely agree, throw it in the recycle bin. Also, many charities raise much-needed funds by sorting and selling rags!

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tracy Brewis May 7, 2013 - 9:58 AM

Animal shelters are always happy to accept old blankets or towels that aren’t suitable to give to charity.

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Jen Catt May 10, 2013 - 10:33 AM

I agree with Vikki’s comment regarding Tupperware. It’s quite easy to purchase replacements parts. I picked up some very cheap Tupperware from several op shops recently. My remark to my mother at the time was “a bloke must have thrown this away as he wouldn’t know the value of it!”

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Claire Buchtmann May 11, 2013 - 9:07 AM

My Mum passed away 9 years ago and my Dad hadn’t gone through much of the stuff, so when he passed away last year I got the lot (the downside of being an only child)! It has been stacked up in our garage, playroom, outdoor area for a year now. We had a garage sale last year and I sold quite a bit of stuff – pots, pans, glasses, knick knacks. The biggest thing for me was letting go of his recliner chair. He and Mum had one and they don’t really go with our furniture and they are quite large so really don’t have the space for them either.
At the garage sale an older lady came up (she was on walking sticks) and asked how much I wanted for it. I told her $50. She said she had been looking for one and really wanted to get one as it would make it so much easier for her to watch TV with her legs up and then to get up later. Only problem was she couldn’t get it to her house. I asked her where she lived and it was just around the corner from my mother-in-law’s place so we offered to deliver it for her as well. She bought it.
I have to say that I was really torn at letting Dad’s chair go (I still have Mum’s as it didn’t sell that time) but when we delivered it, the lady lived in a unit almost identical to my Dad’s (although he lived in another city all together) and I just knew that the chair would continue to be loved and used frequently. I was really happy when we left. Whenever we drive past there now I think of my Dad and hope she’s enjoying his chair.
Our street has an annual garage sale in mid-November, so we all know to store things and get ready for then. We make some great sales, and we’ve had it for a few years now so people know when it is and we get great attendance.
I had a few boxes of glasses and saucepans, etc that were left over from last years sale and I took them yesterday to St Vincent. They didn’t want the suitcases that I also had so I took them to Westcare and they were so grateful. I think I will take more things there where they were so gratefully received. I’ve found with the bigger charities (Salvos and Vinnies) they are more picky with what they will and won’t take.

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Danielle May 25, 2013 - 12:31 PM

My husband and I recently cleared out my father-in-laws home of 20+ years after he passed away. As he lived in a country town, and we lived in a city, it wasn’t easy for us to organise a garage sale or sell via Gumtree. We hired a 3m skip and easily filled it with gear from his garage as well as gear that could not be donated. We donated clothing, kitchen items, linen, odds and ends to the local op shop. We also donated all working electrical goods to another op shop. We organised for a scrap metal guy to come and take anything that had metal etc (incl old fridges). Unopened food from his pantry was donated to neighbours that had helped him. Of course there were items that we couldn’t let go and we took them home with us. It was a good feeling knowing that his gear was going to charities that would help his community. On our next trip, we’ll organise the furniture!

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Katrina May 27, 2013 - 4:08 PM

I can imagine how hard it is for you Danielle, I am sure all the charities would appreciate your help.

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AudreyGreenwood June 19, 2014 - 4:54 PM

I’m really sorry to hear about all your losses on this thread 🙁 It’s really quite an ordeal to have to run through items sometimes, but you really don’t have to throw them away all the time, more like just get things organized? Having some good quality packing boxes or movings boxes may help with that. Then you can take your time later on to sort things out slowly.

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Audrey June 20, 2014 - 1:56 PM

Just to add to what I said earlier. Those packing boxes or movings boxes can actually be a good way to start a small memorial to the person who’s departed. I think it’s a great idea to have a little care package so that your kids or someone else can have the chance to get to know this special person that has touched your lives.

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Katrina June 20, 2014 - 4:20 PM

That is a really lovely idea Audrey

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diane desbiens April 11, 2016 - 7:20 AM

I am a 64 year old woman, long retired, which means I have lots of time on my hands to clean and organize, but I do love The Organized Housewife so very much. I love your tips. I have a book I write the things to do each day, and I get them done, but this year I have gone a step further, I have my own book I write in. I have each room in the house, and parts of the basement written on tags, and kept in a small bowl, each month I pick out tags for each day, go to the room and see what I can do extra, I call it my 15-30 minute challenge. Plus I also do your cleaning tip. Makes things a whole lot easier. I also pick the room tag once a week, and I have another little bowl with numbers in from 1-5. When I pick those, that means it is in that room and that number that I have to get rid of things. So for instance if I pick the bedroom, and I pick the number 3. I go to that room and throw out or donate 3 items. Makes cleaning and downsizing a whole lot easier. My friends ask what happens when I have gotten rid of all that I have to…..well I am not sure as that has not happened yet. The things to get rid of can be small, so not to feel your getting rid of your whole life. So I said this works for me. I know a lot of young Mom’s read your tips, but for us older gals, who are thinking of downsizing at some point in the future, I found this a good way. Not too overwhelming. I also followed one of your ideas and put baskets for the 10 minute challenge, only I have 1 for the challenge and 3 for things I need to give to people, such as neighbours or family. Works great, so thank you for all your wonderful tips, love each and everything.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 11, 2016 - 3:17 PM

I love this tip Diane thank you so much for sharing it, in fact I’m going to make it into a blog post sometime soon to share with everybody else as I am sure your process will help many 🙂

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Lisa Kennedy October 1, 2021 - 7:40 AM

Where I live there is a charity called ‘Eureka Mums’ (an off shoot of the original ‘St Kilda Mums’) They collect and package items for newborns to 12. One thing I took from their instructions for Donations was only give items you would be prepared to pass on to a friend. If it is too shabby for a friend, it’s not appropriate to give to their charity. I love how the volunteers here carefully package up appropriate sized clothing, almost like a gift package. They are distributed via maternal health nurses etc to families in need in the local area.

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