Downsizing in DC: Donating Clothes, Books and More

Carter Ross

April is the time for spring cleaning. This is the first of three articles on downsizing items in your home.

Whether you’re moving to a smaller home, looking to reclaim space in your apartment, or just feeling like you’re ready to get rid of a few things, downsizing and decluttering can be a daunting task. Emotionally, it can be hard to part with long-held items, but beyond that there are social, environmental, and practical reasons to find a destination other than the landfill.

Often the simplest solution is to donate usable items to a charity that can resell them. The District’s Department of Energy & Environment Reuse DC website includes a list of donation pick-up services that operate in the city. These include familiar names like Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and Vietnam Veterans of America, along with local groups like Mary’s Center and FurnishHope DC. Each service has specific rules and guidelines about what it can accept and how to arrange and manage pickup, so be sure to read them carefully to ensure your items will be accepted. In most cases, you can receive a receipt for the donation, allowing you to deduct the contribution on your taxes.

Reuse DC also has a searchable directory of thrift stores, consignment shops, and other business that might be willing to accept donations of clothing, household goods, furniture, books and other items in good condition. Torn, stained or dirty clothing, along with broken items, should not be thrifted.

If you are wanting to pass along books, some chapters of Friends of DC Library accept books and media donations for their fundraising activities. Check with your local branch’s Friends group to see if and when they will accept such donations. Another option is a Little Free Library. These often colorful boxes are set up in parks and front yards, giving people the opportunity to take or drop off books. You can search for a local one or even start your own! Remember to be polite and only add books that others might be interested in (no out-of-date technical manuals, for instance) and if a Little Free Library is already full, don’t try to cram in extra books … spread them around among several boxes.

Full Members who would like help organizing items for donation can request a volunteer by contacting the office at or 202-935-6060.

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