In my spring cleaning fantasy, I find time to post unwanted stuff on eBay and Craigslist. I take collectibles to expert appraisers to make sure I’m not giving away a treasure that could fund my retirement. Friends offer to take my castoffs to their garage sale and drop off unsold items at a charity.
In reality, I abandon attempts to make money from my unwanted treasures and donate most to charity. If I waited until I found time to put it on Craigslist, I would die a hoarder. Still, taking everything to charities isn’t as simple as it once was. Most no longer accept many items purged from our attics and garages.
Sometimes they can’t legally sell them. Used mattresses have to be heat-treated before resale. Baby furniture can’t have been recalled/banned by the Consumer Products Safety Division. Charities reject some items, such as 1950s metal desks and giant entertainment centers, because they simply aren’t in demand.
For items that no charity wants, consider your neighborhood trash hauler/recycler or county recycling center. Rethinkrecycling.com has a six-county listing of recycling options.
Charities that accept “unwanted” items
Appliances (major): Salvation Army (must show proof they work, no gas appliances) and Habitat for Humanity ReStore (newer, must work).
Artificial Christmas trees: Many charities accept around the holidays, but Arc’s Value Village, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul accept them year round.
Barbells/weight benches: Salvation Army.
Books, encyclopedias: Although not a charity, Half-Price Books will accept/recycle books they won’t buy, including encyclopedias.
Bowling balls: Salvation Army.
Carpet, rugs (used): Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, Habitat ReStore (must be professionally cleaned and 6-by-8-feet or larger).
Clothes/bedding (torn, stained, threadbare): Don’t toss. Nearly all major charities such as Value Village, Goodwill and Salvation Army want them for recycling.
Computers: Salvation Army (No CRT monitors. Laptops need USB port), St. Vincent de Paul (no computers with Windows XP/Vista).
Cribs/car seats: Call 211. Salvation Army (must pass list on CPSC.gov), St. Vincent de Paul, Tapestry Families (612-823-0301, car seats only).
Entertainment centers: Bridging (all wood, up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide), Goodwill (check size limits).
Exercise bikes/treadmills: Salvation Army (must work), St. Vincent de Paul (smaller units only).
Home improvement materials: Habitat ReStore offers drop-offs at its New Brighton facility or free pickup.
Mattresses/box springs/bed frames: Bridging (bridging.org, any size but no electric or water beds). The fee is $75 to $150 for pickup.
Medical or assisted living equipment: Goodwill (no electric wheelchairs).
Microwave ovens (must be clean, working order): Bridging, Bibles for Missions, Salvation Army.
Office furniture: Value Village (smaller file cabinets, chairs, desks and cubicle units). Bridging (desks no larger than 4 feet wide by 2 feet deep, office chairs not on wheels). Salvation Army (desks with pullout computer tray, office chairs, undamaged file cabinets).
Printers: St. Vincent de Paul, Goodwill, Bridging.
Sleeper sofas: Bibles for Missions (763-522-1786, biblesformissionscrystal.org, love seat size only), St. Vincent de Paul.
TVs (consoles): Goodwill (console TVs 30 inches or smaller).
Which charities do free pickups?
Salvation Army (1-800-728-7825, satruck.org or via the new app), Habitat ReStore (612-588-3820, restore.tchabitat.org/donate), Disabled American Vets (651-487-2002, davmn.org), and Epilepsy Foundation (651-287-2300, efmn.org) still offer free pickup at a residence. For single items, post in the “free” section on TwinCitiesfreemarket.org or Craigslist.
If you would rather sell your stuff, eBay and FedEx have recently teamed up to make it easier. In a program to begin in June or July, consumers bring their unwanted items worth $25 or more, such as smartphones, designer purses and golf clubs, to a FedEx location. FedEx will take pictures, pack and ship the item. The two companies will share a commission of 20 to 40 percent on each sale with sellers paying nothing up front.
Good luck getting rid of a 1950s metal desk, tall file cabinets, large entertainment centers and old cribs. You may have to cough up cash to discard them.