Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images
Like many things in New York City, donating clothes is just harder here. Why? Many donation centers are full, and the thought of lugging your unwanted clothes only to get turned down is just too much work. While tempting, tossing clothes outside in the hopes they will be taken or show up on @StoopingNYC should not be plan A.
We are going to skip national resources that are mail-in specific and focus on donating instead of consignment (though that’s also a great way to get rid of clothes!). If the idea of bringing a large bag of anything on the subway gives you hives, don’t worry: Most donation centers have mail-in options, and a few even have pickup.
Just recycle it. First rule of thumb: Make sure the items you are donating are in good condition. Donating clothes that can’t be sold or used creates a huge burden on small centers. Many don’t have the resources to deal with them, so they get tossed in the garbage. This is the opposite of what anyone is trying to accomplish and could cost the centers money and resources to trash items. So save time and recycle that ratty shirt you’ve been wearing to the gym. This is also a great option for un-donatable clothing such as socks and underwear. There are bins to drop off recycling all over the city through the Sanitation Department, Helpsy, and Green Tree. Double-check that the one near you can accept all your items as some only do clothing, while others can collect shoes and other accessories. Grow NYC has collections year-round at different locations around the city. Wearable Collections also collects clothes for recycling at farmers’ markets and one location in Brooklyn. Those in Astoria can check out Scrap or schedule a pickup with them. You could try meeting your neighbors or bully your workplace to get your whole building involved in some spring-cleaning recycling by requesting your own recycling bin through RefashionNYC or Green Tree.
With ten locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, Housing Works is a great option to donate your gently used clothes. The New York City–based nonprofit helps those with AIDS and houselessness. They are slightly pickier about items and prefer them in great condition. For women’s items, they are looking for dresses, knits, and blouses. For men’s, woven, knits, and shoes. Plus jewelry, accessories, and handbags.
A classic donation center that’s still tried and true here in NYC. In 2021, the New York and New Jersey branch diverted 40 million pounds of pre-loved clothing and home goods from landfills. There are nine locations in the greater NYC area where you can drop off donations. Always check the website or call ahead to make sure they accept what you are dropping off. Some city locations tend to get overrun, and they will turn donations away especially near the end of the day. They request no odors, rips, tears, or pilling, and no used undergarments such as underwear or socks.
There are about ten locations in the greater NYC area. The thrift stores are nonprofit, so the money raised there goes back into the community, funding shelters for unhoused people, rehab programs, and more. Make sure to call ahead to see if that location is currently taking donations and what kinds. The website says it accepts all kinds of clothes, but just like Goodwill, the centers get overrun. They are a Christian-based organization, so you’ll have better luck if you don’t go on a Sunday.
Buy Nothing groups
Every NYC neighborhood should have one on Facebook, and it’s pretty great for getting rid of things in a way that feels good. Simply join the group, wait for membership approval, read the rules (some groups are more stingy on rules than others, so make sure to check them out before posting), post photos of your items (you can do one picture with a pile of stuff or individuals), then pick a lucky person to come pick up your items. It’s a little more work than dropping things off, but you can dump your unwanted items right outside your door for a neighbor to treasure.
The Thrifty Hog, 11 W. 25th St.
The Thrifty Hog helps unhoused mothers get back on their feet with a job and living wages. The store takes donations of one to three bags of clothing. For bigger donations, it asks that you make an appointment ahead of time. Due to storage constraints, it will only take what fits their criteria. The store is in need of belts, men’s clothing (sizes extra-small to medium), baseball caps, and tuxedos. It is not accepting sleepwear, men and women’s suits, and wedding dresses.
Vintage Thrift, 286 Third Ave.
Proceeds from this store benefit the United Jewish Council of the East Side. It accepts high-quality gently used clothing, shoes, accessories, and jewelry.
Cure Thrift, 91 Third Ave.
All proceeds from Cure Thrift benefit various type 1 diabetes research and advocacy organizations. The store collects all clothing, accessories, and jewelry (no stains or rips and no socks or underwear).
Celene’s Thrift Shop, 568 Grandview Ave.
Located in Ridgewood, this store doesn’t have a website, but it does accept donations.
City Opera Thrift, 513 W. 26th St.
This thrift store benefits the New York City Opera and the arts. Walk-in donations are accepted during store hours, but it does pick up as well and will pay for taxi rides up to $12. The store does not accept anything stained, ripped, or damaged, nor does it accept undergarments.
A New York Asian Women’s center that collects new and gently-used goods including clothing, this store asks that you fill out a form before donating, and a staff member will be in touch with you on where to drop off your donation.
St. Francis Thrift Store, 207 W. 96th St.
This thrift store collects donations whenever the store is open (Wednesday through Sunday) and helps supplement the grants for the church’s programs and services. It cannot take any clothing that is dirty, stained, ripped, torn, or peeling or items such as socks and underwear. They can refuse items, so contact them to see what they are currently in need of.
Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services, 120 E. 32nd St.
This center collects clothing and shoes for the unhoused of NYC. It accepts all kinds of clothing but asks for no used undergarments.
Xavier Mission, 55 W. 15th St.
Xavier Mission collects new or clean gently used clothing for guests participating in its community-outreach programs. In-season clothes that are not ripped, faded, frayed, or stained are prefered. Items it does not accept include junior sizes and small women’s clothing, used underwear, high-heeled shoes, and handbags. It is in need of large sizes of both men’s and women’s clothing. Donations should be dropped off in plastic or paper bags. It has a separate Christmas clothing collection in December as well.
Urban Pathways, 575 8th Ave.
Another organization helping those struggling with homelessness, Urban Pathways collects gently used clothing. It asks that you fill out the form on the website beforehand to have ready for the donation.
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave., at W. 112th St.
The Clothing Closet distributes emergency clothing to those in need. Drop-off hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Clothes must be laundered beforehand. It is in need of clothes that best fit the upcoming season. Call ahead to see what it needs most.
Big Reuse, 1 12th St., Brooklyn
Big Reuse accepts a wide range of items including clothing. It’s looking for clean clothing and accessories in great condition. It does not accept underclothes. Clothing donations can be dropped off seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5p.m.
Encore Community Services, 239 W. 49th St.
For its monthly Bargain Store and Boutique Encore, Encore accepts donations of clothing and jewelry in very good condition.
St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 308 W. 47th St.
Its clothing bank collects everyday clothing and business attire for men and women.
United Church of Praise International Ministries, 32 Sands St., Staten Island
The church runs a free clothing store in Staten Island and is looking for gently used clothing, shoes, and hats.
House of Good Deeds
An unique organization that doesn’t have a place for donation drop-offs but will come to you if your clothing fits its needs. It is currently looking for new and like-new clothing of all kinds to give back to the community. Its storage capacity is limited, so do fill out the donation form first to see if your items can be picked up.
Out of the Closet, 475 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn
For every dollar they make, 96 cents goes toward helping people living with HIV, AIDS, and/or homelessness. They will pick up large donations, or you can drop off any day of the week.
These following centers accept certain items or have a specific mission. We aren’t including the options above since they also take everything below.
Bowery Mission has a few locations in the city. Right now, it only accepts gently used men’s clothing and are in need of jeans size medium to XXXL.
Blue Jeans Go Green
A few stores in NYC, including Levi’s and Madewell, will collect your well-worn jeans and denim garments. Some even offer a percentage off your purchase after donating.
Bottomless Closet, 16 E. 52nd St.
Best for gently worn women’s professional clothing, this store is really in need of sizes 00, 0, 2, and 12 and up as well as handbags, preferably large enough to fit a resume or portfolio. Currently, it is only doing mail-in donations but call ahead to see if you can schedule a drop off.
This Suits You
Men’s suits, ties, and accessories (like tie clips). The organization can arrange pick up or you can mail it in.
This nonprofit provides professional clothing to underprivileged youth. It does monthly donation days that are emailed directly to donors and those on its newsletter.
Looking for men’s suits medium to XXXL
New York Cares collects right before and during early winter only. Check the site to see when the next drive begins.
Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries
RMM helps those in need in the Hell’s Kitchen area. From November through March, it collect coats and other winter necessities for its winter-clothing closet. Contact the organization outside those months to see if it will take your donations.
This store is really in need of cardigans and coats.
Harlem Dress Collective 384 E. 149th St., Suite 202
HDC helps lower-income high-school students enjoy a prom they won’t forget. They are collecting all sizes but ask that the dresses be current styles.
Nike stores collect any brand of athletic sneakers. There are six stores in the city where you can drop off your well-worn shoes. They do not accept sandals, dress shoes, boots, or shoes with metal.
Two DSWs in the city, at 34th and 79th streets, collect shoes through this recycling program.
Professional shoes. Sizes 10 and up especially needed.
Heels and dress shoes.
Materials for the Arts, 33-00 Northern Blvd., Queens
Materials for the Arts will gladly take your old Halloween costumes, vintage oddities, old work uniforms, and anything odd you have lurking in the back of your closet that it can make new costumes out of.
TDF, 34-12 36th St., Queens
TDF accepts all clothing donations but really is looking for costumes. It’s in need of “anything that evokes time periods pre-1980 (or is otherwise fantastical).” Usually it’s unable to keep fashion pieces it receives. It also accepts costume pieces and accessories other than wigs.
Online shopping too much and your apartment looks like a USPS? Ask local businesses around you if they need shipping materials.
Are we forgetting anywhere? Comment below so we can update the article.