Help others out by donating your unwanted belongings. (Zim & Zou/For The Washington Post)

There is a domino effect to spring cleaning: Spring cleaning usually leads to spring organizing, which leads to spring decluttering, which leads to giant piles of unwanted stuff. Getting rid of that stuff — gently used (or sometimes never used) clothing, knickknacks, furniture and housewares — can be the hardest part of the process. Here are some worthy national and local charities that will happily take it off your hands (with the bonus of a tax deduction). Just make sure you properly fill out the correct tax forms. If you need help determining the proper value of an item, consult the Salvation Army’s Donation Value Guide ( or check out the Internal Revenue Service’s Publication 561: Determining the Value of Donated Property (

Almost anything

Pick Up Please ( and Clothing Donations (clothingdonations. org) help U.S. veterans through Vietnam Veterans of America, an organization that gives aid to all of America’s veterans, not just those of a particular age group or war. While other charities ask you to drop off your donations or schedule pickups weeks in advance, Pick Up Please will collect your donation within 24 hours in most of its locations across the country. All you have to do is fill out an online form, being as specific as you can. Pack up the items in boxes or bags and leave them on the curb or in front of your home or office, and the organization’s drivers will pick them up. If requested, they will leave you a tax receipt. Once the items are collected, VVA sells everything to private companies. The money earned supports local, state and national VVA programs.

Goodwill of Greater Washington has drop-off locations throughout the area. Goodwill accepts a wide variety of items, but make sure you consult its website for the list of items that it does not accept (for instance, mattresses and air conditioners).

Donated items are resold through Goodwill’s chain of thrift stores, and the revenue helps fund employment, job training and placement services for disadvantaged people. Goodwill provides a free pickup service but requires that you donate a minimum of eight large items and that the pickup be scheduled up to two months in advance. For faster pickup (within 48 hours), Goodwill works with College Hunks Hauling Junk. The company charges a fee for pickups, but it includes the removal of items from anywhere on your property and the removal of items that Goodwill cannot accept. Fill out a form on the Goodwill website (, and College Hunks will contact you with a free estimate.

Winter coats

If you find yourself with winter coats that you didn’t wear this season or that your kids outgrew, donate them to One Warm Coat. The charity supports more than 3,000 coat drives per year. Check its website ( ) for current drives or drop-off locations near you.

Business apparel

Dress for Success passes new or gently used clothing on to women who need a new start in the workforce. The organization looks for suits, business-appropriate attire, shoes, handbags and unused cosmetics or jewelry. Go to its website ( to find an affiliate or drop-off location near you. Most affiliates accept donations only one or two days per month, so make sure you check their hours before you go.

Gift cards

Turn your unwanted retail gift cards into a donation. On the CharityChoice Gift Cards website (, just enter the merchant name, card number, PIN and card balance. Then choose from more than 250 charities you can donate the card to. You will receive a tax receipt for the balance of your card.

Cellphones and tablets

Cell Phones for Soldiers collects used cellphones and tablets and sells them to an electronics refurbisher or recycler. With the proceeds, the nonprofit purchases prepaid calling cards, which it distributes to active-duty military and veterans. The website ( makes it easy; it even has printable shipping labels (but you pay the tax-deductible shipping fee).

Furniture and household items

Habitat for Humanity, the organization that builds homes around the world for the disadvantaged, partially funds its projects through the sale of new and gently used goods at its ReStores. Keep in mind that each ReStore is independently owned and operated by a local Habitat for Humanity organization, so policies might differ slightly.

Most ReStores accept all types of furniture (excluding mattresses and commercial office furniture), provided that items are in good to excellent condition. ReStore is unable to pick up items, but College Hunks Hauling Junk, the same company that does pickups for Goodwill, will pick up your items for a fee. Mention ReStore for a discount. Alternatively, you can drop items off at a ReStore Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Go to to find a location near you.

A Wider Circle redistributes furniture and housewares to individuals and families transitioning out of homeless situations or to those living without basic home necessities.

All donated furniture must be in good condition, with no rips or stains. You can drop off items Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., or you can arrange a pickup through the organization’s website ( One note: You will need to provide legal parking within 30 yards of your residence, so if you live in the District and do not have a driveway, you will need to reserve a parking permit through the D.C. Department of Transportation.

The Lupus America Household Goods Donation Program benefits the Lupus Foundation of America’s research, education and support services that help people affected by lupus. Although not a nationwide program yet, the group is active in the District, Virginia and Maryland. All donated items (the group accepts clothing, housewares, small appliances, bedding, curtains, tools and toys) are sold to for-profit wholesale buyers. The proceeds support the group’s programs. You can schedule a pickup by going to or calling 844-35-LUPUS (844-355-8787), but keep in mind the charity does not accept furniture or large items.

Mayhew, a “Today” show style expert and former magazine editor, is the author of “Flip! for Decorating.”