Donating Clothing to The Salvation Army | Everything you Need to Know.

Hey, it’s The Salvation Army Donations Guy. In this post, I will be telling you everything you need to know about donating your clothes to The Salvation Army. Many of you probably have old clothing that you want to get rid of but you’re not sure if it’s a good idea to donate. That’s why I’m here to give you the most useful information so you can make your most informed decision about what you want to do with your old clothes.


What clothing can you donate?

You can donate any clothing that is in decent condition. This means clothing that has rips, stains, holes, or smelly odors should not be donated. Another thing you can take into consideration is donating clothes that are practical for the season or climate. For example, donating jackets and hoodies in October or November would be an awesome donation, because they can be sold for the winter season. 

Do you have to wash clothes before you donate them?

Yes, washing the clothes before you donate is important for a couple of reasons.

1. The Salvation Army does not wash the clothing that gets donated. Most thrift stores don’t because it would cost too much money to wash such large quantities of clothing.

2. Smelly/dirty clothing is unbearable for the people that sort the clothing donations. Cigarette, poop, sweat, and other odors can stink up the store as well which is unappealing to the customers. This is why clothes often get ragged or thrown away.

3. Dirty clothing can also affect the safety of workers and customers. Pet hair, dust, mold, and certain fabrics can cause allergic reactions if clothes are not washed.

Should you put your clothes in bags when you donate? 

Yes, donate your clothes in bags that you’re willing to give away. This is necessary because items that get donated are packed in trailers and transported to a processing center. Having clothing in bags makes it easier for the employees to unload and process the donations. Garbage bags are convenient to use because they can contain a lot of clothes and are easy to tie. Just make sure not to overfill the bags because they might rip.

If you are an environmentally conscious person you may tend to use paper bags. This is fine but paper bags are hard to tie so clothes that are being transported may fall out. The best eco-friendly option may be to put your clothes in biodegradable garbage bags.

What happens to your clothes after you donate?

Most of the things you donate are sent to a processing center or a warehouse. This is where they decide what to do with the clothing. The Salvation Army has 4 methods to reuse and repurpose the clothing.

1. The best of the clothing is sold at Salvation Army family stores. The clothing has 4 weeks to sell.

2. Clothing that isn’t sold at the stores is sold at the auctions or buy by the pound sales

3. If the clothing is unsold after that it is put into bales and sold overseas.

4. Leftover clothes that aren’t good enough for overseas markets are baled up and sold to recycling companies all around the world as rags.

Unsalvageable clothes are sent to landfills, this is the last resort.

What does The Salvation Army do with their money?

The money that The Salvation Army makes is used to fund programs that help people in need. 

  • Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC)

Much of the funding is directed towards the Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC). These centers are where people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction are given work and a sense of direction. Many individuals use The Salvation Army as a stepping stone, to kick start their careers in other felids. It’s a chance for people who have hit rock bottom to turn their lives around.

  • Assisting the Homeless

The Salvation Army Community Centers give the homeless and struggling families a temporary place to stay. Here they are served hot food and assisted in finding a more permanent housing solution. 

During the holiday season, The Salvation Army seeks to provide warm meals and a bed for every homeless person.

  • Disaster Relief

When natural disasters hit, The Salvation Army does its best to help the affected people and communities. Having locations and centers all around the world gives The Salvation Army a unique advantage in their relief efforts. They have provided shelter for victims from all over the world. Whether its hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, or diseases The Salvation Army does its best to provide support and emotional care. Another reason The Salvation Army is so effective is because of its ability to mobilize effectively. Mobile feeding units and field kitchens are able to access the most impacted areas. The Salvation Army is a sight for sore eyes for the people in communities. I wrote a post about 10 natural disasters and how The Salvation Army helped.

The Salvation Army has other programs as well

Are the donated clothes ever given directly to the homeless or people in need?

Yes, some of the clothing is given to people housed in Salvation Army Community Shelters as well as the people in the ARC program. The Salvation Army also gives clothing vouchers for people of low income and victims of natural disasters.

Is it good to donate clothes?

It depends on the quality of the clothing you are donating. Clothes must be in good condition if you want your donation to make a positive impact. The Salvation Army along with other charitable organizations receives large amounts of clothing every day. Even though these charitable organizations do their best to reuse and recycle, clothing still ends up in landfills, left to decompose. The sad thing is, this outcome is inevitable because Americans buy so much clothing. This is due to the rise of fast fashion in the Western Hemisphere. Since a large amount of cheap clothing is produced there is a surplus of second-hand clothing in America. It’s has got to the point where clothes sent from America, into developing countries hurt more than they help. Developing countries have become dependent on clothing imports which undermines their local textile industries. These clothes are also a major threat to the environment because developing countries don’t have large textile recycling companies. “More often than not, I saw fabric scraps and textiles in the garbage, burned, or washed out with the tide, all places that we definitely don’t want our clothing to be (Cook 5)”. It’s unfortunate that there’s so much excess clothing and waste in our society. The Salvation Army does what it can do to make use of the clothing they receive, but there’s no perfect solution to this problem.

Should you donate to The Salvation Army?

I’m not here to tell you where you should and shouldn’t donate. If you like what The Salvation Army does by funding its programs than feel free to donate. But there are many organizations and companies that repurpose second hand clothing. The link below is an article that describes how different textile services reuse and or recyle second hand clothing.

What is the Best Way to Dispose of Unwanted Clothing?

Where can I drop off clothes for donations?

If you want to donate clothes to The Salvation Army you can find a donations center around you.

You can also schedule a pick-up and an SA Truck will pick up your clothing.

Thanks for reading this post!

I hope you find the best use for your old clothing.


The Salvation Army Donations Guy


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