Whether you are donating or selling your clothes, it is a good idea to figure out what your clothes are worth. If you are selling your clothes you will want to get what they are worth. And if you are donating your clothes, you will want to know what the value is for your taxes.
Today we will discuss a few ways you can estimate the value of your used clothes, then we will talk through the ways you can donate and sell your used clothes.
Estimating the value of your clothes
I need to start by saying that I am not a tax professional. And it is a good idea to consult with a tax professional before doing anything I am describing.
There are several easy ways you can get a rough estimate of what your old/used clothes are worth. If we start by looking at the IRS guidelines, we don’t get much of an answer as to what they think clothing is worth. Page 10 of Publication 526 states that you can deduct the “fair market value” of used clothing. But they give no guidance as to what that value would be other than saying it is typically a lot less than what you paid for the item new.
Goodwill and the Salvation Army
Ultimately it is up to you to determine the value of the clothing. Once the clothing gets over a certain threshold, they require an appraisal. This number can change from year to year So be sure to look it up before assuming what the value is. For less expensive clothing items, we can look to Goodwill and Salvation Army for help.
Goodwill publishes a guide to help estimate how much clothes are worth. You can find that here. This guide contains both a table you can use to look up the value at a glance. And a simple calculator for estimating what they would sell the item for assuming it is in good condition.
The calculator is not very sophisticated. All it is really doing is calculating 30% of the original purchase price. This 30% assumes that the clothing is still in good condition, and is not overly old.
Salvation Army has a similar donation value guide similar to Goodwills. Not all prices are the same. But they are in the same general range. Be sure to keep in mind the age and condition of the items you are evaluating.
So far we have been evaluating clothes based on very rough estimations of what Goodwill and Salvation army make about the value of clothing. But we can also look at marketplaces to get an idea of what the value is of your used clothes.
A few possible marketplaces you can look at are:
Most if not all of these market places let you search through sold items to get an idea of what things are selling for. You can go onto one or more of these market places and try to find items similar to what you have.
Be sure you are looking at what items are selling for, not what people as listing the items for. I can go on eBay and list an old pair of socks for $10,000. But that does not mean that anyone will actually pay for it.
If you want to try it now. Go to eBay, run a search for something, like used Lululemon yoga pants. Then on the left side of the screen, you can filter the results. Check the box next to Sold Items.
You are now looking at just the sold items, which will give you a much better idea of what things will actually sell for. Be sure you look at items that are similar to what you have. Just because you did a search for Lululemon pants, does not mean that eBay is showing you only Lululemon pants.
This process is very similar in every market place. I recommend trying out searches in each market place and see what works best for you. If you are really trying to come to an accurate conclusion as to what the value is of an item, it is best to check multiple marketplaces.
If you don’t want to do your own research and/or you think your clothes are worth a lot, you can get a professional appraisal to confirm the value of your clothes.
A few online appraisal services you can use are
Each of the services above will appraise your clothing and charge you varying amounts. A the time of this article, Value my stuff charges $10 for an appraisal. Mearto charges $19. Both will turn around the appraisal in 48 hours.
Obviously, with a cost of $10-$19/item for appraisal, you need to reserve this for when you have items that you think are worth a lot more than what Goodwill is quoting you. And as we have already discussed, there is a lot you can do to find the value of items yourself.
Where to donate your used clothes
Donating clothes to Goodwill and the Salvation Army has always been the easiest in my experience. However, when you donate to these organizations, the clothes don’t directly to someone in need.
Instead, the clothes are sold in Goodwill and Salvation Army stores. Then the money is used for charitable purposes. In the case of Goodwill, it is focused on employing people who may not have gotten a job otherwise.
Salvation Army’s mission is pretty broad. They commit to putting 82% of everything donated back into your local community.
You can also look into your local Churches, Women’s shelters, crisis centers, homeless shelters, etc.. They are always looking for donations. The most needed clothing items are almost always socks, underwear, and bras.
When you donate your clothes you should get a receipt that you can use when you use your taxes. Be sure you don’t try to inflate the value of your donations. The IRS has some fairly large penalties for not claiming the right value on donations.
Where to sell your used clothes
The topic of where to sell your clothes is another topic all by itself. But since we talked about donations, we have to also talk about where to sell your clothes. A few of my favorite marketplaces are
Poshmark, Tradesey, and Thredup are all targeting clothing and accessories specifically. eBay and Mercari are more general and you can sell just about anything on those platforms.
If you are trying to sell primarily clothes, I would focus more on the specialty stores vs the general stores. Unless you have some special requirements that would prevent you from selling on those platforms.
Today we discussed a few different ways to evaluate how much your used clothing is worth. Goodwill and Salvation Army both provide very easy methods for estimating how much clothing is worth.
With a bit more effort you can do some research into your clothes using marketplaces to get a more accurate depiction of how much your used clothes are worth.
Finally, we discussed different places where you can sell or donate your used clothes to get a potential tax deduction, help a charity that you feel passionate about, or make a little extra money.