3 Ways To Get Past The Fear Of Donating Clothes & Other Precious Belongings

Learn how to reduce excess by getting over the fear of donating your belongings.

woman donating clothes Black Salmon / Shutterstock

You may not think people have a fear of the clothes donation box, but some do. 

I read this quote by George Addair the other day when I was working out at the gym: "Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear."

How many people are letting fear prevent them from getting organized and donating excess belongings? There are many fears associated with the organizing process.

One of them is implied in the question: "Is this the most disorganized or hoarded home you’ve ever seen?"


RELATED: 100 Best Organizing Tips & Ideas For Easy Home Organization

I’m not a therapist. I’m a professional organizer. I can tell you that most people are disorganized in some parts of their homes. No one’s home is always perfectly organized, not even mine.

So, don’t let fear paralyze you. Put it aside as you fill those clothes donation bins.

If you're one of those people who fear the clothes donation box, here are 3 ways to get past it.

1. Donate to a charity you believe in.

You decide to declutter your living room and come across some candlesticks that are hidden in a cupboard. Your friend gave you these candlesticks. You don’t like them, but you love your friend.


These candlesticks used to come out of the cupboard when your friend came over for dinner. Your friend moved away a few years ago but these candlesticks stayed in the cupboard.

What if (you say to yourself) my friend came for a visit? She will wonder why those candlesticks aren’t out on display.

Think this through. What are the chances your friend will ask about the candlesticks if she ever visits? The answer is that she will probably not ask that question. She will be more interested in you and your family.

Take those candlesticks out of the cupboard. Put them in the donation box. Let someone have them who will love them.

Do some research and find an organization to support by donating things you believe someone else may love. It’s much easier and less fearful to give when you know you are helping someone in need.


2. Ask yourself: Can you replace it quickly?

Keeping something, even if you don’t like it but just in case you may want it or need it, is not a reason to keep things in your home.

Face it. These things are taking up valuable real estate. They are using up space that can be given to something that you use or love.

Donate things you don’t use without fear. If you happen to need it (or something like it) you can probably buy it again.

The Minimalists have an article that talks about keeping things just in case. They say that if you can get something in 20 minutes or less or for $20 or less, then you don’t need to hang onto it now.

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Look at the things you don’t use. Do more research. How long does it take you to find an item such as that one online? Or is there a local store that carries these things that are close by? Finally, how much will it cost you to replace this item?

Yes, you don’t want to waste your money by donating something you think you may want or need some time in the future. However, how long do you need to hang on to something before you realize you’re never going to want or need it?

3. Take a picture.

I heard a story recently about someone’s husband who was keeping his father’s favorite comfy armchair in their basement hallway.

This armchair was in the way. When they went down into the basement, they had to wriggle around the chair to get where they were going. The wife wanted to donate the chair; the husband didn’t.


This armchair held a favorite memory of his father. He could picture his father lounging in it whenever he passed by. The husband was afraid of losing this memory if he donated the armchair.

I suggested they bring the armchair up out of the basement to where there was good light and take some pictures. The best picture could be framed and placed somewhere the husband could see it often and be reminded of the memory.

In our heads, we know that things do not store memories. It’s our hearts that need reminding that just because you donate something that belonged to a special person, you don’t lose the memory.


The object triggers the memory. Having a picture will serve as a trigger so that you can release the object.

As you think about organizing your home, challenge yourself to work through the fear of holding onto things you don’t use or love.

Ask yourself why these things are taking up valuable real estate in your home. Are you holding onto them just in case? Be realistic.

The more things you have in your home, the more time it takes to clean your home. Reduce your fear of donating and challenge yourself to find one thing every day to donate.

RELATED: Where & How To Donate Or Sell Your Wedding Dress 

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Contact Diane for a free 30-minute phone conversation.