Knowing what to do with unwanted toys can be the biggest stumbling block when it comes to taking action to get rid of these house cluttering items. Children grow out of them or they did not like them in the first place, for whatever reason, every household has a pile of toys that no longer see the light of day. If every time you look at the ever growing mountain of abandoned toys you quickly walk by or close the door, take heart, finding a better home for them whether by donating toys or selling them is easier than you think. So where do you start?


Firstly you need to consider which toys should really go in the rubbish and which can safely be given away. You should not donate:

  • toys which are at the end of their useful life
  • unwanted soft toys, unless they are new or in as-new condition
  • toys which have suffered significant damage.

In other words only donate toys in a condition that you yourself would buy. If you have the original packing or manufacturer’s instructions give them away with the toy.

Secondly you need to decide whether you want to donate used toys or make a bit of spare change from selling them.

The following 11 ideas cover unwanted toy donation to worthy causes:

1. Donate Toys to Charity Shops

Toy MountainPop into your local charity shops and ask if they accept second hand toys. Don’t be offended if they don’t because due to health & safety regulations it often costs the charity more money (in terms of staff time having to check for loose threads/parts/batteries etc) than actually buying them brand new. If they will accept your donations do not forget to sign the Gift Aid declaration form, to boost the value of your donation by 28%.

Charity shops obviously benefit the charity they are supporting, be that children’s charities, medical charities etc. If you would prefer your toys to go directly to less fortunate children ideas 3-11 may be more appealing.

Photo by Gaetanlee.

2. Donate Toys to Charities Online

By using the Ebay For Charity initiative, you can sell your unwanted toys and the proceeds will be sent directly to the charity. Items being sold for charity are identified with a distinctive ribbon symbol along with a description of the charity that will be receiving the proceeds of the sale. Buyers place bids for these goods in the usual way, knowing their money will go to a worthwhile cause.

JumbleAID is another online answer to your mountainous toy problem – they let you post adverts for your unwanted toys (and other things) online and anyone can pledge a donation for them. It is free and easy to use and all of the funds raised go to your chosen charity.

3. Donate Toys to Hospitals

This is only really appropriate for new toys due to safety/infection concerns but sometimes we all find toys that our children received two of or perhaps some that they were not so keen on that never left the box.

4. Donate Toys to Childrens’ Homes

Children in homes are typically older so when considering which toys would be suitable go with an average age of about 14. Find your nearest home using a service using an online search to see if these children could benefit from part of your unwanted toy stash.

5. Donate Toys to Women’s Refuges

Women’s refuges help hundreds of thousands of women and children escape domestic violence each year. Often they flee their homes leaving all of their possession behind. Find the number of your local Domestic Violence service online through an organisation such as Women’s Aid, to offer your help through your used toy donation.

6. Donate Toys To Orphanages Abroad

There are many orphanages, child health homes and day care centers abroad who are in need of toys. Some encourage you to send your toys, old and new, to improve the lives of these children as well as monetary donations. To find addresses of orphanages that do accept toy donations, search on Google for “send toys to african orphanages” or “chinese orphanages” or something similar and find their donations page. Some only accept monetary donations but you can find addresses if you are persistent.

7. Donate Second Hand Toys to Family Centres

Contact your local Social Services Department to see if they know of any family centres near you that will take and get good use from your second hand toys.

8. Ask Your Local Church

If you do not know where to donate toys, ask your local church if they know of families who could benefit from your unwanted toys.

9. Donate Old Toys to Special Needs Schools, Playgroups or Nurseries

Find your nearest special needs school, playgroup or nursery and ask if they will accept second hand toys.

10. Donating Unwanted Toys to Toy Libraries

Toy libraries offer services to local children, families and carers based on regular toy loan for a nominal fee (and sometimes for free). Contact the National Association of Toy & Leisure Libraries online to find a library nearest to you.

11. Use The Freecycle Network

Freecycle is an online network of groups that match people who have things they want to get rid of with people who can use them. Their goal is to keep usable items out of landfills. Find your local group from their website and send the details of the toy you are offering in an e-mail. All items must be offered for free.

The remaining 5 ideas cover making a few pounds from your second hand toys to help in the current gloomy economic climate:

When selling your second hand toys you must be aware that all second-hand toys sold or supplied in the course of a trade or business fall under The Toys (Safety) Regulations 1995 which requires that they must be safe and bear the CE marking.

1. Sell Them On Ebay

Sign up with Ebay, an online auction and shopping website, where you can advertise your unwanted toys for sale and interested buyers will make bids if they are interested in your item.

2. Sell Them On Craigslist

Sign up online with Craigslist, a centralised network of online communities, and submit a free online classified advert for your item.

3. Sell Them At A Car Boot Sale

Look in your local newspaper to find the location of your nearest car boot sale, usually held over the weekend. Make sure you turn up early to ensure you get a pitch. You will have to pay a fixed fee for setting up your car boot in the sales area so make you sure you take enough unwanted items to make it worth your while. Portable tables or blankets are a good idea to take with you to display your goods on.

4. Organise a Toy Swap Party

Arrange with other parents a time and a place for everyone to bring their unwanted toys and the chances are all items will change hands very quickly. The downside to this is that you will not end up decluttering your house of toys but you will get some new toys for free.

5. Rent Them Out

Find an online toy rental service, such as Zilok, and make some money by loaning out your unwanted toys by the day.

Update: 2 Bonus Ideas

  • Give unwanted toys to your children’s grandparents to keep at their house for them to bring out on your visits. Toys that children have not seen for a while always hold some “new” appeal. It also means you do not have to carry a lot of toys with you on your trip.
  • Help your children learn the value of money by letting them profit from the sale of their toys. Encourage them to clean out their rooms and then sell or trade their toys at a child to child sale which you could arrange with other parents. They could either make a little extra money or buy themselves some ‘new’ toys with their proceeds.

Start DeCluttering Now

As parents it is a daily task to try and keep on top of the toy chaos that surrounds us. Decluttering the house of unwanted toys is a logical way to restore a bit of order and get part of your home back. Hopefully at least one of the above ideas will work for you and you will feel better knowing another child is benefiting from your efforts.

What ideas do you have for dealing with unwanted toys? Have you tried them and if so, were they successful? I’d love to hear your comments and examples.

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