Donation etiquette
July 16, 2010 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Do workout clothes have a shelf life? Is it okay to donate them?

Over the years, I've amassed quite the collection of Nike Dri-Fit and Adidas workout tops, bras and shorts. I wash them in sport wash and mostly hang to dry, although occasionally things do get thrown in the dryer. None of it seems to have that manky smell that my husband's running shirts and shorts acquire after a few seasons of wear.

I want to purge, since most of these items are at least 5 years old and it would be nice to buy some new things without feeling guilty. Can I/should I donate to the local VV or Sally Ann, or is it too...gross to donate workout wear? Are you supposed to throw poly/lycra type stuff out after a certain point?
posted by sillymama to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
For sure you can donate them!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:20 AM on July 16, 2010

I do think the stuff certainly has a shelf life.

But if it is in decent shape, I say donate it. If the organization doesn't want it, they can throw it out, but otherwise I am sure they can find a use for it.

The only time I won't donate something is when it has holes or other significant wear.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:22 AM on July 16, 2010

Go ahead and donate it if you were going to toss it anyway. I'm sure whatever organization you give it to will have seen that sort of stuff before.

For what it's worth, I've seen thrift stores selling unpackaged (presumably used) white cotton briefs so I assume there's some sort of market for everything as long as it's not ripped or gross.
posted by ghharr at 7:23 AM on July 16, 2010

In the UK at least I often find a work out top or two in charity shops (thrift stores). If it were of good enough quality ie not looking too worn, pilled or faded, and was actually a techno fabric and not just a t-shirt with a logo, I'd be tempted by it.

I'd not buy a used sports bra - they are among the equipment you should replace regularly (sagging elastic doesnt do the job).

I would expect the shop would have some route to recycle clothes it has no use for so perhaps donate away and let them decide if they have a market for it.
posted by Ness at 7:28 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

If they're not stinky or ragged, they're okay to donate. A lot of people buy workout clothes just to hang out in, or for infrequent or low-intensity activities, so not everyone who's in the market for workout clothes demands optimum performance.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:29 AM on July 16, 2010

I would totally buy tech gear from a Salvation Army store or something like that. Stuff is EXPENSIVE.

That said, probably not a bra.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:30 AM on July 16, 2010

My partner got his workout shorts and t-shirt from Salvation Army. I've never seen bras there.

Items that rely on elastic tend not to be so great after a while (sports bras) because the elastic wears out.

If you want to get rid of them because they're no longer functional, then don't donate. If they're functional but you're sick of them, donate.

If you're worried, take them in when they have someone there to look at them and tell you if they want them. That way you don't give them one more thing to sort through and get rid of.

You might also be able to sell them on eBay.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:34 AM on July 16, 2010

It sounds like you would continue wearing it but you just want new clothes (which is totally understandable). If so, it's definitely donate-able. I think a good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn't wear it (like even when painting the house or something), you shouldn't donate it but that doesn't sound like the case here. Incidentally I have some workout stuff I might toss because my name is on it but again, that's different.
posted by kat518 at 7:35 AM on July 16, 2010

I do a lot of work at a clothes donation center. Generally the rule is that if it (a) doesn't smell (b) isn't ripped and (c) doesn't have a noticeable stain that a reasonable wouldn't wear, we hang it up for donation. Something like your describing would make the cut.
posted by bananafish at 8:07 AM on July 16, 2010

Thanks, everyone. The sport bras still seem okay elastic-wise; it's just that my post-baby body is a lot more chesty, so I've had to go from minimally supportive compression bras to a heavy-duty underwire sport bra for running. Kat518 is right; for everything else, I just want new clothes to celebrate getting back into shape!
posted by sillymama at 8:57 AM on July 16, 2010

Just chiming in also to say there's nothing wrong with donating it if it's in good shape. I've received some workout clothes (including yoga top with built-in bra) from a friend of a friend, and it was in good shape and has served me well.

P.S. Check your MeMail.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:08 PM on July 16, 2010

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