Your ultimate guide to decluttering and donating during spring cleaning

Ray Lodge of Feeding San Diego donating surplus from his citrus farm
April 7, 2021
by Olivia Thoelke

As the snow begins to melt and flowers bloom, you may be ready to refresh your home.  Spring cleaning the perfect chance to take stock of food you realized you aren’t going to use or didn’t even know you had. This year, instead of tossing things from your pantry or cabinets out, consider donating them to a food bank in your community. With millions of more people in need this year, take this opportunity to make a difference for families needing help putting food on the table. 

Here are three tips on how you can give back while you tidy up:

1. Sort through your pantry 

While you deep clean your kitchen, check your pantry or cabinets for extra non-perishable food you aren’t planning to use. Foods like peanut butter, canned soup, whole grain pasta, and rice are great options for donating to a food bank in your community. Even items like olive oil and dressings can be donated if they don’t need to be refrigerated. Before you donate any food items, always check to be sure that they aren’t expired or unsealed. 

If you find items in your kitchen that you’re unsure about donating, contact your local food bank. Each food bank has a unique set of needs, and they can help you determine what items should be donated and which should be avoided. 

2. Find out if your local food bank takes household and personal care items

If you find sealed hygiene products, cleaning supplies you don’t need, or unopened diapers you no longer have use for, you may be able to donate them to help families in need. Buying personal care items can be difficult for people facing hunger and often assistance programs can’t be used to purchase these items. 

Many food banks help distribute these items along with meals, so contact the food bank in your community to see if they accept unopened household or hygiene products for donations. 

3. Hold a virtual yard sale and donate the proceeds to your local food bank 

Money donations are one of the best ways to support your local food bank. Sort through your closet or storage room for clothes, toys, furniture – or anything else you no longer need and holding a virtual “yard sale”. You can list items on Facebook Marketplace,, or and donate the proceeds.