Can you return items to Goodwill?

Update: October 2nd, 2023:
When I originally wrote this post in 2012, I was able to reurn items to my local Wisconsin Goodwill within 7 days. A lot has changed in eleven years! That includes Goodwill’s return policy.

Goodwill is a well-known nonprofit organization that operates thrift stores across the United States. These stores offer a wide range of secondhand items, from clothing to home goods, at affordable prices. However, when it comes to returns, the policies can vary from one Goodwill location to another. In this blog post, we’ll explore the question: Can you return items to Goodwill?

Can you return at any Goodwill?

Return policies can vary from one Goodwill store to another, and whether you can return items at any Goodwill store depends on the specific policies of the individual stores. In many cases, Goodwill stores operate independently, and their return policies may not be consistent across all locations.

It’s best to check with the Goodwill store where you made the purchase to understand their specific return policy. Some Goodwill stores may only accept returns at the location where the items were purchased, while others may allow returns at any Goodwill store within a certain geographic region. The return policy should be posted or available for inquiry at the store, or you can check the store’s website for more information.

If you are unsure about the return policy or have questions, you can contact the specific Goodwill store where you made the purchase to get the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Understanding Goodwill’s Return Policy

The first thing to know is that Goodwill stores typically have a “no returns” policy for used or secondhand items. When you purchase something from Goodwill, it’s usually sold “as-is,” which means the item is not eligible for return or exchange. Managing returns involves processing, restocking, and potential repackaging. This translates to additional costs for labor, transportation, and space, hindering Goodwill’s ability to maximize revenue from available donations and fulfill their charitable mission.

However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. Some Goodwill stores may allow returns under certain conditions:

  1. New or Unused Items: If you’ve purchased a new or unused item from Goodwill and still have the receipt, you may have a chance to return it. Be sure to check with the specific Goodwill store’s policy on returns for new items.
  2. Short Time Frame: Some Goodwill locations may accept returns within a short time frame after purchase. As an example, Goodwill of the Heartland locations in Iowa have a policy that says they will accept returns on clothing and electronics only, and your receipt must be present. (With further specifications of what they will allow.) Again, it’s essential to inquire about the specific time limit at the store where you made the purchase.
  3. Defective or Misrepresented Items: If you believe that an item you purchased from Goodwill was misrepresented or is defective, you should reach out to the store management. They may consider making an exception in such cases.

Checking the Store’s Policy

To avoid any confusion or disappointment, it’s advisable to ask about the return policy before making a purchase at your local Goodwill. Policies can vary not only between different Goodwill stores but also within the same region.

In conclusion, while Goodwill’s general policy leans towards no returns, some locations may offer limited exceptions, especially for new and unused items. To ensure a smooth shopping experience, it’s always a good practice to check with the specific Goodwill store where you plan to shop and inquire about their return policy. This way, you’ll know what to expect and can make informed decisions when making purchases at Goodwill.

Tips for Returning Items to Goodwill

If you want to return an item to Goodwill, here are some tips to make the process easier and smoother:

  • Keep your receipt in a safe place and don’t lose it. You will need it to prove your purchase and get store credit.
  • Check the item carefully before buying it and make sure it works, fits, and matches your expectations. If possible, try it on or test it at the store.
  • Keep the tags on the item and don’t wash it until you are sure you want to keep it. Washing or removing tags will void your return eligibility.
  • Return the item as soon as possible within the 30-day window. Don’t wait until the last minute or you might miss the deadline.
  • Be polite and respectful to the staff when returning an item. Explain why you want to return it and show them your receipt and tags. They will inspect the item and issue you a store credit card.
  • Use your store credit wisely and look for other items that you need or want. Remember that store credit does not expire and can be used at any Goodwill store in your region.


Goodwill is a wonderful place to shop for bargains and support a good cause. But sometimes, you might buy something that doesn’t work out for you. Sometimes, (depending on the store), you can use the Goodwill return policy to get store credit and exchange it for something else.

The Goodwill return policy is fairly simple and straightforward, but there are some rules and exceptions that you need to know and follow. We hope this blog post helped you understand how to return items to Goodwill and make the most of your shopping experience.

Happy shopping!

10 thoughts on “Can you return items to Goodwill?”

  1. Goodwill accepts returns from any location. You DON”T have to return the item to the store it was purchased from. Also, if you get the free Goodwill purchase card, you can get additional savings on all purchases over a certain amount ($35 is my guess).

    1. Yes Julie! – Great point! It is over $20 that you get a discount so if I am close I always try to hit that mark – I believe you get an additional 5%?….

  2. Just have to chime in about Goodwill Boutiques. I’m not sure if every city has them, but we have one in my San Francisco neighborhood, and it’s amazing. It’s quite different from other Goodwills: Only the designer and/or brand new clothes and shoes are sent there; jeans that are normally $150 and up, for example, are sold for $25. I know that’s not a bargain by some people’s standard – but if you’ve got champagne taste on a beer budget (so to speak) it’s worth visiting.

    1. Those sound amazing Michelle!-I do not think we have them in WI but I wish we did! Thank-you for your comment! : ) CA friends you should check these out!!

      1. There is a Goodwill store called Retique in the Third Ward that is similar to what it sounds like Michelle is describing… 🙂

  3. Beth…FYI..there is a boutique Goodwill in the Third Ward called “Retique”. Personally, I’ve found most finds in the regular stores, but it is more like a small boutique store.
    On another note, the Waukesha store had lots on pool/water toys over the weekend for $1.49 or so. I bought the animal squirt guns that are normally $10 at Target.

  4. Suzanne D Horvath

    I just tried to return a item at my local Goodwill store. That I bought there. I looked around to see if there was anything else I wanted. I didn’t find anything. I asked for a in store credit voucher to go to another store and they refused.
    They said they had never heard of such a thing.
    I then had to take the large item and put it back in my car. To try and return it to another store.
    Please review your return policy with every store.
    I even told them the internet states i would get a in store credit voucher.

  5. Local Goodwill says policy will change on March 30 2020. No more returns. I hope that means the prices will be adjusted accordingly

  6. Suzanne Hartman

    I just tried to return an item that did not fit after 2 days for store credit and was told they never accept returns. It was up to me to try things on before I purchased them. Needless to say, I was not happy!

  7. In East Tennessee, Habitat for Humanity says if a dishwasher won’t work when you buy it, just bring it back and they’ll give you another one. Why won’t Goodwill work with us on clothes? I enjoy shopping at Goodwill and finding good clothes for my family at a reasonable price but it’s very time consuming. My young teenage son hates, might I stress HATES, to go with me to buy clothes he needs as he’s growing constantly. I try my best to get his size but then when I get them home and he tries them on, some may be too tight or too short, etc. Goodwill receives everything free to my understanding, so why won’t they work with those of us that actually donate to them anyway. I know they won’t to move their items out as they come in, but I’m so much more reluctant to shop there sometimes, instead of Amazon, simply because of this 7-10 day return policy. I’m a 45 minute drive to the closest one, being in a rural area, and others are 1:15 hrs away for me. I do think 30 days would be reasonable on clothes because I would have more time to make it back in this case. I know many live closer to their Goodwills, but it’s a challenge for me and each item has to be returned to the Goodwill I purchased the item at, not just any Goodwill. That’s confusing too. Maybe someone would know why. Thank You, Kim

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