Use Freecycle to Get Free Household Items

Have you tried freecycle yet?

Father and son folding clothes for donation to charity
Use Freecycle to get free stuff for your kids. Photo © JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Do you need a new couch, a crib, or school supplies? Learn how to use Freecycle to get the items you're looking for without paying a dime. Plus, you'll be preventing something from otherwise being tossed in the garbage and winding up in a landfill. Freecycle is perfect for giving stuff away after clearing the clutter from your storage unit or garage, too! Here's what you need to know about using Freecycle to get free household items and recycle your stuff:

Why Use Freecycle

Raising your kids on your own means that you have to be extra careful managing your money. When your kids ask you to buy something that "everyone else has," you often have no choice but to say, "No. We can't afford it this month." Unfortunately, that can feel pretty discouraging, but you also know that paying your bills on time, buying gas and groceries, and providing medical care are more important than fulfilling your kids' temporary desires. Fortunately, that doesn't have to mean that your kids have to go without, though.

With some creativity and extra effort, you can pick up a lot of the things your kids need, and even some of the things they want, through a service called Freecycle. Freecycle started as an online list serve at Yahoo! Groups that allows individuals to place requests for the things you need and give away the things you want to dispose of. The benefit is that users save money while also preventing usable items from needlessly taking up space in a landfill.

However, there are some things you'll need to know before you log on to Freecycle.

Tips and Guidelines for Using Freecycle Safely

Freecycle is free, but it should be used responsibly. Here are the usage and safety guidelines you need to know:

  1. You must become a member to read or post messages on the list serve.
  1. To join, visit and search for a Freecycle group in your geographic area.
  2. When you sign up, make sure you put your local zip code in the "memo" box so that the listserve moderators will know that you really do live in the area.
  3. Do not share personal information in your posts. For example, don't give away your last name, physical address, phone number, or kids' names. 
  4. When you're picking up items from another location, plan to go with a friend. It may take a little longer to make arrangements, but this step is crucial to staying safe. 
  5. Consider meeting at a neutral location. Choose a public parking lot that's usually packed with people.
  6. When you're offering items for others to pick up at your house, leave the goods outside, clearly labeled with the name of the person who is picking them up.
  7. Be extra careful getting free items for young children. If you're picking up a recycled crib, for example, make sure it meets today's safety standards.

Suggested Items to Pick Up or Give Away on Freecycle

  • Furniture
  • Dishes
  • Toys
  • Clothing
  • Backpacks
  • Computers
  • Cell Phones
  • Sports Equipment

Additional Places Where You Can Find Free/Inexpensive Household Items

Freecycle isn't the only game in town. Here's a list of other places where you can get free and/or nearly free stuff for your home: