Locally, the Salvation Army says it spends about $12,000 a month disposing of items that are considered garbage.
Nationwide, the organization spends $6 million disposing of donations that can't be sold or used.
"To save the dumping fee, people will just dump it in our bins. I think that should be against the law," Salvation Army superviser Carely Lee said.
Channel 3 News found old tires, broken computers and monitors, water-soaked mattresses, mattresses infested with bed bugs, mangled lamps, and even live animals among the items that Clevelanders "donated" and possibly are using as tax write-offs.
"It was a cat, and the cat was alive," Captain Patrick Wilson said, of one donation at the Salvation Army.
"About 10 to 15 percent of the things we get have no use at all," Lee said.
At Goodwill Industries, it's a similar story.
The organization says it spends about $216,000 a year locally processing and hauling unusable donations to the dump.
Goodwill's vice-president of Retail Operations told the Investigator Tom Meyer that "if you wouldn't give it to a friend, don't give it to Goodwill."
It's not that charities don't welcome donations. They do with open arms.
"Without these donations, we wouldn't be able to help the folks here in Cleveland," Wilson said.
Non-profits encourage Clevelanders to give gently-used items that they can sell. This helps them maximize contributions and provide services to the needy.
Most charities list items on their websites that are acceptable and unacceptable donations.
Here are the websites: SalvationArmy.org and Goodwill.