Have you ever been afraid of shopping at thrift stores because of what you might bring home? Many people believe that second hand items are much dirtier than brand new items, but I’m here to tell you, that’s actually not true. When you browse through a rack of sweaters at Target and maybe pick up that top, hold it up in front of the mirror..chances are dozens of others saw that top and have done that too. Same goes with shoes, home items, toys, linens, etc. People with colds and germs are all touching stuff you buy from the store. I’m not trying to freak you out, I’m just trying to point out that your every day stores aren’t as clean as you think. The new things hanging from hangers or sitting on shelves are covered with germs and while that doesn’t worry me, it makes me aware that thrift stores are no different than all of the other stores I shop at – nothing is truly ever clean when you buy it brand new.
If you don’t thrift because you worry about the cleanliness of things, hopefully this blog post will change your mind!
1. Thrifted clothing – My first tip is before you ever purchase the item is to look it over for stains. Although there might be ways to get stains out, I typically steer clear of clothing with stains. Before I wash thrifted clothes, I start with checking through any pockets to make sure there is nothing in them. When I purchase boy’s pants, I actually like to pull the pockets out before washing them so it washes the inside of them as well. *Shoes – I always toss thrifted shoes in the dryer for 10 minutes, then spray them down with disinfectant spray. You can always change out the soles of shoes as well if you feel like they need some extra help. *Purses and bags – I don’t buy a ton of these but when I do, I wipe them down with antibacterial wipes and use a vacuum attachment to get anything else out. If it’s a bag made with a material that can go in the dryer, I toss it in there for a few minutes.
Many people sent in messages about a certain “thrift store smell” on clothes. While I rarely have that on my own purchases, I suggest using a 1/2 C of distilled white vinegar instead of detergent on wash one, then on wash two use normal detergent! This has always worked well for me!
2. Thrifted home décor – Home décor is my favorite thing to thrift because I have put some beautiful spaces together on a tight budget thanks to thrifting! For most décor items I use my household thieves cleaner but if things are a little more “well loved”, I use dish soap and warm water to wash things down. *Antique furniture – Last week I shared a chippy chair I found at Goodwill and how I was cleaning/sealing it! Lead paint can be dangerous so after I cleaned it with thieves, I sealed it with matte polyacrylic so that it safe for my family and it doesn’t continue to chip more. *Upholstered furniture – this one is tough. I really think it comes down to the piece. You can typically tell from the condition if it’s come from a home where it’s been taken care of. In the past, I have used warm soapy water and have had great results. If it’s in really rough shape, just know it might be risky bringing it into your home. * Thrifted boxes, baskets, and trunks – Vacuuming is your best friend for these items. This will remove any sort of dirt of dust that’s built up as well as any little bugs that may have made that their home. If I’m being completely honest I have only found one spider in a basket and that was because I barely looked at it in the store. Again, always look things over well before you purchase them. * Rugs – I have never bought a rug second hand but if I were to, I would clean it outdoors with soapy water, hose it down, then let it air dry if possible.
3. Thrifted Linens – This is probably the most common item I get questions about and it’s also the most simple…just wash it! Curtains, sheets, comforters, throw blankets, etc can be thrown in a load of laundry and treated like any other linens you purchase from the store. *Pillow inserts and pillow covers – I only purchase pillows that have removable covers and so I can wash them separately. You CAN wash pillow inserts but most of the time I just dry them for 20-30 minutes. The heat will kill germs and anything that might be on them. My rule in general is if I cannot wash it, it’s not coming home with me.
4. Kid’s toys – Easy peasy! Just wipe down with thieves or your household cleaner. There might be exceptions to this but for the most part, they are very simple to clean. I got a few questions about books…honestly, I don’t clean them. I don’t clean brand new books so I don’t see the need to do that for second hand ones.
Thieves Cleaner – I got lots of questions about Thieves cleaner in my DMs last week so I thought I would include that in this post as well! We’ve used this as our household cleaner for about 4 years and we will NEVER go back to store bought cleaners. I love that this cleaner is non-toxic and made with 100% plant and mineral-based ingredients. One bottle of thieves cleaner (concentrate) makes around 125 – 30 oz bottles of cleaner which would make it under a dollar a bottle….yes, you heard that right! It also works on pretty much everything so I don’t have a cleaner for every room in the house! We use it on all the surfaces in our home including glass, wood, refrigerator, and even our mirrors. It’s just that amazing and gets bonus points for smelling incredible! You can purchase it here – Purchase Thieves Cleaner
Not all thift stores are created equal – I felt like this was an important part to include because while I’m an avid thrifter, there are stores I refuse to shop at. You can usually tell right away if the thrift store sells most anything they get or they are picky. Right now I have about 3 or 4 on my rotation that I visit weekly or biweekly. There’s typically not a week that goes by that I don’t at least stop into Savers because over the past 3 years I have seen them sell clean, good quality items for a reasonable price. If you haven’t found a thrift store you like, keep looking or even start shopping Facebook marketplace. Don’t lower your standards for a thrift store that sells low quality items. These are also the places that you will typically find things that are dirty and unkept.
I hope if you’ve wanted to thrift but have never ventured out in fear of the uncleanilness of it, I hope this information will nudge you to give it a try. Thank you to everyone who sent in a question for this blog post! I had so much fun answering your questions!