How to Clean Thrift Store Clothing

There’s nothing I like more than a shopping spree at my local Salvation Army. I never really paid much attention to disinfecting the garments, until I learned that a fashion editor friend of mine received a nasty infection from not cleaning her thrift store purchases properly. This post gives you tips on cleaning and disinfecting your thrift store purchases.

How to Clean Thrift Store Clothing

Never, ever, wear a thrift store purchase without first cleaning the garment(s).

Why? Well, donations are often kept in warehouses where they can sit for a while and gather mold, dust, and insects. Also, some donors use thrift stores as their personal “trash bins” and donate items that may not be in the best shape.

Don’t believe us? Ask to take a peek at the sorting room of your local thrift store. You will notice most employees/volunteers use latex gloves to sort through the items.

Dry clean if you can.

In most cases it’s best to send the item to the dry cleaners for cleaning. The chemicals used in dry cleaning, called perchloroethylene, aka “perc” kills pretty much every germ imaginable.

Or, use really hot water and Pine Sol.

If the garment can’t be dry cleaned or your just too broke to afford a high cleaning bill, then wash the garment once in the hottest water possible, with a cap full of Pine Sol or other disinfectant and then a second time with a table spoon of baking soda (to remove the Pine Sol smell).

Test the disinfectant on the garment prior to washing to make sure the chemicals don’t stain or otherwise damage the clothing. Dry the garment in your dryer at the highest possible heat.

If the garment is delicate, don’t rely on Woolite.

It won’t disinfect your garments. The best option is to wash the delicate with a capful of baby body wash or shampoo and a small capful of anti-bacterial hand soap in a basin or bathroom sink.

Test then wipe shoes and accessories with rubbing alcohol.

For shoes, jewelry, and other accessories, wipe the piece down with rubbing alcohol (test a small area to make sure it doesn’t damage the piece) or spray with Lysol disinfectant spray. This might not completely disinfect the garment, but it will kill some germs.

You may also like:

The Art of Thrifting

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Catherine Brock

Catherine Brock is a writer, editor and marketer who's been sharing wisdom online since 2002. She's been featured on DrLaura.com, Wellness.com and ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis and KCAL9 Los Angeles. Connect with Catherine on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter. Learn more about Catherine.
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