Sunday, October 2, 2011

How to clean your thrifted [clothes]

Dear Wallet,

You have a stain. It might be from the waterworks episode after my last shopping spree at the mall. But it's not very becoming on you. Please remove it. Thanks.

Signed, Aria

The infamous question of thrift shopping: is it clean and sanitary?
The answer? In general, no more or less than shopping at the mall. 

Here's why:
1. At the mall you can expect that 3-5 people are trying on a given shirt/pants/shoes each day. How long it lasts on the shelf can be 3 hours, to 3 months. It's not worth doing the math here. Never washed-only to collect the same sanitary concerns you were worried about. But here's the kicker: it's brand new with tags on it, so most people never bother to wash it before the first wear. ew...
2. At a thrift store you expect it to be dirty, and therefore never wear something without cleaning it first [1-thriftstore, 0-big box store]
3.  Chances are the person who wore the shirt/pants last, washed it and then decided to get rid of it. You can usually tell by the amount of stains/rips and smells expelling from it. And let's face it, if it's in horrible shape you're probably not going to buy it anyway. Something well taken care of and in good shape has probably been washed before.

Still not sold that thrift shopping is eqivalent to mall shopping? Check out these links:
Bedbugs on the rise, close pair of New York clothing stores
Bedbugs bite department stores

The moral of  the story is always clean your purchases, even new-with-tags [NWT]. And here's how:

First off, always read the label of your clothing to find out how to clean it. Certain items and fabrics require hot or cold water, specific soaps, dry cleaning or hand washing. Clean it appropriately to keep your purchase in good condition. For thrift clothes it doesn't hurt to send everything to the dry cleaners the first time. They use an ingrediant in their cleaners that disinfect everything. This can be expensive though, so for those who want the same clean but without the sticker shock read on:


I purchased a plastic kitchen tub that I fill with HOT (scalding hot) water mixed with a capful of baby shampoo and a capful of anti-bacterial hand soap. Soak the clothes in the wash until the water becomes touchable, then take out to look at for stains. Oxyclean is a great soap for stains to clean in a second bath.

 For any clothing machine safe, wash the items a second time in the washer using hot water. For delicates, repeat the first step 1-2 more times, and for items that say dry cleaning use your best judgement.


Yes, even jewelry should be washed! Sanitary wipes, or a quick wipe down with rubbing alcohol will do the trick.
For silver items lay a piece of aluminum foil on the bottom of a pie tin or pot. Sprinkle in some baking soda, place the silver items and pour boiling water over it. Leave for 2-3 minutes, rinse and your items will be sparkly-new! Another way of cleaning silver is using a toothbrush and white toothpaste.


Hat's MUST be cleaned, kits for sanitzing can be purchased but here are a few methods from home.
Felt or wool hats: Use a soft brush to clean, swipe going in the direction the fibers lay. Place the hat on an item that allows it to retain shape (vase, peg, manikin etc). Use warm water with mild soap on a towel to clean the sweatband. Use a steamer to sanitize and shape the hat. Scotchguard after.
Leather hats: Leather must be conditioned once a year (using leather conditioner) to once a month depending on the amount of use. Insiders can be steamed LIGHTLY, or clean the sweatband with warm water and mild soap on a towel. Suede hats can be scotchguarded.
Cloth hats: Most cloth hats can be washed in the sink using the same process for clothing. Check the label to verify. Baseball caps can be washed in the dishwasher, or the washer if you have a cap cage.
Straw hats:  A light rinse, or sponge with warm water, and mild soap can clean the inside and outside of the hat. Scotchguard can also be used to protect it.


Most shoes can be cleaned using rubbing alcohol to sanitize the insole of the shoe. (Test on a small patch before cleaning the whole thing) Check with brand sites to see their preferred cleaning methods for any stains. Typically leather shoes can be cleaned with leather conditioner, fabric shoes can be soaked with water and mild soap and scotchguarded. Check before trying anything though!


Purses work the same as shoes, check the brand site before starting any cleaning project. Typically on fabric purses warm water and mild soap, or fabric cleaner on difficult stains. Leather conditioner will work on leather purses.

 Have a specific item you have a question about? Or have a cleaning tip to share? Let me know!


  1. Excellent advice, thanks. I would like to add, that 5 minutes in the dryer, for any item will also help to sanitize it.


I love comments, questions, and suggestions so leave me some love- I read and respond to everything! =)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...