4 Tips for Safe and Effective Thrift Shopping

Thrift shopping is great for the environment and your wallet but there are some things you should keep in mind to protect your health. These thrift shopping tips will help you stay healthy and identify what you should and should not buy second hand.

Holes are not always bad

Nearly everyone has had that moment when they find the ideal blouse/skirt/dress/sweater that fits perfectly… and then they notice the gaping hole in the side and mournfully place the item back on the rack. While holes finding holes in garments can be discouraging, examine them a little more closely before discarding the garment. Most holes located near or on the seam can be salvaged if you have some sewing experience or know a friend who does. Additionally, small holes in sweaters are easy to fix with some matching thread and a little extra time.

It’s not always good to walk in someone else’s shoes

Thrift stores are great for finding a unique pair of cute heels but keep in mind that athlete’s foot and other fungi can linger in used shoes. To protect your feet, always wear socks when trying on second-hand shoes and then wash them when you get home. Cloth shoes can be washed in a washing machine with towels while heels and other shoes with washable surfaces can be rubbed clean with warm soapy water. Consider buying shoe inserts that will mold to your feet to make used shoes more comfortable.

Undergarments & sheets are a no go

Don’t by underwear or swimsuit bottoms unless they are still in the package or have tags on them. Bacteria can linger in fabric and most easily transfers when the fabric is moist or when there is friction between the fabric and skin. Likewise, don’t buy sheets unless they are new in original packaging. You don’t want to sleep between sheets that have absorbed other people’s fluids and germs.

Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize

Always wash your garments, even if they already seem clean. Use hot water or steam in order to kill bacteria. You can also use OxiClean to help eliminate germs and odors and make your clothes smell fresh. Just like you do with your regular clothes, sort your new garments by color to make sure the colors don’t bleed. You only have to do this for the first few washes to ensure that there isn’t any excessive dye remaining in the fabric. Use cold water following the initial wash with hot water; cold water extends the life of fabric and reduces color bleeding.

Keep these tips in mind next time you go thrift shopping to keep yourself and others safe. Pretty soon your friends will be coming to you for thrift shopping suggestions.

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Shelby is a copy editor, writing tutor, and research assistant. She is a senior at Blackburn College with a professional writing major and computer science minor. Shelby loves the earth, books, media literacy, and the oxford comma. You can follow her on Twitter: @ShelbyRainford

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