Does Goodwill Disinfect Clothes

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Besedky Team

Does Goodwill Disinfect Clothes? Unveiling the Truth Behind Thrift Store Finds:Are you a fan of thrift store shopping? If so, you’re probably familiar with the excitement of finding unique and affordable clothing treasures at places like Goodwill. But have you ever wondered if those pre-loved pieces are properly disinfected before they make their way to the racks? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of Goodwill’s clothing preparation process and explore the best practices for disinfecting thrift store clothes. So, grab your bleach and join us on this journey of cleanliness and secondhand style!

Understanding Goodwill’s Clothing Preparation Process

When you step into a Goodwill store, you’re greeted by racks of used clothing that have had previous lives in other people’s closets. It’s a treasure trove for thrifty shoppers and sustainable fashion enthusiasts alike. However, a common concern many have is whether these clothes are clean and sanitized. The truth is, Goodwill and other thrift stores do not wash the clothes or items donated by individuals. This policy is consistent across most thrift stores for practical reasons, including the costs and logistics associated with laundering every item.

What Goodwill Does to Make Clothes Presentable

Though Goodwill employees do not wash clothing items, they take steps to ensure that the items on the sales floor are visually appealing. Household items are wiped down, and clothes are typically sprayed with a generic deodorizer like Febreze to mask any odors. This is primarily done to create a pleasant shopping experience rather than to disinfect. The strong smell of Goodwill clothes often reflects a mix of household scents, perfumes, fabric softeners, and sometimes mothballs, which the deodorizer attempts to neutralize.

Best Practices for Disinfecting Thrift Store Clothes

Given that thrift store clothes are not washed before sale, it’s up to the customer to clean and disinfect their finds. Most donations are washed before being given away, but to ensure proper hygiene, a second cleaning at home is advisable. When washing thrift store clothes, hand-washing or using the gentlest cycle with cold or warm water is highly recommended.

Using Vinegar and Natural Detergents

One effective way to disinfect these clothes is by adding vinegar to the washing process along with a natural and safe laundry detergent. Vinegar is known for its disinfecting properties and can help to eliminate odors and bacteria without using harsh chemicals.

Alternative Disinfection Methods for Non-Washable Items

Some items you find at Goodwill might not be suitable for a traditional wash. In these cases, other cleaning methods can be employed. Baking soda and enzyme cleaners can be a great solution if the washer isn’t an option. Spreading baking soda on the garment, letting it sit, and then brushing it off can remove odors. Enzyme cleaners, which break down proteins that cause stains and smells, can be applied directly to specific areas.

Why You Should Always Wash Clothes from Goodwill

It’s important to remember that while donations may arrive clean, they can be touched by numerous people once on the store floor. This is not unique to thrift stores; even new clothes in a traditional retail setting are handled by customers and staff. However, the unknown history of thrift store clothes makes it especially prudent to clean them thoroughly. The same principle applies to new clothes as well; washing before wearing is a good habit to get into regardless of where you shop.

Health and Hygiene Considerations

Washing secondhand clothes is not only about removing odors or potential stains; it’s about your health. Clothes can carry skin cells, sweat, and bacteria. While the risk of contracting an illness from clothing is generally low, it’s worth taking the time to clean your thrift finds to ensure they’re safe and hygienic.

Practical Tips for Cleaning Thrift Store Finds

Here are some actionable tips to ensure your Goodwill clothes are as clean as possible:

  1. Inspect and Sort: Before washing, check for any stains or damage. Sort clothes by color and fabric type.
  2. Pre-Treat Stains: Use a stain remover or a paste made from baking soda and water to tackle any spots before washing.
  3. Choose the Right Cycle: Delicate or hand wash cycles are gentler on thrift store clothes, which might be more susceptible to wear.
  4. Disinfect with Vinegar: Add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle for its natural disinfecting properties.
  5. Consider a Second Rinse: If the clothes have a strong odor, an extra rinse cycle can help ensure all the deodorizer and detergent is removed.
  6. Air Dry When Possible: Air drying prevents shrinkage and wear from the dryer. If you must use a dryer, opt for a low-heat setting.


Shopping at Goodwill can be a rewarding experience for those looking for unique finds at a bargain. While Goodwill employees make an effort to present clothes in the best condition possible, it’s ultimately the responsibility of the shopper to ensure their purchases are clean and safe to wear. By following the recommended cleaning practices, thrift store enthusiasts can enjoy their secondhand treasures with peace of mind.

Remember, by washing and disinfecting your Goodwill clothes, you’re not only taking care of your health but also extending the life of the garments. It’s a win-win for you and the environment, promoting a sustainable cycle of fashion that benefits everyone involved.

FAQ & Common Questions about Goodwill Clothes

Q: Are thrift store clothes sanitized?

A: Most secondhand stores don’t wash the clothes before selling them. Donations are typically washed before they’re donated, but we still recommend giving them a good cleaning when you get home. Even if the clothes are washed before they hit the thrift store floor, people will have since touched them.

Q: How do you disinfect goodwill clothes?

A: Baking soda and enzyme cleaners can be a great solution if the washer isn’t an option.

Q: Why should you wash clothes from goodwill?

A: Donations are typically washed before they’re donated, but we still recommend giving them a good cleaning when you get home. Even if the clothes are washed before they hit the thrift store floor, people will have since touched them. The same can be said even if you were buying new.

Q: What chemical does goodwill use?

A: Goodwill and most of the big, charitable resale shops spray their clothing with the synthetic chemical concoction that causes so many people health issues: Febreze. It “works” by encapsulating odors. It doesn’t actually remove them so whatever is causing the odor is still there. Plus it doesn’t really work.

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