Thrifted vs. New: Is thrifted clothing dirtier?

Think buying something brand new is superior because it's cleaner?


Think again.


Unfortunately, both new and used items can equally harbor nastiness. If you ask anyone who has worked in retail clothing, they'll likely attest to dirty try-ons and returns that go back on the rack, clothes the staff "borrows" before it sells, and lots of other not-so-new-feeling scenarios that your new clothes may have already experienced.


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From manufacture to shipment, storage, display, and purchase-- each step of the way offers new contamination opportunities. For example, my husband once teasingly asked me, "Who washes bananas?!?" as I rinsed off my fruit at the sink before peeling it.

"Someone who read about all the rats that pee on them during shipment," I responded.


Simply because something came from a store new doesn't mean it's clean.


Another consideration is that many fabrics are coated in harsh chemicals during their manufacturing process. From this perspective, a used article of clothing has an advantage since it's likely already been washed several times.


So what can you do to ensure you're taking proper steps to keep your items clean? Simply put, wash them before you use them. Here are a couple of great inexpensive ways to get a deeper cleaning when you do:


Felts-Naptha Bar


Fels-Naptha is a bar soap that you easily grate off into your washing machine along with your favorite detergent. Just pick up a bar of it along with any grater and add some into each load. It's super budget-friendly and multi-use since dampening it and rubbing it directly onto stains acts as a stain remover as well. It takes out stains, helps remove odors, is cost efficient, and can be easily portioned out for each laundry load.


Oxi Clean


Oxi-Clean is a versatile powder that is added into each load along with your regular detergent. Dump a scoop or two into the wash to deep clean and use the stain stick if you need to pretreat to remove any stains. This product gives good performance and the powder is one of the very few products I have found to be effective on acrylic paint stains (with lots of scrubbing and patience).


A note to resellers:


If you are washing garments that you intend to sell, it's helpful to use dye-free, unscented detergent. Many customers use the item right away without laundering it themselves so it's best to use something geared to anyone who might have a sensitivity.


Next time you're apprehensive about germs and shopping second hand consider that it's just as safe and clean as what you buy new. Unless an item is so far gone with rips, stains, smoke damage, or other obvious issues, it's a pretty safe bet that with a good laundering once it arrives home with you it'll be literally as good as new-- if not even better!