Thrifting 101: Things to look out for when thrifting – Part II

Now that we’ve discussed how to go thrifting, lets discuss what to look out for when you are thrifting. You can easily forget that you’re in a thrift store when you’re having fun! But it is, true. Once you’ve been looking at clothes for a while (or anything for that matter) you forget where you are and you start picking things out of racks without checking them first. This is a big no-no. In order to make sure that what you’re buying is worth it – since most thrift stores don’t accept returns – you need to make sure you are inspecting your items with a fine tooth comb.

To Note – The list provided below is things you should be looking for whether you plan on putting some elbow grease to your clothes or not. I understand that you are buying used, and therefore, the expectation should be that you are not always going to find things in perfect condition and the items will be worn. This is not to say that you can’t – but, if you are buying with the intention of not having to fix things, keep the list in mind. If you are buying with the intention to fix (or as I like to say, ReChyc-it) then, you probably won’t mind buying something that you’ll have to put love into it. And finally, by worn, I mean, has the item been worn so much that it’s clearly visible and it may not worth the effort.

Tip #5: Thoroughly inspect your item.

And I do mean, inspect. There are the obvious things to look out for such as, stains and rips. However, when most people check, they’re looking at the obvious places – visible stains, missing buttons, rips and loose threading (which you should be checking). Aside from the obvious, here are places that you should be inspecting:

  • Tops/Dresses
    • Neck – Check the back of the neck – look for stains and possible rips. Also, if it’s a collared shirt, worn or stretched out collar.
    • Arm – Check the inside of the arm for deodorant stains.
    • Hem – Check for any unraveling hemming.
    • Sleeves – Stains and/or stretch out sleeves.
    • Pilling – This is especially true for sweaters.

  • Bottoms
    • Inseam – check in and out – you want to make sure there aren’t any stains.
    • Inseam – inner thigh area – check for fabric pilling.
    • Hem – especially check for any ripping, unraveling thread and possible stains.
    • Pockets – check for possible holes inside the pockets and any items left behind.
    • Waist – Check for unraveled belt hooks, rips and/or tears from an unravelled belt hook. Missing buttons or broken zippers.

  • Accessories
    • Shoes – check in and out – look for any visible scratches, stains, peeling fabric and any strong odors.
    • Shoes – The heel – is it too worn or broken?
    • Shoes – Inner sole – missing, peeling, cracking.
    • Shoes – The bottom of the shoe – is it too worn, cracking or damaged – beyond repair?
    • Handbags – check in and out – stains, rips inside the bag – you know where everything seems to go once the bag has a giant (or tiny) rip. Strong odors.
    • Handbags – straps – peeling, cracking, stained, missing or torn.

As a general rule – these are things you should look out for every time – visible stains, missing buttons, pilling fabric, strong odors, unraveling hems, broken zippers, missing stones, loose threading, faded fabric and/or bugs. Yes. I said bugs, keep reading below for more on this. The lists above are a guide to where you should be looking for these things specifically.

Tip #6: Read the cleaning and care instructions labels.

I cannot tell you how much this gets overlooked. Cleaning/care instructions are so important to read when you are buying anything – whether new or used – because this will help you maintain your clothes looking fresh and new. If you are not the type to do dry cleaning (keep reading to find my favorite at home dry cleaning kit) or follow special cleaning instructions when it comes to washing your clothes, that’s fine – but keep in mind that this may explain why your clothes don’t last. There are some items that you will need to dry clean and there are items that need to be hand washed. Think about if you want to invest the time and money (esp. if you are bargain shopping) to clean these items. Vintage clothing is exceptionally delicate and you want to keep this in mind. Clothing with heavy beading has to be hand washed with mild soap and water – do you want to spend the time cleaning such garments?

Tip #7: WASH/CLEAN your thrifted items before use.

Even if reading labels is not your thing, WASH and clean new and used items. Especially if you are buying at a thrift store – people donate these things and normally, people don’t wash and donate. Also, and this is a theory that some have and I am here to tell you, this is not true – THRIFT STORES DON’T WASH CLOTHES before putting them on the sales floor. The items are briefly inspected, tagged and placed on hangers. I had a coworker that thought this was the case and I had to break it to her.

Full Disclaimer – I am not a healthcare professional and nowhere near being a scientist.

We as humans perspire in our clothes, sneeze, use it a drying towel etc. This includes, traces of our body odor and any skin diseases we may have. As such, we can leave behind microbes and fungus on our clothing, even bugs, yes bugs (think hair lice). As a result, this can trigger skin diseases – which is rare and I don’t want to cause hysteria or chaos. But this is why you should be washing and cleaning anything that you purchase at thrift stores. Since we don’t know who wore our clothing, and where our clothing has been, it’s best to wash.

My recommended at home dry-cleaning kit.

As promised, my at-home recommended dry cleaning kit is Dryel At Home Dry Cleaner. This is not a sponsored post. One of reasons why I thrift shop is for its bargain and I want to spend the least amount of money on cleaning. My husband actually stumbled across this product in the detergent isle because my dry cleaning pile was as high as the Himalayan mountains, LOL. I was a skeptic at first but I have to say that following the simple instructions, my clothes came out looking and smelling fresh and clean. I have dry cleaned all sorts of clothes and fabrics and only experienced one issue – the wet sheets stained a silk-ish top. It does recommenced to do a spot check and I failed to do that but otherwise, I’ve had no issues. The only thing I haven’t tried is larger coats and I am sure it probably isn’t an issue but I prefer taking it to the cleaners for that nice, dry clean polish finish.

The drawback to this is, that you don’t get the pressed clothes or polished finish from a dryer cleaner. You may still have to iron if you like pant creases and for harder to steam fabrics. There are other brands out there with similar products but I recommend this one because its the one I’ve used. All in all, I rate it a 7/10.

Let me know in the comments section if you have other recommendations that I missed and/or if you’ve used a at-home dry cleaning kit.



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