What Does Goodwill Spray Their Clothes With?

  • by Reba Collins
What Does Goodwill Spray Their Clothes With?

I’m a member in a number of reselling groups online and I watch tons of YouTube videos about reselling. In those groups I see a lot of people who are new to reselling second hand clothing and they ask a lot of questions. One question I see often is, “What does Goodwill spray their clothes with?”.

Goodwill does NOT spray their clothes with anything. Clothes are taken to the sales floor as they were donated after being hung on a hanger. Many items donated are not worth reselling due to bad smell or large rips and tears, items with bad smells are put directly into the trash. Items too ripped to sell are sold by the pound for rags.

When I was doing my research for this article, I found multiple articles that said Goodwill uses a generic chemical similar to Febreze. Those articles complained that Febreze was hard to remove from clothing and many people are allergic to it.

My experience was different, I’ve purchased many items from Goodwill that had a “thrift store smell,” so I decided to conduct my own research.

I first tried calling the Goodwill Headquarters in Rockville, MD. It was impossible to reach anyone, so I started reading their website. There I found that their organization is comprised of 155 community-based, autonomous organizations located in the U.S., Canada and 12 other countries. Each local organization designs its own programs and services. Knowing this was helpful and I decided to call a few of the local organizations around the U.S.

Trying to reach someone at the local organizations was hard, and the people I spoke with didn’t know the answer to my question, “Do you spray anything on the donated clothes before placing them on the floor for sale?”. I was transferred around and never got any answers. So, I decided to call stores, I figured they would know what they do.

Altogether I called 5 Goodwill stores. One each in Los Angeles, CA, Denver, CO, Houston, TX, Albany, NY & Springfield, IL. The answer was a unanimous NO. A couple of the stores told me that if a donation smells too badly, they just throw it in the trash.

Do independently owned thrift stores spray anything on their donated clothing?

I decided to call a few independently owned thrift stores as well since, well, you never know.

I called 5 independent stores in total. One each in Houston, TX, Bismarck, ND, Salt Lake City, UT, Eugene, OR, and Ft. Meyers, FL. Again, a unanimous NO. A couple said that mostly the clothes donated are washed, some even have dry cleaner tags.

Does Goodwill wash the clothes that are donated?

That is a resounding NO. They receive so many donations there is no way they can handle washing that many clothes. As I outlined above, they don’t even spray them for odor.

Goodwill recommends that you wash your clothing purchases as soon as you get home and before wearing them.

What is the musty smell in the Goodwill store and sometimes on the clothes?

That musty smell that hits you when you walk through the door of some thrift stores is an accumulation of all the odors of all the different houses from which the donations came. Odors settle into the fabrics of clothing, furniture, and everything with a soft surface.

I explained in more detail what causes the odors and how to get them out in my article “How To Get Thrift Store Smell Out of Clothes”.

Is it okay to try on clothes at Goodwill or any thrift store?

I’m not sure if all Goodwill stores have dressing rooms, but the ones that I’ve been to have them. But you’re probably wondering if it is SAFE to try on the clothes, right?

I would imagine that it is safe, if you rub up against something yucky, it won’t kill you. But I don’t do it. I just hold the item up, or better yet, I only buy brands I’m familiar with and know how they fit.

Here’s a Reddit post I found while researching this question, it’s old but still holds weight:

Just a quick reminder from a thrift store employee-

Always wash everything.

Before I started working at a popular, well known thrift chain, I would buy clothes at thrift stores and wear them right off the rack. That is a horrible decision.

In just a few months of working here, I have found dildos, used condoms, lube, poopy diapers, literal poop just chilling in bags of clothes, bags of poopy underwear, and water bottles full of pee. This is all mixed in with regular clothing.

Why do people donate these things? I’m not sure. But we’re picking out nice looking clothes that have been floating around in this stuff for up to weeks at a time, throwing them on a hanger, and sending them out to you.

Thrift stores are awesome places to find gently used clothes, but I just figured I would remind everyone to be wary and ALWAYS wash everything! Happy hunting!!

Okay, maybe that’s true, I don’t know, it’s just not my experience as a thrifter. I think it’s personal preference. I don’t like trying on thrifted clothing until I’ve washed it with Lysol Laundry Sanitizer. In my opinion, it’s best to know what brands fit you and just stick with those so there’s no need for trying on.

If I don’t want to try on, what should I do?

I know that Goodwill Houston has a short time allowance to return clothing. They don’t allow returns on shoes or anything else, but clothing is a yes. Be sure to ask at the thrift store where you shop, you might be pleasantly surprised. A return policy will give you the opportunity to wash and try on before you make the decision to keep.

Sticking with brands, sizes, and cuts you are familiar with helps a lot. You know how certain brands fit and if you buy that brand it should fit again. I have an article “How To Find the Perfect Fit When Buying Second Hand Clothes Online”. It’s about buying online but holds true when thrifting in person as well.

Additionally, if you purchase here on our website, JeansAndTops.com, we allow returns for up to 15 days. When you shop with us you don’t have to worry about yucky stuff, everything is washed with Lysol Laundry Sanitizer and checked for flaws. All flaws are noted in the listings and discounted commensurate with the damage. Shop at JeansAndTops.com with confidence.

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