Trying to only buy secondhand clothing is already hard as it is, but there are just some things that I will never ever buy secondhand. In my opinion, there are just some things that should just be thrown away or properly disposed of instead of donated.
First up, and I think this goes without saying, but I will never ever buy secondhand underwear. As a woman, I just find it unsettling to buy and wear used underwear. I don’t think that it is hygienic at all, and I could probably bleach and sanitize the crap out of them, and I still wouldn’t feel right wearing them. However, for some reason, I don’t have the same feeling about bras. Probably because there are less icky things happening. I have seen unopened packages of underwear that people have just gone to the store, bought, and then donated right away for people in need, which I wouldn’t have a problem with, but I have the means to buy my own new underwear, and I wouldn’t feel right taking something like that away from a person who might actually really need it.
The second thing, which mostly goes along with my reasoning for underwear on this list, is socks. I just can’t bring myself to do it. I would rather pay full price than get already used socks. Surprisingly however, I don’t feel the same way about shoes in secondhand stores. I think that it mostly has to do with my good fortune in finding some really nice pairs of shoes at thrift stores that were barely even worn. My pair of Nikes that I wore around Iceland had no wear on the bottom when I got them, but I have worn them to the point that I am looking to get a new pair before the end of summer. I also have a pair of tan Sperry’s that I found and now wear whenever I need to slip on shoes to go do something or a nice brown shoe for an outfit. I think that I should also clarify that I make sure to sanitize the shoes that I buy secondhand by spraying lysol disinfectant inside and outside the shoes and letting them sit out for a few days before actually wearing them.
Blankets and towels are another thing that is hard for me to even consider buying from a secondhand store. Maybe it’s because I suspect that they are dirty or that the person that owned them didn’t take great care of them, hence why they were donated. I just get a weird feeling about it. I think however, that I could get over that feeling if I ever did find a blanket that I really liked or would work well in my home.
I see a ton of old hair tools whenever I go to the thrift stores, and I could just never buy them. To start, I have no idea that they even work and no clue whether or not the associates at the store checked before they put that item on the shelf (though I suppose that they have to?). Second off, I just get this weird germy feeling thinking about using them. I think if I ever found a nice brand of hair tool that was still in the box that I maybe, and that’s a big maybe, consider it. But as I said before, I am somebody who is fortunate enough to be able to buy a new product if I so wish.
On the same level as hair tools, I feel as though I will never buy a used hat from a thrift store. There are a lot of microscopic things, like dead skin cells, sweat, and even lice that can stay on and in hats for a long time after they are donated. If it is something like a baseball cap that is easy to wash like I would my clothes, then I am okay with bringing it into my closet, however, I’m going to sanitize it and let it sit for a while before I will wear it. To be completely honest, I have about four or five baseball caps already though, so I don’t think I need another anytime soon.
Stuffed animals also go on this list because they can be hard to wash and also in rough shape. I grew up with a ton of stuffed animals and have had to weed out my collection quite a bit in the past few years. This may be the minimalist in me talking but thinking back to how many I used to have, I honestly think I will only let my children have 5-10 stuffed animals at any one time and ask relatives to not buy them stuffed animals. The amount that you see in thrift stores just goes to show how wasteful their production is considering a child only really forms a deep attachment to a few special stuffed animals in their lifetime.
I feel as though I should clarify something. I’m not trying to say that anyone and everyone that donates to secondhand stores are filthy, have bed bugs and lice, or don’t take care of the things that they donated because I know that that isn’t the case. There are plenty of well off people who donate a lot of their nice things to thrift stores because they would love for someone else to have something nice. The thing that I think bothers me most is not really knowing what kind of home that the items did come from. I also know that there is a chance that when buying these things that they could have let over pet dander (of which my boyfriend is allergic to) and there could very well be other hitchhikers that I would be bringing into my home. When I buy clothes from thrift stores, I make sure that I wash them in hot water and let them dry out in the sun if at all possible to try and get any of the bad stuff off of them. It’s not that I automatically assume the worst, but I would rather play it safe and know what I have if safe for me to wear or have in my home, especially in the current climate of COVID-19.