How to Tell If Second Hand Store Clothes are Clean Before Buying

Unless you're purchasing brand new clothing, it's essential to check if second hand store clothes are clean before buying them. Second hand stores offer great deals on quality, affordable clothing, but they can also harbor germs, bacteria, and other issues. Thankfully, there are straightforward steps you can take to make sure the second hand clothes you purchase are clean and safe to wear.

Take a look at the Care Label

look at care label

One of the simplest ways to determine if second hand store clothes are clean before purchasing them is to examine the care label. Typically, the care label provides information on how frequently the clothes were laundered, if they underwent dry cleaning, and whether any special cleaning products were used on them. If the care label indicates multiple washings, it's likely that the clothes are clean.

Most items in second hand stores will feature a tag or label detailing the care instructions for the garment. It's crucial to review this information carefully to ensure that the item can be laundered and dried properly. If the care instructions cannot be followed, it's advisable to avoid the item as it may not be safe to wear.

Look for Marks

look for stain

When perusing second hand store clothing, take the time to thoroughly inspect each item upon first glance. Look out for any indications of stains, grime, or other signs of wear and tear. Even if the care label suggests the clothes were laundered, there's a chance that some stains may have been overlooked. If you notice anything dubious, it's best to leave the item where it is. Additionally, it's worth noting that certain second hand stores may accept items that haven't been properly cleaned, so exercising extra caution during inspection is essential. If you're uncertain, it's always safer to exercise caution and opt out of purchasing the item.

Give the Clothes a Sniff

smell the clothes

Another method to gauge the cleanliness of second hand store clothes is to take a whiff. A musty smell suggests that the clothes might not have been washed recently, while a strong detergent scent indicates otherwise. If there's no discernible odor, it's possible the clothes were laundered but not necessarily with detergent.

Clothing often retains odors from previous wearers, so it's crucial to ensure you're not bringing home items with musty or unpleasant smells. If you detect a musty odor, it's likely the item hasn't been adequately cleaned or stored and may not be suitable for wear.

Inspect for Color Changes

inspect color changes

When examining second hand store clothing, it's essential to pay attention to any changes in color, as they can often indicate cleanliness issues. Discoloration, characterized by faded colors or the presence of yellow or brown spots, may suggest that the garment hasn't been adequately cleaned. These alterations in color could be the result of stains or dirt that weren't effectively removed during washing. When you come across such signs of discoloration, it's prudent to err on the side of caution and opt out of purchasing the item. By avoiding garments with noticeable discoloration, you can ensure that the clothing you bring home from second hand stores is clean and ready to wear.

Assess Fabric Texture

Feel the Fabric

Assessing the texture of the fabric is another crucial step in determining the cleanliness of second hand store clothing. By running your fingers over the fabric, you can glean valuable insights into its condition. If the fabric feels greasy or slimy to the touch, it's likely that the garment hasn't been thoroughly cleaned. This sensation could be indicative of accumulated grease and sweat, which may not have been effectively removed during washing. Such residues suggest that the item may harbor germs or bacteria, making it less than ideal for purchase. In these cases, it's advisable to exercise caution and avoid acquiring the item altogether. By being mindful of the fabric texture and avoiding garments that feel greasy or slimy, you can ensure that the clothing you select from second hand stores is clean and ready to wear.

Read also: Type of Fabrics For Sustainable Fashion

Check for Wear and Tear

Look for Damage

When examining second hand store clothing, it's essential to thoroughly check for any signs of wear and tear. This includes inspecting the seams for fraying, ensuring buttons are securely attached, and looking out for any holes or tears in the fabric. These visible indications of damage suggest that the garment has experienced extensive use and washing. Items with such wear and tear may not only be less durable but also less hygienic, as they may harbor more dirt and bacteria in the compromised areas. Therefore, it's prudent to opt for items that are in better condition, as they are more likely to provide both longevity and cleanliness. By carefully assessing garments for wear and tear, second hand store shoppers can make informed decisions and choose items that are not only stylish but also in good condition.


Second hand stores offer a fantastic opportunity to discover fashionable yet budget-friendly clothing options. However, ensuring the cleanliness of the garments you purchase is crucial. By adhering to these straightforward guidelines, you can guarantee that the second hand store clothing you select is clean and suitable for wearing. Being aware that your chosen item is clean and well-maintained is a key aspect of being a conscientious shopper at second hand stores.

For added peace of mind regarding quality, consider exploring secondhand clothing options at SwapUp. Our team meticulously inspects and photographs each item in our inventory, ensuring that you receive only top-quality, trendy thrifted treasures that align with your personal style.

Also Read: Is It Okay to Buy Second Hand Clothes?

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