Many people are against shopping for clothing at thrift stores because of bugs and of course, other things that could possibly be lingering in the clothes. As someone who has regularly shopped thrift for years and now resells many of the cute items I find, neither has been an issue for me yet (I need some wood to knock on).
This is my process to ensure that my bugless streak continues. The main critters I am concerned with are bed bugs, so below are ways to combat those if they are hiding in your clothes.
I mainly source clothing, but don’t let the name bedbug fool you, they don’t just stick to beds, they go everywhere, including that Prada jacket you just discovered. They can cling to clothing, lay eggs that we can’t see, and make their way into your home.
Some may say that I’m a bit excessive, but my track record speaks for itself so, let’s make sure you don’t bring any home with you as well.
1. Shake it
This may be obvious, but one of the first and most important things I do when purchasing clothes from the thrift store, or any other place for that matter, is to make sure that I shake everything out thoroughly. I will do this while in the store and once again prior to bringing anything into my home.
Bugs don’t just stick to the front of the clothing where you can easily see them so make sure to turn everything inside out including pockets and shake it like a Polaroid picture.
2. Plastic bags are your friends
While I don’t like using plastic bags because of the environment. I do keep all of my items in a plastic bag in my car for a couple of days especially if it’s extremely hot or cold.
Keep them in tightly tied plastic bags so nothing can escape and leave them in the car for as long as you can because this will most likely kill any lingering critters. Bed bugs don’t do well in extreme heat or cold and luckily I live in an area that experiences both.
Bed bugs exposed to temperatures over 113 degrees will die if exposure is constant for just 90 minutes or more. In addition, it can kill all stages of the bed bug life including the eggs (which can be extremely difficult to kill in other ways). A car if left in 70-degree weather on a sunny day can reach temps of 113 degrees and if it’s even hotter outside (80-100 degrees) can reach temps between 130 to 172 degrees (see why we don’t leave babies and dogs in cars during the summer?!).
While heat seems to be the optimal way to take these critters out, extreme cold can also work. They die if exposed to extreme cold for several days but can survive short exposures to temperatures as low as negative 13 degrees F, so make sure you leave it in the cold for at least three days.
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3. Diatomaceous Earth
My third weapon against bugs of mass destruction is diatomaceous earth. This stuff will take out any type of bug with a sift body if they crawl through it. This includes bed bugs, fleas, roaches, ants, and earwigs. All of which we would rather not ship to our customers or bring in our homes I’m sure!
If you are storing the items somewhere like a garage consider surrounding the crate, box, or bag with diatomaceous earth to get kill anything that may crawl out. It takes a little time for them to die usually, but eventually, they will. My Amazon Picks
HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade, 4lb with Pow…$14.07
diatomaceous earth DE10, 100% Organic Food Grade D…$20.99
That’s right good old rubbing alcohol can kill bed bugs by drying them out but only if it touches them. Alcohol has to be directly applied to the bugs, which can be hard to accomplish since they hide in cracks and crevices, but if there are some clinging to your clothing you can definitely spray it. Alcohol also kills the eggs.
I usually spray down my clothes prior to washing them and include some alcohol in the wash. Make sure you do this with fabrics that won’t get ruined by alcohol, I wouldn’t do it on dry-clean-only items, leather, or suede.
5. Wash and dry items
Lastly, you’ll want to wash and dry everything that you can and this is just a good courtesy to your buyers and should be done anyway.
When I wash items, if I can I’ll do so with alcohol added to the water as I stated above, and make sure to dry the items at the highest temperature possible. This is because heat is one of your best defenses against
What do you do to make sure there are no critters in your clothes?