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January 27, 2017

What Not to Thrift

If you haven’t figured out that I absolutely looooove thrifting by now, you really haven’t been paying attention. 😉 Goodwill might as well flash a giant “G” across the sky a la the bat signal during my lunch breaks. I just can’t stay away.

When you’re scouring the racks for your perfect thrifted/refashionable wardrobe in thrift/vintage stores, it’s easy to spot the things you want to buy. But sometimes it’s a little tougher figuring out what you probably shouldn’t buy.

Here are a few common clothing maladies I won’t mess with:



Stains make me all sorts of squeamish and grossed out, especially if they’re of the food or biological variety.



There are plenty of tricks one can try to remove a pesky stain, but they don’t always work. Unless I’m just absolutely in love with a piece of clothing or I know I’ll be removing the stained part in a refashion, I treat those stains with extreme disdain.


You know what I’m talking about.  Don’t you just hate when your sweaters get those nasty balls of lint all over them?

Take a chill pill, sweater.

Take a chill pill, sweater.

So do I.  If the item is really nice other than the pilling, I’ll just take an old razor and shave the pills off (electric clothes shavers are a waste of your time and money, friends).  But usually when I see pilling, it means the garment is of poor fabric quality, over-washed, or both.  Best to stay away from these unless you want to spend hours with your razor and a lint roller every time you want to clean it.

Weirdo Smell

Whoa! What’s that smell???

Even Archaic Meme Cat understandz.

Even Archaic Meme Cat understandz.

It’s normal for thrift store duds to smell a little weird.  But if your chosen future refash reeks of White Diamonds, gasoline, or some other overpowering stench, you might want to take a pass on it.  Some strong odors are just impossible to get rid of, no matter the number of washings.

Worn Out

This one makes me sad.

Sometimes I stumble upon something that could have been absolutely PERFECT…except it’s just completely worn out.



Unless there’s a part of the fabric you know you can harvest to make a trim, a pocket, or some such, it’s best to move on.  I’ve turned down really well-made designer pieces that were lovely at some point in time, but were just too worn out to save.

It’s okay.  It fulfilled its destiny.

What are your thrifting dealbreakers?



  1. I have gotten lucky SO many times with stains at thrift stores. Some people donate things that are completely fixable because they don’t have the time or knowledge to get the stain out. I just won’t pay more than $5 for a stained thing, or buy more than one “fixer upper” per trip. I’m absolutely with you on the other points. Smelling like someone else’s perfume, deodorant, or worse, is just miserable.

    Beyond those points, my “no thrifting” list just enforces style choices I’ve figured out for myself after years and years of mistakes. No pants, no polyester above the waist, no sleeves that stop on the upper arm, no pencil skirts. I tried to make certain garments work for years, and I’m done. I figured out what works, and I’m not listening to anybody who tells me I need a good pair of jeans or a pencil skirt to be a proper modern woman.

    • Well said – and while we’re on the subject, why does EVERYTHING either seem to have spandex in it, or have mid-upper-arm sleeves? My deal killers are the ones mentioned, as well as most synthetics unless I’m really in love with it.

    • I was told Goodwills do not sell torn items but that they are collected and sent back to the main Goodwill plant. From that point they are sold in bulk to “rag companies” that may turn around and do whatever. Goodwills I’ve shopped at don’t sell anything torn nor do they sell shoes with holes. My experiences have been on the West Coast and Midwest; California, Minnesota and Iowa in particular. There are always huge dumpsters outside where many broken items just cannot be sold. Lots of furniture is always poking out and I’ve always wondered why it is not repurposed. Just wondering? Anybody have any info on this?

  2. I’ve stopped buying clothes that will fit me as soon as I lose 5 pounds.

  3. Underwear and shoes. I really shouldn’t have to,justify the underwear part. But shoes, because if someone wore them for awhile their foot imprint can be in the shoe; causing back and knee aches. Other things like nighties can stay behind too.

  4. I only donate items that are in good condition and do not smell. Some of the items I donate are brand new but I don’t want them for one reason or another.

    I don’t understand folks who donate stinky worn out, stained and torn garments. I think those items belong in one’s personal rag bag or the trash can.

  5. I’ll buy those pilly sweaters if they are (1) cashmere and (2) in excellent condition otherwise. I take a pair of embroidery scissors and make sure I am in good lighting to remove all of the pills. Neither razors nor sweater shavers work for me.