Do you like to go shopping at thrift stores, Goodwill in particular? It is a proper safety process to wash clothes you bought from thrift stores and garage sales. The question is, “is it not safe to wear clothes directly from Goodwill?” Does Goodwill wash the clothes that they sell?
Goodwill does not prepare the clothes or any other item that they have for sale. They do not wash the clothes or clean the electronics and other items they receive as donations. There are even instances when they no longer check if the item is defective or not.
If you buy clothes from Goodwill, you better wash them before you wear them. On the other hand, if you donate the clothes, do the people a solid favor. It would be better to wash the clothes before you drop them off at your local Goodwill.
Read on to learn more about how Goodwill treats the clothes donated to them. What should you do if you buy anything from them?
Does Goodwill Wash Clothes That They Sell?
The short answer to this question is no. Goodwill does not wash the clothes that they sell on their retail floors. However, this is not an issue about lazy and unsanitary practices.
You need to learn about how Goodwill operates. That way, you can gain an insight into why they don’t wash the clothes before selling them in their stores.
Your average Goodwill receives hundreds of pounds of used clothes every week. This means that the staff constantly has a large pile of clothes to work with.
Just sorting through the large piles of clothes and other donated items takes many hours. Imagine how much more work and money will go into washing all the clothes they receive.
A non-profit organization does not have that big of a budget to work with. You can, therefore, forgive Goodwill if they don’t wash the donated clothes.
Although Goodwill’s merchandise comes from donations, they still have to pay rent for their store premises. They also have to pay for the salaries of those working at the stores. This is why they can no longer afford to wash the donated clothes before they sell them.
What Does Goodwill Do to Prepare the Clothes?
1. Check the Garment for Damage
When Goodwill receives donated clothes, its staff will carefully go through each. This is to determine which ones will go to the store racks. The staff would check each garment for any major damage, like tears, holes, rips, and popped seams.
However, they need to process hundreds of pounds of clothes every day. This is why there are times when there are still a couple of pants with defective zippers or popped stitches.
2. Separate the Unsellable Items Into a Separate Pile
The workers will then separate the unsellable items into a separate pile. Unsellable clothes include those with serious damage or those contaminated with mold or mildew. They will then put these clothes into the recycle bin.
3. Assign Price to Clothes in Good Condition
As for the clothes that are still in good condition, the staff will sort and assign value to them.
4. Spray Clothes with a Fabric Deodorizer and Antibacterial Spray
Before hitting the selling floor, they spray the secondhand clothes with a fabric deodorizer and antibacterial spray.
This helps in eliminating foul odors from the used clothes. It will also somewhat ensure that they are not carrying any diseases.
The process shows that even if unwashed, you can be sure you will not get sick from the clothes. You might not get sick from wearing the clothes for a few minutes while in the fitting room.
Still, it would be different if you wore them for the whole day. This is why washing your Goodwill finds before using them is still good practice.
What Does Goodwill Do to the Unsold Clothes?
Company rules state that Goodwill must pull items out from the shelves if they are unsold after four weeks. Goodwill does this to provide room for new merchandise. If clothes remain unsold even after being on the selling floor for weeks, there is no sense in leaving them there.
As mentioned, Goodwill stores receive hundreds of pounds of clothes donations weekly. So, they must make their merchandise move as fast as possible. Any stagnant items, therefore, need to go out of the door to make room for the newer ones.
Most people think the clothes that go unsold are automatically put into the trash. However, that is the furthest from the truth. Goodwill will exhaust all possible avenues before disposing of clothes.
Auctioned by the Pound
The first option that most Goodwill stores will do for their unsold items is to pack them into crates. After that, they will put them into blind auctions open to the public.
The bidders will have no idea what the crates contain. Depending on how they play their cards, they might get a good deal or a mediocre one.
Sold to Fabric Recyclers
Goodwill sends them off to recycling partners if the unsold items are not at auctions. This also happens to the clothes they deem too damaged to sell.
Goodwill commits to doing what it can for environmental sustainability. They would rather have those unsold items get recycled instead of getting buried in landfills. Goodwill is responsible for diverting millions of pounds of waste from landfills.
This puts them instead to better use in recycling centers. This is where they get turned into fill materials for upholstery and other products.
Even if you think that your old clothes are too damaged even for Goodwill to accept, donate them anyway. The company will still make use of them somehow.
Does Goodwill Send Clothes Directly to the Landfills?
Although Goodwill does its best to avoid sending items to landfills, some clothes are not even fit for recycling. Typically, they will have to check if the clothes they received are wet or moldy.
The reason is that the effort put into cleaning and disinfecting them will cut too much into their bottom line. Putting them along with the recyclables will only contaminate the other clothes. They are just too much trouble to deal with.
This is the same for clothes contaminated with harmful substances like motor oil and hazardous chemicals. However, the amount of clothes Goodwill sends to landfills is quite small compared to what they recycle. Only 5% of their total unsellable items get disposed of this way.
Again, does Goodwill wash clothes? Goodwill does not wash clothes before selling them. So, they request donors to wash them before donating. Also, they do not sell stained and smelly clothes.
How to Donate to Goodwill
Are you thinking that your closet is getting a bit too cluttered? Then it may be time to bring them over to Goodwill. Your old clothes will surely help other people in need. Now the question is, how to donate clothes to Goodwill?
Here are some tips:
1. Gather the Items You Want to Donate
Go through your closet, storage area, attic, garage, and anywhere else where you put your various knick-knacks. Take whatever you are not using anymore. Gather all the items you want to donate in one place. Make sure to do this somewhere there is enough space to create several more piles.
Can you donate unwashed clothes? Yes, but you should wash them first before donating. Consider them part of your civic duty while helping the staff of Goodwill.
2. Sort Through Your Items
Check if the items you are considering donating are still in usable condition. Although Goodwill sends their unusable clothes to their recycling partners, you should do it yourself. The good folks over at Goodwill already have plenty of work to do. Spare them by not sending them unusable garbage.
If you donate furniture or appliances, ensure they still have complete parts. They should also be working properly. You are not helping anyone by donating broken things.
3. Keep Pairs and Sets Together
Who would buy a single shoe? Sort the items in pairs or sets and then wrap or tie them together. You can tie the sneakers’ laces together and keep dish sets in a single box. This will also make dropping off your donations to Goodwill much easier later.
4. Evaluate the Worth of the Items
Did you know you can use your Goodwill donations as a tax write-off? After sorting through your donations, make a list of the items.
Assign fair market values to each one using the Goodwill Valuation guide, which you can find on their website. Upon dropping off your donations at Goodwill, have them write a receipt.
Tips for Shopping at Goodwill or Any Other Thrift Stores
You shouldn’t be ashamed to shop at Goodwill or any thrift store. This is especially true if you are low on cash but need a coat or something for the winter. Shopping at Goodwill might seem like a waste of time for some. They believe that everything in there is junk anyway.
However, you might be surprised at the things that people would donate. This is why thrift store shopping is more like a treasure hunt if anything else.
To ensure you are getting the most out of every trip at Goodwill, here are some tips:
1. Go to the Store Every Week
Make it a point to go to Goodwill every week. If at first, you don’t find anything you like, you might find a gem on your next visit. Goodwill does not keep the same inventory for long.
They cycle their old stock with “new” items every month. In some busy branches, they change their inventory every two weeks.
Visit your local Goodwill as often as you can so you can get first dibs on any new items. Do this long enough, and you will know the store’s schedule for when they swap out the old items.
2. Know What to Look For
Going to Goodwill to browse will only make you spend more money than you originally planned. Before leaving the house, make a list of the things that you need to buy.
For instance, if you’re looking for coats and boots for the coming winter, go straight to the winter wear section. If you are searching for a couple of pots and pans, go straight to the kitchenware.
Prioritize what is on your list first. If there is still room in your budget and you are still interested in shopping, then browse the store afterward.
3. Know Your Size
If you’re shopping for clothes, make sure you know your measurements. Also, note that older clothes tend to have shrunk, especially wool ones. Make sure to get clothes labeled at least two sizes than you usually wear.
If in doubt, you can try them out first. However, since Goodwill does not wash their donated clothes, I recommend that you don’t wear them for too long.
Wear them over your shirt to minimize contact with your skin. When you get home, throw your purchases into the washing machine and wash them thoroughly.
4. Inspect Everything Thoroughly
Check every seam and the pockets for any damage when shopping for clothes. Also, check for stains. Small stains you can still get rid of are okay. However, if the stain is too big and tough, you should put the item down.
When shopping for electronics, make sure that the controls are complete. Also, check if the screws are still there. Goodwill does not do a complete inspection of their electronics. Test it in-store to ensure you are not getting a defective item.
Is Goodwill Bad?
Some people believe donating to Goodwill is a waste of time and that you’re only helping a corrupt organization. Why is Goodwill bad?
People believe the internet’s stories about how Goodwill’s CEO exploits its workers. They were paid less than minimum wage, especially the disabled.
However, your research will reveal that Goodwill stores have a board of directors and CEO. So the claim about the CEO is already proven false. Secondly, the person who is purportedly the CEO of all Goodwill stores, Mark Curran, does not exist.
Goodwill is not a company that sells donated items and pockets the proceeds. It is a non-profit organization that provides employment and job training to people in their communities.
The organization also provides programs for people with disabilities or who lack education. That way, they can have work experience and training.
It is also not true that they pay their employees pennies. The pay is above minimum wage, and they also get all the benefits that other regular employees receive.
In Closing – Does Goodwill Wash Clothes?
No, Goodwill does not wash the clothes they sell in their stores. Besides spraying disinfectant, deodorizing products on the clothes, and wiping the dust off electronics, Goodwill does nothing else.
However, they check the clothes for severe damages, and the ones they deem unsellable get recycled.
Goodwill does not wash the clothes they sell as it will take too much time and money. As a non-profit organization, Goodwill does not have a huge budget to work with. If you donate your old clothes to Goodwill, do them a favor. Make sure that they are clean and still wearable.