The clothing you sell should be clean. Thrift stores have great deals, but much like your grandmother’s closet, some of the clothes just have a funky smell. It could be perfume, mothballs, a stale smell, or some strange combination of all of the above. I call this Eau de Thrift Store. 99% of the time, I don’t clean any clothes I buy to re-sell. When something has a funk, I have a general plan of attack.
5 Ways to Clean Clothes Prior to Listing
- Hang it in open air. In reality, I just hang the clothes in my garage, especially during the winter. The point of this step is to get the item out of the plastic bag so it can breathe a bit.
- Hang it outside in the sun. This is easiest to do in the summer. But in my house, it’s actually really hard! We have a HUGE tree in the back of the house and a bunch of trees from our neighbors in the front. We end up having a bunch of tiny windows for when our deck (in the back) or our front porch actually gets any sun. Sunlight is such a big help, though. I’m not sure if it’s just head helping the smells evaporate or if it just loosens the bonds to the clothing.
- Wash it – but be careful. If it’s a pair of jeans, this isn’t a big deal. Just throw it in the wash with your own clothes (or alone if it’s nasty). I’ve heard of people who are worried about a buyer saying that an item has a “smell” associated with it, but would they rather a “clean” scent or some nasty perfume?
- Febreze – Unscented. This is great for any folk who are allergic to strange scents. On top of that, this literally removes the smells (well, it traps it in a bubble). I first heard the original story about Febreze in a book The Power of Habit. Febreze didn’t take off until they added a scent, but now that it’s popular, the unscented version is sought after.
- Dry Cleaning. This is for expensive items that I’m afraid to mess up. Think: cashmere, leather jackets, suede. These are items need to be cleaned without damaging the material. If the item is worth $100, spending some (tax-deductible) money at the dry cleaner’s is totally justifiable.
If I’m not willing to take one of these steps, it goes in the donation bin. Someone can clean it with an industrial washing machine!
Clothes from thrift stores are the biggest offenders. Garage sale clothing usually smells nice. I don’t know if it’s that the clothes are outside, or if it’s the fact that the clothes come right out of a closet into piles in front of someone’s house. One of those is the reason. I’m not sure which. Flea markets are hit or miss depending on where the clothing was sourced and how many times it’s remained unsold at the end of the day.
For anyone who regularly goes to a Goodwill Outlet (pay by the pound for unsorted/uncleaned items), I’ve heard that a washing machine is basically required, as well as gloves for when you’re looking through the items. Maybe I’ll make a trip out to Baltimore to check out the closest one!
Do you wash your clothes that you re-sell? Any tips or tricks to help get rid of the smells?
Image Credit: craig wilford