Thrift shopping is a perfect option if you’re low on budget, and want to find stuff that you don’t often expect at any retail store.
If you are an experienced thrift shopper, you would realize, not all thrift stores are operated the same. When buying used items, your biggest concern should be bed bugs.
These tiny insects can sneak into used clothing as well as furniture in any thrift store. After all, you don’t want to spend thousands on an exterminator when you went to a thrift store to save some bucks in the first place
Goodwill is a chain of thrift stores you would find throughout the US and Canada with a wide range of used consumer goods.
But is it safe to shop at Goodwill? Do they check for bed bugs in their clothing and furniture?
Let’s find out…
Company Background – What are Goodwill Stores
Goodwill stores are run by a non-profit charitable organization with a mission to help people find more jobs. They offer free career and skill training on their website with the donations and profits made by their thrifting business.
According to their website, the organization managed to provide free job training and financial education to more than 36 million people in the US and Canada last year. It has a mammoth network of 2300 retail stores in both countries. Which makes it accessible for most households in the US.
Why are Goodwill Stores So Popular?
Goodwill sells a wide array of used items for a fraction of the retail price. The items sold are gently used and can still serve their purpose with the right owner. People who don’t feel the need for used stuff can easily donate their items to goodwill.
Goodwill stores are a smart way to save money. Not every item you’ll find at Goodwill would be a gem or even worth the price. But if you dig deep enough you are definitely going to find some good finds be it in jewelry, clothing, furniture or appliances.
It’s a shopping experience with a touch of adventure. You never know what you’ll find!
The reason for Goodwill’s popularity also lies in its charity donations towards the community. It is a great way of giving back, and it attracts lots of buyers that resonate with the purpose.
The Supply Chain of Goodwill Stores
To understand the probability of getting bed bugs from Goodwill stores, you first need to understand the supply chain of Goodwill.
With over 2300 retail stores, and more than 20000 items added to their store shelves every single day. You might be wondering where all this supply comes from.
Goodwill does not pay any upfront cost for any of these items in their stores. In fact, all items are donations that have been given to Goodwill for the well-being of the community.Now since these are semi-used items that people have stopped caring about.
Chances are they do not come from the most hygenic of places.Which means bed bug infestation in a small portion of the items is possible and is highly likely.
Does Goodwill Sanitize for Bed Bugs?
Like many other thrift stores, Goodwill does sanitize items for bed bugs. Goodwill has a wide range of products that are donated every day. Most of which include clothing, jewelry and furniture and appliances.
Why Doesn’t Goodwill Treat Clothes for Bed Bugs?
According to a Goodwill employee, they used to wash and dry clean clothing back in 2001, but have now replaced the whole process with a quick deodorizing spray, in hopes of getting rid of the bad odor the clothes bring in.
With the scale of clothing and other donations Goodwill receives. It takes a huge number of resources including electricity, washing powder, water and space for the organization to keep the process going. To save costs, the organization has now compromised on the quality of products sold according to a corporate decision.
Infact, in their donating Do’s and Don’t they mention to not donate any broken and spoiled items, and to Wash or dry-clean clothing before donating.
Does Goodwill Furniture or Clothes Have Bed Bugs ?
Yes, it is definitely possible for you to get bed bugs from Goodwill clothes or furniture. Any second hand items you buy can contain tons of pests and impurities. While most of the items come from homes where the owners only donate clean and usable items for charity.
All of the items are sorted in a combined facility where they get in touch with items that were not sent from clean environments. Bed bugs have the ability to rapidly multiply and grow to new places. Which can lead to infesting the item you buy at the store.
Tips for Prevention
Thrift stores like Goodwill serve a really good purpose of providing affordable items, and helping the community with the revenue generated. These stores can provide value to an average consumer if you are careful with it.
Here are a few tips to not get bed bugs when thrift shopping at Goodwill.
Avoid High Risk Items
There are some items that have a higher chance of bed bug infestation. Either because they are naturally a better hiding spot for bed bugs or because they provide easy access to humans when we sleep. So they can feast on our blood at night.
These items include:
- Bed Frames
- Side tables and lamps
Thoroughly Examine Items
There is no surefire way to confirm if the items you are buying at Goodwill will have bed bugs. Atleast, not while you’re in the store. But you can thoroughly check the items to lessen the chances of your home being infested.
If you are buying clothes, a pillow or curtains. Try to scan for bed bugs from the inside out. Check for bed bugs in the seams, edges and zippers of the clothing. Bed bugs usually like to hang around tight and dark places where they can hide easily.
A perfect tool that would help you identify bed bugs in daylight is a flashlight. You can use a small one to illuminate any bed bugs crawling around even in the darkest of shades.
Launder Clothes When You Get Back Home
It’s hard to check for clothes for bed bugs in a thrift store. Most of the time, bed bugs would not be visible in broad daylight. You would need a flashlight to identify bed bugs if any exist.
The only surefire way to make sure you don’t keep the bed bugs you brought home, is to launder all clothes you buy at Goodwill.
Laundering used clothes from Goodwill is extremely important, even if they don’t have bed bugs. Since these clothes come from a lot of different neighborhoods, they will not have a pleasant odor. These clothes can also contain germs and pollutants that might trigger allergies.
So make sure to wash all of the clothing with hot water before using it for regular use.
Why Does Goodwill Furniture Have Bed Bugs?
All the furniture Goodwill has is donated by people who support the charity. A wide majority of the furniture is old, or is donated because of moving places. Because people tend to move from places with bed bug infestations. The chances of Goodwill furniture catching bed bugs is very high.
It is definitely possible to treat all kinds of furniture for bed bugs using chemical or heat services. But it is not practical for huge thrift stores like Goodwill because of the following reasons.
- Every bed bug treatment can take weeks to fully eradicate bed bugs (except heat treatment).
- Bed bugs can be easily spread to different items which is why you need to have a lot of space to keep treated furniture separated, so they don’t get re-infested.
The space and cost associated with the whole exterminating process would cost a fortune to the store. Which is probably why their corporations decide to not pay extra for this process. There could be an interesting debate on whether Goodwill should spend this extra money to make their products better, and compensate for the cost by increasing the price.
Since more people would be willing to pay a bigger buck for better quality.
I Got Bed Bugs from Goodwill – What to Do Now?
If your house is infested with bed bugs after shopping at Goodwill. You first need to comprehend how far the infestation has spread in severity. Dealing with bed bugs early in the infestation is a much cost and time efficient way.
Start with identifying the items you had thrifted recently from stores like Goodwill. Once you go through the stuff that potentially could be the source of bed bugs, treat them for bed bugs accordingly.
If you had recently bought clothing at the store, go ahead and wash all of them with hot water. If it was furniture. Put it in the backyard under the sun for 4-5 hours, and it would be more than enough to eradicate bed bugs.
There are a wide range of DIY extermination methods you can use to eradicate bed bugs in the initial phase. However, if it has been weeks since bed bugs were multiplying in your home. Getting a professional exterminator is the best option to save yourself from further damage.