Why Shopping Vintage and Secondhand Totally Grosses Me Out... And How to Get Over It!

I’m not gonna lie - I’ve urged, cringed and if I’ve thought about old clothes worn by other people too much, it’s made me feel totally weeeeirrd 😵‍💫


Before you start, I totally hear you screaming "But woman, you bloody sell vintage, what the hell are you on about!?"

Yep. I know. It sounds totally mad doesn't it? A vintage seller saying second hand clothes give them the heebie jeebies?


Well, they kind of do - nothing makes me shudder in disgust quite like:

  • Pocket fluff
  • Other people's pits n bits
  • Old used tissues
  • Ancient dust
  • Stale and musty smells


But I still LOVE vintage! And why?

The reasons are endless but these decide it for me:
🧡 Amazing pieces for a fraction of the cost of what their quality would be new!
🧡 Being confident that no one will be wearing the same thing as you at a party, wedding or event!
🧡 It’s literally helping stop the supply and demand chain of fast fashion being created and thrown away at the hugely damaging quantities it currently is.
🧡 There’s literally nothing cooler than being able to channel the style of bygone eras with the actual pieces they wore, rather than with modernised, badly made rip offs!
🧡 And I love nothing more than saying “It’s vintage darling!” when people ask where I got my outfit!

It’s ethical, sustainable, it helps small businesses, it fills up our high street AND ITS FUN! But that doesn’t mean I can forget why it makes me all… 😵‍💫

So, over the years I’ve put together a little tool kit that takes gross to gorgeous, ick to incredible and it’s the steps I follow before selling the vintage I source!

Lucky for you guys, I know sharing is caring, so keep scrolling for my top tips...


How to Clean, Refresh and Get Rid of Odours in Vintage and Secondhand Clothing


Your Freezer is your Friend

There's nothing worse than thinking about the bacteria and micro organisms that could be living on that divine vintage faux fur you just scored in your local thrift store - and honestly, it just makes you wanna hot wash it in the machine right?


And definitely put down the Zoflora. All your garments really need to kill any nasty bacteria that's on them is a little overnight stay in the luxury accomodation that is...

The Freezer. Glamorous, chic, and fabulous - I KNOW.

Just pop it in a cotton tote bag, chuck it in the freezer, and leave it overnight - voila, jobs a good'n, bacteria is gone without any risk of ruining your favourite new piece!

(This is also a great way to refresh jeans without having to wash them!)

Let's Get Steamy!

Vintage fabrics can be super delicate, and sometimes the thought of washing and ironing them just to freshen them up seems a little too much of a risk - and let's be honest, we've all ruined something we love by carelessly tossing it into a washer, only for it to come out 10 sizes too small, totally discoloured or with warped seams (RIP, beautiful clothes!)

 A steamer is your best friend.

Not only will it gently smooth out any crinkles - which is great when you're on the go - the heat of the steam will carefully but completely kill any lurking bacteria - perfect if it’s a little whiffy but otherwise good to go.


PPE Time

The thought of reaching into a pocket and not knowing what I’m going to find makes me feel physically sick - I’m not even joking. If I've ever tried something on at a vintage sale and put my hands in the pockets, I've instantly recoiled in disgust.

It's like a smugglers cave but of a grubbier sort - you just don't know what you're going to find in there... and from who!

It took me ages to work out the best way around this grim little task, but finally I worked out the best method for me:

I now always don a mask and some vinyl gloves to sort vintage, so that I can empty and clean pockets without getting too up-close-and-personal with someone else’s pocket dust and discarded hankies! 

Better yet - use a pair of Marigolds just for vintage, and then you can reuse them over and over!


Fresh Footwork

Podophobia is a severe phobia of feet - I hear it’s pretty unusual, but feeling icky about someone else’s cheesers in a pair of shoes is not!

We all know that stinky feet aren't just a joke or a hygeine myth - one day in the hot sun wearing the wrong shoes will have even the cleanest piggies hot, sticky and sweaty. Gross, I know, but it's true!

There's loads of great ways to renew the look of vintage shoes, but that doesn't help you get over the grim bit...

Best way to get old shoes feeling like brand new? Insoles!

From memory foam to sheepskin, you can get all kinds of insoles to suit you - and once fitted in those gorgeous vintage booties, they’ll feel BRAND NEW.

I'm personally a massive fan of sheepskin ones in boots and anything that's a little too big. It keeps you cosy, is super comfy, AND makes them a little snugger.


Be Gone, Bobbles!

Ok, so this has absolutely nothing to do with hygiene but everything to do with making things look fresh, new and clean. And it’s about bobbles.

So many fabrics through time shed lint which then balls up into tiny bobbles. Not only do they feel rough to the touch but they can disrupt patterns and dull colours.

But this doesn’t have to be the only way!

There’s plenty of methods for debobbling - from cashmere combs to disposable razors.

But one of my all time best investments is my electric debobbler! I can smooth out a vintage knit in minutes with this handy tool, from joggers to dresses and everything inbetween! 


And Finally...

One of the most important things I’ve learnt in my quest to shop more sustainably and buy second hand is to learn how to wash clothes properly.

Buy the right detergent and conditioner for your items, wash only when they really need it, and always read the care label. 

With the right care, even fast, throwaway fashion can last a lifetime and it’ll mean you can get so much more wear from all your garments.

Sure, it’s a chore - but no one said saving the planet was gonna be easy!



So, there we have it - a great guide to cleaning your vintage and removing the gross from the glam!

Why Shopping Vintage and Secondhand Totally Grosses Me Out... And How to Get Over It!
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1 comment

Just read ‘how to get over the grossness of vintage clothes’. Loved it. I found it very helpful 👍🏼👍🏼💋

Verity Day

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