Is it Safe to Buy Used Shoes at the Thrift Store?

Thrift stores have become popular destinations for budget-conscious shoppers and eco-conscious individuals looking to reduce waste and give pre-loved items a new life. While purchasing second-hand clothes and accessories is a sustainable and economical choice, buying used shoes raises some safety concerns. In this blog post, we will explore the safety aspects and considerations when buying used shoes at thrift stores, ensuring you make informed decisions during your thrifting adventures.

Is it Safe to Buy Used Shoes at the Thrift Store?

Buying used shoes at thrift stores can be safe with proper precautions. Ensure hygiene by inspecting and disinfecting shoes before wearing them. Check for proper fit and quality to avoid discomfort or foot issues. Avoid shoes with mold or damage. Being cautious and cleaning the shoes adequately can make thrift store purchases a safe and sustainable choice.

Safety ConsiderationsRecommendations
Hygiene and SanitizationInspect shoes for signs of wear and potential foot infections. Use disinfectant sprays or wipes before wearing.
Sizing and FitPrioritize shoes that match your size and foot shape for proper fit and comfort.
Inspecting Shoe QualityCheck for signs of damage, worn-out soles, loose stitching, or broken zippers.
Avoiding Mold or MildewAvoid shoes with visible mold or mildew, as they may pose health risks.
Personal ConsiderationsConsider foot conditions or medical concerns that may require specific types of shoes or orthotics.
Cleaning and DisinfectionClean and disinfect used shoes thoroughly before wearing. Wash removable insoles separately.
Try-On PolicyIf allowed, try on shoes with clean socks to assess fit and comfort. Know the store’s return policy.
Shoe’s HistoryInquire about the shoe’s history to gauge its condition and wear.
Quality CheckPrioritize quality over aesthetics to ensure the shoe’s integrity and durability.
  1. Hygiene and Sanitization: One of the primary concerns with buying used shoes is hygiene. Shoes can harbor bacteria, fungi, and foot odors, which may transfer to the new wearer. To ensure safety, inspect the shoes thoroughly and look for signs of wear and tear or potential foot infections. Consider using disinfectant sprays or wipes on the inside and outside of the shoes before wearing them.
  2. Sizing and Fit: Proper shoe fit is essential for foot health and comfort. At thrift stores, it may be challenging to find shoes in your exact size. Avoid compromising on fit, as ill-fitting shoes can lead to discomfort, blisters, and foot problems. Prioritize shoes that match your size and foot shape for a better fit.
  3. Inspecting Shoe Quality: Carefully inspect the shoes for signs of damage, such as worn-out soles, loose stitching, or broken zippers. Check for any signs of structural issues that could compromise the shoe’s integrity and comfort.
  4. Avoiding Shoes with Mold or Mildew: Mold and mildew growth can occur in shoes that have been stored in damp or humid environments. Avoid purchasing shoes with visible mold or mildew, as they can be challenging to clean and may pose health risks.
  5. Personal Considerations: Consider your own foot conditions or medical concerns when buying used shoes. People with certain foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis or bunions, may require specific types of shoes or orthotics for proper support.
  6. Cleaning and Disinfection: Before wearing used shoes, clean and disinfect them thoroughly. Remove any insoles and wash them separately. Use appropriate cleaning products or methods recommended for the shoe’s material.
  7. Try-On Policy: If the thrift store allows, try on the shoes with clean socks to assess their fit and comfort before making a purchase. If trying on isn’t permitted, be aware of the store’s return policy in case the shoes don’t fit well or meet your expectations.
  8. Consider the Shoe’s History: If possible, inquire about the shoe’s history, such as the previous owner’s usage, the age of the shoes, and the frequency of wear. This information can give you a better idea of the shoes’ condition and potential wear and tear.


Is it safe to buy shoes from a thrift store?

Buying shoes from a thrift store can be safe if you take proper precautions. Inspect and clean the shoes thoroughly before wearing to ensure hygiene and comfort.

How do you disinfect used shoes?

To disinfect used shoes, follow these steps:

  1. Remove any dirt or debris from the shoes.
  2. Use a disinfectant spray or wipes to clean the insoles and interior.
  3. Wipe the exterior with disinfectant, considering the shoe’s material.
  4. Allow the shoes to air dry completely before wearing.

Are thrift store items clean?

Thrift store items vary in cleanliness. While thrift stores generally clean and inspect donated items, it’s best to clean and disinfect second-hand items before use.

What are the disadvantages of thrift shopping?

Some disadvantages of thrift shopping include limited size and style options, potential wear and tear on used items, and the need for thorough cleaning and disinfection.

What does thrifted shoes mean?

Thrifted shoes refer to second-hand shoes purchased from thrift stores or other resale venues.

Is thrift shopping a good idea?

Thrift shopping can be a great idea for finding unique and affordable items. However, it requires careful inspection, cleaning, and consideration of personal preferences.

How do you clean second-hand shoes to be free of foot disease?

To clean second-hand shoes to be free of foot disease:

  1. Disinfect the shoes inside and out.
  2. Use a mixture of water and vinegar to remove odors and bacteria.
  3. Dry the shoes thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup.

How do you clean shoes before selling them?

Before selling used shoes, clean and disinfect them thoroughly to make them more appealing to buyers. Follow the steps mentioned earlier for disinfection.

Do disinfecting wipes work on shoes?

Yes, disinfecting wipes can effectively clean and sanitize shoes, especially on non-porous surfaces.

How do you wash things from a thrift store?

To wash thrift store items, follow the care instructions on the clothing tag or use appropriate cleaning methods for other items, such as using disinfectant for shoes or wiping down furniture with a suitable cleaner.

How do you clean things from a thrift store?

Cleaning thrift store items involves washing clothing, disinfecting shoes and accessories, and using suitable cleaners for other items like furniture.

How do you wash thrift?

Washing thrifted clothes involves machine or hand washing with suitable detergent, following the care instructions on the clothing tag.

Should I try on thrift store clothes?

If allowed, trying on thrift store clothes is recommended to ensure proper fit and comfort.

Is thrift store eco-friendly?

Thrift stores promote eco-friendliness by encouraging the reuse and recycling of clothing and other items, reducing waste and the need for new production.

Why is thrifting not sustainable?

Thrifting is generally considered sustainable due to reusing pre-existing items, but its sustainability may be compromised if consumers excessively buy and discard items.

Are thrifted clothes safe after washing?

Thrifted clothes are generally safe after proper washing, as washing helps remove any potential bacteria or contaminants.

Can you catch anything from thrift store clothes?

While the risk is low, it’s possible to catch certain conditions from thrift store clothes if they haven’t been properly cleaned and disinfected before use.

How to sterilize clothes?

Sterilizing clothes typically involves using hot water and appropriate detergents during washing to kill bacteria and germs.

How do you disinfect shoe soles?

To disinfect shoe soles, use disinfectant sprays, wipes, or a mixture of water and vinegar. Scrub the soles thoroughly and let them air dry.

Is thrifting second hand?

Yes, thrifting involves buying or selling second-hand items at thrift stores or other resale outlets.

What is the difference between thrifted and vintage?

“Thrifted” refers to second-hand items bought at thrift stores, while “vintage” refers to older, classic items with a sense of nostalgia.

Why do people love thrift shopping?

People love thrift shopping for the affordability, unique finds, and the satisfaction of sustainable and eco-friendly shopping.

What do you call a person who loves thrifting?

A person who loves thrifting is often called a “thrifter” or a “thrift enthusiast.”

Why is thrifting so popular now?

Thrifting’s popularity has grown due to increased environmental awareness, budget-consciousness, and the trend of sustainable fashion.

What kills foot bacteria in shoes?

Disinfectants, such as alcohol-based sprays, can effectively kill foot bacteria in shoes.

Do you disinfect your shoes?

Disinfecting shoes is a good practice to maintain hygiene and prevent the spread of bacteria and odors.

Can you get fungus from second-hand shoes?

While the risk is low, it’s possible to contract a fungal infection from second-hand shoes if they have not been properly cleaned and disinfected.

How long do you have to soak your shoes before you clean them?

There’s no specific time frame for soaking shoes before cleaning, but a few minutes to allow the cleaning agent to penetrate is generally sufficient.

Does a dry cleaner clean shoes?

Some dry cleaners offer shoe-cleaning services, but it’s essential to inquire about their specific services.

How long do shoes take to dry after cleaning?

The drying time for shoes after cleaning varies depending on the shoe material and the cleaning method used. It may take several hours to a day for shoes to dry completely.

Are baby wipes good for cleaning shoes?

Baby wipes can be used for cleaning shoes, especially for quick touch-ups and surface cleaning.

Can you wash shoes in a washing machine?

Not all shoes can be safely washed in a washing machine. Check the shoe’s care label or manufacturer’s instructions before attempting to machine wash.

Is it OK to clean shoes with wet wipes?

Yes, wet wipes can be used to clean shoes, especially for spot cleaning and removing surface dirt.


Buying used shoes at thrift stores can be a sustainable and cost-effective way to add unique pieces to your footwear collection. However, it’s crucial to prioritize hygiene, fit, and quality during the selection process. Thoroughly inspect and clean the shoes before wearing them, and be mindful of any personal foot concerns. By being informed and cautious, you can safely enjoy the thrifting experience and discover hidden gems without compromising on comfort and safety.