The “Ewww” Factor

by Katy on May 22, 2014 · 78 comments

An interesting post came up the other day over at The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group about buying used sheets.

Here’s what Susan wrote:

“I just purchased (at a great price) 3 sets of sheets at a thrift store which will become the sheets we take to our rented beach house each year. My husband will balk at used sheets. You guys buy used linens, right? I’m not crazy, correct? They are all in great shape. Just not our normal style, but it’s week a year. Who cares? Also my thriftiness is how we afford the beach house. Sorry. Venting. Used sheets are a yes, yes??”

The member response (84 of them so far) was 100% in favor of used sheets being just dandy, with many pointing out that hotels and hospitals use their sheets over and over again.

I’m personally totally fine with used sheets, with my very favorite fitted sheet being a Ralph Lauren burgundy/brown cotton sheet I picked up at a Seattle Goodwill a few years ago. I pretty much wash it and then put it right back onto the bed the same day. It’s so soft and smooth!

But it got me thinking about how everyone has a completely different line in the sand for what’s too gross to be buying (or garbage picking) used for their home. For example, I’m totally fine with picking up dropped elastic hair bands for my personal use. I simply wash and completely dry them first. And since my daughter has lately been sporting a ponytail lately, I actually picked up a few extra while walking around the soccer track last night. I do buy new underwear and bras, but that’s pretty much it. And if I were to find a used bra in my, ahem . . . voluptuous size I’d actually have no problem buying it. I buy used shoes, (although only ones that look brand new) as do my teenage sons.

But everyone’s used-stuff comfort level is different.

What do you consider too disgusting to be buying used? And has your experience with non-consumerism challenged your previous level of used-stuff comfort?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Krystal May 22, 2014 at 9:52 am

Underwear! Bras I’d be okay with (I bought a swimsuit top at Goodwill), but my chest is hard to shop for 2nd hand.


Kathleen May 22, 2014 at 10:19 am

Underwear is my line, although I don’t think I could use a found hairband, but that may have to do with bad memories of childhood encounters with lice.


Kitty USA May 22, 2014 at 10:20 am

No underwear or socks (unless socks looked new), shirts require a sniff test and should be near newish. Otherwise my purchases veer toward slightly used, not overly used stuff, but not new.


stephanie May 22, 2014 at 10:25 am

as strange as it sounds I think my no go besides lingerie would probably be fabric couches because I’d be afraid I’d never get the thrift store smell out. I know that’s weird. . . . I did accept a handmedown couch and chairs from my mom that they just got tired of. So it’s not that I’m against used, I guess I just want to know where its been?


K D May 22, 2014 at 10:26 am

Even though I don’t buy everything used I am not opposed to it for most items. I agree with you on underwear and add socks to the list (not wanting to pick up a fungal infection or warts). Sometimes my husband finds abandoned clothing, hats, gloves, etc. I have washed and worn some of them and passed others along. I have used dishes and silverware, used books, etc. I would be cautious about upholstered furniture (because of bed bugs and cockroaches) but I am not against it and have curb picked furniture in my home. I am more cautious about food than you are, being a bit of a germ-phobic. People also sleep on “used” sheets with they stay with friends/relatives.

I have short hair so I don’t have to decide about hair rubber bands.

This is another great topic Katy!


Kate May 22, 2014 at 10:30 am

Well, I’m perfectly happy having my 11-year-old son wear hand-me-down underwear from a friend’s son, but I don’t think I could wear used underwear myself. I know, I know, it makes no sense, but that’s the way it is.


KathyP April 12, 2024 at 2:14 am

Totally agree, happily bought a few seconds hand nappies for my dad(9), just the fancy ones as I had got flat nappies which are now cloths!!! But second hand undies is a no, shoes hardly used, but for me not for DDas feel that her feet are still forming and don’t need someone else’s shape. and wellies, especially as we live on a smallholding and DD spends her life in them, I go through lots of wellies.
We did our own wedding reception at home and bought all crockery and cutlery from our local (at the time) dump. Still have some, but re-donated a load back. They also have an amazing bookshop, as a home ed mum, and a book hoarder, we come home with far more then we should, but do redistribute the fun later.


Jeanine May 22, 2014 at 10:32 am

I won’t wear used shoes, or buy used sheets, mattresses, panties, or bras. I think it’s nasty. My gross out level is negative 0 for these things.

I don’t sleep on hotel sheets, or comforters. I pack my own. I also spray down the beds with Lysol and use a black light. I don’t walk barefoot in hotel rooms.

Hi. My name is Jeanine, and I have issues with sheets that aren’t mine.

I have worked in the hotel industry, and did a rotation in housekeeping. It was not pretty.

I have never been hospitalized, but both my children have, and as they were non emergency situations, I requested to bring my own linens and was given permission as long as they were presented in sealed bag with a dry cleaners receipt. The staff was even kind enough to offer to launder them during the stay. I declined, I didn’t want the sheets swishing around in water with a strangers urine or blood or mucus or other bodily fluids.

Like I said in another post on FB…..everything isn’t for everybody.

I picked up a set of Wilton’s baking sheets by the curb the other day, sanitized them, and used them the next day. No issues at all.


Kristen May 23, 2014 at 3:22 am

Wouldn’t the dryer kill any germs on sheets?


Jenny May 22, 2014 at 10:37 am

Sheets are fine with me, as are bras (and I seem to have little trouble finding them in my voluptuous size). Used panties are not okay, and swimsuits make me kinda uncomfortable, but I usually go for it, and just make sure I wash it really well in hot water first.

I also don’t like used makeup, especially lipstick or chapstick. Used lotion, shampoo, or conditioner (not used like wiped off of someone else, but a partially used bottle) is fine, but not deodorant. Used toothbrushes are icky too.


A. Marie May 22, 2014 at 10:48 am

Jenny’s go and no-go items are pretty much the same as mine. I would only add that in this as in all other areas of non-consumerism, common sense should prevail. If a used item is in good condition and is either impeccably clean or can be cleaned easily, don’t hesitate.


Coral Clarke February 9, 2024 at 2:40 pm

If it can be sanitised I’m up for it, but with the ( irrational!) exclusion of undies


Sue Robinson May 22, 2014 at 11:09 am

My “ewww” factor is used pj bottoms for me. I wouldn’t balk at buying them for kids, but just the idea that someone has slept and sweated in pj bottoms is offputting for me. I’ve bought new underwear, almost new shoes, and (gasp) a bra at Goodwill and these are fine. But pjs? Not so much!


Megyn May 22, 2014 at 11:11 am

When I started buying second hand, I was really weird about cooking items. I’m very much a germaphobe, so I had to bleach anything I’d put food on. Now, I’m pretty much fine with most things used, except half-eaten foodstuffs. Like Katy taking the food from her mother’s guest cottages…I could NEVER do that. I don’t even like to share certain food stuffs with my family members, let alone complete strangers. I have a very high standard when it comes to what I will ingest lol!


Sarah May 22, 2014 at 11:20 am

Used is the way to go on almost everything, including sheets. Years ago I worked in retail, so if you think that new outfit on the hanger hasn’t been tried on by several bodies, think again.

I draw the line at food and furniture. My husband’s friend is a major dumpster diver and I finally told him to forget the candy. My kids don’t need it and unless it’s triple wrapped, I don’t want it. As for furniture, we live in an area that’s had problems with bedbugs. I don’t need any new furniture, but would avoid picking up something that I can’t toss in the wash and dryer.


frugalscholar May 22, 2014 at 11:24 am

Amy D of The Tightwad Gazette wrote about this: she called it the squeam factor. That book is full of timeless wisdom.


Christine May 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I wouldn’t do socks, under wear or pjs for the purely pychological feeling that I couldn’t get them clean… especially if they looked really “lived in.” Although if the item made it through any kind of a culling process at the thrift shop, only the newish and once-worn stuff tends to make it through since these items (except pjs) tend to show wear early.
I did buy a swimsuit, wash it in hot water, and hang it in the blazing sun for a few days, but I still feel a bit ewwy about it. I can do shoes if the are dress shoes with a shiny interior finish (usually pumps) that I can wipe clean, but not sandals with a leather footbed. I have never had luck with athlectic shoes for myself, but I’ve done it for my toddler son and just run them through the wash with a little Javex first (also how I prolong the life of my own). I have bought Teva-type sandals for my son and scrubbed them hard with a brush and soapy water/given them the same hot sun treatment.
Often it’s not the actual grossness, just your ability to get past the mental break. If it can’t be cleaned but LOOKS very clean (eg children’s books) that passes the test, or if can be thoroughly cleaned by me, then I’m usually ok with it.


ArdenLynn May 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm

I am pretty open to used. I did have a problem when a family member dropped off a grocery sack full of her used underwear. One of the first clues of dementia though so all was forgiven.
What disgusts me personally is having the $30 clearance sheets from Target have huge holes in them within a year of use. I have three sets of sheets so it isn’t like they saw hard wear. That disgusted me and I won’t buy that kind of thing from Target every again. Ever.


Trish May 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

no used underwear, but nothing else would bother me, as long as it’s in good condition – I hate to see the beat up pots and pans at the Goodwill, with a scratched no-stick surface. I am curious though as to how much of our discomfort is learned, rather than innate. I remember in college, my roommate was gone for the weekend, and a friend from down the hall in the dorm came and slept in my roommate’s bed, on her sheets. My roommate was horrified – both that my friend did this, and that SHE nearly slept on them before she found out. It hadn’t occurred to me to give that a second thought, but now I do. I am glad though, that I am not a germophobe. I so detest the way advertisers cater to peoples’ sensibilities regarding ‘germs’ on surfaces.


Lynndee May 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm

I love 2nd hand stuff. Anytime I can save something from being thrown out by fixing it up, I’m all for it. But I’ve also met quite a few people who get freaked out by it. Sometimes those fears are easy to remedy but it’s tricky when it gets tied to status and people think 2nd hand stuff isn’t good enough for whatever image they’re going for. Then it’s a challenge to show them how to make that old stuff sparkle like new again. It’s possible, once you do it for them and they see how great it looks 🙂


Kathleen May 22, 2014 at 3:23 pm

I have a Cambodian neighbor whose husband was sure that I would be offended if she offered me her kids’ used clothes. These issues can be very culturally-ingrained.


Diane May 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I’m pretty sure that being the third daughter, I probably wore hand-me down underwear. I lived. My mom never talked about it — clothes just appeared in my drawer. As an adult, I’ve never worn used underwear. 🙂


Magi June 13, 2014 at 10:42 am

Looking around the house we only own two pieces of furniture that we bought new. We all sleep on used mattresses, wear used clothes when we can score them, and gladly accept hand me downs. My kids are currently wearing some undies from their cousin who wore them for a short time before refusing them due to the elastic in the leg holes bothering her. They were like new, just a nice hot wash and dry and I have no problem with them. I wouldn’t take used undies from a stranger for them, or any used undies for myself. I am currently wearing a great bra that one of my closest friends couldn’t use after she lost weight. I once got a bag of great condition keen and merrell shoes for myself and my kids at a goodwill outlet. Lysoled them and set them out to air dry for a few days, but we’ve been happily wearing them since. My husband refuses to wear even brand new underwear if they are white. He can’t stand being able to see even his own sweat and bum stains. LOL.


Rb May 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

I have virtually no ewww factor. Honestly i grew up on used clothes, shoes, and swimsuits. The only thing i am careful with is matresses and sofas, but as long as they are clean and i know where they came from i am fine. Our current matress came from my parents’ friends who slept on it twice and hated it so they were throwing it out. It never made it to the curb and we have been sleeping on it for 7 yrs.

And i think both my sons and my husb are currently using used swim trunks.


Megyn May 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm

You know, my boys and hubby are in used swim trunks too. I don’t know why that doesn’t bother me, but a women’s bikini bottoms would. Maybe because it’s more like underwear and fits more snugly?


kathleen May 22, 2014 at 5:23 pm

I used to think used panties were disgusting until I was in a great thrift store and found a bunch new and some used. They were really nice and cheap. So I bought them and washed and felt fine about it. It sounds so gross, but I needed them, they were cheap and have lasted me a long time. I look at pillows as being kinda icky, but again, a nice gently used pillow is okay. I guess it just depends a lot on what kind of shape something is in.


Martha May 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I love this topic. I buy tons of used sheets and towels because I strip them up and weave with them. Often they are in far better shape than the ones my family uses, but they are bright colors. So I often keep them to sleep in or towel off with for awhile before they become a woven item.
It never even crossed my mind to be grossed out by used sheets or towels. I guess undies are weird, but like many others, my kids have worn many a used boxer shorts of our neighbor boys. It also hasnt crossed my mind to be grossed out by shoes and I have no problem with Katy taking food from her mom’s rentals, I would do the same. I have low standards and I assume I have a pretty strong immune system as a result! And I think that is a positive thing!!
My favorite nightgown is used and if I could find a new one like it I might buy it, but it is simple and cotton (and now with several holes in it) and I haven’t found those new.
I think a used bra would be OK with me, but I haven’t bought one yet…I guess I haven’t tried. I have definitely bought a used couch but we dont have big bed bugs issues around here.


Amanda May 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Underwear and swimsuit bottoms are a no go. Bras, socks, swim trunks (don’t know why its different for the men), pants, shirts, dresses, and even nightgowns and “babydolls” (lingerie that doesn’t have underwear pieces) are perfectly fine with me. Upholstered furniture must stand up to a sniff test and be treated with several rounds of natural (think, essential oils and the like) bug treatments in the garage before I am willing to bring indoors (after checking again). Either that, or they must be from a home that I know and am comfortable with. Blankets, pillows, and shoes are cool and easily cleaned. Of course, wooden toys, wood furniture, and any glass, ceramic and metal dishware.

What actually weirds me out is used plastic stuff …but thats partly because its plastic (and so much more risky for our health) and partly because plastic never seems to come clean and be truly scrubbable. Its too soft…


Sadye May 22, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Any shoes that I would wear without socks.


Lori in Michigan May 22, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Big time squick factor with used underwear, swimsuits, PJ bottoms, and socks. But used bath towels are in a category of their own. Bath towels have “been places”, if you know what I mean. And I get creeped out by linen napkins. I know they have been washed, but when I think about other people’s mouths all over the place… it’s heebie jeebie time. I will never buy a used mattress either – bleah!!


Linda May 22, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Do you use linen napkins at restaurants?


Su Mama May 26, 2014 at 3:49 pm

For our rental cottages, I have bought bath towels, washcloths and hand towels at Target, and have found they last for years. I’ve learned to buy them in white, as on several cases, they look like “they been places, if you know what I mean.” (Love that expression!) In that case, I bleach them within an inch of their lives in the machine, and if that doesn’t take care of it, soak them in very bleachy water overnight — probably shortening their lives, but I can’t put them in the cottages. The washcloths have often been used for removing makeup, so they’ll get the same treatment. They also disappear with some regularity.


Randi November 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

You could always offer black washcloths for makeup. That’s what a few placed I’ve stayed in have done.


Linda in Mass May 22, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Used underwear and bathing suits are a no for me. My favorite pair of pj bottoms are second hand.


Megg May 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Underwear and bras (they do get stretched out, so I think they’re best bought new), a bathing suit (I don’t wear 2 pieces so I’d only be buying 1 piece, and ew) and a hair band I couldn’t do used.
I have no problem with used sheets though…throw them in the wash with a scoop of oxi-clean!
For kids I’ve heard that you should buy new shoes because of their developing feet, but I don’t mind used shoes myself.


Betty April 8, 2024 at 5:28 am

Used undies or bras, no. Used mattress or stuffed furniture only from places I know and trust. Used shoes, usually not, I prefer to wear out my own. Used swimsuit, maybe. a good portion of my clothes were thrifted,so …


jennifer p May 22, 2014 at 6:34 pm

underwear ,bras and socks have to be new.also i woundnt buy a used sofa because of bugs.otherwise i am fine with buying long as i can wash whatever it is,no problem.and i am kind of a germaphobe.


Allison May 22, 2014 at 8:40 pm

I wonder if the husband who wouldn’t sleep on the thrift store sheets uses cloth napkins in nice restaurants? People blow their noses in them, for crying out loud, and they just get washed and bleached. Does he sleep on hotel sheets? Use hotel or gym towels? Try on new clothing in stores?

Clearly I don’t understand the squeam factor with washable fabric. My two boys (9 and 6) have had second-hand underwear their entire lives – all acquired as hand me downs or from garage sales, in like-new condition since kids don’t exactly wear out their undies as fast as they grow. So far, nobody in our family has died from cooties in used undies.


Megyn May 23, 2014 at 4:01 am

Ok, my boys DEFINITELY wear out undies. They’ve had the same pairs fit for 3 straight years (from 2-5). They are getting dingy, and I finally had to buy a new set for each.


surviving and thriving on pennies May 22, 2014 at 10:19 pm

I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy all 6 of us anything if I bought only new stuff. Thankfully I grew up knowing thrift stores was where you went to buy stuff. My mama was a single mom raising 2 girls. Thrift stores back then were not organized and almost like a big rummage sale. Be thankful people! lol. But serious we buy everything but undies used. I buy from Goodwill Outlets because you get clothes at 80 something cents a pound. I even dig with no gloves. Oh SHOCKER!!! I wash my hands after I pay. I take them home, wash them and we move on with life. Just today I picked up a stainless steel thong set and tea mesh ball for the kitchen. Paid 99 cents each from a regular Goodwill. Its just the way I think. We giggle at how much stuff cost in big box stores. Thats because we know we would pay 25 cents for a shirt that they sell for $30. Its a no brainer for us.


Jo@simplybeingmum May 23, 2014 at 1:29 am

I couldn’t buy a used mattress. I know that I have to sleep on them when/if I visit a hotel etc… but it does bother me. Probably really silly. As for sheets – they wash – a hot wash is pretty effective. You can’t hot wast mattresses though ‘ewww’…


lori May 23, 2014 at 3:29 am

Used shoes are a big no for me because when I was a kid I caught plantar warts from wearing someone else’s shoes. In this case we were playing dress up, it was horrible painful and took a year of painful treatment to get rid of.


lori May 23, 2014 at 3:29 am

Used shoes are a big no for me because when I was a kid I caught plantar warts from wearing someone else’s shoes. In this case we were playing dress up, it was horrible painful and took a year of painful treatment to get rid of.


stephanie May 23, 2014 at 3:40 am

I am immunesupressed so food is out. I don’t share with my family- even the three year old knows if she wants a taste she has to bring me a clean fork/glass/whatever for her. I will accept furniture from known entities (like my inlaws) and clothing is a yes please except bras and underwear. I am picky about shoes, they must be like new. Pretty much anything that can be washed is a yes. And books- we really like books. I wish I could find secondhand towels and sheets here, they are so worn out by the time they are donated.


Rubymay1029 May 23, 2014 at 3:55 am

My hubby freaked out when I suggested I buy a used coffee maker at the thrift store. I was shocked, but then my middle daughter (19) seconded his “squeam” factor. They said you never know what a person has run through that machine. I gave in, but think they are weird. As for underwear, I don’t even pass it from one kid to the next. eeeeeewww! Bathing suits for females are also on my no-no list, but that’s about it. Finding a used item that can be brought back to life feels like winning a game. I like to win!


jill May 23, 2014 at 4:05 am

I guess underwear is really all for me – I have used sheets, worn “found” pony tail holders and previously used shoes. I just put everything through a load or two of hot in the washing machine and if it makes it out ok, then I’m ok with it.


JD May 23, 2014 at 4:20 am

Like many, used underwear, used makeup and personal care products, used mattresses unless they came from family members, and any overly used items. I will buy used furniture, but cautiously, since my sister, whose whole house is furnished with consignment furniture, once returned a bedroom set that she discovered had some kind of bug in it — not termites, something else — that destroys wood and can travel to your other furniture. A pest control man examined it when she found wood “pills” in the backs of the drawers and told her to get rid of it, fast.


Diane May 23, 2014 at 4:29 am

Almost everything after a terrible bedbug incident few years ago when I had to toss out almost all my possessions due to infestation. These critters and eggs can be in anything and impossible to see. I also haven’t slept in a hotel since then either. Crazy, I know, but after you have been through a bedbug infestation, you become very, very leery.

And yes, dryer heat does kill them, but you bring them into the house in your thrifted or used purchases to get to the dryer.


Maggie May 23, 2014 at 7:08 am

My line is undies. I have bought used bras, namely when I was postpartum and my boobs went from an A to a DD in the space of two days. I couldn’t justify spending $30 on a bra I didn’t know if I’d be able to wear in a week, so I went to the thrift store.
I also won’t curb pick couches or mattresses. One of my friends put a couch on the curb once after her toddler pooed on it, and saw it a week later on Craigslist. Ever since she told me that I just can’t pick them up because… well, a toddler may have pooed on it!


marieann May 23, 2014 at 7:27 am

I always said I would never buy socks or underwear at thrift stores. Last year I bought socks and as another voluptuous bra size person I would be willing to buy bras if I could find them in my size. Also for shoes I only wear birkenstocks and I’ve never seen them in thrifts either.
We are limited by the size of the item as we don’t have access to a truck and renting one would negate the savings.
My husband did carry home a composter bin though.


Heidi May 23, 2014 at 8:09 am

I draw the line at underwear, though my kids have worn hand me down underwear – I’m not as squeamish about that. I would take a used mattress (and have) from a relative, but wouldn’t purchase one. And no half used cosmetics. But as far as anything else goes, if it can be washed, it’s fair game. I’ve bought all of my furniture used and have refinished and reupholstered them, and end up with much better quality stuff that way because I can buy really good quality stuff used, better quality than people spend 10x the amount on to buy new. The 2 couches that we bought at an estate sale years ago and reupholstered have lasted 20 years already and will last another 20 – they may need to be reupholstered again, but they are well made and show no signs of coming apart.


kris May 23, 2014 at 8:36 am

I pick up sheets 2nd hand whenever I find a good deal to put in with our camping gear and to use when our dogs may need them for something. I just wash them and no one seems to have a problem with it.

I’ve never even thought to buy undergarments 2nd hand, so yes, that is an “ew’ factor for me. My biggest ‘ew’ factor that I do think of is shoes. I just can’t put my feet in something someone else has worn. I just can’t do it.


Chantal May 23, 2014 at 11:36 am

Underwear is also where I draw the line. Everything else is fair game (excluding anything that is badly stained or smelly). I buy white towels and sheets from thrift stores and find that bleach and hot water work wonders, making them like new. The added benefit is that they go with any decor (though I know that some people find white to be too institutional).


Jill May 23, 2014 at 11:47 am

I would probably not buy a used mattress. Although, the previous owners of our house left us behind a futon and mattress which we happily used for a few months and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I think I’m missing the ‘ick factor’ gene or something. My sister and I are less than 2 years apart so we grew up trading clothes back and forth all the time – yes, there was basically just a giant pile of underwear that got divided in half after it came out of the dryer and was folded so even that doesn’t seem all that strange to me. I’m not sure I would buy it used, but a good washing does most things a world of good.

My very consumery best friend can’t even fathom line drying her clothes outside because her ewww factor is so completely off the charts. We both think the other is a little bit nuts.


Katy May 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

My sister left a pair of underwear behind last year and I’ve been wearing them, although they’re the last ones I choose and know it’s laundry day when they present themselves. Mostly my reluctance to wear them is because they’re tie-died in YELLOW, and a pale yellow at that.


Newbie May 23, 2014 at 6:02 pm

My answer 5 years ago is different than my answer today. There was bedbug infestation in my apartment building, thanks to someone else in the building who was fond of dumpster diving. I ended up tossing mattresses and other items that were ruined. It was expensive and months of awfulness. Now, I wouldn’t take second hand furniture from anyone except my parents & they understand why. I have no desire to go through that ordeal ever again.

I’ve accepted second hand kitchen items from my Mom. I’ve bought shower curtains and sets of sheets from the thrift store. No issues. The best bra I’ve ever owned – I found in a thrift store for $1.00. Now that I know the brand and style, I’ll put up the cash for a new one, because a great bra is hard to find. I never would’ve spent the money for a brand new one without that experience. The only thing I would refuse is used underwear. A girl has to draw the line somewhere…


Katelyn May 23, 2014 at 6:26 pm

I grew up quite poor frankly, and having anything is a gift. Nothing is really out of bounds for me, ick factor wise. I just bought a used bed and mattress, as well as a futon and mattress. I’m not in a financial position to do much else, and that doesn’t really bother me.
My dog has very severe dustmite allergies though, so the mattresses get a allergen reducing cover anyways, so perhaps that’s why I’m not so bothered?
Regardless, I don’t think I’ve had new furniture of any kind in my entire life, and almost all my clothes come from thrift stores.
Everyone is different, I suppose!


Katy May 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I bought a new couch in 1993 and it fell apart in a decade. My $125 1940’s couch is still going strong.

And our mattress is a hand-me-down from a friend of my mother’s. The frame was free from the leftovers at a garage sale. I did have a sketchy mattress in college, but I bought a zip-over cover and called it good. And yes, I survived.


Madeline May 24, 2014 at 3:11 am

Found a great pair of Teva Hiking sandals, $2.00, just washed them and have been wearing them for 2 years. .I tend to find good shoes frequently,sandals,kitten heels, you name it, I buy ’em no problem. Like most, used undies would skeeve me out.But that’s about my only issue. Just bought my second bread machine for $8.00.I actually wore out the first one I bought (also from goodwill.) We eat only whole grain breads and eat a lot of soup/bread meals. Found a new lid to replace the cracked glass lid on my old crockpot, for 25 cents. I buy up old books and sheet music to rip up for my paper craft hobby. Board games,found Scrabble set with the rotating game board for $1.00. It’s good for the environment and the soul to recycle. I have found brand new Chico’s jackets for $1.00, raincoats, comfy jeans (I LOVE wearing used jeans, they are already worn in and soft and comfy!!) and Dooney Burke handbags! WHY would I ever shop in the mall????? Pretty sure I would not dumpster dive.But I would use up the food you find in your Mom’s rental cabins.


Katy May 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm

You sound like my kind of gal!


Ruby Julian May 25, 2014 at 10:23 am

I would buy used bras if I could find them in my size, but draw the line at used underpants and swimsuits. Have bought upholstered furniture used before bed bugs became an issue, but I probably would not now, not unless it was the dead of winter and I could leave it outside in below freezing weather for a couple of nights.

With any clothing that can’t be laundered, like coats, I take it straight from the thrift store to the dry cleaner. Everything that can be washed is, with some liquid Lysol in the water. I blast used shoes with spray Lysol and set them outside in the sunshine.


Thel B May 25, 2014 at 11:23 am

I don’t mind used sheets and towels at all … as long as they’re good quality, why not. Where I draw the line is used pillowcases. I can usually find new pillowcases that are a near match for the used sheets. I tend to keep two sets of pillowcases because they get washed and changed more often than the sheets normally do.


Michele May 25, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Ok, so I once found a sex swing in a goodwill and I have to say I would draw the line there.


Rachel S. May 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm

I’d be ok with anything used in good condition. If it has stains or is stretched out, no. Otherwise my ick factor is super-low.


Arletta September 8, 2015 at 2:18 pm

I also have a very low ick factor. I guess I have a different outlook on used clothing…if washing it doesn’t get out whatever then we need to start throwing away all underwear after one use. As long as it’s in good condition and not stained it’s good to go.


Arletta September 8, 2015 at 2:20 pm

But that only applies to clothing. No way I would buy a used toothbrush, toiletries or cosmetics because of possible bacteria contamination.


Suzanne P. May 30, 2014 at 9:12 am

I’m trying to buy things that are made ethically (but also not too expensive). Finding underwear that meets both of those criteria is difficult. I read a book about money saving secrets of the Amish and they will buy used underwear. I figure if it’s good enough for the Amish it’s good enough for me. I bought some new looking used underwear last year and haven’t looked back. I really can’t think of anything I won’t buy used except a toothbrush.


Annie June 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Personal care items where you have to touch the applicator to your skin, underwear, bathing suits, mattresses, and furniture if I didn’t know the original owner well. Food depends on where it came from and how long it was sitting, since I’ve had food poisoning twice that sent me to the ER, (you know your hubby loves you when he cleans that up without flinching!) We did score leftover filet mignon once from a tourist family at the next table who had no fridge in their hotel room. We reheated it carefully.

One thing that truly skeeves me is when women apply makeup testers directly to their faces, especially mascara, hello?…ever heard of pinkeye?!….eeeewwwww….


Kate August 5, 2015 at 8:51 am

Feet and boobs are too odd to find used shoes or bras, though I’d be okay with it if I ever managed to find ’em.
Anything that can be laundered in hot water & vinegar is okay.
My personal care items consist of shampoo, soap, moisturizer, and a hairbrush so that’s not a thing.

No used mattresses or bed pillows, though I can’t imagine paying full price. Even with dust mite covers (my oldest is allergic), we need the support of good mattresses.


Heidi August 5, 2015 at 9:49 am

It depends where things are coming from, for me. We have traded kids clothes, bathing suits and underwear with family and friends and never batted an eye. We’ve been given used mattresses from family, but I probably wouldn’t buy used. I’ve never bought used underwear and wouldn’t, but sheets, shoes and clothing are often bought used. We have only 2 pieces of furniture that were bought new – everything else was bought used or inherited.

And I absolutely would have no problem washing and reusing hair bands or elastics.


Surviving and Thriving on Life August 5, 2015 at 10:09 am

Completely find with buying everything but used undies. We will buy new in packages from Goodwill but not used. We pass down undies from daughter to daughter or accept them from friends used. As for sheets…..used sheets are the only way we can afford to even buy them. Seriously WAY too expensive. I’ll take anyones used sheets any day! Save myself $50 + each set. YES!


Allison August 5, 2015 at 10:48 am

I couldn’t do socks, underwear or a swimsuit used. My real sticking point is a shoe that someone else has already worn without socks. I don’t mind a used boot, but that’s after a spray down and with a pair of socks. I have a thing with feet.

Sheets are one of my favorite used things. I just bought three pillowcases and a flat sheet at an estate sale for a few bucks. They feel like high dollar sheets they are so smooth. Plus you can find patterns that you might not see everywhere else and don’t lose if you take them on vacation.


Randi August 5, 2015 at 10:53 am

I probably have a few more squeam factors than most, but certainly less than my husband.

Anything that is designed to cover private areas – underwear, bras and bathing suits, any shoes (mainly because I have large feet, and an odd wear pattern), hair ties (too many encounters with lice) and socks.

Beyond that, used is fine with me, though I hesitate when it comes to mattresses or cloth couches, too many risks of bedbugs for my liking. I would only consider if I knew the source of the furniture well.


Jessica August 5, 2015 at 11:11 am

I thought that I had an eww list, but for the right thing, it goes out the window. I do squeak a little at trying on hats & tuques, but for a cute hat, it also goes out the window.
Shoes: I found a pair of birkenstocks that hadn’t made it past their 1 week breaking in period. For $8, those babies are coming home with me. Wiped down with lysol and thanked the thrifting gods.
Bras: Did a clothing swap with some girlfriends, right as mine were sliding past the “should have thrown them out 6 months ago stage” 3 new & new-to-me bras, which were far nicer than I would have bought for myself.
Towels: Left behind at a cadet camping trip. Nicer & thicker than the current ones that I have in rotation. Who brings a nice towel camping?
Bikini: This didn’t make it into the water, look how new the tags are. And it fits?! It’s coming home with me! Washed in hot water, separately.

That’s another thing, I find that thrift store clothes all have the same smell to them… that tends to bleed into my scent-free laundry. So they get washed in their own load. As would new store bought clothing, which also smells.


Kimberly August 5, 2015 at 12:54 pm

I have absolutely no problem with used sheets. The only things I have issues with are underpants and mattresses, the first one for the “ick” factor and the second because of my concern about bedbugs. (I have read that they are extremely difficult to eradicate and the extermination expense would negate any original savings. However, I did make an exception for my daughter’s mattress, which was given to us by my sister in law.) Anything else I have and gladly would obtain second hand. Almost all of my clothing, including my scrubs (I’m a nurse) I bought used, as well as a lot of our furniture. I have 4 bras in rotation, and 3 of them came from the thrift store — they are expensive brands and have held up very nicely. I buy all of my family’s clothing and many shoes used as well. There are few great things about 2nd hand shopping, in my opinion. First, it allows me to buy good quality items at affordable prices (even if it takes a little extra work and luck), and second, on the infrequent occasion when I accidentally destroyed something in the laundry, etc. I tend not to suffer quite as much because I only paid a few dollars for it in the first place. I am thankful for the Non-Consumer Advocate community! I learn from all of you every day.


Emma August 5, 2015 at 7:40 pm

I’m actually slipping backwards in my standards thanks to the kids. I ended up buying them used cloth nappies (they are only pooing on them right) and with them bought this amazih disinfecting anti fungal super cleaning stuff you use in the washing machine. Now as long as I can wash it in that I think I would consider most things


Courtney September 8, 2015 at 5:16 pm

undergarments, shoes and make up.


Catherine April 8, 2024 at 3:31 am

I once picked up a discarded futon from the curb (before the days of bedbugs, admittedly; I used the thing for ten years) and have bought one-piece swimsuits secondhand, so that’s like underwear bottoms. Pre-used diapers, bedding (tablecloths, I have taken to using wonderful antique banquet-sized linen tablecloths as sheets), no issues. I’m not sure I *have* a squick factor. Nowadays I do have a normal amount of caution about anything that might have bedbugs, but I feel the same about mildew in books. I consider that a rational health concern. Okay, there is one thing, I won’t buy used bed pillows!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: