Does Goodwill Treat For Bed Bugs?

Does Goodwill Treat For Bed Bugs?

No, Goodwill does not take specific steps to treat their clothes for bed bugs. They do not spray their clothes with bed bug sprays, nor use any method of heat treatment to kill bed bugs.

When you buy clothes or furniture from Goodwill, it is imperative that you take the necessary steps to eradicate all the bed bugs before bringing any of it into your home.

If you want to know more about how Goodwill, and thrift stores in general, address bed bugs in their products, keep on reading.

Can I get bed bugs from Goodwill?

Yes, you can get bed bugs from Goodwill.

Bed bugs are quite unique compared to other pests that live on people or inside people. Bed bugs rely on people to travel from place to place and create new populations for infestations. They are very small, vulnerable, and have no way to defend themselves from threats.

They have their own way of propagating and that is to attach themselves to people’s belongings so that you unknowingly take them around with you. This is how bed bugs get from one home to another.

You have to be careful when you use other people’s belongings because you never know who has bed bugs because they are so hard to spot in the early stages. Same goes when buying used clothes and furniture.

Does Goodwill treat the clothes they sell for bed bugs?

Goodwill does not take any steps to treat their clothes for bed bugs, not even spraying it down with bed bug spray.

Most thrift shops do launder the clothes before putting them up for display. Washing clothes in warm enough water can kill most bed bugs present.

Unfortunately, Goodwill does not do this. They do not wash the clothes, and instead just advise their donors to wash the clothes first before donating them.

Goodwill claims that they recycle or throw away clothes that have not been washed, but it is hard to believe that they can always discern which clothes have been washed and which have not been washed.

Why doesn’t Goodwill treat their clothes for bed bugs?

Simply put, Goodwill does not do it because it costs money. This is a strange reason for them to use because Goodwill is not a non-profit organization. They actually earn millions in revenue annually. They operate like a business and would rather cut costs by not performing pesticide treatments.

Another possible reason why Goodwill refuses to treat their clothes is because pesticides smell bad. Some pesticides can have a chemical-y smell that may be very unpleasant for people browsing the store.

Do all thrift stores not treat their clothes?

There are plenty of thrift stores, some are huge corporations like Goodwill, while others are mom and pop operations that have one location. Different stores have different laundering policies. Most small thrift stores tend to wash all of their clothing because they do not handle a large volume of product. But if you want to be sure, you can just ask the employees what their policy on laundering clothes is.

Just because the store washes their clothes before putting them on display, does not mean that they are free of bed bugs. Many thrift stores also have furniture for sale, so if there is an infested couch, the bed bugs can make their way to the clothes.

It is also possible that small businesses take their clothes to their home to launder and end up getting contaminated there.

Do the furniture in Goodwill have bed bugs?

Thrift stores can sell furniture such as couches and mattresses. If you can afford to, refrain from purchasing furniture, beddings, or sheets from thrift stores.

Goodwill cannot even treat their clothes, so do not expect for them to do anything about their furniture.

Why does the furniture from Goodwill have bed bugs?

Most of the donated furniture in thrift stores are quite old because they are usually from people that are buying new furniture. Sometimes people move to a new place because of  an infestation in their old place. They might try to sell the old furniture so just immediately assume that all furniture from thrift stores have bed bugs.

Even if Goodwill took the initiative to treat their furniture for bed bugs, they might not be that successful at it because pesticide treatment can take weeks to kill every single bug, the furniture can very easily become reinfested when newly donated infested furniture is placed near it, and furniture just has too many crevices for bed bugs to hide in.

How do I make sure I do not get bed bugs from Goodwill?

Make sure to inspect each item.

Look over each item you plan to buy from Goodwill. There is no need for special tools to spot the bed bugs, as long as you know the signs to watch out for you can avoid taking them home.

Look for the bug themselves.

They are brown and apple seed sized insects. In the seams of clothes or the corners and edges of the furniture, look for old bed bug shells. Bed bugs leave behind droppings that dries into a dark, round spot. It will stain the fabric like black ink. Bed bug eggs are about the size of a pinhead and laid out in clusters. Bed bugs leave a distinct musty odor in their wake, so look for that as well.

If you see any of these signs, do not buy the item, and to be sure, move to another Goodwill outlet.

What if I really want a specific clothing item?

If there is a clothing item that you really want but you are worried that the Goodwill you are buying it from may have bed bugs, you can always treat the clothes yourself.

Just to be safe, put all the clothes you just bought in a plastic bag and seal it properly.

When you get home, put the clothes in your washing machine and run them through a 30 minute cycle with the highest temperature the water can go. The detergent and the hot water is enough to kill any bed bugs. But just to be doubly sure, place the clothes in the dryer because the heat will kill any bugs and eggs that may have survived the washer.


No, Goodwill does not treat its clothes or furniture for bed bugs. They do not take any anti-pest measures besides telling their donors to launder the clothes before donating them. They do not use bed bug spray or any kind of heat treatment. It is possible that they refuse to administer their own bed bug treatment because it can be quite expensive to do so.

If you plan on buying clothes from a Goodwill, make sure you wash and dry the clothes before wearing them.

Also, avoid purchasing any furniture from them if you can.

Image: / Karl-Hendrik Tittel