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A Germaphobe’s Review of ThredUp

I’m a germaphobe and I don’t like shopping secondhand. But, I took a chance and here’s my review of ThredUp, an online secondhand clothing store.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

A Germaphobe's Review of ThredUp | Life as Mom

ON tshirt: $4.99; unbranded belt: $5.99

Can it really be just two months since I had that wake-up call in Nordstrom? In early September I took a long hard look at my wardrobe and how I dressed myself every day. I realized some things needed to change.

While I have always favored the capsule wardrobe and having nice clothes on hand, dressing in a stylish manner or even dressing everyday was not my habit. For a myriad of reasons I chose not to put forth the effort that I’ve since learned isn’t that hard at all!

Dressing in a way that flatters your body, keeps pace with the latest trends, and gives you confidence is not a monumental feat. Yes, even us moms can win at this! I’ve learned so much through the GYPO Style Challenges these past two months and built a wardrobe that I absolutely love.

The main trick for most of us is figuring out how to pay for nice clothes. I, for one, do not have an unlimited clothing budget, yet I’ve been able to add to my wardrobe in a way that does not exceed our means. You CAN build a stylish wardrobe on a budget!

I’ve done a fair amount of shopping over the last two months getting clothes for myself as well as my husband and kids. While I insist on buying new, quality bras (thus my trip to Nordstrom), I’ve spread my shopping over a number of brands and stores (Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, etc.) I’ve also delved into the world of secondhand clothing.

A Germaphobe’s Review of ThredUp

Close friends and family know that I cannot stand shopping secondhand. I’d much rather buy something NEW on sale or clearance than buy something secondhand, no matter how fancy it may be. I’m a germaphobe of the finest caliber, don’t you know?

But, after hearing about ThredUp from several sources I decided to give it a try. ThredUp is an online secondhand clothing shop. They offer free shipping for purchases over $79 and free returns in the form of store credit.

I’ve placed several orders and come to a few conclusions about Thredup. Basically, as with all second-hand shopping, it’s hit or miss. You may find some great, new, high quality items, or you might find things that are worn, junky, or stinky.

Things I love

I’ve made some good purchases and some bad purchases. Over the last couple months, I’ve purchased several shirts, a pair of pants, a belt, two dresses, and a coat from ThredUp. The prices have been amazing. And some of the items have been some of my very favorites.

A Germaphobe's Review of ThredUp | Life as Mom

Loft Cargo Pants: $16.99

I love the VOILA tshirt as well as the cargo pants. I love the red boho blouse and the LOFT blouse in brown which I bought new in blue years ago. If you’re looking for very specific items or notice an old favorite no longer in stores, you’ll have struck gold.

However, as much as I love those items, I’m not sure I will keep shopping with ThredUp.

Things I don’t love

Since the clothing is not washed at ThredUp facilities, there’s “no knowing where it’s been”. I didn’t really think too much about this until I was signing our lease renewal the same day as my first order arrived. The lease had a full two pages on bed bugs (EWWW) and then I realized that my used clothing shipment could be bringing weird stuff into my house.

Call me crazy, but now each ThredUp shipment spends 24 to 48 hours in my deep freeze before being unpacked and washed. Then I can try it on to see if I even like it!

Unfortunately, lots of people who send clothing to ThredUp also use abundant fabric softener. I am allergic to fabric softener; I can’t even walk down that aisle at the grocery store. So, I’ve had to wash some of this clothing multiple times, adding vinegar and tea tree oil to the wash and drying things in the sunshine in an effort to deodorize them. In some cases, the effort spent was not worth any cost savings.

There have been other instances of disappointment.

In some cases I’ve found that the tshirt I bought, I could have bought new on sale for just a dollar more. Not really worth buying used for that profit margin.

The $5 coat was $5 because it was missing the belt. It was disclosed that “a closure was missing”. I assumed that was a button that I could replace and didn’t realize it was the belt. Can’t really replace that, but I could potentially wear it without a belt. Or for $5 I could donate it to the homeless in my community and not worry about it.

A Germaphobe's Review of ThredUp | Life as Mom

Fabinda Blouse: $10.99

The red blouse that I LOVE has minute fraying at the seams. I don’t think they noticed it as it was advertised as almost brand new. I didn’t notice it until I’d worn it several times. I still love my blouse, but I’m afraid to wear it too often because the fraying will only get worse.

The sweater dress is dry-clean only, something that wasn’t disclosed on the listing. I didn’t want to try on a dress that hadn’t been cleaned, so I took a risk and washed it on delicate. It doesn’t appear to have shrunk, but the jury is still out on whether or not it’s flattering on me.

ThredUp does have a return policy, but you don’t get your money back. You get store credit. So when you make a purchase, you’re committing to give them your money, no matter what. Eventually you will land on something you like, but the potential hassle and cleaning to get to that point is real.

Review of ThredUp

Pro’s

  • designer clothing at a fraction of the price of new
  • online shopping instead of chasing all over town to thrift stores
  • easy to sort and find your size or style on the website
  • relatively fast shipping
  • ability to find past season items that are no longer available in stores

Con’s

  • website does not list cleaning care instructions
  • garments are used and may have undisclosed or unnoticed damage
  • garments are not washed and may carry bed bugs, etc.
  • clothing has odors
  • sanitizing before wear takes extra time and effort
  • discount on clothing is not always significant, depending on the item.
  • shipping and returns are not free
  • unable to see items in person before you buy
  • returns come in the form of store credit so you’re giving them your money no matter what.

While I do love many of the items that I’ve purchased from ThredUp, I’m not sure that I will make it a regular practice to shop from them. I am slowly weeding out clothing from my closet and will most likely send it to ThredUp and see what they will give me for it, but I think I’ll be more likely to choose cash over store credit.

A Germaphobe's Review of ThredUp | Life as Mom

Loft Blouse: $6.99

The amount of time I spend to get each shipment of clothing in wearing condition is not always worth the savings to me, but sometimes the clothes haven’t been as stinky as others.

I can see myself using the service in the future in the instance where I’m looking for something very specific or hard to find, or a trendy item that I’m not sure I’d want to invest big bucks in. For instance, I bought a leopard print belt  for $5. It’s already wearing out and cracking, but for $5 I could try the trend and see if I liked it before spending more on a higher quality belt.

That said, your mileage may vary. You may have mad laundry skilz and make great choices and have a flawless experience. I find that so often people rave about a service, but tend to forget to mention the downsides. Well, here are the downsides to ThredUp — at least as I’ve experienced them.

If you want to take a chance, use this link to get $10 free credit at ThredUp.

What’s YOUR review of ThredUp?

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

A Germaphobe's Review of ThredUp | Life as Mom

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Comments

  1. Ugh – the negatives far outweigh the positives for Thred Up in my opinion. Thank you so much for your incredibly candid review of the service. I especially admire your honesty because it was a sponsored post.

    • I think it’s really going to depend on what you buy. Since you don’t have the advantage of seeing it in the store, you’re taking a gamble on possibly returning, etc.

      It wasn’t a sponsored post. However, I am sure my honesty will be unpopular with some people. 😉

  2. Lauren Jones says:

    I was wondering if you had sold on ThredUp. I recently purged some older clothes and was thinking of selling them on ThredUp. I know you don’t get much return but enough items of clothing could add up?? Thoughts?

    • Deborah J Knobloch says:

      I have both bought and sold clothes on Thredup. I’ve bought some amazing articles of clothing for a fraction of the retail cost. The items I’ve sold sent fast. There are rules on the Thredup website regarding what they will and won’t accept. You also have the choice of cash back or Thredup credit. In addition, they send a bag for your clothing items and a postage paid shipping label. You have the option to donate whatever items they don’t accept to a charity. When your clothing sells, Thredup notifies you. This way you know that someone else is enjoying them. I think it’s a brilliant business plan and will continue shopping\selling with them.

    • I haven’t yet. I have the bag and am working to fill it up.

      • I’ve sent them several cleanout bags and the payouts have decreased over time. They are very picky about what they accept (I’ve been shocked at some of the things they rejected) and they pay garage sale prices. My last bag only earned a few dollars. Nevermind the waiting list to get a cleanout bag; I don’t want my purged items sitting around home for six weeks before I can ship them and then wait another four to six weeks for my items to be processed.

  3. Awwww Jessica-this is why we looovve you!! your honest posts about “real” life-I have been inspired by you to fight the frump- and my go to has been old navy online. They offer free shipping on orders over 50.00 and I return the unwanted items to the store, also free. What makes this a really great deal is that EVERYDAY you get an e-mail offer almost always it’s 30% off or 40 or 50% so I never pay retail-but still get current things for good prices. I know these are not thrift store prices, but the things are not faded, damaged or beat up. Also-love that belt on you!!

  4. So, I have found Thred-Up to be an amazing boon to my wardrobe. I realized that I am shopping though, for a different demographic and size than most though.
    Positives: I can find my size on there. That is one of the huge positives. In our town, there is very little choice if any, of anything in my size. I am a small, petite woman, and we have only very general clothing choices.
    They have careful measurements.
    I only shop brands that I know and I do not buy the cheap brands.
    I am careful about what I purchase. I have only had about two items that I was not happy with.
    You can get credit for referring friends, which translates into free clothing.

    Negatives:
    It is expensive to return. So, I am careful in my choices.
    I rarely spend over $5-10 on an item, but if I do, that is a bit more money that I am out if it doesn’t work. However, if I use credit, I am not really.

    I have had most things come to me looking brand new. I was impressed with the care they give their items. Of course, I live in NW MT, rather than CA, so you can’t find some of the brands here that are on there.

  5. I love your website! So welcoming, nonjudgmental and real. I find it funny that your examples for a myriad of stores you shop at were Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic. These are all owned by the same company!

  6. Laura Kohler says:

    I’ve tried both buying and selling from ThredUp. I haven’t loved much that I’ve purchased, nor felt like it was worth it. Selling has been a nightmare- they offer so little for what you send that it’s just not worth it. I can do much better selling my kids’ gently used clothes on Facebook buy/sell groups for our area.

  7. The one pro that I really like about Thred Up is that I can sort items by size and price range. Even though I still spend a fair amount of time looking for good bargains it beats wading through racks of unsorted clothes at our local secondhand stores, especially if I have kids along!

    I also am concerned about bringing in items like lice or bed bugs. Unfortunately home freezers may not be cold enough to kill bed bugs but dryers can! So I wash and dry (on high heat) all my used items before wearing. Of course orr some items like sweaters this can be a problem and that is why I dont spend much in case the item gets ruined. Unfortunately you can bring home bed bugs from brand new items too!!

    As for selling items on Thred Up my experience has not been good! Like others said their payout is VERY low compared to what I would have made at a rummage sale or consignment store in our area. Also they tell you in the fine print they take $9 for shipping from each bag you send in. I sent in a bag full of very good items with brand names including jeans and only received $1.86! I would think they would offer a better payout even if only for store credit. In the future my items will be gifted to our local women’s shelter instead of messing with their selling process!

  8. Very interesting–thanks for sharing! I haven’t bought on any online second-hand stores because I’m a stickler for trying on before buying. So many things don’t work well for me. I do like shopping the thrift stores in our area, though, and they’ve worked well for me. But I’m not a germophobe 😉

  9. I can be a bit of a germaphobe, too, although I’ve had to overcome some of that living in Africa. (“Yes, I would love a drink of non-filtered water out of the same cup as everyone else.” *shuddering inside*)

    In the US, I’ve shopped some at thrift stores, and even bought 2nd hand at African markets (Congo & Mali.) One of my favorite, best fitting pair of pants, I bought out of a big pile in the market. I bought 3 pairs, and only 2 fit- one decent, one great- but at $1/pair, that was worth it. I’m probably not too worried about communicable skin diseases, etc. When I was last in the US, ThreadUp was becoming really popular. Doing 2nd through the mail was a bit too much for me, though. I think I need to see (&smell) it in person. I can be really sensitive to odors.

    I do think that if you watch sales, you can get decent prices. I know that I’m not that likely to do returns in the mail either, and I try to be careful about what I order on-line because of that.

  10. Nedra Bryce says:

    I think you should try some local clothes consignment shops. You probably can find some really nice ones in your area that are clean! I love Kohl’s too. You really can’t beat their prices if you have a Kohl’s card. Thanks for your review of thred up.

  11. I love buying second hand but mail-order second hand has no appeal to me. Go figure. I guess I like to touch and see something before buying — I’m more into picking by style or feel rather than brand. So, I’m not sure Thred Up would be for me either but for different reasons than you. That said, I have found some smoking hot bargains at our local Goodwill (no germaphobe here!).

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